Women’s History Month is fast approaching, and for this blog post we are featuring a woman in Mansfield’s history who wrote the story of many women: newspaperwoman Nita Branson, who had almost a forty year tenure across three successive Mansfield newspapers and retired with great fanfare from the News-Journal in 1957.
Throughout Women’s History Month in March we will be featuring a column that Branson wrote weekly in 1921 and 1922, “Little Chats with Some Mansfield Business Women” to showcase the many and varied careers of the women of Mansfield in the early 1920s in their own words. Each day of March we will be sharing an interview that Branson conducted with a Mansfield business woman as it appeared in the Mansfield News, from the advertising department at Tappan to the Western Union Telegraph company to an optometrist to a clothes buyer for the H. L. Reed Co. Interested in receiving emails with the articles? Fill out our form here to sign up or send an email to email@example.com with the subject line “Women’s History Month Emails”.
Mansfield High School, Class of 1910
“Cares not a pin what people say, or may say”
Mansfield High School Annual, 1910.
Nita Branson was born in 1892 to Floyd and Mayme Branson on 18 June 1892, in Tiffin, Ohio. Both her parents were likewise Ohio-born and raised, her father in Steubenville and her mother in Franklin Township in Richland County .
Floyd and Mayme moved to Mansfield with their teenaged daughter around 1906, and Floyd took up work with the Roderick Lean Manufacturing Company. Nita began attending Mansfield High School, and graduated in 1910. Her senior quote was “Cares not a pin what people say, or may say”– a philosophy that likely would serve her well in a male-dominated field such as journalism in the early 1900s. After graduating, Nita took a more traditional route of teaching for several years, including teaching third grade at Bowman Elementary School .
Then, however, Branson deviated from her fellow female classmates by taking up less traditional work with the Richland Shield and Banner as a proofreader in 1919, shortly before the Mansfield News bought the long-time local newspaper. With the News, Branson worked her way up from proofreading to writing articles in the social pages.
Branson continued to advance up the journalism ladder, weathering the change yet again as the News merged with the Daily Journal to become the Mansfield News-Journal in 1933. She became a feature writer for local articles and eventually became the religion editor for the paper. She held this position for more than ten years  and eventually retired in 1957 at 65.
Branson’s retirement was an occasion of great note and “nothing quite like it had ever happened before.” A coalition of local leaders conspired to surprise Branson with a celebration, and so after her final day with the News-Journal, two men prominent in local businesses and known to Branson drove to her house to pick her up on the pretense of going downtown to celebrate with a cocktail. But instead of going straight to a restaurant or bar, they drove with Branson by the News-Journal building, and her coworkers honored her with a ticker-tape parade, showering the car with paper from the machines used to receive news updates from the United Press wire service.
The night’s surprises were not yet over though. The trio continued on to the Mansfield-Leland hotel, where a group of the city’s prominent men waited to surprise Branson with a party to celebrate her long and storied career in Mansfield journalism. The crowd included city and county officials, business and industrial leaders, community organizers, and even editor emeritus G. C. Kochenderfer, one of Branson’s superiors in the earlier days of the News-Journal. The surprise was certainly effective–Branson’s response to the male community members’ celebration of her career was simply to say “I’m flabbergasted!” .
Before, during, and after her time as a journalist, Branson was highly involved in the community. She was involved with the Audubon Society and was musically inclined, providing piano music for many a party or social gathering. She attended the First English Lutheran Church, and was a founding member of the Mansfield Community Chest, a charitable organization that raised funds for various humanitarian needs within the city, and was additionally a very active member of the Red Cross.
Through her long working career, Nita never married. But after she retired from the News-Journal, Branson did all the things she did not have time for while she was so dedicated to her career: she traveled, and she met a man she loved. In 1964, at 72 years old, she married Ralph G. Winkler, the man with whom she would spend the last five years of her life. Branson succumbed to a heart condition 12 November 1969, after having been under the care of first her husband and then Mansfield General Hospital .
Curious about the articles that Nita Branson wrote for the News and the News-Journal? Come to the Main library and explore the articles through NewspaperArchive, or visit the Sherman Room to explore our microfilm archives!
As always, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-521-3115 with any questions, or explore our digital resources and archives at mrcpl.org/shermanroom!
- Mansfield News-Journal 9 April 1942, page 13; Mansfield News-Journal 3 May 1933, page 2.
- Mansfield News, 10 September 1915, page 5.
- Mansfield News, 14 November 1969, page 4.
- Mansfield News-Journal, 19 June 1959, pages 1-2.
- Mansfield News-Journal, 07 December 1964, page 6.