A few months ago, the great niece of Austin Dowell, whose family donated the Dyer-Dowell Victorian Home to the Nevada Community Historical Society, presented the Society with a several dresses which had belonged to her mother. The tags in several of these dresses were Nelly Don dresses. We thought this rather odd and being historians, researched just who was this “Nelly Don.”


What they found was an extraordinary woman who led a remarkable life. She lived in a time when the role of women was being questioned and they were beginning to challenge the notion that their place was in the home. New household conveniences were relieving women of drudgery and Nell Donnelly Reed challenged the image of a 1920’s housewife. She changed how women dressed, how women felt about themselves and ultimately their place in society.


In the process, she became the driving force behind a multi-million dollar company that existed for over 37 years. Her innovative methods created an assembly-line type of production not previously utilized in the garment industry. Her company employed many women and she treated all her employees as a valued part of her business, creating company benefits for them unheard of in an ununionized workforce. Nell Donnelly Reed was a woman ahead of her time and the Historical Society will tell her story at their Annual Mother’s Day Tea on Saturday, May 11, at Dyer-Dowell, 922 Fifth St. in Nevada at 2 p.m.


You are invited to join them for tea, delicate treats and a fashion show featuring the designs of Nelly Donnelly Reed. Contact Jenny Helland at 515-382-4510 to make your reservations. The price is $15 per person.