Lilly was born Lillian Beatrice Matheny in Nelsonville, Ohio in 1892. Lilly was an American motorcycle dealer. At twenty years old, she and her twenty-three year old husband, A.D. Farrow, opened their dealership which survived the Spanish Flu epidemic, World War I, The Great Depression and World War II. Lilly and Dale’s dealership went on to become America’s Oldest Harley-Davidson dealership.
Lilly’s early recognition of the importance of community led her to the formation of The Buckeye Motorcycle Club in 1924; the first uniformed motorcycle club in America. She was a prolific race promoter, staging hill climbs along the Big Walnut banks, ice races at Buckeye Lake, and the Charity Newsies flat track races.
Numerous rides that Lilly had organized survive to today, including the Endurance Ride that started in 1924, which was held on the Sunday before Thanksgiving for the past 99 years. Lilly was also a charter member of the prestigious women’s riding club, The Motor Maids, and hosted several of their annual conventions.
Lilly lost her husband, Dale, in 1927, leaving her young widow, raising four young children alone. As a single mom, she was active in Suffragette, a business woman, community leader and a long distance motorcyclist. Lilly persevered against long odds to run one of the most prominent motorcycle dealership of the twentieth century. Lilly became the country’s first female motorcycle dealer.
She continues to inspire young women riders to this day, with her hard work, passion, persistence, influence, leadership, and creativity. Lilly died on September 22, 1984 at the age of 92.
Bob Althoff, who sat at Lilly’s desk for several decades and is the owner of Dealernews said, “Lilly’s story is so much more than a motorcycle movie – it is at its heart, a true Horatio Alger story (the popular American author who believed that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles). But instead of rags-to-riches, it is about rags-to-richness.”
Here’s why this story is important. Early on, Lilly recognized the power of community. Her life’s work built a community, and it eventually came to her rescue. Her business and brand came to be identified with inclusion and kinship. Lilly’s world needed that, and so does ours. The story of Lilly Farrow is garnished with the speed, power and thrills that motorcycling exhibits, but it is Lilly’s heart, guts and perseverance that wins.
The incredible history of Iron Lilly eclipses multiple decades with a vast and detailed history with well-documented memorabilia in the form of documentation and photos.