Edward C. Stearns, an industrialist, along with his sister, Avis Stearns Van Wagenen manufactured iron castings and produced patterns for metal fabrication. At the end of the 19th century, the company was one of the most extensive manufactures of hardware in the United States, and was one of the leading manufacturing industries of Syracuse, New York.
By the early 1890s, E. C. Stearns & Company had branched into bicycle manufacturing and formed a subsidiary called E. C. Stearns Bicycle Agency.
This Model "C" Women's Stearns bicycle has a colorful history. I purchased it from the great grandson of the original owner. She operated a saloon and brothel in Aberdeen Washington in the 1890's. She bought this Stearns new and used it to commute to her place of business until purchasing a new brass era Ford Model "T" in 1904. Quite the character, her great grandson informed me that she had a pet rooster and smoked cigars !
Note the original license tag on the head tube dated 1898.