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Category Archives: DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH
Dancing in the Cabbage Patch Is a joyful and personal description of life at Pine Mountain seen through the lens of family involvement with the school. The narrative centers on three main themes: farming, foodways and celebrations. The narratives cover the years of 1913 to the present and are broken into running topical sets that relate to the three main themes. Dancing in the Cabbage Patch contains photographs, manuscript materials, oral histories, and artifacts and external links found in PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL COLLECTIONS, that supplement the personal recollections and reflections of the author. The ideas explored in the narratives are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent ideas held by Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Pine Mountain Settlement School DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Feed Sack
DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Feed Sack and Fashion
“Style Thrifty,” says the sewing instruction booklet. And the cloth was thrifty, and durable, and easy to handle, but it was limited in size. [feedsack_007.jpg]
Poultry and feed sacks often go together. One could almost say many a feed sack has been present when chicken and dumplings were being prepared. Feed sack aprons were a common household item in Appalachia and in other areas of the country beginning in the period just before the War Between the States.
These early “feed bags” were not the colorful and patterned items that most of us are familiar with today. The early bags were generally tightly woven and more like contemporary canvas. They were neutral or white and without patterns but often stamped with the supplier or owner stamp. Some of the earliest bags may be recognized by a circular pattern that was commonly used to identify the manufacturer of food staples such as flour. The early bags could be re-filled and were patched and used until they were no longer of service. They were instituted to reduce the cost of the standard wooden or tin containers that were problematic due to rust and leakage. But, the new bags were not without their issues — some physical and some societal.
FEED SACK GAINS IN POPULARITY
The beginning of the popularity of the cotton bag is generally agreed to have been around the 1840s. When a “stitching machine” was invented and the bags could be sewn tightly closed using a double locking seam, the cotton bag was adopted for a variety of carrying processes and their number increased. As cotton became more available and reduced in price, and with mechanized weaving, the sewing machine, and the low cost of slave labor, cotton bags proliferated. During the Civil War, the “feed bags” were used for various transport jobs. The second half of the eighteenth century saw creative industries start to add decorative prints to the bags and by the end of the century, there were several mills that were experimenting with the production of inexpensive and attractive cotton cloth.
Further, the cloth bags were now being produced in a variety of sizes — not just in barrel size — and for more far-ranging uses. The barrel was, however, still in evidence on some bags as the circular imprimatur of the manufacturer was often the same size as the barrel top. The stamped name of the company was often hard to remove and there are many instances when the stamp of the company was left on a homemade shirt or a kitchen apron. During this time the weave of the cloth began to become more varied. The sturdy “canvas” weave gave way to a variety of less heavy and dense weaves and took its weave from the intended use and size. Depending on the contents, the bags could vary greatly. The lighter weave, such as that found on flour sacks was ideally preferred for home sewing.
As the uses of the bags expanded, so did the bag variety. The flour sacks, meal sacks, sugar sacks, salt sacks, as well as animal mash and grains — sometimes called “scratch” sacks — could all be recognized to some degree. The flour sack was the most common of the bags produced, as flour made up around 42% of the bagged goods; 17% of sugar could be purchased in a bag. Both these home staples meant that women could shop with a sewing project in mind. Women also learned quickly which bags were the most durable and could withstand continuous washings. They could also purchase similar patterns to expand their creative needs or aim for larger bag sizes. The manufacturers paid attention.
RECYCLABLES — MANUFACTURERS RETHINK THE “FEED SACK”
When the cotton market collapsed in the second decade of the twentieth century it was due in part to the invention of rayon and other synthetics and new weaving inventions that allowed for woven patterns, not just stamped printed patterns. The drop in cotton increased the market for cotton bags and from around 1914 forward there was a proliferation of the cotton sack.
With the increased manufacture came a sensitivity to the re-purposing of the used bags and new and more sophisticated patterns imitating contemporary trends began to appear on the sacks. Women were often the household shoppers and many saw the recyclable potential of the sacks almost immediately. Matching patterns and competition for popular patterns were common. Households with large families or farming families with many livestock could accumulate bags rapidly and soon there was a market for “surplus” bags. Many stores would re-purchase and re-sell the surplus bags. This activity only increased the creative designs and the manufactures began to produce booklets with patterns for bags or made suggestions for the use of string for crocheting. Coming up with an inventive apron was a favorite diversion and conversation piece for many women who regularly relied on aprons.
