Thursday, February 28, 2008

Boston's Oldest Wheelman

When browsing obituaries I often come across an interesting person who only came to live in Jamaica Plain near the end of their lives - usually with their grown children. In most cases, I decide not to post their stories, because there just isn't enough local interest to make them relevant to this site. In this case, I think Mr Edwin Brown deserves our interest. For all our modern medical miracles, we don't make 'em any better that him.

It's not history, but it must have been quite a sight when he rode up Centre street.

Boston Daily Globe October 25, 1901

Boston's Oldest Wheelman Dead.

Edwin Brown of Jamaica Plain Passed Away at the Age of 96 -- Rode a Tricycle Up to Last Summer.

Edwin Brown, Jamaica Plain's oldest resident and Boston's oldest wheelman, died yesterday afternoon at the residence of his daughter, Mrs S.E. Barnard, 7 Eliot st, Jamaica Plain, at the age of 96. Mr Brown had been in excellent health up to a short time ago and was frequently seen riding around the streets of the section on his tricycle.

He was born in West Fitchburg, June 19, 1805. His maternal grandfather was in the battle of Bunker Hill, and when a young man Mr Brown himself was captain of a militia company in this city. For the greater part of his life he was identified with the piano business, having been a member of the firm of Woodward & Brown.

When a young man he came to Boston from Fitchburg to learn the cabinetmaker's trade. He was employed by the Chickerings. He devoted considerable time to improvements in construction of pianos. In the rear of his house is a workshop where after retiring from active business he passed many pleasant hours.

For the past 18 years he resided with his daughter. He had a large circle of friends in the section. He always took a keen interest in public affairs.

Not the least interesting feature concerning the old gentleman was his riding of a tricycle up the last summer.

Two years ago the Globe representative visited Mr Brown and had a pleasant chat with him. In the course of his talk he said:

"How long have I been a wheelman? Let me see -- about 15 years. My wheel, I think, keeps me in first-class health. I believe cycling to be an excellent recreation, providing the rider does not over-exert."

That Mr Brown had great faith in his ability on a wheel was shown by a little incident happening when he was 92 years of age. He had been riding around on his tricycle and had stopped in the midst of a crowd of spectators gathered to see such an aged man on a wheel. One of the young men wagered him $10 that he could not ride up a certain steep hill in Jamaica Plain. Mr Brown would not bet, but just to show what he could do he got on his wheel and rode up the hill without difficulty.

Mr Brown was a firm believer in Spiritualism.

1 comment:

  1. I read this obituary with great interest. Edwin Brown was my Great Great Great Uncle. My Grandmother told me that they had a Brown Piano in their parlor. I have a wooden stool and two tiny carved elephants that were made from the piano when it was taken apart about 100 years ago. My Great Grandparents met at the Brown House in J.P.. The Brown's hosted a young people's Protestant church group. At the parties, they all sang hymns around the piano. My Great Grandmother, Clara, played often, and met her husband Ivan, because he had a lovely tenor voice. Ivan and Clara's cousin Ernest Baker roomed at Mrs. Leach's on Seaverns Ave.

    Thanks again for your post.