Pine Mountain Settlement School is an over 100-year-old institution focused on environmental stewardship, cultural and heritage preservation, health education, and agricultural development in the central Appalachian region.



 An in-depth digital look at the collections associated with Pine Mountain Settlement School. The collections include photographs, documents, biographies, objects, video collections and other materials that describe the institution from its beginnings in 1913 to the present day. Many documents are available in FULL TEXT.
Work is on-going.

Woman and two children on horseback. Ethel Norton Scrapbook & Album II. norton_093.jpg

Pine Mountain Settlement School_logo


The programs at Pine Mountain Settlement School have evolved to meet the changing needs of the community and region. Today’s programs focus on environmental education and educational support for students in local schools.

The Pine Mountain Settlement School mission reflects a history of multiple enrichment programs for the local community and beyond. Once a boarding school with a progressive educational curriculum, recent programming has moved away from residential education to multi-faceted offerings of short-term environmental, cultural, medical, social and agricultural courses and workshops.

Though “hidden” and largely inaccessible for many years, the materials in the rich local archive are being organized, digitized and offered in a growing website that contains the School’s historical record. The School’s archive contains many historical treasures regarding life in the Southern Appalachians from 1913 until the present. This website attempts to bring some of these unique holdings to the attention of scholars, former students, former workers and the communities of interest both near and far.




APRIL 2017

The March WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH was just short of the 30 women we aimed for. But, we believe women should be recognized all year long and we especially want to round out WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH with the last few women’s histories.

We also want to feature, in depth, the work of two of the notable women we presented in March. As we surveyed in our collections. Evelyn K. Wells, Teacher, Secretary and Board of Trustee member and Alice Cobb, Teacher, Fundraiser, and Trustee, stand out as particularly important to an understanding of the early years of Pine Mountain Settlement School. So …in addition to the biographies yet to added to our women’s list, Evelyn and Alice will receive special attention during the month of April. Follow our expansions of the biographies of Evelyn K. Wells and Alice Cobb during the month of April and prepare to be entertained.



MARCH 2017

Women’s History Month: These are just a few of the women whose lives intersected with Pine Mountain Settlement School. Each of these women and many more left a remarkable legacy of accomplishment, adventure and inspiration at the School and beyond.

More women will be added as the month progresses.

ALICE JOY KEITH – Teacher, scientist, inventor, environmentalist, Keith was always ahead of the curve. An inspiration to aspiring scientists at PMSS she went on to a successful career with the Navy Electronics Lab at Point Loma, CA. Her work and writing on sonar systems for the U.S. Navy were experimental and complex. Working for the Defense Technical Information Center she dealt with the travel-time of refracted rays of sound as they are found in underwater sound propagation, work that was often ground-breaking and critical to the later development of signal processing systems such as LORAD (Long-Range Air Defense) and related fields. An outspoken advocate for the environment. Keith fought to stop the Glen Canyon Dam and to save the “Roosevelt Tree” in San Jose, CA.

EVELYN K. WELLS (1917-1987) – Secretary, teacher, folklorist, author, Wells left rich records of the School from 1913-1928. Aloof and distant, but light as a feather when she danced, and passionate about those ideals she held dear. Her letters describe a young woman as she matures through tragedy, loss, and personal achievement, never letting go of her sense of self but rarely revealing the angst that followed her through life.

KATHERINE PETTIT I (1868-1936) – Co-founder of PMSS, Pettit was fascinated by mountain craft. In her search for the perfect “kiver” she found a world that resonated with her own. She was taught the hard lessons of listening and learning and heard the wisdom that lived in mountain folk. Often invited into the homes of neighbors she recorded the speech, lifestyle, beliefs and insight of women as they worked to understand their lives. “I just sat and had a piece of satisfaction,” said one. Another, “We’un’s what can’t read and write have to do a heap of thinking — that’s the reason we knows so much more than you’uns.” Her work with agricultural training in the steep mountains of eastern Kentucky was foundational.

