Professional Racer Woody Hedspeth 1903


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filmonger

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Dec 25, 2010
4,868
5,461
Dublin, Ireland
#1
We all know about Major Taylor - Does anyone know anything about Woody?

This is from The Bicycling World 1903

Woody Hedspeth 1903.png


1903 woody.jpg


Woody1.jpg


This is a terrific, old postcard with an image of Woody Hedspeth, American bicycle race champion. The card is French and the information printed on the front says, "Hedspath (misspelled) champion americain, sur Bicyclette "L'Albatross," Tires "Le Persan," Tige de selle elastique "Porthos." Translation is, "Hedspeth, American champion, on bicycle 'The Albtross', tires 'The Persian one,' stem of saddle, 'Porthos'." You can read L'Albatros on his jersey. Albatross bicycle was built by the Mead Cycle Company, Chicago, Illinois.
The Dec. 7th New York Times carried an article about Woody Hedspeth participating in a six day bicycle race starting at Madison Square Garden in 1903, as part of a two man "colored" team with Melvin T. Dove, both from the Calumet Team.
is an excerpt from that article: "CYCLISTS IN LONG RACE; Six Days' Contest Starts with Seventeen Two-Men Teams. Cheering Crowds in Madison Square Garden Last Night and This Morning -- Close Struggle Expected... Four minutes after midnight this morning the eleventh annual international championship six-day team bicycle race was begun in the Madison Square Garden, and the, big amphitheatre was Jammed with a record-breaking crowd. Of the eighteen tearing, entered; seventeen started, the men being sent on their way by James J. Corbett, ex-heavy weight champion pugilist... Following are the names of the riders at the beginning of the race: Simar, Bettich, Breton, Vanderstuyft, Nat Butler, Floyd Krebs, Jacobson, John Bedell, Franz Krebs, Root, Galvin, Keegan, Fisher, Hudsbeth, Walthour, KRamer, and Mc. Lean."


Woody2.jpg
 
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66TigerCat

I live for the CABE
Jul 12, 2009
1,240
363
Newton, MA, United States
#2
Woody

I believe he was also from Indianapolis though the article says Chicago. Not much is known of him unfortunately. Like Taylor, he was a very successful racer in Europe and to some extent the US. They were friends clearly. I have some French sports magazines featuring Taylor and Hedspeth is pictured with him on several occasions. From what I've been able to find on him he raced in Europe until he was 50, married a ballet dancer and settled in Belgium. The postcard below shows Hedspeth holding Taylor before a race. Also in he picture is American boxer Sam McVey, another friend of Taylor's.
 
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corbettclassics

I live for the CABE
Feb 11, 2012
1,205
1,988
Burbank, United States
#5
Here are some pics from my archives >>>

The photographs are the rare ones!

"Hedspath" also rode a 6 Day race in Amsterdam with his black partner "Germain" - pictured >

Enjoy..

btv1b9022381z.JPEG


btv1b6910347k.jpg


btv1b8433359g.JPEG
 
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jimbo53

Finally riding a big boys bike
Jul 17, 2015
462
699
Charlotte NC
#6
this is why I love the CABE-almost every time I come to check something out, I learn something new. Great info on these two unheralded black athletes.
 

barracuda

I live for the CABE
Oct 27, 2009
1,777
1,763
Niles, California
#7
1902:

1woody.jpg


Six day racing was a dangerous pastime, and that's what made it exciting. I mean, besides all the betting. But maybe not as dangerous as motor paced racing on board tracks. Notice the mention of Harry Elkes in this 1903 article:

1 woody2.jpg


He had been killed on the banks in May of that year.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 9.19.24 AM.png
 
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Filochard

On Training Wheels
Jan 4, 2016
1
2
#8
The american racers viewed from France, in 1903 :

LVAGA_19030605#247.jpg



In that issue, an article titled "The Americans on our Velodromes" related the venue of the american racers Kimble, Collett, Hedpsath and, for the third time, Major Taylor.

LVAGA_19030605#247_p363.jpg


Woody Heldspath was said coming to Europe because he could not get a license from the NCA :

LVAGA_19030605#247_WH.jpg


Source : http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k9605265v.item
 
Feb 11, 2012
1,205
1,988
Burbank, United States
#11
We all know about Major Taylor - Does anyone know anything about Woody?

This is from The Bicycling World 1903

View attachment 161573

View attachment 161575

View attachment 161576

This is a terrific, old postcard with an image of Woody Hedspeth, American bicycle race champion. The card is French and the information printed on the front says, "Hedspath (misspelled) champion americain, sur Bicyclette "L'Albatross," Tires "Le Persan," Tige de selle elastique "Porthos." Translation is, "Hedspeth, American champion, on bicycle 'The Albtross', tires 'The Persian one,' stem of saddle, 'Porthos'." You can read L'Albatros on his jersey. Albatross bicycle was built by the Mead Cycle Company, Chicago, Illinois.
The Dec. 7th New York Times carried an article about Woody Hedspeth participating in a six day bicycle race starting at Madison Square Garden in 1903, as part of a two man "colored" team with Melvin T. Dove, both from the Calumet Team.
is an excerpt from that article: "CYCLISTS IN LONG RACE; Six Days' Contest Starts with Seventeen Two-Men Teams. Cheering Crowds in Madison Square Garden Last Night and This Morning -- Close Struggle Expected... Four minutes after midnight this morning the eleventh annual international championship six-day team bicycle race was begun in the Madison Square Garden, and the, big amphitheatre was Jammed with a record-breaking crowd. Of the eighteen tearing, entered; seventeen started, the men being sent on their way by James J. Corbett, ex-heavy weight champion pugilist... Following are the names of the riders at the beginning of the race: Simar, Bettich, Breton, Vanderstuyft, Nat Butler, Floyd Krebs, Jacobson, John Bedell, Franz Krebs, Root, Galvin, Keegan, Fisher, Hudsbeth, Walthour, KRamer, and Mc. Lean."


View attachment 161577
It looks like he is on a "Massey Harris" in this postcard. It appears to have the 3 rings wrap around on the head tube.

Rare postcard ..!!!
 

fordsnake

I live for the CABE
May 12, 2010
1,824
559
#12
I just read through about 100 different articles on him and all were written as Hedspath. It's interesting to know that his name was spelled 2 different ways.
You say tomato, I say tomahto.
Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 8.20.40 PM.png

If you thought Woody's last name was spelled two different ways, well you would be wrong! There were several spellings of his surname!

I discovered in almost every American article about him, his last name was spelled ”Hedspeth. However, the European publications promoting him as “Hedspath.”

I also discovered evidence that before he sojourned to Europe...he married in March 18, 1899 to Winnie Partee. ”Now for the head scratcher... the marriage certificate reads Winnie Partee and Woody Hedgepath. Again, another spelling (check out the two spellings below).

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 10.25.11 AM.png


The marriage lasted about a year and he moved to Chicago where in the 1900 census he's listed as a single man, working as a bicycle repairman. Now here’s where the dots really begin to disconnect…his surname is now spelled Headspeth...different from the one on his marriage license!
Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.11.26 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 1.49.42 PM.png


So far, we now have 5 different spellings of his name;

1. Hedspeth
2. Hedspath
3. Hedgepath
4. Headspath
5. Headspeth

Although, I couldn’t find a census report on him living in America before 1898, I did find additional documents that he lived in Europe. Sometime around 1913 & 1921 he applied for two passports at the US Embassy in Berlin. Note, each application has different birth dates. Compared this to the above census report that has a different birth year and birth place. What-a-mystery!

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 5.40.12 PM.png


Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 5.43.17 PM.png



Ok. Woody has now become an expatriate in Europe and he's known as Hedspath. The shores of America are a distant past, but of course the war breaks out. He packed up everything and moved to Portugal where he died penniless and estranged from his wife and daughter. His death certificate listed him as Woody Hedgpath...a sixth and final spelling! But note the spelling of his daughter's last name at the bottom.
Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 10.33.19 PM.png
 
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Mercian

Finally riding a big boys bike
Jul 1, 2016
261
239
51
France
#13

vincev

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Nov 2, 2008
11,581
7,355
crown point<indiana
#14
Really cool story.Blacks versus Whites will probably go on till the end of time.I found something else interesting in that they were able to accurately measure four fifths of a second back in 1903
 

fordsnake

I live for the CABE
May 12, 2010
1,824
559
#15
I'm going to speculate, Woody may not have known how to spell his name!

Before you say that’s hogwash…consider, Woody was born between 1881 – 1884. Less then twenty years after the end of the Civil War. His father (Frank) may have been a slave and his grandfather for sure was brought here from Africa and given his master’s surname, Hedspeth,or Hedgpeth or Hedpath or anyway you wish to spell it!

Documents of him living in Chicago and Europe suggest that both he and his father were born in Kentucky. But I couldn't find any record of either Woody or his father in the US census other then the one for his marriage in 1899. Could it have been that his family lived off the grid? Were they runaways? Woody would have been a free man, but his father could have been a wanted black man? Here's an interesting nugget about slaves and the civil unrest in Kentucky

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 11.27.10 AM.png




Remember, Woody was raised as child when prejudices and cruelty was deeply rooted and pervasive against blacks. Also there were laws that prevented black to attend public schools. Forbidding them to learn to read or write, plus making it a crime for others to teach them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-literacy_laws_in_the_United_States

Many of the documents I’ve seen of Woody’s personal accounts; name, birthplace, father’s name etc., were not personally handwritten by him. Therefore, he verbally gave the information to an attendant to write in and to document for him. It’s possible when asked to approved the spelling, he may not have known how to correctly spell it.

Again, this is my conjecture and there’s no evidence to support my theory, other than America's long pervasive history of prejudice.
 

Mercian

Finally riding a big boys bike
Jul 1, 2016
261
239
51
France
#17
It's not a strange idea that he might have poor or no literacy. The fact that he could spell his name at all is still uncommon at the beginning of the 20th Century. Poor schooling was a common thing for the 'lower classes' irrespective of origin. In England, my own Grandmother was 'servant class', and reasonbly educated for her time, but she started work at 12. Even free school was a luxury few could afford, you needed to be out there working for the family.

I was shocked to discover that her brother, Harry Senior, who was a fireman (worked on the boilers), on the Titanic was only one of two crewmembers to give evidence in New York after the sinking in 1912. At the end of his statement to the court it is marked with a cross, and the phrase "Harry Senior - his mark".

Best Regards,

Adrian
 
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