Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Anna Barth


Honored February 1986

Anna 'Ann' Barth

Born Anna Masterpole in Oelwein, Iowa in 1911, Anna Barth preferred to be called Ann. She grew up in a family of seven. Her parents were Italian immigrants, and her father worked as a boilermaker for the Chicago Great Western Railroad.

Oelwein "was a railroad town with a population of about 10,000," according to Al Barth, Ann's husband, who also hailed from Geiwein. "We were born just a few weeks apart."

Ann's mother stayed home, but she enjoyed crocheting, and "she practically made them a living with her handiwork," Al said. Geiwein "was a small town, and everybody knew everybody. In high school, there was the usual rivalry in football between the Catholic high school that Ann attended and the public high school that I attended," Al remarked.

Al left school to go to work at age fourteen, and fifteen years passed before Ann saw him again. Ann had always wanted to be a nurse, but "the Depression came, and there was no money," Despite these hardships, Ann "worked for one year at the Oelwein Chemical Company, and she saved enough money to start her nurse's training in Des Moines, Iowa, at Mercy Hospital. She graduated in three years" and continued to work at Mercy.