EDITH COLD (1879-1980) – Teacher, dietitian, housemother, Cold was tiny in stature but a giant in courage. Before coming to the School she had stood off the butchering rampage of the Ottoman Turks to save orphaned children in Armenia. A quiet Quaker, Cold was always a force to be reckoned with and a champion of children though she had none of her own. She remained devoted to children and their welfare throughout her life.

ELIZABETH C. HENCH (1869?-1939) – A member of the Board of Trustees of Pine Mountain School, Hench was funny, witty, articulate and a lover of cows. She developed and supported a premiere herd of Ayrshire cows that kept the School supplied with milk. She also started Miss Elizabeth Hench’s Joy Stock Company and kept her stockholders laughing as they wrote their checks to maintain the herd.

MARY ROGERS (1914-1993) – Founder of the Environmental Education program at PMSS, and artist, naturalist, and librarian. Mary Rogers was profoundly committed to community and to living life with purpose. Born in England, she worked in China and India, knew Gandhi’s work and understood the lessons of poverty and service. “Ah, no man knows through what wild centuries roves back the rose,” she once quoted. As she read to children, she encouraged them to search those “wild centuries” and to build on their dreams. Her contributions to the School from 1937-1993 are still pervasive in programming, aesthetics, culture and consciousness in the PMSS community.

ALFREDA WITHINGTON (1861-1951) – Physician, educator, intrepid traveler. Withington was the 1st woman student admitted to K. K. Allgemeines Krankenhaus teaching hospital in Vienna, Austria, the 1st woman to perform an autopsy; the 1st woman resident physician at the Czech National Obstetrical Hospital (c. 1889); 1st woman physician to practice in Prague ; 1st woman to open a medical and surgical practice in Pittsfield, MA (1891); played an important role in the creation of a Tuberculosis Society (c. 1907); during WWI, was chief physician of the American Red Cross, worked at the Franco-American Dispensary in Dreux, France (1917); THEN in 1924 at the age of 63 she answered an ad in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Wanted, a woman physician for settlement work in the remote Kentucky mountains; all calls to be made on horseback, no other licensed physician within twenty-five miles. In 1924, Withington took the job. At the age of 63 and for seven more years, she worked at Pine Mountain’s clinic at Big Laurel.

KATHERINE PETTIT II (1868-1936) – Co-Founder of PMSS, agronomist, educator, planner, ever the manager. An entry in Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary (p. 57) describes Miss Pettit as having a “strong face [that] revealed her personality; a firm planner and manager, yet outgoing, patient, and kind. She was beloved by children and overworked mothers for her suggestions and personal advice….” The list of K.P.’s friends is a long one from Jane Addams to the overworked mother, but the list of photographs of her is a short one… “scarce as hen’s teeth,” some have said. She rarely sought the limelight, preferring the margins where the more interesting living and thinking take place and where managing has its most profound impact. And, she had impact. In late 1932, she was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion by the University of Kentucky as an outstanding citizen of Kentucky. The institution she helped to create is now over 100 years old, testimony to the strength of her foundational ideas.

PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL GIRLS’ OCTET (1936-1937) – traces of the lives of 8 PMSS women students whose educations were enriched by their travel throughout the Northeast and Midwest. performing ballads and dances of Appalachia. Three Ayers sisters, three Christian sisters, Fern Hall, and Nan Milan, sang and danced at the White House for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; danced with Henry Ford; were recorded by Alan Lomax; and their songs can be found in the Library of Congress. PMSS wrote of their importance to the School: “From the beginning Pine Mountain has been conscious of the wealth of folk material in the locality. The school has been a center for an artistic revival of this innate culture and has fostered an appreciation of English forms, in song and dance, which are the background of this pioneer inheritance, Folk songs and folk dances are a natural and delightful part of the daily life, reaching their climax in the May Day Festival at the school. The children sing Bach but also the mountain ballads, and the traditional country dances are their popular recreation.” Enrichment has a way of spreading itself around and is rarely a one-way process.

