110th Anniversary Look Back

110th Anniversary Look Back - Day 279

For today's #365daysofkegelhd we share this article of a Freeport publication from July 26, 2000 by Olga Gize Carlile.

*we do apologize as part of the article appears to be missing*

Kegel's: Started in Freeport

As I mentioned in Monday's "Around the Table," our nephew Bill Gize of Phoenix and his wife were heading to Rockford to visit the Kegel Motorcycle Co. before meeting friends and relatives in Chicago.

It was the wish of their son, Brian, who was celebrating his 14th birthday on this trip, to see "the world's oldest Harley Dealer - Kegel Motorcycle Co."

Our hunch was right, that world's oldest Harley got its start right here in Freeport. The Web site history said Joseph Kegel started a bicycle shop in Freeport in 1909. In 1910, he began selling a brand of motorcycle called Harley-Davidson.

In 1923, Joseph decided to relocate to Rockford. He moved his family and set up shop in an old livery stable on North Madison Street in downtown Rockford. The '20s were quite good for business and, when the depression came, Joseph's approach to his business allowed him to survive those bad economic times.

Today, they are "The World's Oldest Harley Dealer," a distinction the third generation enjoys with a special place in the world of...

...part of the business. Eventually, the boys decided to separate the business. Harold carried on the bicycle end; Bob stayed with the motorcycles. In the '60s, the third generation became involved with the motorcycle business and, in 1970, Bob, following the tradition of his father, brought the third generation into the family business.

Bob Kegel retired in 1997, shortly after the opening of the new world class facility. Sons Karl, Mark and daughter, Carole, together, operated the business. In December 1998, Carole retired after 35 years of service to her family's business.

Now, Karl and Mark head the top-notch store - "The world's oldest Harley Dealership - Kegel Motorcycle Co."

Now for the Freeport chapter in the history - the one where it all started.

Joel Kloepping, the present owner, says the business really predates 1909. Joseph actually purchased a business that was already in existence in either 1897 or 1898. It was a bicycle and gun repair shop at that time, owned by Michael Redlinger.

Joseph Kegel purchased it in 1909 and sold bicycles. In 1910, he started selling Harley-Davidson, Kloepping said. Then in 1923, he sold the Freeport bicycle and motorcycle business to his brother, Julius Kegel. Julius had it until 1960 when his nephew, Edward Kloepping, purchased it. The sale of motorcycles in Freeport was discontinued in 1966. Edward continued in the bicycle business until 1985, when his son, Joel, purchased it. His is the present owner of Kegel's Bicycle Shop LTD Freeport.

Today, along with the bicycles in the store front window, Joel has a sleep, shiny steel scooter with small wheels.

It's just like the old-timers we had as kids, you put one foot on the scooter and push with the other," Joel explained when an inquiry was made whether it was electrically powered."

#kegel365 #harleydavidson #kegelhd #worldsoldest