|25 January 1886 - 21 December 1968
The child reached as high as she could with her small hand
outstretched. Her chubby little arm was extended to its maximum
reach as her fingers grasped at the piece of paper floating down
through the air towards the ground. Her cheeks were flushed with
excitement and she squealed with joy as she opened the bright leaflet
she caught in the breeze. Her brother grabbed a paper too, as did
the other people who were standing around her family.
Everyone’s eyes were lifted skyward as they watched the airplane sail
across the sky, dropping pamphlets down on the small city of Peru,
Indiana. It was two o’clock in the afternoon on September 21,
1918. She could not read what was written on the colorful paper
she clutched, but she heard her father’s voice ring out as he read the
words that were printed across the pamphlet.
A plane had been secured to arrive at the Country Club outside of Peru on Friday at five p.m. Members of the Mississinewa Country Club were invited to watch flying exhibitions during the early evening hours. The plane was known as a “Jenny" which was an abbreviation of the proper name - Curtiss JN-4. These planes were used during WWI to train fighter pilots. 95% of the airman trained to fly at that time were trained on the Jenny. There was a combined total in excess of 8000 Jennys built at six different manufacturing locations. They were used by the military from 1916-1927. Often referred to as the Model T-Ford of the air, the Jenny’s wingspan was over 43 feet. She was more than 27 feet long and exceeded 9 feet in height. When empty the plane weighed nearly 2000 pounds. To see an airplane in 1918 was uncommon, so this event to raise awareness and promote sales of the Liberty Bonds was an exciting occurrence. It was a very special occasion for the people of Miami County to see a Jenny that fall weekend. On Saturday afternoon, starting at 1:50 pm, Liberty Loan circulars were released into the sky by the pilot, Lieutenant Johnson of the U.S. Aviation Army Corps, while he exhibited the plane, flying over the streets and houses of Peru. The next day, on Sunday, the Jenny was on display at the Country Club, which was open to the public, so people could see the plane up close, and also meet Lieutenant Johnson. Afterwards he flew the plane back to St Louis.
To understand the role of industries in America during WWI one must understand the involvement of the War Industries Board. In 1916 a Council of National Defense was formed in the United States to coordinate the supply of the armed forces in case the need arrived. The pattern of doing business in America was not a good fit with these measures, so on July 28,1917 President Wilson set up the War Industries Board within the CND. As a result, the president was able to utilize executive orders instead of trying to initiate statutes to get things done. There continued to be road blocks to achieve what needed to be accomplished so on March 4, 1918 President Wilson separated the WIB from the CND and took other measures to strengthen the WIB. While it used negotiations to make progress with meeting the needs of the military through private industry and functioned largely through voluntary cooperation, it was viewed by many people as a form of economic dictatorship. Still, many industries were involved with the war effort as a result of the WIB. This fact, coupled with the reality of the German use of chemical warfare, makes it quite likely that employees at the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works were involved with government war work. Since Minnie’s father was connected to the Indiana State Legislature, her involvement in some type of government work is entirely plausible.
The individual who was given the credit for persuading Lieutenant Johnson to lend his time and talent, as well as for him to obtain the military plane for the Liberty Bond event in Miami County, was a young woman named Minnie Antrim. She was from a well-known Miami County family. Her paternal grandfather had been born in Clinton County, Ohio and at some unknown date had migrated to Cass County, Indiana. When her father, the esteemed Nott Nobel Antrim, was ten-years old he was orphaned. Nott lived with an older brother for two years and then, striking out on his own, worked his way through school and became a lawyer. Later he was elected to the state legislature. Nott married Minnie’s mother, Marilda Adkisson, in 1875. Minnie’s brother, Nott W, was born in 1881 and Minnie was born in 1886. Tragically in 1894 Marilda Antrim died.
Nott Nobel remarried and the children were raised by their step-mother, Ida Bell Armstrong Antrim. As a young woman, Minnie taught music while living in her father’s Peru Township home. Her involvement in civic affairs is first noted in June of 1917 when she is listed as one of the two officers who were registering women to vote in Miami County Indiana. But by 1918 the St Louis City Directory lists Minnie as employed as a stenographer with Mallinckrodt Chemical Works. The Peru paper, in September of that year, when reporting of the upcoming event involving the Liberty Bond Airplane, refers to Minnie as being “stationed at St Louis”. At this time, no proof of a military involvement has been found for Minnie. So, what was she doing in St Louis at the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works?
After the war, Minnie remained in St. Louis, where she began working for the Wabash Rail Road as a stenographer. She was promoted to a clerk in 1922. Tragedy touched Minnie’s life when her father died in 1931. Although continuing to live in St Louis through 1935, Minnie had moved on by 1940 when, always on the cutting edge of popular trends, Minnie was living at the Warwick Allerton Hotel working as a radio clerk. Don McNiel was broadcasting from the Tip Top Lounge on the 23rd floor of the Warwick Allerton on the ABC Radio Network at that time, therefore it is likely that she was a clerk for ABC Radio Network. Minnie suffered another significant loss when her brother died in 1956. She must have retired to Hot Springs National Park in Garland County, Arkansas because in 1960 she can be located by her involvement in a legal dispute over real estate property. Three years passed and at age 77, she was photographed taking a Spanish foreign language class at the Hot Springs YWCA. Five years later, Minnie passed away while still living in Arkansas. Her body was brought back to Miami County and on December 24, 1968, graveside services were held for her at Mount Hope Cemetery in Peru, Indiana. Minnie was one of the women who were the movers and the shakers in Miami County during the WWI era. Credited with procuring the main attraction for the Liberty Bond event at the Country Club in 1918, she is certainly a part of Miami County, Indiana that is “worth remembering".
Researched, written & submitted by Mary Rohrer Dexter
Works Cited"Aeroplane Coming." Unknown Peru newspaper, 17 Sept. 1918.
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“‘United States Census, 1900," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https://Familysearch.org/Ark:/61903/1:1:M9MX-6FB : Accessed 2 September 2017), Minnie Antrim in Household of Nott N Antrim, Peru Township Peru City Ward 2, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) 104, Sheet 7B, Family 164, NARA Microfilm Publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL Microfilm 1,240,393.”
“‘United States Census, 1910," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https://Familysearch.org/Ark:/61903/1:1:MK53-C4C : Accessed 2 September 2017), Minnie Antrim in Household of Nott Antrim, Peru Ward 2, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) ED 127, Sheet 5A, Family 113, NARA Microfilm Publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), Roll 371; FHL Microfilm 1,374,384.”
“‘United States Census, 1940," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https://Familysearch.org/Pal:/MM9.1.1/K4MF-L3Z : Accessed 2 September 2017), Minnie F Antrim, Ward 42, Chicago, Chicago City, Cook, Illinois, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) 103-2689, Sheet 86A...”
“War Bonds.” New Articles RSS.
“War Industries Board.” New Articles RSS.
“World War 1 Propaganda Posters.” World War 1 Propaganda Posters | Examples of Propaganda from WW1.
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