ABBIE WINCH “(WINNIE”) CHRISTENSEN (1887-1969) came from a Quaker family of socially-conscious activists. Her mother, Abbie Holmes Christensen, was a suffragist and abolitionist and her father and brother were supporters of human rights, particularly those of African Americans. Abbie’s interests and experiences were varied. During World War I, she served with the Red Cross in France. She became a leading expert on English and American folk dance which she taught at PMSS, along with weaving and mechanical drawing. Her habit of “dancing” as she walked about the campus was a familiar sight during her 25 years at PMSS. As part of the WWII war effort, she produced elegant aeronautical engineering drawings which are now in the PMSS Collections. In addition, she studied botany, an interest that she continued later in life as a florist shop owner in her hometown of Beaufort, SC. [AAE]

MARGARET MOTTER (1883-1994) Principal, teacher, head of the English department, prolific writer, humanitarian, weaver, Motter said of her ten years at Pine Mountain that “There is always a peculiar joy in returning to a place where one has invested a part of oneself. …” When asked “Why Pine Mountain?” She replied, “The real reason for my going to Pine Mountain was that I wished to have a different type of teaching.” She soon found out how “different” a teaching experience at Pine Mountain Settlement School could be. In one of her talks, “A MOUNTAIN SCHOOL” she speaks of making dreams a reality. She quotes from a poem, “He only is a dreamer who makes his dream come true…” Gender aside, SHE and the women she taught were both dreamers and doers. Her sentiments often found a large audience and her talks and writing engaged many new friends for the School. She was not afraid to be sentimental, caustic, judgmental, empathetic, and funny and her fearless style was infectious. She helped build dreams that resonated with her students, her donors and her colleagues. Her contributions to the School are numerous. She was also effective.

GRACE M. ROOD (1897-1988) – Taking care of people was a lifetime occupation for Miss Rood. This was particularly true during her 26 years at the Pine Mountain Settlement School, where she was a nurse and then superintendent in charge of the Infirmary. It was also where not only the ill were tended to, but many a baby was born. In 1923 Rood received an R.N. degree from Johns Hopkins School for Nurses in Baltimore, MD and then left for 5 1/2 years in southern India where she was superintendent of nurses and principal of a nurses’ training school. This international work was followed next by 7 years work with the Visiting Nurses Association of New Haven (CT). In 1932 she arrived at Pine Mountain Settlement School where a 1938 Pine Cone article describes her as “responsible for the health of the school,” a job she excelled at as she taught classes in practical nursing, kept medical records, traveled with the doctor on house calls, gave inoculations in the district schools, rendered first aid and gave talks about staying healthy. All this and more were in addition to her Infirmary responsibilities and serving patients all over the back country in her trusty four-wheel-drive Jeep. She retired in 1962. At the age of 86 she returned for a PMSS Homecoming and crowds of people lined up to thank her for “the interest, love and guidance she gave to students” as well as the surrounding community. [AAE]

MARY ROCKWELL (HOOK) (1897-1978) – If there was a Mount Rushmore for Pine Mountain’s important historical figures, one of the sculptures would certainly be Mary Rockwell Hook. After graduating from Wellesley in 1900, she was the first woman to attend the Chicago Institute of Art’s architecture department. She later studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Although her family’s wealth enabled Miss Rockwell to exercise options not available to many women of her time, it did not protect her from gender bias that she encountered throughout her years of study and job applications. However, Miss Rockwell prevailed. While working as an architect in Kansas City, Missouri, Mary Rockwell was recruited by Ethel de Long in 1913 to design the campus and buildings for the new Pine Mountain Settlement School. Over one hundred years later, her buildings continue to be appreciated for their attention to place and their harmonious blending with their natural surroundings, an innovative approach for an architect of her era. [AAE]

