Biography - Evan Anderson

There is one man in Roodhouse whose name and reputation extends beyond the confines of his home town and State, and even beyond the nation. Wherever the English language is spoken the name of Evan Ellis Anderson is familiar. This world-wide reputation was brought about by Mr. Anderson’s great love for the bicycle, and especially as it refers to the race track. Millions of people who never heard of Roodhouse and do not know it is on the map, have heard of and many have met jolly, good-natured E.E. Anderson.
Mr. Anderson was born on a farm in Christian County, Illinois, March 3, 1873. Until he was eight years of age his time was passed in the quiet precincts of the country. At that age he came with his parents to Roodhouse. For five years after coming here he attended the public schools. For several years he served the Daily Eye as carrier boy. In this capacity we first knew him. At that time he was a bright, careless, light-hearted boy, with that characterized him as a boy and made him popular favorite with every one whom he met.
In 1884 he learned to ride a bicycle. The safety was unknown then and the old high wheel variety was used. Few there are in Roodhouse who do not remember the careless, even reckless manner, in which Anderson used to ride a tricky high wheel about town. It never went slow. While Anderson himself was easy going, his wheel was always the reverse, and many of the knowing ones have been heard to predict all kind of calamities for him, but none of them have ever come to pass. His racing career commenced in 1892, when he won the novice race at the Illinois State Fair at Peoria, riding a mile in 3:01. The remaining part of that season he continued to ride in local events, winning more than his share.
In 1893, he started in thirty-four races, eighteen handicaps and sixteen opens. He won eighteen firsts, nine seconds and three thirds, making a total of thirty prizes out of a possible thirty-four. The five mile Missouri State record also fell to his credit during this year.
In 1894 he attended the National meet held in Denver, Colorado, winning the principal Class "A" event of the meet from a large field of prominent riders from all over the United States. During the season he won fifty-one firsts, eleven seconds and four thirds, finishing unplaced but six times during the whole season.
In 1895 he rode in the Morgan & Wright team and early in the season got suspended at Springfield, Massachusetts, for failure to ride in a race at Dallas, Texas, where he was entered. He won several races during this season, but none of importance. In this year he rode his first mile in two minutes.
In 1896 he made his perilous and world-famed ride of a mile in 1:03, the fastest time ever made on a bicycle. He was paced by an engine on the "Bluff Line" Railroad just out of St. Louis. This remarkable and daring feat has been the talk of the bicycle world ever since. After this ride the balance of the season was devoted to exhibition rides.
In 1897 he has won some of his best races, and in competition with all the noted riders of the country. Up to date he has not finished worse than second in any race and has won seventeen firsts and nine seconds.
Mr. Anderson holds the quarter mile flying start unpaced world’s record of 26 4-5 for Class "A", also the mile and two-mile competition records for the State of Missouri, and is the two-mile champion of the American Athletic Union of the United States, Central Division. He has always rode from scratch, and takes pleasure in saying that he never received a handicap during his life as a pure amateur.
July 23, 1896, he was united in marriage with Katherine B. Armstrong, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Mayor and Mrs. G. W. Armstrong of this city. Excellent likenesses of Mr. And Mrs. Anderson are presented herewith.
In many respects Mr. Anderson has a remarkable character. Although a large portion of his life is spent in traveling, and in the company of the sporting fraternity, he has never acquired any of the bad habits characteristic of this class of his associates. He does not use tobacco or liquor in any form and always takes the best of care of himself. To this fact is due much of his success. Socially, it is a pleasure to meet the king of the Western wheelmen. His sunny disposition makes him a favorite with wheelmen and popular with all classes of people wherever he is known.

Transcribed 25 Oct 2006 by Linda Jones Craig from Souvenir of Roodhouse, 1897.

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