Nevada Women in History
March 15, 1885 Ð Sept. 6, 1952
“Writing ‘Home Means Nevada’ was the most rewarding experience of my life …”
Bertha Eaton, born in Bloomfield, Iowa was the daughter of Enoch Henry and Susan Frances Walker Eaton
“Appreciation of good literature was fostered by Mother’s nightly Bible reading; all of the classics and fiction of that period; philosophy and science,” said Ms. Raffetto in her later life. By the age of 13, she had read Shakespeare, Ivanhoe, Thomas Paine, Voltaire.
She and her three sisters were encouraged in self-expression by animated discussions at the family supper table. She gave her first poetry recital at the age of 3 from her grandfather’s pulpit and wrote her first poem at age 5.
Music was a part of her daily enjoyment with special attention to sacred music. Bertha Eaton married Henry Clyde Hough and they had two sons. She later married Fiore Raffetto. They were married for 30 years and had one daughter, Frances Cornelia.
“In view of all the places my mother both visited and lived in for varying lengths of time, I have no doubt mother felt and meant it when she said ‘Home Means Nevada,'” said Mrs. Frances McDonald of Reno in 1952.
Bertha continued to work as a writer in Nevada. She composed music poetry and was active in club and civic work.
During the 1930’s she conducted a “Poet’s Corner” in the Nevada State Journal which was a popular feature. She also sang and was a versatile song leader.
Mrs. Raffetto was a 25-year member of the Reno Branch of Pen women, and was poet laureate of the Nevada Federation of Women’s Clubs. She was also a member of The Women’s Relief Corps, Reno Civic Club, Nevada and General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Order of Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile, National Poetry Society, Poets of the Pacific, and Virginia Poetry Society.
Mrs. Raffetto’s major achievements include her composition, “Home Means Nevada,” the state song. Another musical composition was “The Spirit of Democracy,” a concert march for band, which was broadcast from Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Marine Corps Band.
“Home Means Nevada” was made the official Nevada State Song by an act of the Legislature on Feb. 6, 1933.
• Biographical sketch by Sally Wilkins. Condensed by Holly Van Valkenburgh from the online biography at http://www.nevadawomen.org.
• Throughout the month of March, the Nevada Appeal will feature biographies of Nevada women in celebration of Women’s History Month. The biographies are written by Nevada Women’s History Project members and are based on the project’s collection. For more information on the women featured here visit the NWHP Web site at: http://www.unr.edu/wrc/nwhp/.