ANNE HUDNALL MARTIN
The information below has been compiled from a variety of sources. If the reader has access to information that can be documented and that will correct or add to this woman’s biographical information, please contact the Nevada Women’s History Project.
At A Glance:
Born: Feb. 1, 1857, Memphis, Missouri
Died: Feb. 20, 1928, Carson City, Nevada
Race/Nationality/Ethnic Background: Caucasian
Primary City and County of Residence and Work:
Carson City, Nevada
Major Fields of Work: teacher, newspaper owner and editor, superintendent of U.S. Assay Office (formerly the U.S. Mint in Carson City).
Newspaper owner, assay office superintendent opposed women’s suffrage
Anne Hudnall Martin achieved a couple of significant accomplishments in Nevada women’s history: first kindergarten teacher in the state, an early newspaper owner and editor, and the first woman to be appointed superintendent of the U.S. Assay Office in Carson City. Conversely, she opposed women’s suffrage in her newspaper editorials.
Ironically, she was often mistakenly identified by the public with Anne Henrietta Martin, who campaigned across the state for women’s suffrage, which became state law in 1914.
After Anne Martin Hudnall was born on Feb. 1, 1857 in Memphis, Missouri, her mother, Ann Maria Knott Hudnall, died six days later. On the request of her father, John Randolph Hudnall, she became a member of her aunt’s family although never legally adopted. As a result, her names were switched: she was known thereafter as Anne Hudnall Martin, usually known as “Annie.”
Her uncle, Charles Martin, and her aunt, Mary Hudnall Martin, moved to Virginia City, Nev., in August 1863 when Annie was six years old. Three months later, the family relocated to Carson City where Charles Martin was employed as a deputy by Orion Clemens, secretary to Nevada’s territorial governor, James Nye. He was appointed Deputy Secretary of State when the state government was organized in 1864 and held the office for 14 years. He was elected Recorder of Ormsby County in 1882.
Childhood friends with Jennie Clemens, Orion’s daughter, Annie called Clemens’ younger brother Samuel, who became author Mark Twain during his stay in Carson City and Virginia City, “Uncle Sam.” Annie attended Carson City schools.
She began her teaching career in 1877 as the first kindergarten teacher in Nevada at Hannah Clapp’s Sierra Seminary for a salary of $20 per month. Later, she taught elementary grades in public schools for 13 years.
Music was a lifelong passion. Annie played the organ at the First Presbyterian Church in Carson City for 40 years, and played for the Carson City Opera Company. She organized and performed on holidays at the Nevada State Prison. Inmates showed their appreciation through the years by giving her a shawl made at the prison and a set of silver.
In 1892, she changed careers, buying The Carson Daily Morning News. On assuming her new duties as editor and owner, she wrote, “Upon assuming the duties of the editor of the Carson Daily News, I feel somewhat at a loss what to say at this early stage of my journalism. From the position of school teacher, with rattan and chalk as emblems of the trade, to the editorial chair with its accompanying pen and scissors, is but a long step in many ways, and the event is an important one in a mortal’s life. Since this mortal is of the weaker sex, it is with no little trepidation that I take up the new work. Newspaper business is entirely to my liking and I hope to succeed by patient work and unfailing energy. The politics will be thoroughly and distinctly Republican in tone …”
She staunchly supported the Republican Party and was opposed to women’s suffrage, although she consistently reported speeches by suffrage supporters.
Sherilyn Cox Bennion wrote in her book, Equal to the Occasion, “(Hudnall) reprinted articles to the effect that women owed their first loyalty to their children and should not squander their energies on activities outside the home.”Yet Hudnall gave support to individual women for their achievements. For example, she praised the daughter of State Senator Andrew Maute of Nye County for running her father’s newspaper without assistance while he served in the Nevada Legislature. She reprinted an item about three young ladies who handled a “combined harvester” and commended their competence.
Hudnall was one of the founding members of the Nevada Press Association when it organized in 1895. When the Silver Party came to power in the state, Hudnall sold the newspaper in 1895 because she no longer had political connections with the new party.
She turned to management of dry goods and stationery stores for seven years. In the 1900 census, she was listed as a cashier. In 1902, she returned to work at her former newspaper as city editor and bookkeeper. In 1908, she passed the civil service examination for clerk in the U.S. Assay Office in Carson City (formerly the U.S. Mint), and in 1913 was promoted to chief clerk. In 1918, she took a civil service exam in a bid to secure a U.S. Post Office job in Carson City.
But her career path remained open at the Assay Office. On July 7, her name was nominated in the U.S. Senate for the job of assayer-in-charge and confirmed on July 13. She was appointed by President Warren Harding in 1921 as the first woman Superintendent of the U.S. Assay Office at Carson City, Nev. The job entailed performing calculations to determine the value of bullion deposits, issue all checks, make reports and correspondence; be sure the budget is strictly adhered to; order supplies, and make bullion shipments to the U.S. Mint in San Francisco.
Annie always appreciated the chance to set the record straight regarding her appointment to the U.S. Mint Assay office in Carson City. There was a great deal of confusion in the press over Annie Hudnall Martin and suffragist and candidate for U.S. Senate, Anne Henrietta Martin.
One of Annie’s best responses was to clarify, in no uncertain terms, that an article published in the Engineering and Mining Journal in August 1921, was incorrect. Annie set the record straight in her letter to the editor: “You have the right name but the wrong “loidy.” I am not the political Anne H. Martin, with all her brilliancy and honorable career, but Annie H. Martin, resident of Carson City since 1863 and never of Reno. I do like to be known for my own merits and not those of somebody else.”
Although Martin never married, she was involved with her community and family. She cared for her grandnephew, Kenneth V. Plumber, after his mother’s death, and Plumber said she also raised his cousin Webber Calvin. In 1917, she was listed as a member of the Red Cross society. In 1922, she was a judge in an essay contest on the issue of making highways safer.
She wrote her own autobiography at least three times. Twice in 1925 she responded to requests for her biography, once for a student assignment at Carson City High School, which she called “An Old Settler’s Story.” That same year the Women’s News Service contacted Annie for her biography for their publication on women who were employed in important administrative posts for the federal government. She reminisced about her childhood, friends, family, life in Carson City, and her time at the U. S. Assay Office.
When she died on Feb. 20, 1928, of an apoplectic stroke, the Carson City public schools closed for her funeral, the Presbyterian Church organ remained closed, and the flag over the U.S. Mint flew at half-staff. She is buried in the Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City, a few yards away from the grave of Jennie Clemens. Her headstone reads “Dedicated to the memory of Annie H. Martin by her bereaved students and classmates, in loving remembrance of her great devotion, unfailing kindness, unselfish service and sterling womanhood.”
Researched by Patti Bernard and written by Janice Hoke. Edited by Cindy Southerland, biographer of Annie Hudnall Martin.
- Bennion, Sherilyn Cox. Equal to the Occasion, Women Editors of the Nineteenth-Century West. University of Nevada Press, Reno, Nevada. 1990.
- Congressional Record – Senate, July 7, 1921, Nominations.
- Congressional Record – House, July 13, 1921, Confirmations.
- Du Fresne, Kelli, biographical sketch.
- Dunn, Hal B., “Breaking Though the Glass Ceiling: the Annie Martin Story” CM-0005.
- Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 112, No. 7, July 1 to December 31, 1921.
- Harmon, Barbara. From the Rattan and Chalk to the Editorial Chair. Unpublished manuscript written for the Nevada Historical Society, Reno, NV, 1983.
- Highton, Jake. Nevada Newspaper Days, A History of Journalism in the Silver State. Heritage West Books, Stockton, CA. 1990.
- Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), March 4, 1911. P3:4.
- Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), Dec. 27, 1917, P5:2.
- Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), Jan. 9, 1918, P8:4.
- Southerland, Cindy. Cemeteries of Carson City and Carson Valley. Arcadia Publishing. 2010.
- Southerland, Cindy, Annie H. Martin biographer, unpublished manuscript.
- “Winners are Announced in Road Essay Contest.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), Feb. 8, 1922, P3:6.