Williams Bicycle Messenger Company – Louisville/USA



The “Williams Bicycle Messenger Company” operated in Louisville/Kentucky delivering letters/messages and parcels. It was founded in 1898 - located in 640 Fourth Ave. as this advertisement in Caron’s Directory proves:


The company moved two doors south to 644 Fourth Ave. in 1903 - documented in the Louisville City Directory:


In 1904 the company was renamed in “Williams Messenger and Parcel Delivery Service”. The company operated at least until 1907 as advertisements show.

In addition to the messenger service the company operated as selling agent for following bicycle brands: Victor, Pierce, Iver-Johnson, Yale, Patee-Crest, Windsor, Northfield, El Rey, La Reina, Kenwood, Elektron. …..

The delivery rate in a radius of a half mile from the store was 10 cents. Beyond this area Ohio River – Ormsby Avenue – Twentieth and Shelby Street the rate was 15 to 20 cents according to distance. For an answer extra 5 cents were charged.

Payment was confirmed by a stamp “CHARGES PAID” as shown on this envelope:


The above letter is addressed to Mrs. Howard Griswold, 222 East Jacob St. - 4 blocks away from the company office. At that time married women were called by their husband's name. Mrs. Griswold’s first name was Mec - maiden name Mec Young. She must probably have been a passionate cyclist – here with her cousin:


Griswold collection at the University of Louisville

Both are dressed in acceptable clothing for cycling of that period. The bicycles are Columbia brand from 1892. They look quite new – so either the photo may have been taken before Mrs. Griswold was married in 1898 or the bicycles were rarely used like a photo-decoration. Who knows? The bicycles are equipped with bell, head lamp and pouch. The rods from the handlebar to the rear hub belong to the rear brake with a leather band wrapped around the hub - a unique feature.

Thanks to Carson Torpey, state captain of the Kentucky Wheelmen, for providing all the details above.

Williams-Bicycle-Messenger-Company-Louisville-Kentucky-1889-velo-Fahrrad-charges-paid-carson-Torpey-wheelmenCarson riding his Mesicek high wheel bicycle at the 2016 Wheelmen National Meeting at Elmhurst, IL


Kentucky Wheelmen on facebook, see post from 24th May 2018