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Thread: 1909-1911 motorcycles registered in Wisconsin

  1. #1
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    Default 1909-1911 motorcycles registered in Wisconsin

    This is a list I comprised of all known motorcycles registered in Wis. between 1909 and 1911. 76 different brands which include home build's. Not all motorcycles were production. Some are one of's. I classify production as 2 or more built. An amazing number. This list contains 44 Wis. made motorcycles including home builds. If you ad in the other Wisconsin made motorcycles, Pennington-1895, Wiggert-1901, P.M. Warden of Ripon-1910, Safteycycle-1940's, Harry Miller's of Menomonee-1900, Pirate, Waverley, P.E.M., Jefferson, Briggs & Stratton motor scooter and the Buehl you get a total of 51 Wisconsin made motorcycles. Some were prototypes or pre-production or experimental. This list is by no means correct as many names were lost to history. The Kenzler-Waverley of Cambridge-1911 is not included as it was only on paper. Never built. Nor are the Wisconsin registrations complete. Apparently Milwaukee County started registering motorcycles around 1905 but these documents are lost to history at this time.
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    Last edited by pem; 06-18-2018 at 03:39 PM.

  2. #2
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    Nice list Pem, amazing.....thanks for posting it here! Did you do the research?
    Pisten Bulley is Harry Roberts in Vermont.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, it is my research. Culmination of 28 years. I decided I better share what I have learned before it's too late. I'll be 70 soon and after this weekend I figure I better write this stuff down. I took a midnight ride Sunday because it was in the 80's overnight and almost got killed by a drunk driver around 2am. Closest I've come to dying in 52 years of riding. I don't know how I didn't go down. I''l try to share some more reearch.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for sharing that hard wrought information that you collected, Dick. It is amazing how a simple list can make your mind reel with images of super rare motorcycles that were brand new at those times. It's incredible to think of a Royal Pioneer, Curtiss, or Torpedo being someone's magic carpet to roam those beautiful country roads in the early days of the 20th century. Sorry to hear about your brush with near death. Things like that really take the fun out of riding motorcycles. I pretty much park my bikes for the winter season here in Florida. Too many distracted, clueless drivers.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  5. #5
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    Your welcome. I've got friends who migrate to Florida for the winter. They pretty much don't leave their gated community as the traffic is crazy and the restaurants are full. Doesn't sound like fun to me. Went to Daytona 500 once and froze to death in the cheap seats.

    That Harry Miller bike was supposed to be built by "the" Harry Miller of Indy Car fame when he was in his teens. There's supposed be a photo somewhere. That guy was a genius. Absolutely beautiful motors.

    One of these days I'm gonna write a timeline for Perry Mack. There is so much miss-information out there. He was another genius. While he was at Briggs & Stratton as Chief Engineer for almost 30 years he would not design his motors on paper. He figured it all out in head. Then it was written down. He never talked on the phone. His office was the size of a large closet. He loved guns and driving his Packard's fast. He had his share of accidents too. He always took the bus to work carrying his lunch in a brown bag containing a sandwich and a sugar cookie. One day the president of B&S came in his office and showed Perry a tiny gun that actually fired tiny bullets. They ended up shooting flys. In the office.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2009
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    pem, interesting list. I have been researching Wisconsin motorcycle history as well for the past 10 years. I started initially with the 30's decade which is my favorite but have been collecting earlier and later information as well. I do see that the Wisconsin Historical Society does have 1909-1911 motorcycle registration records on file, is this where you obtained the information to compile your list? I was in Madison several years ago but only had a few hours to scroll through some microfilm of 20's and 30's motorcycle reg records and was successful in locating some family related information that I was seeking.

    I found the following statement on the WI Hist Soc page pertaining to motorcycle registrations:

    ---Registration records of motorcycles noting name of applicant, place of registration, type of vehicle and manufacturer, number affixed by maker, character and amount of motor power, style, passenger capacity, general description, registration number assigned, and date of registration. In 1909, the first legislation requiring the registration of motorcycles was enacted by Chapter 500 of the Laws of Wisconsin. The registration number assigned to the motorcycle remained with the vehicle regardless of ownership changes. The method of registration was changed to annual registration beginning in 1912 with the passage of Chapter 600 of the Laws of Wisconsin (1911).

    Do you have knowledge that Milwaukee County was indeed registering motorcycles earlier than 1909?

  7. #7
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    Very interesting!
    Rich Inmate #7084

  8. #8
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    You are correct Badger34. Fantastic resource. Funny thing is I could not find registrations for the Davidson's or Bill Harley or Perry Mack. I came across a small paragraph from an early motorcycle magazine that said Milwaukee had started registering motorcycles in 1904 but I can't find the source now. I know I sent it to Herb Wagner so I will check with him. Best place to look for it would probably be the Milwaukee County Historical Society.

    The first motorcycle registered in Wisconsin state files in 1909 was a Merkel. The first HD is below. One good thing about the files is that some registrations have serial numbers.

    Here's an unrelated interesting article from The Racine Journal, Feb. 14, 1905. I'll type it out as the original is very hard to read.

    WISCONSIN WHEEL WORKS Manufacturing a Motor-Cycle for the would be President.

    The Wisconsin Wheel Works is manufacturing a motorcycle for the Hon. William Jennings Bryant. The machine is something new in the motor line and so far has proved potential. When the aspirant to the president's chair gets his new motorcycle, he will not have to use any physical power in propelling the outfit. All he will have to do is to press the button and is off at the rate of sixty miles an hour if he so desires The motorcycle is built similar to a bicycle only there is a motor attached in the frame. If the gasoline gives out foot power can be used. The motor generates the machine with a round belt fastened to a pulley on the real wheel almost as large in circumference as the wheel itself. Th usual chain is also attached which allows the cycle to be propelled by foot power. The invention is a novel one and the best device of its ind on the market so far.

    60 mph. Talk about advertising hype. "all he has to do is press the button". Must of had electric start!

    Typical of the advertising of the day. I'd also like to share some of the unknown articles of HD's history I have found. I came across most of this stuff looking for more proof Perry Mack was HD's first employee and helped design their first production motor in 1904/05.
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  9. #9
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    Jan 2009
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    pem, if you do get in contact with Herb I hope he is well. Tell him he's been missed, our last communication was a couple of years ago and I see he last logged in here in March. I'm a WI native with family H-D history between 1913-1975, but I now reside in Michigan. I could spend a week each at the WI state and Milw Historical Societies researching records. I did find some Harley and Davidson names in the 1920's state regs along with other factory names that I recognized, I recorded them into my notes that day. I also have been collecting early newspaper records for the past several years as it seems you have been doing too.

    I do believe your Racine Journal article should date from Feb. 1901 instead of 1905, I may have that article in my records also. It would be two more years before Mitchell could more honestly make the Mile-a-Minute claim. Their Sept. 1901 mile record run in Milwaukee was recorded at just over 2:03.
    Last edited by badger34; 06-20-2018 at 09:17 AM.

  10. #10
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    Wis
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    You are right. Dumb ass attack on my part. 1901. I can't read my own writing.

    I have talked with Herb recently. He is doing really good. He has been busy writing and researching a new article for our club magazine. It will be another good one.

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