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Anna Johnson Hanna taught in Berthoud schools for 38 years

March 09, 2023 | Community News

By Mark French

The Surveyor


Author’s note: Since 1987 the United States has formally recognized March as the month to celebrate women’s contributions to history, culture and society. During March 2023 “Tales of the Little Thompson” will feature some of the women teachers who through their strength and determination helped in the development of Berthoud and the Little Thompson Valley.

This commemoration of Women’s History Month will feature four Berthoud High School graduates — Anna Johnson Hanna (BHS Class of 1909), Ina Cool Haworth (BHS Class of 1911), Ivy Stockwell (BHS Class of 1912) and Reva Graves Bradney (BHS Class of 1920) — who were linked to the community’s country schools.

Anne Johnson Hanna was a Berthoud teacher whose early education took place at the Sunnyside country school. Located four miles east and one mile north of Berthoud, Sunnyside was home to school children living in that fertile and well-watered agricultural area. Anne’s father, August Johnson, was a Swedish immigrant who along with his wife immigrated to the United States in 1888. Swedish was spoken in the home so when Anne entered the first grade she felt disadvantaged. From that time forward her parents spoke only English at home.

Photo courtesy of the Allen Collection, Berthoud Historical Society
Anna Johnson Hanna (right) enjoyed a mountain outing with an unidentified man in the 1910s. She taught in Berthoud schools for 38 years.

In 1905 Anne’s father hired Berthoud contractor Orin F. Drew to build a fine home on a 45-acre farm he had purchased from D.T. Pulliam on the eastern outskirts of town. By that time Anna had graduated from the eighth grade at Sunnyside School and was ready to enroll in high school classes at the Berthoud town school. She graduated with a class of four persons from Berthoud High School in 1909. She began attending the University of Colorado at Boulder the following year.

Anne, who came to prefer the name Anna, graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education in 1913. Returning home to Berthoud, she accepted a teaching position at Berthoud’s elementary school.
In 1919 she married pharmacist William G. Hanna. Following their wedding, Anna left her teaching position and the newlyweds moved to Superior, Nebr., where Will owned a drugstore.

One year later they returned to Berthoud and took over the farming operation of Anna’s father August Johnson.
After Anna’s mother died suddenly from heart trouble in April 1925, the couple moved from a small tenant house on the family farm to her father’s house at the northeast corner of First Street and Mountain Avenue in Berthoud. Familiar to many members of the Berthoud community for its distinctive tower, the stately home is located at the address of 500 First Street.

In 1928 Anna Hanna was asked to teach part-time at Berthoud High School. About three years later her teaching position became full time and she continued in that capacity until her retirement in the spring of 1958.

In May 1958 Mrs. Anna Hanna was honored at the Berthoud High School auditorium for a teaching career in Berthoud that spanned 38 years. The event was attended by more than 400 persons — most of them former pupils — who gathered to thank her for her devotion to the community.
An article in the Denver Post noted, “She occasionally touched a handkerchief to her eyes as she received members of every class she has taught since beginning her career in 1913 … One after another, speakers praised Mrs. Hanna as a teacher not only of scholastic subjects but of insight into human life. Many told of her service in helping boys and girls with personal problems.”

Anna Johnson Hanna passed away on Oct. 9, 1981, at the age of 91 years. She was buried in Berthoud’s Greenlawn cemetery near her parents and husband William who died in 1945.

Next week’s “Tale of the Little Thompson” will feature Ina Cool Haworth.

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