Nevada Women in History
Sept. 10, 1844 – June 24, 1945
Nellie Verrill was born in Crestwood, Maine. She was 16 when her parents died, leaving her to make a home and care for her younger brothers and sisters. She was prepared to enter Vassar at about the time of their death and was unable to do so.
She met Henry Rust Mighels when she was 16 and he was 29. He later moved to Carson City. Henry proposed to Nellie the year that they met. She accepted and the wedding took place four years later.
Nellie traveled to the Isthmus of Panama, across it on narrow gauge railroad and by steamer to San Francisco, where she was met by her fiance and married there. He promised to hire her as associate editor of the Morning Appeal for which he was the owner and editor.
Henry had rented a cottage and they later had a house built. Five children were born to them.
Nellie was the first woman reporter to cover the Nevada Legislature, in 1877 and 1879. Henry had taught her how to report by taking her to church and having her write down the sermons.
When Henry became ill in 1879 with stomach cancer, Nellie moved the typesetting to their home so she could work and take care of him. He died that spring.
Nellie was 35 when she became a widow and the proprietor of the Carson paper. She hired Samuel Post Davis as editor. They were married in 1880 and had two children.
They bought a ranch north of Carson City: Sam ran the paper, Nellie ran the ranch. In 1897 she reported the Corbett-Fitzsimmons world championship prize fight for which she was paid $50 by a Chicago newspaper. She used her maiden name on her fight story to avoid “disgracing” herself by her acknowledgment of being present.
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.”
Nellie was left a widow again in 1919. She continued her interest in Carson City and the political welfare of the state. Nellie celebrated her 100th birthday before her death in 1945.
• Original report by Sally Wilkins from an unpublished report by Susan J. Ballew; corrections and additional information given by Sylvia Crowell Stoddard to Kay Sanders, Fall 1998. Edited by Holly Van Valkenburgh.
Editor’s note: 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/.