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by Reg Beere

Mary Caroline McLaughlin was born on September 26, 1876, at the Rendezvous Cabin near Taona, Nevada. During the Civil War period this cabin had been the meeting place of any and all parties of white men who separated in that part of the south west with the intention of rejoining: soldiers and outlaws, prospectors and traders made it their “rendezvous”. When Mary McLaughlin was born it had become just an outlying cabin on the “Oasis Ranch’ of her grandfather, Judge Hardy. The “Judge” went with being an elected magistrate around Butte, Montana, in the gold rush days; Grandfather Hardy had moved to Nevada to contract the cutting of railway ties for the building of the Union Pacific. He stayed on to supply firewood for the early wood-burning locomotives and to build up the Oasis Ranch. Mary was named for her grandmother, Mary Snook, who was a nine-year-old girl with the wagon train of immigrants that parted company in the mountains in 1849, part to go to the California gold rush and the rest to follow their intention of settling in Oregon. Matilda Jane Hardy was born in Oregon and married Judge Hardy there. William McLaughlin adventured from his farm home in Iowa to Nevada and there married and remained until he lost his life in an accident.

Matilda McLaughlin eventually left the Oasis Ranch and moved her family to Wyoming, traveling with wagons and driving a herd of good horses. She and a sister, Mrs. Julia Stevens, operated stages stations on the Rawlins-Lander road while their families grew up. Mary McLaughlin wrote the Fremont County teachers’ exams when she was sixteen and became the teacher of the large school district on the Sweetwater River. School was held about three months a year in each of three locations. Parents who were anxious about their children’s education would arrange for them to board at another session, so getting them six months’ schooling a year.

Mary also spent a time in Lander as a seamstress, having a shop in a neat four-roomed house her brothers Roy and Frank invested in before they went to Canada in 1903. Her younger brother, Glen, stayed with her and attended school in Lander while her mother moved up to Idaho.

In 1905 Mary visited a dear friend, Mrs. Stella Bird Neilson for a summer at the Hans Neilson ranch on Willow Creek west of Stavely. Her brothers, Frank and Roy, met and visited with her in Fort Macleod for a long week end before she began her return trip. This trip was not uneventful, either. After reaching Salt Lake by train, Mary visited the Temple Square and other sights, returning to her hotel very dizzy. She made the remaining train trip to Rawlins and seventy miles or so to the mountain ranch in a high fever, very nearly dying of typhoid in the weeks that followed.

In 1908 she and Glen came to Alberta to stay. Mary stayed at the IV Cow Camp on Spring Ridge where her brother Frank was working and promised the foremanship. After Frank’s marriage, she moved to the Tom Nash place which Frank McLaughlin and Harry Beere had bought in partnership. There she and Harry Beere lived from their marriage in 1914 until retiring to Pincher Creek in 1952. At the age of forty-one, Mary bore her one child, Reginald Beere, subsequently a teacher in Pincher Creek.

Mary Beere took an active part in the Spring Ridge UFWA for many years, and she also served on the local school board, sometimes exercising her trustee’s privilege of visiting the one-room school in session. The prospect of such visits may not have rejoiced the teachers, but they seemed to appreciate her interest and support none-the-less.

Mary Beere died at home in Pincher Creek on September 12, 1960.

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