Myrtle Tate Myles
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: May 15, 1886, Grantsville, Nye County
Died: Sept. 19, 1980, Reno, Washoe County
Maiden Name: Myrtle Tate
Race/Nationality/Ethnic Background: Caucasian
Married: John Henry Myles, 1907
Children: Marjorie and Jack
Primary City and County of Residence and Work:
Carson City and Washoe County
Major Fields of Work: Author, Journalist, Historian
Other Role Identities: Wife, Mother
Nevada native wrote poetry, history about her beloved state
A list of towns associated with Myrtle Tate Myles reads like a Nevada road map: Manhattan, Grantsville, Belmont, Austin, Smokey Valley, Carson City, Reno.
The daughter of true Nevada pioneers, Myrtle wrote extensively about her Nevada life and experiences through journalism, poetry and history books.
In 1976, on the occasion of her 90th birthday, Myrtle told a Reno Evening Gazette reporter that she personally was acquainted with 13 of the 24 governors she wrote about in her 1972 book, Nevada’s Governors from Territorial Days to the Present 1861-1971.
Born in 1886 in Grantsville, Nev., Myrtle was the daughter of Thomas and Esther Tate, both natives of Canada.
Her maternal grandfather came to Nevada in the early 1860s, settling in Belmont. His family, including his daughter Esther, Myrtle’s mother, later joined him.
Myrtle’s father, Thomas, moved to Nevada from Canada, settling in Nye County and operating mail and passenger stage coaches. His Tate’s Station in Smokey Valley was a stop for the Austin-Belmont stage during the late 1800s. Thomas was said to have provided some of the grubstake for Jim Butler, who discovered silver at Tonopah.
Thomas and Esther Tate had four daughters, Myrtle being the second born. The family moved to Manhattan shortly after the town was founded in 1905. Esther Tate opened a boarding house and Myrtle helped run the establishment.
Myrtle attended school in Austin, but when the family moved to Big Pine, Calif., which had no high school, she attended an Oakland, Calif., school.
While in Oakland, she saw the March King, John Phillip Sousa, from a hill overlooking the Greek Theater in Berkeley, she said in the 1976 newspaper interview. She also recalled seeing performances by Lilly Langtree, Harry Houdini and Sarah Bernhardt.
Myrtle married John Henry Myles, an Austin accountant, in 1907 in Big Pine. The couple had two children, Marjorie and Jack.
Myrtle took a correspondence writing course from the University of California in 1920. It kickstarted her writing career penning poetry and short stories about her Nevada life.
Living in Carson City in the late 1920s, she published her poems in the International Poetry magazine, a world-class literary magazine based on the campus of San Diego State University, Calif., which caters to an international community of poets, and later became an editor for the publication.
John Myles died in Austin in 1932, and Myrtle went to work for United Press International. After moving to Reno, she took a job with the Internal Revenue Service.
From 1948 to 1956, Myrtle did research for the Thomas Wilson Advertising Agency in Reno, including working on a series of historical ads for Harold’s Club, which won a national award for its contribution to state and local history.
In 1957, she began working for the Nevada Historical Society as a library assistant and researcher. At age 84, she retired to write and travel. After retirement, she published a book of poetry, The Lone Tree and Other Ballads, and the Nevada governors book, both in 1972.
In her 1976 newspaper interview, Myrtle noted that she had revisited places she knew as a girl, including her family’s Smokey Valley stage stop. The building was still standing. She talked about boom towns, ghost towns and change.
“Change is a natural thing,” she said. “Time doesn’t stand still. In Reno they have torn down lots of important old buildings, but I guess they need the space.”
The University of Nevada named Myrtle a Distinguished Nevadan on May 15, 1976, her 90th birthday.
She died in Reno at age 94 on Sept. 19, 1980.
Researched by Patti Bernard and written by Susan Skorupa Mullen. Posted to website December 2018.
Sources of Information:
- “Esther A. Tate Services Held.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), November 21, 1947, p.3.
- Myles, Myrtle T. “1962: a Centennial Year for Austin.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), August 25, 1962, p3:1.
- Myles, Myrtle Tate. Nevada’s Governors From Territorial Days to the Present, 1861-1971, Western Printing & Publishing Company, Sparks, Nevada, 1972.
- “Historian, Minister To Be Honored At Commencement.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), May 4, 1976, p. 1:1.
- “Myrtle Myles; Nevada historian shares her memories on her birthday.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), June 21, 1976, p. 6:1.
- Henrietta Charles. “Historian Myrtle Myles dies.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), September 20, 1980.
- Hall, Shawn. Preserving the Glory Days — Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Nye County, Nevada, University of Nevada Press, Reno/Las Vegas, 1999.
- 1900 Census, Smokey Valley, Nye, Nevada; page:2; Enumeration District: 0032, Ancestry.com