Today, the handmade apron has largely become a rarity in the household. The versatile feed sack is even rarer. The many household items made from recycled feed bags were remarkable: Aprons, dishtowels, pot-holders, pajamas, dresses for growing children, pillowcases, quilts, curtains, pajamas, tablecloths, dishtowels, and a myriad of other useful household items. The uses of this second-hand material were endless for many families. The original bags that often held chicken feed — hence the name “feed sack” — and other animal food were prized enough to often be squirreled away in hopes they would go into a quilt. Feed sack from the mountain home has long been a favorite “treasure” for many descendants who “remember the days…”
Cotton bags, as the brochure below describes the cloth, was inexpensive and could be relatively durable cloth. It “could be” relatively durable due to the variation of cotton quality and the weave which could be quite loose and prone to snag and wear quickly or tightly woven of strong thread and with good stability. Homemakers looked for more durable bags. For many household needs, the feed sack was an extra bonus when feeding livestock and it was not unusual for farm families to brag about the utility of the cloth and how they had used it in their home. When everything on the clothesline was made from feed sack — that was utility AND craft!
Imagine, if you will, a clothesline of the patterns below waving in the afternoon sun and a gay, handmade apron on the woman gathering the laundry that smelled of Ivory flakes… That is how I remember my Grandmother Hall. Many of the patterns below came from her collection.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF IT IS FEEDSACK CLOTH
It’s not as easy as you might think to identify feed sack fabric. The paper labels were easily removed from a feed sack and even with older ones the label has often been removed. A course weave is not a good indicator as fabric like this could also be bought off the bolt as well. The best indicator is a line of holes from the chain stitching that once held the sack together. However, this tell-tale indicator might be the first thing removed by the sewer.
Feedsack pattern. P1070164
Feedsack pattern. P1070162
Feedsack pattern. P1070159
Feedsack pattern. P1070157
Feedsack pattern. P1070153
Feedsack pattern. P1070148
Feedsack pattern. P1070146
Feedsack pattern. P1070140
Feedsack pattern. P1070139
Feedsack pattern (close detail). P1070137
Feedsack pattern. P1070135
Feedsack pattern (close detail). P1070131
Feedsack pattern. P1070129
Feedsack pattern. P1070127
Feedsack pattern. P1070123
Feedsack pattern. P1070120
Feedsack pattern. P1070118
Feedsack pattern. P1070108
Feedsack pattern. P1070107
Feedsack pattern. P1070181
Feedsack pattern. P1070176
Feedsack pattern. P1070171
Adrosko, R. J. (1992). “The fashion’s in the bag: Recycling feed, flour, and sugar sacks during the middle decades of the 20th century. In Reconstructing daily life through historic documents.” Symposium conducted at the Third Symposium of the Textile Society of America.
A Few Sacks More. Textile Research Center, Leiden, Netherlands. https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-digital-exhibition/index.php/for-a-few-sacks-more EXHIBIT.How feedsacks clothed and warmed Americans during the Depression, and later.6121192805298418.
Blair, Todd, and Karen Garvey. Flour Sack Dresses and Victory Stamps: Tales from the Good Old Days in Roanoke and the New River Valley of Virginia: a Treasury of 20th Century Memories. 2016. Pages 63, 117, 134, 161, 208.
Mable and Ethel’s Quilt Shoppe “History of the 1930’s Feedsack” Accessed March 10, 2021. Thanks as well to the Buchanan County, Ohio Historical Society for their contributions to the history of feedsack cloth.
McCray, Linzee Kull (2016). Feed Sacks: The Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric, Calgary: Uppercase Publishing Inc.
Pine Mountain Settlement School Series: Dancing in the Cabbage Patch Helen Hayes Wykle
TAGS: disease, rural health, WWI, Harlan County, Kentucky, hospitals, health, pandemics, Spanish Flu, mining camps, COVID 19, coronavirus, typhoid, diphtheria, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, flu, measles, spinal meningitis, Harry Garfield, Frank J. Hays, UMW, United Mine Workers of America, Federal Fuel Administration Office
GETTING SICK IN THE MOUNTAINS OF EARLY EASTERN KENTUCKY
The Pine Mountain Valley is isolated. There is little to dispute this fact. It was extremely remote in 1913, the year the School came into being. Today, there are roads but the multiple circuitous routes and the distance from towns and a hospital (the nearest is in the town of Harlan 45 minutes away) continue to be dauntung and isolating.
The health of people who live in the valley and in the hollows that branch off from the deep Pine Mountain valley is, like so many rural areas of this nation, daily put at risk from limited access to health services. Formed by the steep north-slope ridge of the long Pine Mountain that sits atop the Cumberland Plateau, the valley is faced by a south slope that joins a sea of low mountains, mostly sparsely inhabited. In the Central Appalachians, a mountain is both a barrier and shelter, yet, almost everyone who has visited this geography agrees that the undulating landscape of mountains, valleys and hollows is beautiful, peaceful —- but not easily accessed. This forced isolation in paradise is both a curse and a blessing.
