Delphine Anderson Squires
Delphine Anderson Squires was born on January 8, 1868 in Portage City, Wisconsin. Through her memoirs, newspaper articles, and civic leadership she was to have a great impact on this city. She was known as a charming and hospitable hostess and an advocate for women and children. Her respect and love of the desert and the pioneering spirit of the people of Las Vegas were reflected in her endeavors to chronicle the period.
When her family moved to Austin, Minnesota she became a close friend of Charles Pember Squires. This young boy was to have a great influence on the rest of her life. Although she had prepared for a career as a music teacher and was awarded a contract with the Seattle Public schools, the Great Seattle Fire changed her direction and goals. She wrote to C.P. and told him she was ready to get married. He then proposed in a letter and they were married in August of 1899.
The panic of 1893 led C.P. to consider a venture to a new town that was to be established on the line extending the San Pedro and Los Angeles Railroad to Salt Lake City. He set off in 1905 for a little desert city known as Las Vegas.
Delphine moved to Las Vegas to join her husband on June 21st 1905. At the time she was living in Los Angeles with her children and had become quite attached to the educational and cultural advantages offered there. In a column for the Las Vegas Age newspaper she explained, “But, there was “Pop”, living in the terrible desert heat in very unsanitary surroundings trying to make a home for us in Nevada; so, we decided in favor of “Pop” on the contention that we needed him and that he needed us more than the children needed culture.”
They boarded the train and did not look back. The next day she raised the shade in the berth to an early morning sunrise on the desert. “I shall never forget the beauty of it! The great expanse of the desert, rimmed by the mysterious blue of the mountains…”
So began her new life that was to be distinguished by her many contributions to the culture and spirit of Las Vegas. Her home became the center of hospitality in the new community and she was remembered as a “premier hostess”. Fondly known as “Mom” and “Pop” Squires they continued to provide civic information and views with their newspaper The Las Vegas Age.
As a writer for her husband’s newspaper, “Mom” Squires provided readers with reflections on the history of Nevada. In one such column she looks back on what life was like for the early women who resided there. “Life was not ‘one grand sweet song’ in those early years in Las Vegas. Everything was done the ‘hard way.’ Housewives of that period, 50 years ago, were not lazy – in fact, they were a set of hard working women.” The summer heat was intense and not a shade tree in sight. Poorly ventilated tents were the norm. She recalled that there was no electricity and very few conveniences. Washing clothes and linens was a major chore.
The women of the town had founded the “Hostess Club” in 1905 and “Mom” was an active member. This organization of pioneer women let nothing stop them from their meetings. “Mom” fondly remembered that the houses were small and ill equipped for entertaining but the women brought their own plates and silverware and came armed with scissors, needles and thimbles as they prepared to sew for the hostess. Content to sit on boxes they exchanged friendly gossip and discussed the issues that were important to making the town a suitable place for bringing up children. This group was an informal Chamber of Commerce and became instrumental in obtaining churches, schools and enforcement of sanitary laws.
continued to expand the opportunities for Nevada women by
active participation in organizations such as the Mesquite
Club and Nevada State Federated Women’s Club.
Delphine sadly admitted to one problem, “Although I have loved Las Vegas from the first time I saw it, I soon discovered that with the coming of the hot weather I developed asthma.” She was invited to spend time at the McFarland ranch in Indian Springs to see if the altitude might prove beneficial. She and her son Russell stayed in a little cottage there and she had no more breathing problems. The Squires later bought a cabin at Deer Creek on Mt. Charleston. She spent many happy summers there with her family and friends.
“Mr. Squires and I have often been asked why we came to Nevada to make our home. I hesitate to admit that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was the only reason because if it were, then our quest has failed. I prefer to think that the pot of gold we were seeking contained something finer and more precious and that we found it in the beauty, peace and contentment of our desert home and the companionship of the many friends we have made and of the happiness they have brought us.”
“Mom” passed away in 1961. She left a true pioneer legacy and is remembered as one of the founding Mothers of Las Vegas.
Researched and written by Jill Stovall
Sources of information: