By the 1890's there were numerous stories of women dressing like men, a practice often outlawed by communities and newspapers were quick to latch onto these arrests for 'masquerading as a male.' Yet, when feminine attire of a more athletic and flexible movement arrived they were also quick to make fun.
Bloomers as a sensible and athletically friendly piece of apparel for women appeared first in America in the 1850's where it soon became popular as a reform fashion. It was a preferred dress for many early women's rights activists due to its sensible approach to movement and the freedom it represented. Despite being worn by numerous women in the 1850-1880's as protest it never quite caught on. People could apparently support a health based reason for the dress mode but that was not how it was promoted.
The bicycle and its cousin the emergent motorcycle (1885) were catching the attention of young people. They were easy to make, repair, and were highly portable . In the Ozarks of 1898, a young brother and sister died while riding a motorized bicycle made by the brother.
Minerva Ardella TERRY and her brother Granville H. Terry died in Barry Co., Missouri 15 AUG 1898. They were siblings of my great grand-father.
So, in the early 1890's, with the appearance and popularity of the bicycle, the bloomer took on new life and the argument was it would improve women's health by making it easier and safer for her to ride a bicycle. The nation was going through a health craze similar to the fitness focus on the 1970's and their was emphasis on healthy foods, exercise, and similar hallmarks of fitness.
In the Langston City Herald (Oklahoma) of August 5, 1895 (pg. 2) was a small gossipy news item: "Mrs. Knauss is the first woman in the TY [territory] to come out and brave the multitudes in a pair of bloomers. Somebody must take the lead..."
This "Mrs. Knauss" may have been Crerrill Knauss born Oct. 1846 in PA, wife of David and, according to the 1900 census, a resident of Stillwater, Payne Co., Oklahoma in 1900.