Like Helen Stewart, I am not from Nevada but from Kansas where her grandparents lived during “bleeding Kansas”. Her parents traveled through there in 1863 and then to Northern Nevada (while Nevada Statehood was being discussed) before settling in Galt, California. Her daughter Tiza lived in Kansas City in later years and started a correspondence which preserved the activities that Helen Stewart participated in. In 2003 I wrote a lesson plan for the National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places about the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park. it was then that I found these wonderful letters of Helen J. Stewart. I had been a social studies teacher in Kansas and Virginia for 32 years and often dressed in costume. This was how I received two national teaching awards in 1996 from the Organization of American Historians and the National Council for the Social Studies. I taught my high school students how to do re-enactments and later taught “Acting for Teachers” at the College of Southern Nevada.
In 2005 I started doing Helen Stewart interpretations at the opening of the visitor’s center at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic park. I earned my “Environmental, Education and Interpretation” certificate from UNLV in 2010. I continued to give interpretations to various civic groups. In 2010 I spear-headed efforts to raise $100,000 ($99,000 came from the Las Vegas Centennial Commission) for the statue of Helen J. Stewart which was commissioned by Benjamin Victor. The statue was dedicated December 3, 2011 with thirteen speakers reviewing the legacy of Helen J. Stewart. In 2012 I also received funding from the Commission to produce a video on the “Life and Times Of Helen J. Stewart”. This video has bee distributed to Social studies classes in Clark and Washo Counties. In 2013 I wrote a book on “Early Las Vegas” published by Arcadia Publishing.
I continue to do interpretations of Helen J. Stewart to bring her legacy to life. I have been involved in 15 Nevada150 events through June.