Angela Hutchinson Hammer
When Angela Hutchinson Hammer purchased a little tabloid called the Wickenburg Miner in 1905, she had no idea that this so-called paper was only a promotion sheet for a copper mining company. Neither did she dream that this purchase would catapult her into a twenty-eight year career in small town newspaper publishing and printing, an often cut-throat domain reserved for men only. Along the way, she would guide Arizona's fledgling population into statehood, advance her brand of politics, the greatest good for the greatest number, and tackle mining and water conservation issues head-on.
Unlike many of Angela's more privileged counterparts in the East who later adventured West with husbands, Angela was born a daughter of the West in a Nevada mining camp in 1870. Her father, a steam engineer, moved from one mineral discovery to the next, specializing in the construction and operation of the stamp mills used to crush gold and silver ore. According to Angela's granddaughter, Betty Hammer Joy, it was a hard-scrabble existence. Angela's mother, a school teacher, saw to it that her daughters received some semblance of an education. When her parents came to Picket Post in Arizona, Angela and three of her sisters were left in a Nevada convent until the Apache wars subsided. The girls joined their parents in 1883 and spent a good part of their childhood years at Vulture and other mining camps, as well as in Phoenix, where Angela and a sister learned to set type. Angela went on to become a school teacher and took her first position in a Wickenburg school, despite encountering resistance from the American Protective Association, whose aim was to keep Catholic teachers out of the public schools.
In 1896, Angela married Joseph Hammer, a Phoenix building contractor. The marriage lasted only seven years. Needing some means to support her three young sons, Angela took the plunge into printing and publishing while attempting to bring civility and some degree of culture to the frontier communities her newspaper served. She homesteaded in Pinal County, became that county's Immigration Commissioner, and carried the crucible for educating the public about Arizona's finite water resources. In 1952, after Angela's death, the newspaper industry paid tribute to her courage and her contributions to the general welfare of the state by selecting her as the first woman to enter the Arizona Newspaper Hall of Fame.
Angela's granddaughter tells about these and other experiences in Angela's biography entitled Angela Hutchinson Hammer: Arizona's Pioneer Newspaperwoman, published in 2005 by the University of Arizona Press.
--Written by Pamela Pierce and Betty Hammer Joy