ETHEL S. NORTON ( d. 1988) “… even though the air in these mountains is dangerously filled with weird shots and strange sounds, it is perfectly beautiful here now. In that same air is the fragrance of ‘the green trees a-growin’, and the sound of the birds singing.” So wrote Ethel Norton when she came to Pine Mountain in 1927, the year she graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was one of many Antioch students who came to PMSS through an exchange program for teachers. At PMSS she taught the fifth and sixth grade classes — an activity recorded in her extensive Scrapbook and Photo Album. In her delightful “My Dear Everybody Back-Home Letter,” she writes in detail of her experiences teaching and traveling in the surrounding region. Her letter recounts the well-known story of Rebel Rock and the years of the Civil War. After departing Pine Mountain in 1928, Ethel served in several teaching positions including instructor of English at a high school in Amityville, Long Island. For a time she also served as Dean of Women at Albright College in Reading, PA, and in the war years as a director of YWCA programs for the USO (United States Organizations, Inc.). In 1943 Ethel married and settled in Oregon where she taught at the University of Oregon in Eugene until her retirement in the town of Gold Beach, Oregon.

DR. IDA STAPLETON (1871-1946) Her story is not for the faint of heart. As we battle over our personal medical benefits, it is well to remember those we must battle for. There is no question that Dr. Ida Stapleton knew those selfless battles and met them head-on, or horse-on. Traveling to remote villages in Turkey and the hollows of Eastern Kentucky on horseback to wait for and deliver babies, to patch up gun-shot wounds, to mend broken bones, to gentle savage psyches, and to always educate, was part of Dr. Ida Stapleton’s week. But, then, she had already encountered far more profound human suffering. As a worker for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Turkey in the 1920s, she and her husband had seen the cruelest of human actions. Starvation, torture, massacre, deception, — evil at its most extreme. The Storm of Life: A Missionary Marriage from Armenia to Appalachia, (2016) by Gretchen Rasch, granddaughter of Ida and Robert, captures the full sweep of Ida’s work at Erzerum, Turkey and her last years during the Great Depression spent at Line Fork settlement in Letcher County, a satellite of Pine Mountain Settlement. Her personal sacrifice and complete dedication to the welfare of her fellow travelers on this earth will make most of our lives seem shallow. As we argue over health care in our country, we would do well to think what matters most. How much we ask for ourselves and how we care for those who cannot ask or care for themselves.

AUNT SAL CREECH (1866-1925) Miss Sally Dixon, later well-known and well-loved as Aunt Sal Creech, wife of William Creech, helped her husband argue for the founding of a school in the Pine Mountain valley — Pine Mountain Settlement School. “Aunt” Sal [“Aunt” was a familiar form of address for the elders in the Pine Mountain valley] was the daughter of William and Mary (Gilliam) Dixon. Her parents were among those bold and rugged pioneers who carved homes out of the Kentucky wilderness, survived many hardships, and created a life and culture that became a colorful and important part of the nation’s history. She was the mother of nine children: Absolom, Polly, William R., Nancy Ann, Henry C., Columbus, Rhoda, Martha (who died in infancy), and Joe. But, Aunt Sal was mother to a far larger family, the early staff at the settlement school. Remembered for her wise and witty sayings, her love of nature, and her kitchen, where “Everyone was welcome to share the fire, to eat, to stay all night….Her hands were never too full to set a meal of victuals out of hours, and table-full might follow table-full in her kitchen…The children played all over the yard, and chased the chickens and turkeys…the grown folks helped with the work or sat quiet as they chose….For every chunk of a boy or girl she had a special apple or a large piece of sweet-bread.” Her wisdom often got right to the heart of the matter: “ “Well, we ‘uns that caint read or write, we have a heap o’ time to think, and that’s the reason we know more than you all!” And she did know a heap that we miss in our information saturated world.

LUCRETIA GARFIELD (1894-1968) Lucretia Garfield was born January 18, 1894, in Ohio. The daughter of Harry “Hal” Augustus Garfield and Belle Hartford Garfield, Lucretia came from a remarkable legacy. Harry, her father, was President of Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the son of President of the United States, James Garfield and First Lady Lucretia, or “Crete” Garfield. It was one year following the death of her grandmother on March 14, 1918, that 25-year-old Lucretia came to Pine Mountain as a summer worker. She had served for a brief time in the War Relief Service but had little work experience beyond that. She was charged to establish and run a Girl Scout program for the School. It was, apparently, one of her first experiences in a hired position and from all reports she was a lively, competent and engaged worker at the School — well liked by her colleagues. Lucretia Garfield stayed in touch with Pine Mountain for many years sending pictures of her children after her marriage to John Preston Comer, Assistant Professor of Government at Williams College.

