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Ezra Hamilton, Emily Baugh & Willow Springs

Ezra "Struck-it-Rich" Hamilton (1833 - 1914) is most often credited with being the first man to strike gold in the Antelope Valley, turning him into a successful gold miner. While this is a huge feat on it's own, he is also responsible for the founding and development of the Willow Springs community.

As part of the town of Willow Springs, Ezra constructed a small elementary school for the community in 1904. One of the first teachers of this school was young Emily Baugh (1889 - 1973). Emily had secured her position after graduating from the Los Angeles State Normal School with an Elementary Teaching Certificate in 1910.

Her motivation for moving to Willow Springs and working as a teacher was to finance her own further education; she had dreams of earning a doctorate in Geography. While teaching at Willow Springs Elementary School, Emily was made aware of the unique geological and geographical aspects of the Antelope Valley and began conducting field research.

In 1926, she was able to complete her master's thesis, which was titled "The Antelope Valley: A Study in Regional Geography". After the completion of her thesis, she took intermittent teaching positions at both University of California Berkeley and Los Angeles.

In 1953, Dr. Baugh became the first woman to achieve full professorship in the history of the UCLA Geography department. She was also among the first 10 women to ever be promoted to highest academic rank on the UCLA faculty.


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