Profiling: Joseph Dick

By Karen A., Visitor Host

Born in Jackson Township, Stark County, Ohio, on May 28th 1840, Joseph Dick was a machinist in Oshawa from 1863 util 1874, later becoming a proprietor of his own business, Dick’s Agricultural Works, located in Canton, Ohio. What’s really interesting about Joseph is his patent from 1869 for the “improvement in the velocipede, to be called ‘Joseph Dick, junior, lightening speed combined velocipede.’”

The velocipede was invented by French inventor Nicephore Niepce in 1818. It is described as a vehicle that is powered by man with two or more wheels and has pedals; this invention is now commonly known as the bicycle. Throughout the period of 1818 to 1880, many different improvements were made to the velocipede to make the machine faster, more productive and more comfortable for the rider.  To learn more about the functions of the velocipede visit

Various types of velocipedes; History of Bicycles, Image from:

Joseph’s improvement to the velocipede made the machine faster by altering the gears. In The Daily Kansas Tribune, from May 21st 1869, an article was written about Joseph’s invention. “The gear was arranged that with one motion of the foot the front wheel would make two revolutions; another brake will throw the machinery into gear, so that the foot will move twice to one revolution of the wheel- adapted for ascending hills; a third adaption will throw the cranks off the wheel, and thus the velocipede will roll down hill without the feet moving; a forth arrangement will convert the whole into an ordinary bicycle. When in full speed it can be driven a mile in two minutes.”

Critical Geographies of Cycling page 62 - Copy
Joseph Dick’s design for his velocipede 1869; Image from Critical Geographies of Cycling by Glen Norcliffe, 2015.

Joseph’s early life was spent going to school only four months of the year while the rest of the year he helped his father, Joseph Dick Senior, on the farm. At the age of seventeen Joseph began to learn the art of making models for inventors in Canton. In 1861, he was employed in an agricultural implement works in Canton for two years and then proceeded to help his father on the farm again for another eight months. In 1864 Joseph immigrated into Canada, settling in Oshawa.

Joseph was married to Rosanna McKitterick on May 14th 1866, in Oshawa. The couple had six children: Emma, William, Charles, Frank, Agnes and Laura. After working for the A.S. Whiting Manufacturing Co. for eleven years, Joseph moved back to Ohio and began his own factory. Dick’s Agricultural Works was rather successful employing up to seventy men in the busy season. Joseph was the inventor of all of his machinery and tested his goods before selling them. By 1900 the company reached its peach and had an annual business of over $100,000. Some of his other patents and successful products include: Dick’s Famous Patent Feed, Truck and Sack Holder, and his Famous Ensilage Cutting Machinery. Joseph lived the rest of his life in Canton, never returning to Oshawa, and passed away in 1924.

Joseph Dick Portrait
Portrait of Joseph Dick in his later years; Image from A History of Catholicity in Northern Ohio, Vol. 2, 1900.

For more information on Joseph Dick or the history of velocipede, please visit:

Critical Geographies of Cycling, Google eBook

A History of Catholicity in Northern Ohio vol.2,

A Portrait and Biological Record of Stark County,

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