MYRTLE BEATRICE TALCOTT ANKER
The information below has been compiled from a variety of sources. If the reader has access to information that can be documented and that will correct or add to this woman’s biographical information, please contact the Nevada Women’s History Project.
At A Glance:
Born: March 23, 1894, Unionville, Nevada
Died: March 10, 1973, Carson City, Nevada
Maiden Name: Myrtle Beatrice Talcott – Daughter of Amelia Streiff Talcott and Frederick H. Talcott
Race/Nationality/Ethnic Background: Caucasian
Married: James Philip Anker, May 2, 1912
Children: Peter, Norman, Stanley, Phyllis, and Leonard
Primary City and County of Residence and Work:
Lovelock, Pershing County
Major Fields of Work: Ranch owner and manager, Pershing County Farm Bureau leader.
Other Role Indentities: mother, wife, sister, daughter, grandmother and great-grandmother, friend, and homemaker.
Myrtle Beatrice Talcott was born to pioneer parents in the small silver-mining town of Unionville, in Buena Vista Valley. Her parents were Amelia Streiff Talcott and Frederick H. Talcott. Her mother died at age 39 in San Francisco from cancer. Myrtle had five siblings. The family home still stands on the main street in Unionville. (Currently it is the Old Pioneer Garden Bed and Breakfast Inn.) The Unionville Elementary School (1871–1955) was where Myrtle received her primary education, with the well-known educator M. A. Leonard as her teacher. She continued her education in Winnemucca. She was a quick learner and helped her mother with all the chores that were inherent with a pioneer life in an isolated community. Her native intelligence and willingness to serve were demonstrated in her adult years when she became a community leader and outstanding volunteer in Lovelock and Pershing County.
At age 18, on May 2, 1912, she married James Philip Anker, a member of a prominent Lovelock ranching family. (Editor’s Note: He went by his middle name and will be referred to as Philip.) Myrtle and Philip were married in Reno at the Congregational parsonage. Pastor W. D. Trout performed the ceremony. After a brief honeymoon they returned to the Anker ranch five miles from Lovelock, then located in Humboldt County. Philip’s father, Peter Anker, had immigrated from Denmark – first to Washoe City and then to Carson Valley, where he was a respected carpenter and barn builder. Eventually he moved to Lovelock where he homesteaded 800 acres and started the family ranch and farm in 1877. He also built and/or supervised the construction of numerous bridges in the county and was known for his carpentry skills. In addition, Peter was a Vice Council for the Danish government.
Philip was 12 years older than Myrtle and well established in the ranching business when they married. Soon they began their family which included four sons and a daughter, Peter, Norman, Stanley, who died at age 16 from a ruptured appendix, Phyllis and Leonard. Their three remaining sons excelled at different vocations. Peter graduated from the University of Nevada in Reno, majoring in Civil Engineering and worked for the USDI on the Boca and Shasta Dam projects and the All American Canal. Leonard was employed by the USDA Soil Conservation Service and also was a businessman in Carson Valley. Norman managed the Home Ranch with Myrtle and his ranch, totaling 320 acres in Lovelock, until his death at age 50. Daughter Phyllis graduated from the University of Nevada in Reno. She taught high school business courses for many years including positions in Eureka, Lovelock, Yerington, Missouri, Carson City, and at the community college level at Western Nevada Community College. All except Phyllis were born at the family home in Lovelock, attended by Dr. West. Phyllis was born in Reno as her mother’s pregnancy was difficult and Reno had a hospital.
Phyllis Anker Bendure describes her mother as, “a very interesting person, one who was extremely active in her community.” She was a member of the Farm Bureau Women’s Branch and not only participated in their many activities but also served as president and secretary. The list of several organizations in which she was active included Pershing County Agricultural Association (director), Pershing County Farm Bureau (secretary, president, and vice-president), Pershing County Agricultural Conservation Program (chairman), Nevada State Homemakers (president and past-president), Lovelock Business and Professional Women, PTA (president and past president), 4-H leader, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, Republican Party, American Legion Auxiliary, Methodist Church (treasurer), Soroptimist International, Rainbow Girls Advisory Board member, and the Order of Eastern Star (past Matron). She was an outstanding member of the community as she worked with many different groups and took a leadership role in most of them. One of the highlights of her civic outreach was the effort to have deliverance of city water to ranches in both Upper and Lower Valleys.
One of daughter Phyllis’s memories is of her mother and father leaving for a motor trip to attend a Farm Bureau Convention in Las Vegas in their new car – quite an adventure at that time with the long drive over the desert and mountains on uncertain roads and long distances between gasoline pumps. Myrtle loved to go to the 4-H Camp at Lake Tahoe every year where she volunteered as a Camp Leader. When she took daughter Phyllis with her, it was a special treat for Phyllis as she could wear jeans – not allowed ordinarily, as dresses were the norm for young girls in Lovelock. Her granddaughter Sue remembers Myrtle well and remarked,” She had a very positive influence on all of us. She was a very strong, loving grandma who was always there for us.”
Philip and Myrtle were pillars of the Lovelock Methodist Church where Philip taught Sunday School. The attendance books of his classes remain in the family’s possession. He died in Lovelock at the age of 60 of a heart attack. This left Myrtle, in her late 40’s, in charge of the ranch operations. When she was in her 60’s, she fell and broke her hip. However, she quickly recovered and was able to continue management of the ranch until her late 70’s, almost to the end of her life. Her three remaining children managed the ranch for five years after her death. Her daughter purchased the main portion of the “home” ranch in 1978 and took over the management. The original house on the ranch was built by Myrtle’s father-in-law Peter Anker in 1890 and still stands today.
Researched and written by Kay Sanders. Posted to the Web site November 2010.
Sources of Information:
- Personal interviews with Phyllis Anker Bendure, July 2009 and January 2010.
- “BPW Will Choose State Mother Monday”, Reno Evening Gazette, March 16, 1948.
- “Lovelock Pair Wedded in Reno”, Nevada State Journal, May 3, 1912, p. 4, col. 5.
- Capitol’s Who’s Who for Nevada, 1949. “Anker, Mrs. Myrtle B.”, 1894. p. 239.
- University of Nevada, Special Collections, “A Guide to the Papers of Eva Bertrand Adams”
- Historical Society Papers, 1921-1922, Vol. 111. “In Memorial, Peter Anker, 1852-1922”, p. 167.