BIRDENA BISHOP (1899-1989) Counselor, house mother, teacher, community organizer, a talented speaker and motivator who was often asked to talk before large and small groups. Most often her talks were about Pine Mountain Settlement School and her passion for education, for industrial training and for life in Appalachia. Several of her talks were more philosophical. Her inspirational short talk, “A Philosophy of Freedom,” for the 1942 commencement at Pine Mountain Settlement perhaps captures best her personal drive and heartfelt convictions regarding her work and life and what she hoped for in the students at Pine Mountain. Her talk beautifully captures the sense of place at the school but it also captures the kind of educational direction and sense of community that Birdena and her colleagues helped to build within the students. As Birdena noted in her 1942 “A Philosophy of Freedom, ”short talk: “Had our liberal education not set us free we would be bound by ignorance (which means simply lack of knowledge). We might also be bound by other negative, unbeautiful traits — intolerance, fears, hate, envy, jealousy, suspicion, superstition, prejudice — all of them more dreadful, more fatal to our freedom of soul and spirit, than clinking chains of iron. We might have been our own jailers.”

ALICE COBB (1917-1995) Came to work at the School in the late 1930s and continued to come as a visitor, sometimes fundraiser, and consultant to the campus until her death in 1995. Pine Mountain, no doubt, made important contributions to the interests and talents of Alice Cobb, as well. The influences of Pine Mountain can be seen and felt throughout her life’s work. She was an accomplished writer and a prolific writer. Not always published, her observations are extensive, amusing, intense and engaging reading. Her narrative reports and analysis of work at Pine Mountain was probably her most valuable contribution, though, for some readers the reports are also problematic. She filtered through her own perspective and often this perspective was not in line with current opinion or could be read as overly critical. But, critique she did, and today her keen observations are refreshing and candid and possibly the most honest observations we have of life at Pine Mountain Settlement School and related surrounding communities in the late 1930s and 1940s. She was well-known in the Pine Mountain community and her blunt style was a remarkably good fit with the direct and honest observations of many valley families.

DR. GRACE HUSE (1884-1971) A gentle contrarian, Dr. Huse knew how to herd cats (See her photograph to figure that one out!) Her experiences at the rural Medical Settlement at Big Laurel from 1919 to 1924 were a far cry from those of her genteel medical school in Philadelphia, PA, and teaching position at the Women’s College in Greensboro, NC. Even so, she quickly got up to speed as she established the Pine Mountain’s medical extension with her nurse and rural mentor, Harriet Butler. Her academic preparation in the medical sciences and her commitment to education were valuable assets in her position at Pine Mountain. The early experiences and models provided by Dr. Huse, Harriet Butler and other women who worked in the extension centers are only part of the rich medical legacy in Appalachia inherited from the rural settlement movement. [AAE]

MILLY MAHONEY (d. 2015) If you had the invincible Mildred Mahoney as a teacher you no doubt received a gift that keeps on giving. One of the most accomplished teachers at Pine Mountain during the Community School years and founder of “Little School,” Mahoney’s wise educational counsel was nationally recognized as foundational to the creation of Head Start. The creation of the pre-school program in the deeply rural area of Eastern Kentucky and her careful assessment of the early childhood education program, trained a core of superb teachers and inspired the founders of Head Start as they created guidelines for the national program. Her early work set the bar for “Little Schools” across the country. Through Head Start the lives millions of children were changed and they were given the skills and confidence to enter the educational process and families were guided as they moved forward with their children. Her contributions to the life experience of children, their families and to the total community will be forever honored and remembered by those she served.

