Mrs. Margaret Haggerty of Arnegard, McKenzie County, this state (North Dakota), under date of November 25th, 1922, gives the following regarding her experience as a teacher in early days. Mrs. Haggerty has the distinction of being the oldest teacher and the person whose service covers the longest period of years in this state.
Mrs. Haggerty’s letter:
“After teaching nine years in Ontario, I came to Grand Forks in September 1878. Miss Schlaberg, afterwards Mrs. D. M.
Holmes; and Miss Russell, who married W. J. Anderson (a store-keeper at Drayton) were in charge of the Grand Forks school. The building was a two-story frame one on the site of the present court house I think. It was moved off and became the Park Hotel. I succeeded Miss Russell in the primary department while Mr. Young (I don’t remember his initials) took charge of the grades above third. Alexander Oldham was county superintendent. It was pretty well crowded in my room. I had over eighty enrolled with a seating capacity of a little over forty. When all were crowded in that could get in, the others had to return home for the forenoon and would take an early dinner and get back to school before those who held the seats during the forenoon. So that I had three sets of pupils in the same classes, every day, some all day, some only during the forenoon session and some for the afternoon session only. However, we got along as well as could be expected.
“The dear little lads and lassies are scattered pretty well now. Two of Captain Griggs’ boys are captains of steamboats on the Amazon river, I have heard, and one or two of them on the Columbia.
“Captain McCormack, just dead, Major Hamilton, and Dr. Collins were the members of the board, and George H. Walsh, territorial delegate to Congress, was clerk. Mr. Walsh was father of Mrs. J. B. Wineman. I taught a springtime and a fall term there in 1879.
“During the summer vacation I taught a newly organized school about ten miles north of Grand Forks, near the Morais. It was a small log building got ready in a hurry, with nothing to keep out the mosquitoes during the day. They were terrible in the long heavy prairie grass. They could easily slide in between the logs, but could not seem to be able to find their way out again. The furniture needs some notice. There were two blocks of wood on each side of the school room supporting planks (rough sawed from native timber from the Morais) for seats, and others, a little higher, for desks. A wooden kitchen chair for my seat, but I had no desk, and a small blackboard. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my stay in that district very much.
“In the fall of ’79, I married, and quit teaching until ’83, then I taught at Turtle River. Taught from ’83 to ’85 inclusive. Then moved to a school two miles south of Grand Forks. Mr. Burton was county superintendent then. I went to Walsh County from there and taught between there and Minnesota back and forth until 1893. So I did not teach in Grand Forks County while you supervised the schools there. When Mr. Spoonheim was superintendent, I taught near Larimore and north of Grand Forks in 1899-1900. Then back across the river to Minnesota. From there I moved to the state of Washington. I taught winters there and summers in Bottineau County, this state for four years. One year I drew 13 months’ salary.
I came to McKenzie County in 1907 and have taught here practically ever since. One year I began a term in Williams County but had to give up on account of sciatic rheumatism. But the following spring, feeling well again, I taught a two-months’ term in Divide County to finish a term for a teacher who had taken “flu” and was too ill to teach.
“Shortly after I finished by work in Grand Forks, the Central School was built and several teachers employed, and again another building had to be provided and again and again repeated.
“Meantime, the rural schools and other towns which had sprung up like magic kept pace with the increasing demands for schools until today when I look back, I am astounded by the progress of education and industry in our state. It is a regular Aladdin miracle.” (The Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota, Volume 13, 1922-1923, Published by the University)