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Nevada Women in History

Nevada State Museum photo Jeanette "Jennie" O'Hare Riordan was born in Carson City in 1874. She attended Hannah Clapp's Sierra Seminary and went on to become a teacher in Esmeralda, Nye and Lincoln counties. Though she spent a good portion of her life away from Carson City, she and husband, James, returned in 1943 and stayed until their deaths in the early 1960s.
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May 10, 1874 – July 6, 1965

Jeanette (aka Jennie) O’Hare Riordan was born in Carson City, the daughter of Michael and Margaret O’Hare. When she was 5 years old she attended Hannah Clapp’s private kindergarten, which was operated out of Clapp’s home, 512 N. Mountain St., near today’s Governors Mansion.

Jennie graduated from Carson High School in 1893. For the next four years, she taught school in Esmeralda, Nye and Lincoln counties. Her four sisters also taught school in Nevada. While working at the school in Nye County (White River Valley), Jennie met James Riordan.

James Riordan was the first Anglo child born in White Pine County. Jennie and James made their first home at Lane City, where they had some mining interests. After three years, they sold the mine, leased the O’Neill ranch in Spring Valley, White Pine County, and went into the cattle business.

Getting out of the cattle business, they purchased a hotel at Plumas Junction, about 35 miles north of Reno. When the Western Pacific Railroad was completed, the junction became a thing of the past. When James’ father died, they returned to his ranch in White Pine County and continued the operations where they raised their six children.

After spending 34 years on the ranch, the couple retired in 1943. Jennie happily returned to her beloved Carson City with her husband. James died at the age of 90 in 1960; Jennie at the age of 91 in 1965.

When Jennie was 90 years old (1964), she wrote a piece for the Carson City paper. In it she reminisced about earlier days, “I wonder how many Carson residents remember that Carson City once boasted a large Chinatown and quite a colony of Chinese. It was situated in the southeast section of the city, not far from Sunny Acres. I remember it best in the early 1880s when my father used to take us for a walk at night when they celebrated their New Year. The whole town would be lit with Chinese lanterns with tapers or candles in the windows. The firecrackers would be going off all around.

“Their funerals were another source of childhood delight, since they were so entirely different from anything we ever saw as they paraded to the cemetery moaning and beating cymbals to keep evil spirits away from the dead person.”

Her concluding paragraph was, “I have had a very happy life, and I look back to my school days and am glad that I lived in the best era of our country. The Gay Nineties were happy, carefree times, and we have seen so much progress over the years. I have seen Carson City grow from a small frontier town to its present population of fifteen thousand. I am glad that it has been my home.”

– Biographical sketch by Holly Van Valkenburgh from the original biography by Kay Sanders at http://www.nevadawomen.org.