MARY ANGELA MELVILLE (1886-1977) – Following Ethel de Long Zande’s death in 1928, the PMSS Board turned to Mary Angela Melville to assume Mrs. Zande’s duties as an interim associate director of the School. She was hesitant, fearing that Katherine Pettit, the longtime co-director and co-founder, might consider her a young, interfering “whippersnapper.” Nonetheless, Melville’s excellent negotiating skills brought about a workable relationship for the two years that she served. Those skills most likely came from her previous experiences as a field representative for the Credit Union National Extension Bureau (CUNEB) when she organized credit unions in mostly rural Southern communities. Miss Melville was not a stranger to the School. From 1916 to 1920, she worked in the office and, as an effective speaker, raised funds for the School. She had an innovative approach to education, as reflected in her writings, that was barely recognized at the time. It is only now in a review of her work at the School that her contributions are being seen in their true light as ahead of her time and formative for the years that followed. [AAE]

GLADYS HILL (1906-1952) – Teacher, Counselor, Secretary, Interim Director, Hill’s service to Pine Mountain School was longer than any other staff, including the founders. She started under the supervision of Katherine Pettit and remained at the School until the administration of Burton Rogers. When she died suddenly of a heart attack in 1952 she left a gap in leadership, inspiration and institutional memory. Her colleagues said of her that she “was born to teach. She had a personal, compassionate interest in all children [that] brought from them the best they were capable of.” She established the Cooperative Education program at the School which received national praise from the editor of Consumers’ Cooperation, the official publication of the Consumers’ Cooperative Movement in the U. S. A.. An excellent film produced by the Harmon Foundation on the Cooperative Movement at Pine Mountain was captured for national distribution in 1941 by the award-winning film team of Ray and Virginia Garner. Colleague Fred Burkhard noted that “Pine Mountain was her home. She gave it everything she had, and it was more than most people knew. She never entered into campus politics, no matter who came or went. She had a job to do, and politics was not a part of it. She got along with all the students who were bright and who were poor and who could not learn fast…. She knew the whereabouts and the doings of all former students and workings of the people of the community. She worked through several administrations and got along with all of them. She was quite a woman.” The tributes to her fill two folders in the archive, but the hole she left in the hearts of many at the School could not be easily filled.

BECKY MAY HUFF (b. 1906) – Student, TeacherWeaver, Dancer, Dyer, Becky was one of the first students to come to Pine Mountain Settlement School. Her name appears frequently in the records of the School and often in association with her skills at weaving. Under Katherine Pettit’s instruction, Becky became a master weaver. Pettit, long an admirer of weaving skills followed Becky as she left the School to attend Berea College and later as she taught at various locations including Aiken Hall in Olive Hill, KY. Becky also studied vegetable dyeing of wool with former PMSS staff member, Wilmer Stone Viner, in Saluda, NC. In 1930 Pettit wrote to Becky inviting her back to Pine Mountain saying that, “I am especially anxious to have you because I think you have a real understanding of our desire to do the old things and not just make mercerized…things and that you will help to hold up the standards upon which this department [weaving] was started. Becky replied that she could “hardly wait to get back to Pine Mountain again. I feel like I’m really going home again.” Before she arrived, Evelyn Wells at Pine Mountain arranged to send Becky to Amherst where she would be further trained in folk-dance so she might also instruct in that area when she came to PMSS. The weaving program only lasted two more years and at the end of 1932 Becky May left to marry Ova Sexton and the School moved into the Glyn Morris boarding school years, where weaving did not hold the same level of interest to the new Director.

MARGUERITE BUTLER (BIDSTRUP) (1892-1982) – When Marguerite Butler arrived at Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1914 from Vassar College in New York, the newly established School had many challenges ahead for her, from living in a rustic environment to teaching and caring for the mountain children. However, she was well-equipped to deal with both the good and the difficult times during her eight years at the School. The many letters she wrote to her family from 1914 to 1923 (available on this site) describe in detail her teaching experiences. By 1920 Miss Butler was appointed the superintendent of all of the School’s extension projects. In her last years at Pine Mountain, she was the supervisor of eleven one-room schools that had then been assigned to the Harlan County Superintendent of Schools, a position which included visiting the schools on horseback. Also in 1920, Miss Butler spoke before the fiscal court to procure money for the proposed Laden Trail road. A year later she was sent on a speaking tour to various Ohio cities and Chicago to raise money for the road and the School. In 1924, she was recruited by Mrs. Campbell to assist in the founding of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, based on the Danish model that the two had learned about in their travels together. It was there that Marguerite met her future husband, Georg Bidstrup. Miss Butler’s effectiveness at PMSS was due to her leadership abilities, congeniality and appreciation for the good in life, and her attributes and accomplishments continue to be admired over 100 years later. [AAE]

