Virtual Exhibition - A.W. Perkins: A Once in a Lifetime Chance

Friday, Aug 21, 2020

Kenosha, WI 53140

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Anson Walker Perkins was born in Missouri on January 19, 1898, to Frederick and Esther Perkins. When Anson was still a young boy, the family moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin. He became active in the Boy Scouts, and the adventurous outlook and knowledge gained through scouting would serve him throughout his life. Like may young men his age, Perkins served his country during World War I, enlisting in the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, 32nd Division Wisconsin National Guard. After his service, Perkins returned home and began a respectable career selling life Insurance. In 1928, everything changed when Perkins heard about Admiral Richard E. Byrd's planned expedition to the South Pole. Perkins wanted to be part of history and was determined to earn a spot on the journey to the bottom of the world. Byrd was just as certain Perkins did not have what it would take to serve such an expedition. But Perkins wasn't about to let that stop him. He wrote several letters, traveled to Chicago, and boarded a train all the way to New York to plead his case in person to Admiral Byrd. His determination and willingness finally won Byrd's approval, and at the last minute, he was rewarded with a place on the crew. The expedition's flagship City of New York, the Eleanor Boling, and two steel-hulled whaling ships took Byrd and crew to New Zealand. From there, the City of New York and the Boling made their way to Antarctica. The flagship reached the frigid Bay of Whales on December 28, 1928, and set up the expedition base camp, dubbed Little America It was summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but the Antarctic was little but ice, snow, and cold. Both of Byrd's ships made several such trips bringing loads of supplies, dogs, planes, and fuel from New Zealand to Little America. Perkins spent much of his time on the transport trips. His job while in New Zealand was to train the sled dogs needed to haul everything by sled from the ships' anchor point on the Ice Barrier to Little America. Admiral Byrd's legendary expedition lasted from December 1928, until the return to New York on June 18, 1930. A.W. Perkins was back in Kenosha by July, where he returned to work as a salesman for the New York Life Insurance Company. He continued to share his adventure with many in the area, giving talks and presentations with other members of the expedition. Perkins remained a lifelong resident of Kenosha, where he died November 16, 1976, at the age of 78.

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