By Harold Fuller
Mamie Frances Lorraine Mingle, a Nevada pioneer in every sense of the word, was not a native of Nevada but was born in Port Huron, Michigan in 1885.
She ventured west at an early age and married John Mingle in Montana before coming up to Goldfield, Nevada when she was still in her early twenties. She operated a boarding house in Goldfield before moving to Diamondfield, Nev. and opened the first boarding house in that camp.
From there she moved to Aurora where almost everyone recognized “that little spit-fire who might kick your butt if you crossed her” and when Lucky Boy opened up she took over the operation of the boarding house and owned a Café.
Mrs. Mingle was a lady that you never forgot. She stood 4 ft. 10 inches, never weighed over 90 pounds in her whole life and she was tough as nails. She would never hire a man in her establishment who could not match her strength. Her way of checking a guy out was to carry a side of beef from the storeroom to the butcher block and then see if he could do it. Despite her very small stature, she was not averse to assuming the role of “bouncer” whenever a husky miner started trouble in her boarding house. She was one tough little lady, both mentally and physically.
After the decline of the Lucky Boy camp she took a home site near the south shore of Walker Lake and supported herself by raising chickens and selling poultry, eggs, and on occasion, curing and selling pork. When the U.S. Navy came in they tried, unsuccessfully, to buy her out or condemn her property.
Her resistance to this effort was well noted, all the way back to Washington D.C.
She was a rugged individualist and she just wasn’t going to be pushed around. The Navy eventually thought it might be best to just leave things as they were. And they did.
The Marines looked after her in her later years and treated her with a great deal of respect. They admired her spunk.
While drawing water one day, she got off balance and fell several feet, head first, down into her well. By placing her feet against one side of the well and placing her hands on the other side, she inched her way up to the top and was found, sometime later, by a Marine Patrol, a few feet from the well, exhausted and with a badly injured arm.
To the hundreds of people who had never seen Mrs. Mingle but had listened to oft-repeated stories of her unusual feats, the little old lady who lived alone at the shore of Walker Lake was virtually a fictional character. (Her husband, John, had died several years earlier).
While in the Boy Scouts we stopped by once in a while for a short visit and she always made us welcome, though I must admit, it was a bit intimidating for a young twelve year old.
Mrs. Mingle died at age 88 during March 1948. I have never met a true legendary figure, but then again, maybe I have.