Naming Las Vegas: Lois Craig

Lois Craig’s attention to detail helped give the modern day map of Southern Nevada a different face.

In turn, she is namesake to the bustling thoroughfare, Craig Road, and one of the first North Las Vegas schools, Craig Elementary School, 2637 E. Gowan Road.

As the first employee of the Las Vegas office of Pioneer Title Co. out of San Bernardino, Calif., Craig served as “searcher of titles” for 10 years in the 1930s and ’40s. Pioneer Title Co. was big in land transfer, and Craig’s role was equally large, said Mark Hall-Patton, administrator for Clark County Museums.

As developers eyed land farther out of the Las Vegas city limits, the company made sure the deals were legitimate, he said.

“The title officer is often an important position, though not wildly heralded,” Hall-Patton said.

Her role as a female pioneer in the field also was overlooked, he said.

“I don’t know if she was unique being a woman in that role, but there wouldn’t have been many,” Hall-Patton said.

Craig also bought many plots of land. She sold a 160-acre parcel near Boulder Highway that is now a subdivision. Her namesake road and elementary school were built on former parcels she owned, Hall-Patton said.

Craig never wed but held a fervent fondness for cats, according to John Cronan’s 1966 book “Nevada Men and Women of Achievement.”

“Her love for cats can be clearly discerned in her Las Vegas home where every picture and every little nick-nack on the shelves depict cats in one way or another,” the book revealed.

Craig was quoted as saying, “Cats are more particular than people. Children eat better and don’t turn up their noses as much as these seven cats do. I never know what they are going to eat — one night it might be liver, another night fish.”

She had a colorful sign on her door that read, “Beware of cats!”

Craig was renowned for rescuing cats and accepting kittens on her doorstep. She was a charter member of the Clark County Humane Society, according to “Nevada Men and Women of Achievement.” The chapter is now defunct, said Karen Layne, president of the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society.

Craig was a native of Iowa. Her parents, George and Mary Ellen, encouraged their daughter to receive an education. Craig graduated from Iowa State Teachers College, now the University of Northern Iowa, and business school.

Her father owned a title company, and he taught his daughter the family business. The brood moved to California in 1913, and Craig worked in firms in Santa Ana, Calif., Los Angeles and San Diego, according to “Nevada Men and Women of Achievement.”

The book said Craig’s interest in Southern Nevada was piqued in 1929 by articles about the proposed construction of Boulder Dam. She left California and began work with Pioneer Title Co. much to the consternation of her closest friends.

“Many of her friends thought she was foolish and warned her about ‘buying land way out in the desert,’ ” according to “Nevada Men and Women of Achievement.”

It was Craig’s land investments that allowed her to retire young and enjoy her cat companions.

“She invested well and saw potential in the valley,” Hall-Patton said.

It is unknown when Craig died.

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