Nellie Mighels Davis takes her place in Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame

Nellie Mighels Davis

Nellie Mighels Davis

A pioneer in journalism for Nevada women was inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame last week.

Nellie Mighels Davis, former owner and publisher of the Nevada Morning Appeal, was inducted. Davis, Don Digilio, Dennis Myers, Cory Farley and Thomas Mitchell are the latest journalists to join Silver State giants like Mark Twain, Hank Greenspun and Mike O’Callaghan in the distinguished group.

They were approved for induction earlier this month by the Nevada Press Association Board of Directors.

Davis was the first woman to cover the Nevada Legislature, reporting on the assembly in 1877 and 1879, when her husband Henry Rust Mighels owned the Nevada Morning Appeal. When he died in the spring of 1879, Nellie assumed ownership and took over as publisher of the Carson City paper at the age of 35.

She hired Samuel Post Davis as editor; they were married the following year on July 4. Davis assumed management of the paper after the wedding and the family retained ownership of the Appeal until 1945, when Nellie died at 101.

One of her seven children, Henry R. Mighels Jr., was named editor of the Appeal in 1898 and remained in the position for at least 30 years.

In 1897, Mighels Davis also became the first woman ever to report a prize fight, when the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight was held in Carson City. Nevada was then the only state in the U.S. where professional boxing was legal. She was paid $50 for the story by a Chicago newspaper.

“I was for Fitzsimmons and I had a bet on with Mr. Woodburn,” Mighels Davis recounted. According to the Nevada Women’s History Project, she was one of only a few women – mostly prostitutes – in the audience. She used her maiden name on the story to avoid “disgracing” herself and her friends by revealing she had been present at the fight.

In 1899, during the Spanish-American War, Nellie organized the American Red Cross in Nevada. She was involved in establishing the Leisure Hour Club of Carson City in the early 1900s.

Instrumental in the building of it, she was affectionately called “The Mother of the Leisure Hour Club House.”

She was born in Crestwood, Maine on Sept. 10, 1844.

The Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame is based in the Nevada Press Association headquarters building in downtown Carson City.


Sports Director Carter Eckl took home first place in the Nevada Press Association Awards for his feature story about Chase Blueberg’s quest to make the Team USA bobsled team.

Other award winners include Kyler Klix and Lauren Solinger for their editorial design skill. The duo took home third place overall design of the Appeal and second place for page 1 design of the Appeal.

Solinger also took home third place in the page 1 design category for her work on the Northern Nevada Business Weekly.

A business feature article on Home Depot employees volunteering to help improve a veteran’s house in Fernley has received both state and national recognition.

Lahontan Valley News Editor Emeritus Steve Ranson, who focuses on military profiles and events for both the Nevada Appeal and the LVN, wrote an article on U.S. Air Force veteran Martin Harka. In the November 2019 article, Home Depot volunteers from Northern Nevada performed repairs from painting, redoing the lattice, fixing the wheelchair ramp, hanging a new screen door and performing light landscape.

Both the Nevada Press Association and National Newspaper Association awarded first-place in their respective Better Newspaper Editorial Contests.

Both the LVN and Nevada Appeal compete in the NPA’s Rural division, which includes small dallies and weekly newspapers.

The NPA also awarded Ranson first-place wins in Feature Writing, News Feature Writing and Explanatory.

“My name is Mitka” was the top article in Feature Writing. It is the story of a man’s struggle as a young boy in Nazi Germany and most recently, how music inspires this story 75 years later.

“Excellent story that has all the key elements of a great feature,” wrote the judge in the NPA contest. “It pulled me in from the beginning, and was tight, creative and spoke to readers.”

The NNA awarded Ranson second-place.

Ranson received first place in News Feature Writing from the NPA.

During the 50th anniversary week in July 2019 of the first landing on the moon and capsule recovery, “Footprints at the Carson Sink” retraced the astronauts’ desert survival training north of Fallon in the mid-1960s and also the USS Hornet’s recovery mission in the South Pacific. Both the LVN and Nevada Appeal featured additional articles on the moon landing and local reaction.

“By far the best writer in the competition,” said the judge. “Very thorough and interesting history piece on astronauts training in the desert.”

Ranson’s series of articles on Gold Star families and the dedication of a new memorial in Sparks in 2019 is this year’s first-place entry.

“Excellent series on the Gold Star Families Memorial,” wrote the judge. “Ranson is head and shoulders above his competition. His other entry on the county commission battle with the U.S. Navy was similarly excellent.”


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