(Russian: Анна Копчовская)
known as Annie Londonderry, was a Russian immigrant to the United States who in 1894–95 became the first woman to bicycle around the world.
Her family moved to the United States in 1875 and she became a citizen as a child. They settled in Boston, Massachusetts, and lived in a tenement on Spring Street. On January 17, 1887, her father died, and her mother died two months later. Her older sister Sarah was already married and living in Maine, leaving Annie (age 17) and her brother Bennett (age 20) to take care of their younger siblings Jacob and Rosa (ages 10 and 8 or 9 at the time, respectively). Annie and Bennett both soon married, and brought their spouses to share their Spring Street home.
In 1888 Annie Cohen married Simon "Max" Kopchovsky, a peddler. They had three children in the next four years: Bertha Malkie (Mollie), Libbie, and Simon. Her brother Bennett married Bertha, and they had two children. Her brother Jacob died of a lung infection at age 17. Max, a devout Jew, attended synagogue and studied the Torah, while Annie sold advertising space for several daily Boston newspapers.
https://youtu.be/P8yJ46hClyw∼She cycled away from her Boston home and into stardom, leaving a husband and three small children for a journey that came to symbolize women's independence.
If ever there was an avatar of these combined social trends, "of free, untrammeled womanhood," it was Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, a Latvian immigrant who in June 1894, at about age 23, cycled away from her Boston home, leaving a husband and three small children, for a journey around the world. Though Thomas Stevens, an Englishman, had circumnavigated the globe on a high-wheeler several years earlier, no woman had tried such a feat.
Keeping her husband and family a secret for most of her journey, she called herself Annie Londonderry and agreed, in exchange for $100, to attach an advertisement to her bicycle for the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company of New Hampshire. Her bicycle and her person became a rolling billboard, the first of many moneymaking schemes she would come up with to finance her travels.
The first leg of her trip took her from Boston to Chicago, and the last, from San Francisco to Chicago, via El Paso, were accomplished — for the most part, it seems — on two wheels, and thus it is a reasonable claim that she was the first female cyclist to cross the American continent.
In any case her journey was a pioneering one in the history of women's athletics, in which she cycled thousands of miles.
She was a novice cyclist when she set out, and her first vehicle was a poor one, a clunky tank of a machine weighing 42 pounds. (Most bicycles today weigh 21 to 29 pounds.) She did not discard skirts in favor of bloomers or men's pants for several months. The roads were often unpaved, and it took her three months to make it first to New York and then to Chicago. By then it was late September, too late in the year to begin a ride across the Great Plains.
Kopchovsky was born Annie Cohen in Latvia in 1870 or 1871, the daughter of Levi and Beatrice Cohen. The family moved to the United States in 1875, settling in Boston. In 1888 she married Max Kopchovsky, a peddler, and by 1892 they had two daughters and a son.
Among the more remarkable aspects of Kopchovsky's story is that she chose to leave her family to pursue her quixotic quest.
Ostensibly she undertook the trip to settle a bet between Boston businessmen on whether women were as physically capable as men. It was a story she told at every stop, explaining to reporter after reporter that she was to receive $10,000 if she finished her journey in 15 months, in addition to the $5,000 she earned above her expenses along the way. She claimed in the end to have settled the bet and earned her money. But Zheutlin's reporting cast that story in doubt, and he concluded that there were no such businessmen, nor was there any such wager.
She returned to her family when the trip was complete, and never again, evidently, made bicycling an important part of her life. She wrote a highly suspect account of her journey that appeared in The New York Sunday World in October 1895 under the byline Nellie Bly Jr.
She and her husband had a fourth child in 1897, and Kopchovsky left home again for a time and worked as a saleswoman in Ukiah, Calif., about 115 miles north of San Francisco. When she returned, she and her husband lived in the Bronx and operated a small clothing business, employing 20 people. The business was destroyed by a fire in the 1920s, Zheutlin wrote, and Kopchovsky used the insurance money to start another business in Manhattan, called Grace Strap & Novelty, "with a man named Feldman she met at a Horn & Hardart restaurant."
Kopchovsky died of a stroke on Nov. 11, 1947. Her husband had died the previous year.
Source: New York Times , Nov 6, 2019∼First woman to circumnavigate the globe on a bicycle (1894-95).
Duplicate - original should be updated AND famous.
Known as. Annie Londonderry
1875–1946 (m. 1888)
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