Posts Tagged ‘Antarctic Expedition’

Winneshiek Selected for Byrd’s Expedition

July 30, 2010

Chris Sholly of the Lebanon Daily News came to the rescue. Because she writes about local history for the newspaper, her editor assigned her the task of following up on my request for information regarding the September 5, 1933 article that I had been unable to find. She has a number of old columns in her files, but the one we are looking for wasn’t among them. When the Lebanon County Historical Society was open on Thursday, yesterday, Chris was right there diving into files and ruining her vision reading microfilms. But it was worth it, she found the missing article which is included below. As a bonus, she found a similar but different article in another paper. I will have to wait to see that one because of limitations with the scanner she uses at work.

The article stated that the information it received came from Atlantic City, presumably from Winneshiek himself. The article also stated that Winneshiek’s band was playing at the Million Dollar Pier in that city. As luck has it, evidence exists that Winneshiek’s band did, in fact, play at the Million Dollar Pier in the form of a photograph. That photograph can be seen on the website Winneshiek’s grandson maintains at This same photograph was used by Conn Instruments in advertising materials which featured Winneshiek’s band as endorsing their horns.

Now my task is to determine if William Winneshiek actually made the trip. Less than five years after the expedition returned home, he claimed repeatedly to newspaper reporters that he had gone to the South Pole, but we must verify if that actually happened. Local newspaper reports of school activities place Winneshiek’s children in Lebanon while the expedition was underway. If their father was home at all during that time, friends and neighbors would have noticed.

It’s more fun digging now that there is something to go on.

Winneshiek on Byrd’s South Pole Expedition

July 27, 2010

I don’t know how I overlooked this but I must have. Two newspaper articles both state that William Winneshiek was along with Richard Byrd on his Second Antarctic Expedition. One article, dated October 14, 1939 announced his marriage to Estella Winters of Reading, Pennsylvania. The article mentioned, among other things, that Winneshiek had been a member of Byrd’s expedition. The second article, dated October 7, 1940, was about a talk he gave in Circleville, Ohio on its annual History Day. Again, his involvement with Byrd’s trip to the South Pole was mentioned. This was something new to me as I had previously heard nothing about Winneshiek’s involvement in anything like this.

Hoping to learn more, I contacted the Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program at The Ohio State University (don’t forget the The). Linda Kissel, the Polar Curator, dug through their files using several ingenious spellings of Winneshiek’s name—one of the problems researching him is that his name is often misspelled—and came up dry. I noted that the information about this was most likely given to both reporters by Winneshiek himself. She told me that she is constantly getting similar requests about other people who claimed to have been on the expedition. So, I figured that he just made it up.

Until I found something else. The September 5, 1973 edition of Lebanon Daily News, Winneshiek’s adopted home town’s newspaper, included a 40-years-ago column in which was stated, “William P. Winnishiek[sic], local Indian, was chosen a member of Admiral Richard Byrd’s expedition to the Antarctic.” Bill died 20 years before this was printed, so he could have had no involvement in a false memory and his son was estranged from him, so he didn’t do it. This was likely a direct quote from the September 5, 1933 paper. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a copy of it—yet.