Helen Minerva “Minnie” McKinley was born in 1838 the fifth of nine children in Niles, Ohio. A precocious child, Minnie was a voracious reader with a curious mind and an appetite for adventure. Her sense of determination did not waver into her young adulthood, when Minnie finally had enough of her mother’s constant pleas to settle down and marry. At the time, Minnie’s younger brother William was a decorated soldier and was heading off to law school, and she craved adventures of her own.
Minnie set her sights West… In 1866, filled with nerves, excitement, and a spot of her father’s Irish Whiskey, she boarded a train to Memphis. The rest of her journey is undocumented, though it was rumored that a portion of her trip was spent on the back of a longhorn Her travels fell short of California and she ended up in the territory known today as Arizona.
Despite the harsh conditions for a young woman in the Wild West, Minnie flourished. The supply of Irish Whiskey she’d brought from Ohio endeared her to the town’s movers and shakers – before she knew it, she was a fixture of the newly minted Phoenix. Under the guise of a sewing circle, Minnie started a secret women’s social group she coined "The Powdered Wigs” (slang in the day for getting drunk). Women from all walks of life would come to enjoy a cocktail as they solved the community’s problems – everything from tending crops to trapping coyotes.
Over the years, the club evolved to include men. Many of our great thinkers are rumored to have been members. Minnie’s legacy and the social club, now known simply as The McKinley Club, continue to this day.