Margaret Ann Hubbard

Margaret Ann Hubbard was born on October 17, 1909, in Souris, North Dakota. Her father was William Warren Hubbard and her mother was Mary Ann (Teevans) Hubbard. William and Mary Ann had a farm outside of Souris, in Bottineau County, near the Canadian border. William, who was from Ohio, had been a lieutenant in the Civil War and was taken prisoner in the battle of Harper’s Ferry. He spent a few days in the famous Andersonville prison. He had eight children from his first marriage, but when his first wife died he moved to North Dakota. There he met Mary Ann, who was originally from Canada, on a neighboring farm. Mary Ann was a teacher in the school in Bottineau, the county seat, and 23 years younger than William. They married and had two daughters, Helen, born August 7, 1908, and Margaret Ann.

The family moved to Duluth in 1924, residing at 918 East Fifth Street. Helen and Margaret Ann attended Central High School, both graduating in 1925, after one year, when Margaret Ann was 15 years old. Margaret Ann, often referred to with the nickname “Dolly,” then attended Minnesota State Teachers College in Duluth, intending to become a teacher. When she graduated after two years, she was too young to teach, so she worked at various odd jobs. When she turned 18, she was hired to teach second grade at the Cooper School in Superior. She decided that she didn’t like elementary teaching and quit after two years. William died on May 17, 1927, at the age of 80. With her sister Helen married to Earl Lambert, an employee of the DM & IR railroad, Margaret Ann decided to attend the University of Minnesota, so she and her mother moved to Minneapolis. They were living on William’s Civil War veteran’s pension of $25 a month, so Margaret Ann had to supplement that with a student job at the University.

Margaret Ann graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. degree in English in 1932. It being the Depression, there were very few teaching jobs. She and her mother returned to Duluth where Margaret Ann worked odd jobs to make enough money to get by. One of her professors at the University had commented on her talent for writing, especially reminiscences of her childhood, and, with her mother’s encouragement, she began writing. She first wrote dramatic adaptations of children’s stories for the Duluth Children’s Theater. Several of these plays were selected for production by theaters around the country, including the Pasadena Community Playhouse in California and the Shoreham Children’s Theater in Boston. Four of her plays were published by Walter H. Baker in 1936.

About this time, Margaret Ann decided she couldn’t make a living writing plays, so she went to work finding a subject suitable for a book. While digging through the stacks at the Duluth Public Library, she found some information on the history of Pembina, North Dakota, a town near the area where she grew up. She decided she needed to know more about Indians for the writing project so she spent a summer living among the Chippewa people on the Leech Lake Reservation. She followed this method of spending time on site to 
research many of her future novels. The experience resulted in her first novel, Little Whirlwind (1940), aimed at 10-14-year-old readers. This book was followed by fifteen other novels or fictionalized biographies for that age group, the last in 1964. Two of the novels take place in early Duluth: Captain Juniper (1947), placed in the Duluth of 1871, and Halloran’s Hill (1953), a story of railroading in the Duluth and Proctor of about 1900. Margaret Ann also wrote four mysteries for adults, beginning with Murder Takes the Veil (1950), which she wrote after spending some time living in New Orleans. In 1957, she dramatized Murder Takes the Veil for the Dramatic Publishing Company, and the first public performance of the play was given by the Drama Club of Duluth’s Cathedral High School.

During World War II, Margaret Ann wanted to do something toward the war effort so she enrolled in a radio communications course, passed the necessary exam, and worked as a radio operator for Northwest Airlines at the Williamson-Johnson Municipal Airport in Duluth. Her job duties included communicating with pilots, handling the mail sacks, fueling the planes, and repairing the radio equipment when necessary.

Margaret Ann received numerous awards for her writing, including membership in the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors and a $1,200 fellowship from the Bruce Publishing Co.

On July 2, 1955, Margaret Ann married Joseph C. Priley. They resided at 203 Eighth Avenue East. Joseph became a St. Louis County commissioner in 1959 and, working with Margaret Ann, was responsible for the construction of the Priley Fountain and the flower gardens in the Civic Center and for starting the annual City-Wide, City-Pride clean-up campaigns.

Margaret Ann’s mother, Mary, died in Duluth on August 2, 1953. Margaret Ann’s husband Joseph died on August 5, 1981. Margaret Ann eventually moved into Duluth’s Benedictine Health Center and died there at the age of 83 on November 1, 1992.

From Forgotten Duluthians, copyright © 2010 by David Ouse.