Merton Duxbury

From Wooljersey

Merton Duxbury 13 Apr 1875 - 28 Jul 1935

The Olympic Club Wheelmen, under Lieutenant Heydenfeldt, have a run to Haywards to-morrow to act as escort to Duxbury.

CYCLING NEWS TO DATE. - Club Runs and Private Excursions to Different Points Outside the City. - The San Francisco Examiner, 27 Jul 1895

Merton Duxbury will start on his long return trip across the continent to-morrow morning, leaving from Seventh and Market streets at 9 a. m. A large number of wheelmen will be there to see him off, and he will be escorted a short distance by the Olympic Club Wheelmen. There is no truth in the rumor that Duxbury is to return here next spring to ride in the Olympic's relay team. Duxbury will take the 9:30 boat to-morrow morning, and wheel via Livermore to Stockton, where he is to meet T. R. Lillie, the holder of the present transcontinental record, which Duxbury is going to try to break. Then he will ride to Sacramento, and from there follow the Central Pacific Railroad tracks to Ogden. From this point his route is not positively mapped out. The record he will try to beat is fifty-nine days from San Francisco to New York, and Duxbury thinks he can bring it down to fifty-four days.

THE WHEELMEN. - San Francisco Call, 27 July 1895

M. J. Geary, sporting editor of THE CALL, has just returned from a three weeks' hunting and fishing trip in the Sierras, and tells an amusing story of an adventure with a wheelman near Boca, Nevada County. Mr. Geary, with Donald McCrea and J. Sammi of this City, had been out fishing all day. They were near the county road and McCrea said he would follow it a short distance and look for some grouse for their dinner. So he took a gun and started off, going down the hill. A short distance off he met a wheelman coming up the grade. Now McCrea in his hunting togs is an entirely different looking individual from the stylish young man whom his friends know here, and he confesses he may have looked like a hard character in his high boots, overalls, sombrero, with a shotgun over his arm and two weeks' growth of beard on his face. Anyway, the wheelman was very suspicious, and as soon as he saw him he stopped and reached around to his hip-pocket as if for a revolver. To reassure him Mc called out, “See any grouse down there?" and hearing Mc's voice Geary and Sammi also stepped out into the road to see what was going on. This was too much for the now thoroughly frightened cycler, who turned his wheel around and sped down the hill as if the devil was after him. Geary says he never saw such a burst of speed before. The trio were laughing so hard they could scarcely do anything, but managed to shoot off their guns a few times in the air, at which the retreating cycler, enveloped in a cloud of dust of his own creation, redoubled his efforts and was soon lost from sight. As he wore a maroon sweater and corduroy suit, Geary thinks it may have been Tommy Atkins, better known as Merton Duxbury, who is touring across the continent and left here July 28, which would have brought him in that vicinity about that time. At any rate, whoever he was, he no doubt carries the impression that he narrowly escaped a hold-up.

THE WHEELMEN. - The San Francisco Call, 31 Aug 1895

During their trip across the country the McIlraths came across a number of cyclists including some who have appeared in the Heirloom (see the September, ’17 Heirloom for the Wilson Family story for example). One of the McIlraths’ encounters was with Merton Duxbury who was doing a leisurely ride across the continent. They rode together for about three hundred miles. Duxbury arrived in San Francisco on July 9, 1895, just ahead of the McIlraths. The McIlraths arrived on July 29th, the day after Duxbury hopped on his “wheel” and headed back across the country in a quest to set the record for trans-continental bicycle riding. He thought he could break the record which was fifty-nine days, eleven hours (Los Angeles Herald 9/17/95). Duxbury did break the record by crossing in forty-eight days, eighteen hours (Champaign Daily News Oct. 14, 1895), ten days faster than the record holder, T. R. Lillie (who appeared in the Heirloom in the August, ’20 issue and who accompanied Duxbury to Sacramento). In addition to the new cross-country record, Duxbury broke a number of other distance records on the return trip. Duxbury became, the San Francisco Call said (July 10, 1895), the first wheelman to go coast to coast and return. Naturally, since this is in the Heirloom, you know Mr. Duxbury went over Donner Summit on the railroad tracks and through the snowsheds both ways. So there's another Donner Summit first to add to the collection.


Merton Duxbury in the Donner Summit Heirloom, June, 2021 issue #154