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Gladwell, Crossley, Marshall Bicycle Stores and Thor Motorcycles ~ Turning Bicycles into Moto Cycles ~ Lima Ohio


Here's a Pandora's Puzzle Box of a photograph. Researching it turned up all kinds of information, but never completed the puzzle I set out to solve.

I saw the original sepia toned photograph (below), and did a B&W digital edit to get more details. What we see is the A.J. Gladwell Bicycle shop, with 665 above the door, and 665 R. Beechman on the awning.

So I set out to find more about Mr. Gladwell, and why the name Beechman was on his awning but not his painted window sign.



Here's an ad in the 1898 Lima Daily News that says R. Beechman had a meat slaughter house at 665 South Main Street (Lima Ohio).

That's it for Mr. Beechman. I couldn't find anything else on him online.

I found Andrew J. Gladwell's obituary in the Lima News, 1955. They wrote: Born July 27 1873, in Virginia, Mr. Gladwell came to Lima in 1900. He engaged in the bicycle business here for a number of years and later entered an automobile repair and paint business.  

So now we may surmise that Beecham must have quit the meat business, probably right around 1900, and still owned the building since his name was still on the awning when the shop space became Gladwell's.

A J Gladwell's obituary mentions he retired about 1945, but I didn't find any other mentions of him online in later years. Perhaps I will find him and his auto repair & paint business listed in city directories at the public library.



One other tidbit I did find was in the Dec. 26, 1912 issue of Motor World magazine, noting that: Gladwell & Crossley Motor Co., under Ohio laws, authorized capital, $10,000; to deal in motor cars. Corporators - AJ Gladwell, CC Crossley. FA Holland, HI Bland, JW Roby. (In today's dollars, that's over $200,000.)



Next I found Lima News archive link mentions of:
  • Gladwell & Crossley, repairers of bicycles and motorcycles
  • GLADWELL AND CROSSLEY AGENCY FOR THOR MOTORCYCLE
The Thor Motorcycle was built by the Aurora Independent Machine and Tool Company in Aurora Illinois from 1903-1920. At first, Aurora built motors for Indian motorcycles, then they  started their own competitor, Thor, in 1903. 

If our boys Gladwell & Crossley didn't get their Thor shop up till 1912, then they came to the ''moto cycles'' party late, and also backed the wrong machine. 
"1915 was a banner year for Indian, Harley, and Excelsior. They each offered a three-speed transmission of conventional design. The best Thor could do was a new designed cast iron two speed that mounted aside the rear hub. By 1918 the Thor Motorcycle Company was fading into obscurity. In 1920 the board of directors announced a halt to motorcycle production."
Read more Thor history on Gregory Walter's THOR Motorcycles website. 

Of course they could have still been successful, but I just didn't find any other info online -- yet. And the fellows below, the Kulp Bros. of Reading PA look like their Thor business was booming in 1917.






Motorcycle Race at the 1920 Allen County Fair in Lima Ohio.

Look at the rider, 2nd from the left. He's wearing a THOR logo on his shirt. Wonder if it's Gladwell?

Here's a photo of the interior of the RS Marshall & Co. bicycle shop. Ralph Marshall worked for Gladwell and Crossley before going into the bicycle and sporting goods business. He also put on motorcycle races. Maybe he's in that race photo too! [Source link]



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Update 8/2014:


Saw this C.C. Crossley token on ebay, and the name rang a bell, of course. A little more research finds that Gladwell sold out his share of the biz to Crossley in 1919:

VETERAN BICYCLE MAN HAS SOLD HIS BUSINESS - A. J. Gladwell, for 20 years in the bicycle trade in Lima, and for the past 5 years president of the Gladwell and Crossley Motor company, 207 South Main Street, has sold out his interest to C. C. Crossley, Secretary- treasurer of the above company. The business will be continued and operated by Crossley.[Source]


As of 1944, CC Crossley was on the Board of Directors for a Lima bank, the Citizens Loan and Building Company. 

Clifford C. Crossley died in 1949. After the bicycle business, Crossley became one of Lima's first radio dealers.


Crossley's radio biz ad in the Lima News, 1929, read:

C C CROSSLEY "CROSLEY" AND "AMHAD" RADIOS Special Attention Given to "Crosley" Radios Repair Department 

Our Mr. Crossley sold Crosley radios and appliances:


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Note: These items are part of my ''Collecting Lima Virtual Museum''. They are not for sale.

If/when I find more information on these items, I will add it to the post.

Read the Introduction to Collecting Lima Virtual Museum Project ~ My Lima Ohio Bottles, Advertising, Antiques

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