The Great Western Manufacturing Company of LaPorte, Indiana was primarily founded by John Lonn and his son Edward Julius Lonn in 1899-1900. Prior to that, the business went by name of John Lonn and Son, which originally started as a hide/tannery shop that shifted to making harnesses for horses. By natural progression the business then gravitated toward bicycles. A little before the reorganization of the old company to the new, Edward Lonn bought out Crown Bicycle Co, which provided the stepping stone to the start of Great Western’s growth.
Though the new company was originally a conglomeration of partnerships with other companies, the Lonns swiftly bought out their partners. By 1903 the Great Western Manufacturing Company owned Adams & Westlake, David Bradley Companies and Wisconsin Wheel Works- consolidating them and moving most of their production and operations from their original locations to LaPorte, Indiana. It is interesting to note that by 1903-1904 Great Western was considered the largest independent bicycle concern (business group) in the United States, outstripping ABC (American Bicycle Company).
In 1904-1905, the company ventured into motorcycles. More specifically the interesting “America” motorcycle. The engine was made by Thor (Aurora Automatic Machinery Company) and the rest by Great Western. At the time many manufacturers were creating motorcycles based on the early Indian and the America shared many similarities. However what made “America” stand out from its other counter parts of the day was the lack of handlebars. Instead, the curious motorcycle employed the use of a steering wheel. In fact the steering wheel itself has a patent where it was to be used for automobiles, bicycles and other vehicles.
And yes, Great Western even created a bicycle using said steering wheel through their Crown line.
This bicycle shown below was sold at an auction and surfaced at a Wheelmen Meet in 2013. You can see the close similarities between the bicycle and the "America."
Though the venture was short lived and mostly a novelty, Great Western interestingly enough had a bicycle line called the “America” in the 1910’s that continued production into the 1920’s.