When Katherine Pettit left Hindman Settlement in Knott County near Christmas in 1912, she aimed to establish the Pine Mountain Settlement in nearby Harlan County. She was already familiar with the terrain, having trudged through it many times over the years visiting with mountain families and looking for “kivers” and seeking support for more educational opportunities for the local populations. She had developed a deep respect for the native intelligence of the mountain dwellers and for their craft skills and their self-sufficiency. Her search for “kivers” or coverlets, the handwoven craft of many families, was a personal passion. However, this will to collect woven and other crafts in the area was consistent with a personal tendency to isolate herself from the many changes coming with industrialization.
Pettit saw the changes instituted by railways, logging, and mining as a threat to a unique culture and people. She saw in the mountain people a promise for the sustainability of the heritage of the region. In many ways, she saw her role as an “emergency” worker for an underserved and endangered population; someone who would protect the culture while rapidly educating for the coming industrial change. She had witnessed disease, poor health choices, and a lack of educational opportunity devastate mountain communities. But high on her list of needs for the people in this isolated region was medical care and health education. The many diseases that were coming to the area with the growth in timbering, mining and general industrialization, the new railroads, and the growing movement away from the land, she found disturbing. The change would come. She did not doubt that. She believed that education could mitigate those rapid industrial changes, but she also believed a greater threat to the core culture and people of the Central Appalachians were the many diseases coming along with industrial change — particularly in new timbering and coal mining populations.
The health issues of the region were growing when Katherine Pettit and Ethel de Long came from Hindman Settlement to establish Pine Mountain Settlement in 1913. While Pettit and her staff were very familiar with the health issues of the region and had anticipated the increased threat of the coming railroad and growing lumbering and mining towns, they were constantly startled by the persistent primitive conditions in remote homes.
In 1914, the year following Pettit’s departure from Hindman, it suffered a major typhoid epidemic. While the cause, it was revealed, was not that the school was unclean or that nurses were not available to the school and community; it was an infrastructure problem. The School’s toilet system was poorly planned and constructed and had contaminated the water supply. The faulty toilet and water system was a problem that had been pointed out by the State Board of Health in 1912, but the rapid growth of the school and the many costs associated with its maintenance of educational programs were expensive. Further, the existing system was deemed adequate until the large remediation expense could be covered by Hindman’s budget. The operational budget dominated. Typhoid was the result.
The typhoid epidemic at Hindman sickened a third of the adults at the school and almost half of the boarding students. One student died. The failure of Hindman to identify infrastructure (water and toilet) inadequacies and to address them, resulted in both a “health and a pubic relations disaster” suggests the School’s historian, Jess Stoddart [Stoddart, Hindman …p.79]. The health crisis also created a deeper economic crisis for the school as revenues declined by 36%. By 1915 Hindman was questioning if they could continue to exist. Pettit was concerned about her previous school, but she was already at Pine Mountain shaping her own version of the model settlement school. She had brought with her one of Hindman’s most competent educators, Ethel de Long, and recruited other Hindman staff. She was now even more motivated to build a school and community resource that would address some of the short-comings she had seen at Hindman. Medical support and health education were primary building blocks in her plan.
PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT AND HEALTH PLANNING
Katherine Pettit was a seasoned and meticulous observer and actor on potential problems. She was determined to not repeat the infrastructure mistakes of Hindman in her plans for the new school at Pine Mountain. She placed health services at the center of her proposed programs for the new school and foregrounded health and safety for students and staff at the new school. The physical design of the campus was created with an eye to easy quarantine and she sought the assistance of engineers to advise on toilets and water within the first two years. In conversation with the newly appointed architect, Mary Rockwell Hook, she evaluated potential health issues and long-range growth. Hook, who was charged with the design of the new institution, was a skilled architect and one of the first women architects in the nation. The planning of Hook, Pettit and, co-director, Ethel de Long resulted in one of the nation’s most beautiful and well-planned rural settlement schools in the country.
