“I liked typesetting. When I learned to set type, on the early day newspapers I had no idea that I would ever become so identified with the Fourth Estate and publish newspapers of my own, but from that one little excursion out of my chosen profession of school teaching, I got into something I have never been able to get out of.” — Angela Hutchinson Hammer talking about how she began her career in newspapers.
Angela H. Hammer has the distinction of holding membership in two Halls of Fame in Arizona. In addition to the Women’s Hall of Fame, she was named to the Arizona Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1965. The members of the Arizona Newspaper Association gave her that honor in recognition of her long and colorful career as publisher of weekly newspapers in a number of Arizona towns.
Angela Hutchinson was born on November 30, 1870, in Virginia City, Nevada. In 1883, at the age of 13, she and three sisters traveled by rail to Arizona. The girls were met by their father, who took them by covered wagon to Picket Post, where the family home was located. Mr. Hutchinson was a mine construction engineer, and the family lived in several small mining towns, including Silver King and Wickenburg.
In 1889, at the age of 19, Angela obtained her teaching certificate from the Clara A. Evans Teachers’ Training College in Phoenix. During the next few years, she taught school in Wickenburg and Gila Bend. In the 1890s, while she was living with her family in Phoenix, she had her first taste of journalism, taking a job as a typesetter and proofreader for The Phoenix Gazette and The Arizona Republican, forerunner of The Arizona Republic.
In 1896 she married J. S. Hammer, a building contractor. The couple had three sons before they divorced after eight years of marriage. In 1905 Mrs. Hammer made the first of her newspaper purchases, buying the Wickenburg Miner for $500. At first it looked like a poor investment, but after one and one-half years of hard work, she turned it into a moneymaker and was able to support her family on the profits. From 1908 to 1910, Mrs. Hammer worked to establish a chain of newspapers in four rapidly growing mining towns. In her printing plant at Congress Junction, she published the Wickenburg Miner, Swansea Times, and Wenden News.
Then in 1912 she moved her printing plant to Casa Grande and joined Ted Healey to publish the Casa Grande Bulletin. The partnership, however, was not made in heaven. The two took opposite sides during a bitter dispute over water reclamation for the Casa Grande valley. According to one newspaper account, during the night of December 23, 1913, Mrs. Hammer had all her printing equipment moved out of the Bulletin building, and when Healey came to work the next morning all he found was his desk.
Determined to have a newspaper in which to express her opinions, Mrs. Hammer founded the Casa Grande Dispatch on January 1, 1914. The Dispatch supported the Casa Grande Water Users Association and the Democratic Party. For nearly 10 years, the Bulletin and the Dispatch tangled over political and water issues. Mrs. Hammer quickly earned a reputation for aggressive, honest reporting and her strong editorial opinions. In 1925 Mrs. Hammer moved to Phoenix and the following year established the Messenger Printing Co., operated by her two sons, William and Marvin. That company merged in April 1951 with Arizona Printers Inc., and Mrs. Hammer became a board member of the combined operation.
In 1938 she was appointed by Governor R. C. Stanford to the State Board of Social Security and Welfare, a position she held until 1943. Having earned the respect of journalists throughout the state, Angela H. Hammer was a valued member of many professional organizations, including the Phoenix Business and Professional Women’s Club, the Phoenix branch of The National League of American Pen Women and the Phoenix Writers Club.
Mrs. Hammer died April 9, 1952, at the age of 81.