Born Ann Kelley, in Ireland in 1819, she immigrated to Boston, where she met her future husband, John McLaughlin. He was a sailor, whose home port was New Orleans, where his parents died of a yellow fever epidemic.
While living in New Orleans, the McLaughlin’s became friends with a family named Cadahi, who lived nearby in the Irish distinct of the town. When gold was found in California in 1848, both families set out for the fields.
By this time Ann and John had two sons, John Jr., and Cornelius. They travelled by ship to Panama, then by mule across the Isthmus from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.
They then secured passage from Panama to San Francisco and up the Sacramento River. Once they’d gone as far as the boat could carry them, they set out with a pack train to Scotts Bar on the Klamath River, which was in Del Norte County at the time.
Ann was the first white woman to come the area and the miners pitched in and built her a cabin for the family. By all accounts the McLaughlin’s were successful in their endeavors, remaining in the area for 18-years.
Eventually John travelled over the Kelsey Trail by way of Happy Camp and Big Flat to Crescent City to attain his citizenship papers. Once the mining played out, the family, having added another boy named Thomas, returned to San Francisco.
There, John operated a pig farm in what’s now the heart of the city, while Ann began a small laundry service. Four-years after settling in San Francisco, Peter Darby contacted John.
At the time, Darby owned the Reservation Ranch in Smith River. He wanted the McLaughlin’s to run it for him, giving them the option to buy it if they like the place once there.
The McLaughlin’s arrived jus’ in time for 1870s floods, which damaged several homesteads along the Smith River. This discouraged them from purchasing the property.
Instead, with another son and four daughters added to the family, and Ann expecting yet another child, they looked for other land to purchase, something that would not be destroyed by flooding. In 1874, they located and settled on a ranch in the Lake Earl district.
Ann, who could neither read or write, instead signing her name with an ‘X’, lived to be nearly 100-years old. She’s buried in the McLaughlin Family Plot of the Catholic Cemetery, in Crescent City, California.