During the Seminary Picnic, there was another noteworthy event happening at the same time. Perry County Heritage Tourism unveiled its “Field to Flight” historical marker Saturday to commemorate Charles Lindbergh and his connection to Perryville and his aviation efforts.
The structure, located on the corner of Highway T and Sycamore Road, has an eight-foot wing connected to a nine-foot tall section of tempered glass behind it. The glass has a bi-plane etched at the top. Six panels of the wing portion include local photographs and content that explain Lindbergh’s history in Perry County.
Perryville Mayor Ken Baer was on hand to say a few words and noted that this is yet another quality piece of history added to Perry County.
“When I travel around to different places I always mention three things,” Baer said. “The Missouri National Veterans Memorial, The Association of the Miraculous Medal, and the American Tractor Museum. It looks like I’m going to have to add another one to the list.”
On multiple occasions during the ceremony, the name John Schlinder was mentioned as a key contributor to the marker and one of the first to think of the idea that has now come to fruition. Schlinder, who passed away in November 2019, was remembered by Mike Warren Jr. of Main Street Signs for his dedication to the project, during the event.
“John knew the story of Charles Lindbergh barnstorming on the Seminary grounds,” Warren said. “He knew that it not only had to be told, but marked so that the aviation legacy that is centered in our community would be celebrated and never forgotten.”
Schindler also had his own history of barnstorming, according to multiple stories told by Warren.
“I remember attending the ceremony as a boy and marveling at the bi-plane that would circle the grounds,” Warren said. “I heard stories about this man, whose name was John Schlinder. He was a pilot who turned out to be a daredevil and it was always entertaining when he would come to town. I always envisioned Schlinder crash landing during the Seminary Picnic.”
Warren said that the relationship with Warren’s father strengthened over the years and noted that Schlinder had planned a way to memorialize his passion for flying.
“John knew when he asked my father that he would make sure the mark was set and the legacy would live on. Today, we stand beside the inspired craftsmanship true to those of an aviator’s life.” Warren said. “Both Schlinder and Lindbergh would view this landmark with pride and admiration.”
The son of Swedish immigrants, Lindbergh, born in 1902 near Little Falls, Minn., earned his fame as an aviator in the 1920s as a pilot, barnstorming his way through the Midwest before joining the Army Air Corps and eventually becoming the first person to complete a solo trans-Atlantic flight in the iconic Spirit of St. Louis.
One of the stops Lindbergh made on his barnstorming tours was St. Mary’s Seminary cow pasture in Perryville — now known as the Seminary Picnic Grounds — where he performed aerial shows and sold rides to interested residents for $3 a person.
“It’s a vision of 1923 and that’s what we want people to feel when they come here,” Perry County Heritage Tourism Director Trish Erzfeld said. “This is a thread of history that would be lost unless we have a way to tell people about it.