ATCHISON, Kan. (KSNT) — She was a pioneer of the sky, but her roots are firmly planted in Kansas. Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas.

Amelia Earhart’s childhood home, now the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum

Amelia’s family lived in her grandfather’s home. Alfred Otis was a well-known judge and spent 12 years building the magnificent white house that still stands in Atchison. It is now the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, 223 N. Terrace.

Even at a young age, Amelia was a thrill-seeker, doing whatever she could for a rush of adrenaline, even building a roller coaster in the backyard with her sister.

“She just flew through the air and was telling her sister, ‘It felt like I was flying,'” said Heather Roesch, Manager of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum.

From then on, Amelia was hooked and she went on to become one of the best-known pilots in the world.

“Just a simple American girl, she made herself,” said Alexander Mandel, Amelia Earhart historian. “She was the embodiment of the American dream.”

Because of Earhart’s talent, brains and beauty, she became quite the celebrity.

“She was a renaissance woman, she had many talents,” added Mandel.

Earhart wrote books and designed clothing. She was offered brand deals and was featured on the covers of major fashion magazines. But her friends and family say she never forgot her roots in Kansas.

“She was very friendly,” explained Roesch. “She wanted to teach women that, ‘hey, you can do whatever a man can do’ or ‘you can wear pants, you don’t have to wear those dresses.'”

Amelia Earhart

Earhart’s life, from childhood to her disappearance while attempting to fly around the world in 1937, is on display in the museum. The home is about as historically accurate as possible because Amelia’s sister Muriel returned to design the house exactly how it was in their childhood.

Amelia’s childhood bedroom

“The wallpaper, the furniture, they wanted to put it back to, as much as they could, the look and feel of things when she lived here,” said Roesch.

The museum also has historical artifacts like Amelia’s clothing, personal letters and photos.

“We tell people about her whole life,” added Roesch. “People are surprised about things that they would’ve never guessed about her.”

“I think this house still has the spirit of Amelia Earhart,” said Mandel. “When I walk through the rooms, it’s like she’s still here.”

The museum is open for personal tours on Friday and Saturdays, by appointment. There is an entry fee. Find more information on the museum and how to schedule an appointment here. While at the museum, you can also view the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge that the home overlooks on the Missouri River.

Newspaper following Earhart’s disappearance

Theories of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance:

Alexander Mandel is an Amelia Earhart historian and shared the most common theories surrounding Earhart’s disappearance during her world flight in 1937.

“There are three theories that can be considered serious,” said Mandel.

  1. Technical difficulties at sea – The first theory Mandel says is the most common. This theory is that Earhart crashed at sea due to technical difficulties or the inability to find the small island to land.
  2. Landed in enemy territory – The second theory proposes that Earhart accidentally landed in the Central Pacific that was, at the time, controlled by the Japanese Navy. Mandel says there was a lot of tension between Japan and the USA during that time. Some say the Japanese may have believed Earhart was a U.S. spy and kept her captive until her death.
  3. Stranded on an island – The third theory hypothesizes Earhart landed on an uninhabited island and was not able to get help, dying on the island.

There is a less common theory that states Earhart survived Japanese imprisonment and made it back to the USA, but lived under an alias.

“According to most researchers, that could not be true,” said Mandel. “It was debunked.”