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Anna Martin to Be Inducted Into National Cowgirl Hall of Fame
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 • Posted October 19, 2011

Anna Mebus Martin (1843-1925), Texas pioneer banker, rancher and business entrepeneur, will be inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, on October 26, 2011. Her legacy will join that of three other honorees at an induction luncheon ceremony at the Will Rogers Memorial Center near the historic district. As a distinguished woman with the fortitude, resilience, spirit and courage which helped to shape the American West, her accomplishments will be celebrated by over a thousand attendees.German immigrant Anna Martin, (then Anna Mebus) came by ship to Texas on December 10, 1858, her fifteenth birthday. Anna, her mother, and five siblings were met by her Uncle Louis Martin, one of the first German immigrants to Texas. He took them by wagon to their new home, a primitive log cabin on the Texas frontier along the Llano River, and to a lifestyle in stark contrast to what they had known. From German wealth and an active social life, this family of seven, later eight with the arrival of her father, now lived in a one-room log cabin at Hedwig’s Hill in Mason County, surrounded by Comanche Indians.Showing the resilience that would become her renown, Anna quickly learned to work hard, milking cows, plowing, planting, and doing the work of men, as well as the domestic work required of her home life. At 16, she married her cousin Karl Martin, had two sons, and ran a small country store at Hedwig’s Hill.Around the time of the Civil War, her husband became ill for several years. They lost their store, and he eventually died leaving Anna and their two sons with little.Now with full responsibility for her family’s finances, Anna borrowed $150, and restocked and reopened the store. The San Antonio-El Paso mail line passed by the Martin house and store, and Anna became the official post office and postmaster, which put the store on the map. The store became a regular stop for stage coaches and mail pouches. Anna boarded the horses and sold food and supplies to the travelers. She began buying on commission everything from pecans and wool to cattle and sheep. Most importantly for ranchers, she sold the first barbed wire fencing in the area, changing the face of the cattle and ranching industry on the frontier.Within two years, A. Martin and Sons was a thriving business, selling everything from ladies’ hatpins to lumber, with free whiskey for all customers. Anna would allow customers to buy goods on credit, but if they could not repay with cash, she would accept marketable produce, livestock, and land instead. Over time, she accumulated a large holding of land and cattle. Their herds thrived, and by 1897, Anna and her sons owned more than 50,000 acres in Bluff Creek and northern Gillespie County.Trustworthy as a businesswoman, local ranchers often asked her to safe keep their money from livestock sales. In hard times, Anna frequently loaned her customers money, and she provided for the community, as well. Thus, informally, Anna Martin became the first local banker. Later she made it official by founding the Commercial Bank of Mason in 1901, where she was president until she died in 1925. Although no longer family owned and operated, the bank proudly bears an historical marker honoring the first female founder/bank president in the United States.Anna Martin symbolizes the true pioneer spirit of the West. Her self-reliance, business insight, resilience and determination benefited not only her family, but the lives and livelihoods of many other Texas pioneers and German immigrants. Her life story is a story of the American dream, embodying the ideals of the American West. We are honored to induct Anna Mebus Martin into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame as a Texas pioneer who, even before the turn of the century, showed us all what a woman could do.The Hall of Fame Museum preserves the history and the legacies of female trailblazers and pioneers, artists and writers, ranchers and performers, whose achievements have impacted our nation and the west. For ticket information for the induction luncheon, call (817) 509-8965, or visit . The museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m.

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