MAY BELLE RITCHIE (DESCHAMPS) (b. 1896) was among the many PMSS students who not only flourished at Pine Mountain Settlement School but brought with them talents of their own. She was the oldest of fourteen children in a Viper, Kentucky, family that was celebrated as the “Singing Family of the Cumberlands.” In 1917 Cecil Sharp, the well-known ballad and folksong collector from Great Britain, so admired them that he documented songs performed by May and her sister Una Ritchie for his collection. Five of the Ritchie children attended Pine Mountain School throughout the 1920s, including May Ritchie from 1921 to 1924. (Others in the family attended nearby Hindman Settlement School.) May married Leon Frantz Deschamps, who worked as the School’s forester, and the couple often attended or hosted social gatherings that included their co-workers. May Ritchie’s contributions to the School included her knowledge of traditional Appalachian folk songs and foodways, as well as her skills as a craftsperson, evidenced by her cornhusk doll collection at the Mountain Heritage Center, Western Carolina University. After over a decade at PMSS, Leon moved the family, now including their three children, to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. The couple brought with them the skills they had honed at PMSS. [AAE]

MAYA SUDO (d. 1924) – A nurse at Pine Mountain who traveled by horseback to deliver babies, minister to the sick and who introduced a new cultural awareness to a sheltered community. An immigrant from Japan, whose personal journey was fascinating and heart-wrenching, and all too short, Maya found joy in the world through service to others. Her photograph album captures her years at the School and beyond.

ETHEL DE LONG ZANDE (1879-1928) – Co-founder of the School, loving and very literate, de Long educated and shaped the lives of many in the short years of her own life. Strict, caring, fair and fast in her friendships, she was a model for many. “Gee, I like my new teacher. She’s as ill as a hornet!” one might say. I think we all understand this perceptive and admiring mountain metaphor — or perhaps, not. Zande expected the best from all those around her and she extracted it through love and respect.

OMA CREECH (FISKE) (1909-1986?) came a long way from the shy little girl in the photograph wearing boots and a floppy hat and holding a hoe. The second of Delia and Henry C. Creech’s eight children and Uncle William and Aunt Sal Creech‘s grandchild, she showed great promise and lived up to it. By 1943, after PMSS graduation and medical training, she was a practicing physician in Kentucky. She was soon sent overseas in WWII as a major in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), an international relief agency. All the while, she kept in close contact with PMSS where her training and aspirations began. After two years with UNRRA, Oma returned to her home state to continue working as a doctor and health supervisor and to realize her hopes for a healthier Kentucky.  [AAE]

Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections Website Launched
on H-Net Commons and H-Kentucky, June 1, 2016

 Dr. Randolph Hollingsworth, Assistant Provost, University of Kentucky; President, H-Net:Humanities & Social Sciences On-Line,H-Kentucky and currently editor of H-Kentucky on a visit to PMSS, described the goal of the digital network: [It] “…seeks to create an online collaborative environment to facilitate communication and the exchange or scholarly and pedagogical ideas among teachers, researchers, scholars, advanced students, and related professionals (e.g. local historians, librarians, archivists, genealogists), all in an open, democratic, respectful and non-partisan manner. H-Kentucky especially welcomes those who are interested in Kentucky, as well as those in any history/humanities field who live and/or work in Kentucky.” For instructions on subscribing to H-Kentucky go to:



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See INDEX TO COLLECTIONS for an overview of collections and series.