Mayme Stocker arrived reluctantly in Las Vegas in 1911, yet, she was to become the first woman to receive a lawful casino license in 1931 when the state re-legalized gambling.
Mayme was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, to George and Anna May Clifton. The oldest of six children, she had a number of duties around the house. Just as she completed eighth grade, her mother passed away and she took responsibility for raising her siblings.
Mayme married a railroad worker, Oscar Stocker, at the age of sixteen. They had three sons, Clarence, Harold, and Lester. The Stocker family moved around the country following Oscar’s railroad jobs and eventually settled in the young city of Las Vegas where Oscar got a job as an engine foreman in the local railroad yards. The city proved quite the disappointment to Mayme with its limited entertainment options and its lack of amenities like sidewalks and streets.
On September 5, 1920, Mayme Stocker opened the Northern Club on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas and helped it become something of a local landmark. She has been noted frequently as the first to procure a gambling license for the club in 1931 when gambling was re-legalized. However, all of her sons were involved in the business of the Northern Club. By the 1940s, Mayme had relinquished day to day control of her club to others and it operated under several names including the Exchange Club and the Rainbow Club. In 1945, she leased the club to Wilbur Clark.
Mayme lived in Las Vegas the rest of her life and designed her own home in the Huntridge neighborhood. She became an active member in the local Republican Party, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Emblem Club of the local Elks Lodge. She lived to 97 years old and died in 1972.
Source: A.D. Hopkins and K.J. Evans, eds. The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women who Shaped Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV: Huntington Press, 1999).
Photo/video/audio/&tc. courtesy of UNLV Special Collections.
May not be reproduced without the special permission of UNLV Special Collections.