Known as the mistress of the Mormon Trail, Helen J. Stewart not only paved the way for women in the west, but also was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the future of Las Vegas.
Born in the Midwest in the mid-1800s, uprooted and transplanted as a young girl into California, Helen J. Stewart experienced the rigors of pioneer life early. Married at nineteen, mother at twenty, widow at thirty with four children and pregnant with her fifth, she had no time to ponder her fate. Instead, she became a force to reckon with.
Sally Zanjani and Carrie Townley Porter chronicle the extraordinary life of a woman dedicated to providing for her family and improving the lives of those around her, a woman ahead of her time who befriended Indians as well as congressmen, a woman who truly was the “First Lady of Las Vegas”.
The authors have captured the spirit and essence of a desert woman who, after losing her husband in 1884, managed a 1,500-acre ranch in the heart of Las Vegas Valley. Helen Stewart befriended area Paiutes, nearby ranchers and travelers on the Salt Lake-Los Angeles road, continuing in the same role as her predecessor O.D. Gass had from the early 1860s. — Stanley Paher, Author, Las Vegas, as it Began, as it Grew
Sally Zanjani, PhD, of Reno is a leading Nevada historian and member of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame whose books include Goldfield: the Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier; A Mine of Her Own: Women Prospectors in the American West, 1850-1950; Sarah Winnemucca, and Devils Will Reign: How Nevada Began.
Carrie Townley Porter, MA, also a resident of Reno, is a teacher of Nevada history, records manager, and historian who has spent decades studying and writing about Helen Stewart — as well as appearing as the “First Lady of Las Vegas” at Chautauqua events.