Feb. 28, 1869 Atchison Atchison County Kansas, USA
Oct. 29, 1962 Medford Middlesex County Massachusetts, USA
Amy Otis was born in 1869, the second of six surviving children of Alfred Gideon and Amelia J. (Harres) Otis. Alfred Otis was a Kansas state judge and politician; he later became a U.S. District Court judge, and was chief warden of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Atchison, where the Otis family lived. Amelia Otis was the granddaughter of Gebhard Harres, a German settler well known for his work in the Lutheran Church.
In 1895, after several years of courtship, AO married Edwin Stanton Earhart (ESE), a poor, young lawyer who had yet to prove himself truly worthy to the Otises' satisfaction. The Earharts moved to Kansas City, where they lived for the next ten years, during which they had two daughters: Amelia Mary (1897) and Grace Muriel (1899). Amelia, nicknamed "Millie," and Muriel, called "Pidge," spent most of each year with their Otis grandparents in Atchison. Their parents moved to Des Moines in 1907, when ESE found legal work with the Rock Island Railroad; the girls remained in Atchison until September 1909. The following ten years were marked by a series of moves as poverty, brought on by financial mismanagement and ESE's developing alcoholism, made life increasingly difficult. In 1915 the Earharts separated and AOE moved to Chicago with her daughters. Reuniting in Kansas City in 1916, the Earharts moved to Los Angeles; they were finally divorced in 1924.
Muriel (MEM) was by then a teacher in Medford, Massachusetts; AOE joined her there, while Amelia was a social worker at Denison House, a Boston settlement. In 1929, Muriel married Albert Morrissey; they had two children, David and Amy. In 1937, AOE moved to North Hollywood to live with Amelia (AE) and her husband of six years, George Palmer Putnam (GPP); she remained in California for nine years, clinging to the hope that AE would return after her disappearance in July 1937. In 1946 AOE rejoined Muriel's family in Medford, but returned to Berkeley in July 1949 to await AE's reappearance. One year later she moved back to Medford, where she died on October 29, 1962.
Although sources differ as to the exact dates of the various Earhart relocations, they offer rich insights into family life and relationships. The numerous AE biographies include Mary S. Lovell's The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), Doris L. Rich's Amelia Earhart: A Biography (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), and two by MEM (Courage is the Price: The Biography of Amelia Earhart, Wichita, Kan.: McCormick-Armstrong Publishing Division, 1963; and, with Carol L. Osborne, Amelia, My Courageous Sister: Biography of Amelia Earhart, Santa Clara, Calif.: Osborne Publisher, 1987). Jean Backus has edited a collection of AE's letters, based on this collection before it was received by the Schlesinger Library (Letters from Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart, Boston: Beacon Press, 1982).