Amelia Earhart

Essay by emilylengriffin June 2004

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The Early Years

America's famous aviatrix Amelia Mary Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 at her grandparents' home in Atchison, Kansas. Her grandfather, Alfred Otis was one of the leading citizens of Atchison. Amy Earhart, having suffered a miscarriage in an earlier pregnancy, returned to her parents' home to await the birth of Amelia. Her father, Edwin Earhart remained with his law practice in Kansas City during this period. A sister, Muriel would be born 2 1/2 years later Amelia (Millie) and her sister Muriel (Pidge) were to know privilege and wealth through their grandparents....attending private schools and enjoying many of the comforts of life. Alfred was never impressed with who he considered the "ne'er-do-well" son-in-law, Edwin. Edwin Stanton Earhart failed to measure-up to the Otis standards of providing social status and large income for his family. After failing in his private practice, Edwin took an executive job in 1905 with the Rock Island Line Railroad in Des Moines, Iowa.

He and Amy moving to Des Moines, leaving the girls with their grandparents in Atchison. It was not till 1908 that the girls moved to Des Moines to be with their parents. Amelia was 10 years old when she saw her first airplane at the Iowa State Fair...

"It was a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting..."

She was much more interested in a peach basket paper hat purchased at the fair. It would be more than a decade before Amelia's interest in aviation would be awakened. Edwin was promoted in 1909 and their living standards much improved. "This happy time," Muriel was to later write, "was unfortunately a prelude to a period which saw the loss of our material prosperity and the beginning of the disintegration of the family..."...Edwin had begun to drink.