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Roller Skating in Brownville, 1883

Roller skating originated in Europe in the 1700s, with the first patent issued for a roller skate in 1819. In 1863 an American, James Plimpton, invented an improved skate, and within the next twenty years, roller skating became highly popular. The Brownville Republican of June 28, 1883, reported the results of a local skating contest held for "some fine lady artists on the rollers," with the winner awarded a new pair of skates. The judges, Dr. Andrew S. Holladay, H. H. Dolen, and G. W. Taylor, "announced that the contestants, for the skates, would prepare for a start, and that they (the judges) would cast their votes for the two they considered the best lady skaters, and that a second round would be decided between the two receiving the highest number of votes. . . .

"Only four ladies entered for the skates. They were Minnie McGee, Julia Browning, Katie Summers and Mollie Barada. From the very start it was whispered that the prize would either go to Minnie or Mollie, but this we doubted as the little Summers girl was a charming skater for a girl of seven years or under, and we looked for her to be declared the lucky little lady, but when nearly through she and Minnie collided and went to the floor.

"After a five minutes skate the bell called the ladies to a stand, and the judges proceeded to ballot. The vote stood, Mollie Barada, 3; Julia Browning, 2; Minnie McGee, 1. Time was soon after called by Dr. Holladay for the second round, but the ladies wished to rest. While the rest was being taken, the boys took the floor and skated until time was called.

"Only one of the ladies took the floor and skated the last five minutes of the contest. As the bell warned the judges that the time was up, Dr. Holladay said he was satisfied, as he supposed every one else was, since Miss Barada was the only one that entered for the second and last round, that she was the winner of the skates, and as the other judges concurred, he declared her the best and most graceful of our local lady skaters."

(April 2004)



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