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Historical Society honors 23 exemplary women

by Nancy Hamlett

Celebrating the special women who have impacted the Carson Valley, the Carson Valley Historical Society invited 23 nominees from their Women’s History Remembering Project to a commemoration and reception at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center on Sunday.

The celebration culminated an extensive process where the community was invited to nominate women who have positively affected family and friends, the community or history in the Carson Valley. Event chairman Peggy Knox said that she was thrilled with the response from the community.

Twenty-three women were nominated.

“We sent out the call for the nominations of women that have had a profound impact,” said Knox. “The women didn’t have to be historical figures in the regular sense. We were searching for the women who have inspired us.”

The celebration was held in conjunction with the opening of several women’s history exhibits at the museum. In the main gallery, “Nevada Women on the Road to Change, 1860-1920,” on loan from the Nevada State Museum, documents several women from the Carson Valley. Other exhibits feature women in Nevada.

Cecile Brown, curator for the historical society, welcomed the standing-room-only crowd of 120.

“We had no idea how big this would be,” said Brown. “We have gathered here to celebrate, thank, honor and awe at the accomplishments of the nominees. These women are an inspiration to others.”

Mary Jane Harding read a brief biography of each nominee, after which Knox presented a long-stemmed rose. The divergent backgrounds of each nominee are a testimony to the strengths of women in the Carson Valley.

From Theresa Smokey Jackson, who has helped preserve Washoe traditions, to Maribeth Volk, who was instrumental in bringing the mobile mammography van to rural Nevada, each woman has a special story. The biographies will be archived in the Van Sickle Library at the Carson Valley Historical Museum and Cultural Center, the Douglas County Library and the Nevada Women’s History Project in Reno.

Donna Allgeier nominated Virginia Henningsen for her advocacy of agriculture in the Carson Valley and her work on the Douglas County Planning Commission.

“This recognition makes me feel humble,” said Henningsen. “When they phoned, I thought they had the wrong Henningsen. I would do anything for Douglas County, but I have never needed the recognition. Isn’t the Valley a beautiful place?”

Knox said that the success of the project indicates that it will be repeated next year.

“So many people approached me after the nomination deadline with another name,” said Knox. “This is further testimony to the strengths and inspiration of women in the Carson Valley.”

The first-year honorees inducted Sunday include Ella Anderson, Roberta Bence, Gorgonia Borda, Bridget Brown, Frances Callahan, Lucille Chain, Elisabeth Crouse, Frieda Godecke, Marlena Hellwinkel, Virginia Henningsen, Laurie Hickey, Theresa Smokey Jackson, Anita Jones, Jane Lehrman, Diane Malone, Elizabeth Miller, Nancy Miluck;

Lena Neddenriep, Ellie O’Toole, Dorothy Scossa, Sallie Springmeyer, Wilhelmine Springmeyer, Maribeth Volk.