McKenty family history: Pioneer teacher Annie O’Laughlin

On October 28, 1884,Annie McKenty was bom in Delora, Ontario. At the age of 17 she completed a 3 month course at the Model School for Methods of Teaching in the Canadian Province & after she taught in a small school in Ontario.
Although the better schools paid $300.00 a year, she hired out for $210.00 in the poorer area, where a big farm was only 100 acres and the school system couldn’t afford more. Annie loved her job & the people she worked with and felt the community was the most happy & contented she had ever known. Back then the school year was long & included 10 1/2 months with only 1 ‘/2 months vacation.
By her second year Annie managed to talk the school system into giving her a raise, although it only amounted to an extra $5.00 a year. At the end of her 3rd year she was visited by a cranky old school inspector Annie referred to as “Grasshopper”.
He brought up that her certificate hadn’t been renewed and Annie quipped back that she had discussed this issue with the school and wasn’t informed or aware that it was supposed to be signed. Grasshopper didn’t believe her and created a dispute.
Later when he finally relented Annie said “you didn’t believe what I told you, so I won’t let you sign the certificate now, and in 6 months I’ll be done with you.” She kept her word and moved to New York for her formal training spending 2 years at the “City Training School” in Rochester. After that she taught in the city for 2 years.
Annie wasn’t happy with the Big City and felt the city school  had too many supervisors, so when her brother who worked for the Rail Road offered her a pass to go to Montana, she went
The trek to Montana landed Annie in Havre and from there she went to  Harlem vis stage and taught school for 1 year. As Annie  recants the memory, the stage driver named Gabby was a veteran of the civil war and wouldn’t allow anyone on board unless they were warmly dressed with hat, coat & mittens and could answer
2 questions about the Civil War. Annie boarded at Peter O’Laughlins in West Butte and did summer terms teaching there. She also sandwiched in a winter term at Whitlash. Her theory in education included the basic knowledge of three essentials, “readin’, ritin’ and rithmatic” as the best foundation  on which a youngster can build for the future. Annie felt that too many present-day parents have passed the responsibility of educating the youngster and moral guidance onto teachcrs when the child starts school.
Annie got the opportunity to experience parenting 1st hand when she married Thomas O’Laughlin in 1910 in Great Falls.
They moved back to West Butte and lived in Tom’s log cabin luntil the present day homestead was completed. Their children included 5 girls, Margaret, Susan, Annie, Jean & Gertrude and a boy, Howard. Tom ranched cattle on about 2500 acres and always had a few saddle horses. He was also known to frequently play fiddle at community functions. Although he got Annie her own saddle horse named Napoleon, she never wanted a saddle horse of any kind and preferred walking even though everyone else rode horseback & the neighbors worried about her. They  also had 2 cows to furnish milk & butter and Annie would boast that she made better butter than one could buy. Neighbors described Mrs. O’Laughlin as a person with convictions, a great deal of practical knowledge & one of the best-hearted neighbors anyone could want. After Tom died around 1930 Annie picked up the management of the large cattle ranch, with her son Howard at her side running about 250 head of Herefords.
Before REA. came into the country they used wood from the hills, coal from the McDermott mine and an oil heater to take the chill off. Eventually a telephone system was also installed. Annie passed away February 28,1982. In 1994 Howard died Sc the ranch was sold to the Clark family. Annie’s daughter Anne O ’Laughlin Anderson & her son Dave Anderson kept 40 acres which they maintain at the original homestead including the bam, house & the original claim shack. The ranch is known to be the highest in Toole County with an elevation of 4550’. Located about 16 miles from Sunburst it is nestled in a valley up on scenic West Butte.
Annie’s spirit lives on in the midst of the beauty surrounding the ranch home. As an easterner who became 100% western with a love of the people & the land her no nonsense way of talking echoes in the land, “horses & cows, they are just horses cows to me.”

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