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Minnie Augusta Knoop Guenther


Inducted in 1986

Minnie, the daughter of Rudolph and Alvina Knoop, was born July 12, 1890, in Neilsville, Wisconsin. The day after she married the Reverend E. Edgar Guenther in 1910, she found herself headed for the Apache Reservation in the Arizona Territory, where her bridegroom had been asked to do missionary work. Minnie and her husband devoted their lives to bringing the gospel to the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

In pursuit of their goal, they reopened the mission school, built desks and wrote lessons. Under primitive conditions, Minnie cooked for the school children, typed sermons for her husband, taught school and Sunday school, learned to speak Apache, played the organ for services, and accompanied her husband on camp calls. 

The Guenthers also established an orphanage for Apache children. During a whooping cough epidemic in 1914, Minnie and her husband spent many weary days in the saddle from morning till dark. Having no medicine of any kind, the Pastor trapped skunks, rendered the fat and mixed it with turpentine and coal oil for use as a poultice. In order to give the concoction a pleasant odor, Minnie added some of her precious perfume, the last vestige of a way of life denied her in the frontier wilderness. For chest pads, they cut up every spare piece of warm cloth on hand, and when that was used up, their long winter underwear was dedicated to the cause. Every one of their charges survived, but hundreds of others across the reservation perished. 

Minnie raised several Apache children along with her own nine and was personally responsible for arranging operations for Apache children with congenital physical problems. She particularly enjoyed working with children but also did counseling. She was very effective in her work with alcoholics. The Apache Ladies Aid nominated her in 1966 for Arizona Mother of the Year. The following year, she was chosen the American Mother of the Year and was honored at a ceremony in New York. In 1967, she also received the Builders of a Greater Arizona award. Minnie died in her beloved parsonage in 1982 at age 91.

Ruth Guenther Kessel, April 1997

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