Nevada Women in History
Feb. 1, 1857 – Feb. 20, 1928
Annie Martin Hudnall lost her mother when she was 6 days old.
“I was immediately taken by my father’s sister, Mrs. Mary Hudnall Martin, and reared as the own child of herself and her husband Charles Martin,” Annie wrote in her recollections.
“Although my name has never been changed legally I have always been known as Annie Hudnall Martin, simply transposing the two last names.”
Annie came to Nevada from Memphis, Mo., when she was 6, arriving in Virginia City in August 1863. The family moved to Carson City three months later and there she would finish out her life. Along with Annie the eldest, the Martin children included two boys, Charles Fred and Harry Edwin, and a girl, Helen U. – the youngest 12 years Annie’s junior.
Her uncle Charles was deputy secretary of the Nevada Territory under Orion Clemens, and Annie was friends with Orion’s daughter, Jennie, and writes in her recollections of visits with Jennie’s uncle, Sam – Mark Twain.
Annie grew up with the U.S. Mint, the Capitol, the Orphans Home and the V&T Railroad Shops as companions and said in her writings “every timber and stone was a personal friend and playmate.” She also wrote that riding the stage in the seat next to the driver with Hank Monk “was an honor and joy never to be forgotten.”
Miss Martin was best known in Carson City for her years as a teacher. Educated in the same schools where she would later teach, she began her career in education in 1877 teaching kindergarten with Mrs. Eliza Babcock at Hannah Clapp’s Sierra Seminary. Moving on to teach the primary grades in the public school.
So revered was she that when she died Feb. 20, 1928, Carson City’s public schools closed for her funeral.
Her grave marker at Lone Mountain Cemetery 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.”
Annie left education to become owner and editor of the Carson Daily News – “the leading Republican paper.” Annie left the News after four years when the paper’s politics changed to the Silver Party saying “knowing that no paper can exist without political assistance and disdaining to change my politics for the sake of monetary gain, I disposed of the paper.”
After leaving the News, she spent the next seven or so years managing dry goods and stationery stores before returning to the News as city editor and bookkeeper.
Taking her civil service examination in 1908, she became a clerk at the U.S. Mint in Carson City. By 1913 she had become chief clerk and on July 7, 1921, became assayer in charge – the first woman to run a U.S. Mint.
In addition to her career-minded pursuits, Annie served as organist for the Presbyterian Church for 40 years, played for inmates at the Nevada State Prison on holidays, enjoyed traveling, taking photographs and writing.
She never married. In the last years of her life, Annie cared for nephew Kenneth V. Plummer after his mother’s (Ina Ferris Martin Plummer) death. According to Plummer, she also raised for a time one of his cousins, Webber Calvin, who served during WWI as a sailor.
Annie reached several milestones throughout her life but seemed to mark them as rather ordinary occurrences. However, looking back at her life we see her amazing contributions made in the larger context as a late 19th century women.
– Biographical sketch by Kelli Du Fresne, from family papers, newspaper accounts, interviews with Kenneth Plummer and a paper “From Rattan and Chalk to the Editorial Chair” written by Barbara Harmon for the Nevada Historical Society.