Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mrs. David Beach’s Long Walk: From New York to Chicago Through Lorain – May 1912 – Part 1

Courtesy Marshall, North Carolina News-Record
One of the things I like about living right on U.S. Route 6 is having a ringside seat to witness a variety of people walking across the country to raise awareness for a particular cause. I’ve seen a few of these walkers (not counting the one on a horse) in the last 15 years as they went right by my house in Sheffield Lake during early morning.

This isn't a new phenomenon. If I’d been living in my house back in May 1912 – 104 years ago, I would have seen Mrs. David Beach go by.

Mrs. David Beach (ah, I guess we’ll never know her real name) was ahead of her time. She was a vegetarian who walked from New York to Chicago back in April - May 1912, getting by on a diet of consisting of only raw vegetables, grains, fruit and nuts. She drank no water; instead, she quenched her thirst with pineapple juice.

Her 1000-mile trip took her forty-two and a half days. (She didn’t walk on Sundays.)

On May 13, she left Cleveland and was due in Lorain that night. Her imminent arrival was covered in the local papers. Here’s how it was covered in the Lorain Daily News (below) on May 13, 1912 – one-hundred and four years ago tomorrow.




Woman Walking From New York to Chicago Has Escort on the 30 Mile Hike From Cleveland to Lorain


Plans to Reach Toledo in Her Walk of 1,100 Miles in Four Days – Eats Only Vegetables

Mrs. David Beach, vegetarian who is walking from New York to Chicago, is enroute to Lorain today, and is scheduled to arrive here at about seven o’clock tonight. The woman pedestrian left Cleveland at six o’clock this morning and was reported to be at Dover sixteen miles from Cleveland at noon.

Mrs. Beach will spend the night at one of the local hotels and will be off tomorrow for Sandusky. Accompanying her on her thirty-mile hike today are George A. Schneider, secretary of the Cleveland Athletic club and Will McKay, former Cleveland director of sports.

Chief of Police Williams said today he had received no notice of Mrs. Beach’s coming. Members of the athletic committees of the Y. M. C. A. have made no preparations to greet Mrs. Beach, but the telephones in the Daily News office have been kept busy all day answering inquiries concerning the hiker’s arrival. Most of the phone calls were from women.

Mrs. Beach spent Sunday in Cleveland, having arrived there from Willoughby at about two o’clock Saturday afternoon.

The woman walker was not affected by the heavy rain of yesterday and started on her journey this morning with a broad smile on her face and with much confidence. She plans to take four days to reach Toledo.

The Lorain Times-Herald gave her similar coverage but with more detail. Here’s that newspaper’s front page report (below).



Famous Vegetarian Pedestrian on Way From New York to Chicago Reported at Point 3 Miles East of Beach Park at 2:55 p.m. – Muddy Roads Delay Progress  – To Spend Night In Lorain

At 3:30 Mrs. Beach had stopped several miles east of Beach park and was resting. Members of the party which is accompanying her reached a point farther on. This includes: Mrs. E. S. Davis of Lakewood, who will walk to Phelps, New York; Mrs. N. J. Willer of Lakewood, C.C. Zeller, who will accompany Mrs. Beach to Toledo and W. F. Bierman of Lakewood who will come to Lorain. Mrs. Beach did not leave Rocky River until 10:45 o’clock. She spent the time from 8:45 until the time when she left drying her clothes.

Mrs. David Beach, of New York, author and musician, enroute on a 1,000-mile walk from New York to Chicago will arrive in Lorain from Cleveland at between 4:30 and 5 o’clock this afternoon. At 2:55 o’clock she was three miles east of Beach park on the shore road, or a total distance of about ten miles from this city. Rain of the last few days have made walking exceedingly difficult.

Mrs. Beach left Cleveland at 6:30 this morning, arriving at Rocky River two hours later. She was delayed until nearly 10 o’clock, before resuming her westward journey over the paved North Ridge road.

East of Avon, Mrs. Beach left the Ridge road, turning northward and taking the shore road, where walking was more difficult but the route shorter.

Mrs. Beach is making her long walk to demonstrate the efficiency of a strict vegetarian diet. Her meals enroute, most of which are taken from an automobile which is accompanying her, consist of simple foodstuffs, fruit for the most part.

She will spend the night in Lorain, resuming her “hike” tomorrow morning. By tomorrow night she expects to reach Sandusky. Her route then lies through Fremont to Toledo.

Yesterday she spent in Cleveland as the guest of the Cleveland Athletic Club, to members of which she delivered a lecture on vegetarian diet. Members of the club accompanied her this morning as far as Rocky River.

Mrs. Beach has partially completed a book on the benefits to be had from a vegetable diet. “I had thought my readers would think I was writing from theory,” Mrs. Beach said, “so I decided to prove the truth of my contentions.”

The woman walker is making no attempt to establish a cross-country walking record. Her daily trips. since leaving New York, have averaged between 25 and 30 miles.

Next: Welcome to Lorain

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