Open main menu

Vail Montgomery Pittman (September 17, 1880[a] – January 29, 1964) was an American politician. He was the 19th Governor of Nevada. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

Vail M. Pittman
Vail Pittman (Nevada Governor).jpg
19th Governor of Nevada
In office
July 24, 1945 – January 1, 1951
LieutenantClifford A. Jones
Preceded byEdward P. Carville
Succeeded byCharles H. Russell
19th Lieutenant Governor of Nevada
In office
January 3, 1943 – July 24, 1945
GovernorEdward P. Carville
Preceded byMaurice J. Sullivan
Succeeded byClifford A. Jones
Member of the Nevada Senate
In office
Personal details
Born(1880-09-17)September 17, 1880
Vicksburg, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedJanuary 29, 1964(1964-01-29) (aged 83)
San Francisco, U.S.
Resting placeMasonic Memorial Gardens
Reno, Nevada, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic



Pittman was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the youngest of four sons born to William Buckner Pittman and Katherine Key Pittman, a direct descendant of Francis Scott Key. His siblings included Key Pittman, a longtime United States Senator from Nevada.[2] William and Katherine Pittman died when Vail Pittman was an infant, and the Pittmans were raised in Lake Providence, Louisiana by their uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Vail Montgomery. Vail Pittman was educated by private tutors and in the public schools until he attended Sewanee Military Academy. He then attended the University of the South and Brown's Business College, but returned to Lake Providence in 1903 to manage the family cotton plantation after Vail Montgomery's death.


Pittman moved to Tonopah, Nevada in 1904, and worked initially at the Tonopah-Goldfield Lumber and Coal Company until purchasing the company's coal business and operating it as a separate company. He sold the coal business in 1907, and subsequently engaged in a variety of occupations, including undersheriff of Nye County, sergeant-at-arms of the Nevada Senate, and partner in a mining company. On May 20, 1919 he married Ida Louise Brewington. In 1920 Vail and Ida Pittman bought the Ely Daily Times of Ely, Nevada and he began a successful career in the newspaper business.[3] Pittman was also involved in several civic and business organizations, including the good roads movement and the local chamber of commerce. From 1925 to 1929 Pittman served in the Nevada Senate. After his brother Key's 1940 death, Vail Pittman unsuccessfully sought the governor's appointment to his U.S. Senate seat.

Pittman was elected the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Nevada in 1942. He was a candidate in the Democratic primary for United States Senate in 1944, but was defeated by the incumbent, Pat McCarran. He became governor when Edward P. Carville resigned in 1945 to accept appointment to a vacant U.S. Senate seat. Pittman was elected to a full term in 1946, and served until 1951. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1950 and in 1954, losing both times to Charles H. Russell. After leaving office Pittman resumed operation of the Ely Daily Times. He later sold the newspaper, and became an officer of the Nevada Savings and Loan Association and the Nevada State Bank. He was involved in the Rotary Club and was a delegate to international conferences in Switzerland and Japan. He served as a delegate to the 1956 and 1960 Democratic National Conventions.[4]


Pittman died from cancer on January 29, 1964 in a hospital in San Francisco, California[5] at the age of 83. He is interred at Masonic Memorial Gardens, Reno, Washoe County, Nevada, US.


  1. ^ Vail's birth year is given in various sources as 1880, 1881, and 1883. However, his mother, Catherine (Key) Pittman, died on January 4, 1881, so only the earliest date is tenable.[1]


  1. ^ Glad, Betty (1986). Key Pittman: the tragedy of a Senate insider. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 4.
  2. ^ "Vail M. Pittman". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  3. ^ "VailM.Pittman". Nevada's First Ladies. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  4. ^ "Vail M. Pittman". National Governors Association. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Vail M. Pittman". Nevada State Library and Archives. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012.

External linksEdit