Almost 150 years ago an incredible family moved to Lincoln County from California to chase the dream of wealth. Time has almost erased them from memory. But their extraordinary story demands to be told.
James B. Clinton and his sweet wife Margaret moved from the homes where their daughters were all born in Bloomfield, California and the surrounding area within Sonoma County. They came to Lincoln County. There were four. Four girls: Mary born in 1865, Ellen ?Lena? born in 1867, Margaret ?Maggie? born in 1875 and Anna ?Annie? born in 1877.
James worked as a miner while Margaret stayed at home and saw to the needs of her children. After spending a few years working other mines, James laid claim to a couple of his own mines. By all accounts, he was rather successful.
While there is a story surrounding James and Margaret, the real story lies with the lives of the daughters. Each did amazing things and should be celebrated as leading ladies in the History of Nevada.
All of the girls attended school at Pioche Grammar School
The eldest, Mary, was the first to earn her teaching certificate. The Pioche Daily Record dated April 16, 1881 reports, ?Miss Mary Clinton, of Pioche, appeared before the County Board of Examiners on Wednesday last, and after passing an ordeal of a most searching examination, which she did with high honor, was duly awarded a certificate as a teacher for this county. The fact is more noteworthy as the young lady in question has received her education entirely in the public school of Pioche. We understand Miss Clinton leaves this morning for Bristol, where she has an offer to take charge of the school at that place. We wish her success.?
She met and married John C. Kelly of Pioche in June 1888. They planned for a wonderful life and she became pregnant. Tragically, he died before the birth of their only child. They had been married less than three years. But Mary appears strong and heads to DeLamar where she again teaches for the next three years ?and the trustees have done well in retaining her.?
The Record reported in the August 10, 1900 issue that ?Mrs. Mary Kelley is well known in the County, having successfully taught in this county for the past fifteen years. No higher recommendation could be given her than the fact that her services were always asked for at a school where she has once taught.?
Who knows how many lives she touched in Bristol and DeLamar and Pioche?
She passed away in 1944 in Great Falls.
Next we have ?Lena?. Lena, according to the Record, was an exceptional student. In 1892 it reported, ?The essay of Miss Lena Clinton delivered by that young lady st the meeting of the Good Templars last week was a most worthy piece of manuscript and denoted such careful work, which was by no means thrown away.?
She was the second Clinton girl to become a teacher. She attended teaching school at St. Mary?s Academy in Salt Lake City in 1895. Lena followed her big sister to DeLamar and began teaching. She was there a few years before returning to Pioche. Then she was off to Spring Valley (1888), Her students were so pleased at how well she taught that for Christmas they gave her a ?handsome toilet set and a fine gold queen chain.? ?Miss Lena Clinton, who has been engaged in teaching in the Meadow Valley District for the last six months, returned to town Thursday evening, the school term having closed. On the morning after her return the young lady, who is a very competent teacher, received a proposal ? to teach in Spring Valley. (1889) ?At a meeting of the Pioche School Trustees held Wednesday it was decided to open the school for the fall term on the first Monday in September (the 2nd). Miss Lena Clinton will have charge of the Grammar Department. (1891) She?s back in Pioche, ?The public schools in this district will open on Monday next with Mr. John G. Gwartney in charge of the grammar department and Miss Lena Clinton in the intermediate.?
The Pioche Record reports in 1897, ?Our school now has two teachers. The arrangement was made on Monday and Miss Lena Clinton will instruct the juveniles in their own department. The primary school will hereafter dismiss at recess in the afternoon, while the morning session will be held for full time. This arrangement will benefit both large and small children alike.?
She was actively recruited by the many schools within the county. Later (1896), she left education to be the Deputy County Recorder.
Like her big sister, she dies in Great Falls. It was just 16 months later in 1945. Lena Clinton never marries.
The third daughter was Maggie. Maggie also went into education. She taught in Pioche and is reportedly a top notch teacher as well. In 1892 she was the first Assistant Principal of that school. The Record reports that in 1893 she received more Valentines than anyone else in town. At first reading, that statement is laughable. But think about it. She must have been very smart, beautiful, and, more importantly, kind to everyone. In 1894, ?After very successful terms in each, both departments of our public school closed today for the summer. Miss Kate Courtney in the grammar department, and Miss Maggie Clinton in the primary, have both made excellent progress with their pupils.?
But she is drawn to the rough and tumble community of DeLamar. In 1897 she was the PostMaster of DeLamar. A year later she leaves public service for good to seek her fortunes.
There?s money to be made and she opens The Clinton Store. There she, as the sole proprietor, carries a choice line of confectionery, stationery, fresh fruits, notions and some of the best cigars and tobaccos anywhere.
Later she marries Henry W. Miles, a St. George native, who had come to DeLamar to be an accountant. There is no word of her working after their marriage. He became a Nevada State librarian in Reno and a prominent member in Masonic Circles. They had one daughter.
They are both buried in Reno
Finally, we have Annie. Annie would deserve her own story and it is a disservice to her to incorporate her into this piece. But her story highlights the others.
Annie, too, was a teacher. (1894) She was a teacher at Spring Valley. (1895-1897) She was a Deputy Recorder (1897) She took over the Pioche Telegraph business. There were actually three telegraph locations in Pioche at the same time. That speaks to how important Pioche was to the state. Also in (1897) she came in second in the Lincoln County Beauty Pageant. Who knew?
On November 3, 1914, the general vote was taken to decide whether Nevada women would be allowed the vote. It took several days for the results to be tallied, but the amendment passed with the margin of victory coming from rural regions of the state. Women in Nevada voted for the first time in local races in 1915 and in state wide races in 1916. They weren?t given a vote in national elections until 1920!
The First woman to be elected to any position in the state of Nevada was Annie Clinton. She ran for and was elected to be the County Schools Superintendent. This is significant for many reasons. Prior to this election, the School Superintendent was always the County District Attorney. In 1900 the state changed the law to allow for separate positions. So she was the first elected Superintendent. She was the first woman superintendent. She was the first woman elected to anything in the state. And all this without being able to vote for herself. The community was so elated they threw her a surprise party (women only). So we have this beautiful woman as voted on in a beauty pageant, that can run the Recorder?s Office, can run a telegraph machine, can teach and can get herself elected in a man?s world.
It is significant to mention that the next two superintendents in Lincoln County are women. Then it will be over 100 years before another woman, Ms. Nykki Holton, become superintendent
To this author, she is amazing.
She married Carl Van Vleet and they were successful in Salem, Oregon.
Annie is buried next to her husband.
The Record used to provide grades to the public. Each of the girls were at the top of their class. Each was an overachiever. Each of them became teachers and taught in communities locally including Bristol, Meadow Valley, Pioche, Spring Valley and DeLamar. All have faded into obscurity. And that?s too bad.