Health staffing was the important institutional insurance that Pettit immediately put into her planning at Pine Mountain. Part of this insurance plan was Harriet Butler, one of the first nurses at Hindman who was, like Pettit, a person committed to regional health. The insurance plan was a good one as Harriet Butler was also committed to the educational side of health which would produce the optimum long-term outcomes for the people in the remote region. While at Hindman, Harriet Butler and John Wesley Duke, who then served as Hindman’s physician, and also the county medical officer, instituted a vaccination program and gave lectures on various health issues to the community. These talks included how to establish good personal hygiene regimes but early-on provided the community with information on how to deal with contagious diseases. Butler had instituted many of these changes in health care at Hindman, but for her, the changes did not go far enough. Butler was an admirer of the work of Pettit and had been increasingly discouraged with the pace of health education at Hindman. She and others in the region wanted more health education engagement in the community and increased public awareness. Like Pettit, Harriet Butler was an energetic pragmatist like her friend Pettit. At Hindman the staff lamented in their newsletter, “… it seemed as if, however fast we run, we could never keep up with the pace she [Pettit] had set.” They did not realize that Butler would soon follow Pettit to the new school at Pine Mountain. The combination of the two dedicated and energetic pragmatists assured that progress would be rapid.
By 1918 Harriet Butler had made her decision to leave Hindman and by 1919, at the invitation of Pettit, she joined Dr. Grace Huse, a smart and energetic young physician from North Carolina hired by Pettit and de Long. The team of Pettit, de Long, Butler and Dr. Huse was dynamic and their progress was rapid. In essence the process of planning two new health centers associated with Pine Mountain and prospecting for building out to seven more facilities had been percolating since Hindman. Organizationally, Huse and Butler would head the Medical Settlement at Big Laurel and would consult on the development of the Line Fork Settlement in nearby Letcher County and would be medically available to the Settlement School at Pine Mountain. The Big Laurel and Linefork sites were to be created as satellite locations for Pine Mountain Settlement School and were to be focused on medical and health education and industrial training. The staff at both satellites would also work with the local one-room schools to improve their standard educational programs. All programs would be under the general direction of Kathrine Pettit whose base would remain at Pine Mountain Settlement School. The plan was a lofty one. The execution was sobering.
As a doctor and nurse, Harriet Butler and Dr. Huse were a superior pair. They were given the opportunity to build an important model program that Pettit hoped would be replicated in the surrounding counties. Their resulting model at Big Laurel was indeed exemplary but was crippled by cultural obstacles and by the economics of maintaining multiple sites and expenses. Reigned in quickly by the growing expenses, Pettit’s plan for seven new satellite settlements never materialized as exemplary models are expensive —-forward-thinking — but expensive. The cultural obstacles also did not dissolve readily and access to patients and traditional models of medical care were slow to change and could not be pushed.
What was lasting in these initial programs were the myriad new ideas that the experiments introduced into the communities, albeit slowly. The ideas of Butler, Huse, Pettit, and others who took on the health challenge, were positively contagious even as a slow contagion. If it had not been for problems of the economy of scale, and a reliable revenue stream, the ideas of these women might have lasted much longer and adjusted to the in-coming industrial era. Many of the earlier programs and ideas did, however, persist in the later work of other visionaries such as Mary Breckenridge and her internationally recognized Frontier Nursing Service.
WORLD WAR I – “THE GREAT WAR”
By the spring of 1916, another kind of health threat loomed; World War I. Thousands of Appalachians served in this war, and Kentucky had more volunteers in the fight than any other state. Many men and women died in the merciless war and thousands came home with deep wounds both physical and psychological. New diseases also took their toll. Women from Appalachia were eager to join the war effort and quickly drained local resources. Women’s work early in the war as Canteen workers, Red Cross nurses and workers in France and other locations was vital to soldier’s health and morale. Later in the war women held key positions in the hospitals established to care for the sick and wounded both abroad and in the United States. Many of these women were also pulled from the Appalachian region. [See: Brumfield, Nick, The Forgotten Nurses of Appalachia’s Spanish Flu, March 17, 2020.xpatalachians.com]
In addition to health concerns, the Great War also brought on enormous economic concerns. A coal shortage emerged as industry ramped up its steel operations while the domestic supply of fuel for heating and electricity, and for ship and rail transportation stretched the uncoordinated and competitive supply system to a breaking point. In 1917 President Woodrow Wilson asked Dr. Harry Garfield to serve as the Director of a new Federal Fuel Administration and charged him to develop a plan for dealing with fuel shortages, particularly coal. By 1918 Garfield, the son of former President James Garfield came from the Presidency of Williams College to his new federal position. Harry Garfield had a direct connection to the coalfields of Appalachia. He had served on multiple boards that had coal interests, revitalized communities in which he lived, and negotiated many thorny labor settlements as a lawyer. Of important interest to the Eastern Kentucky region and the bituminous coal fields, his daughter, Lucretia Garfield briefly worked for Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky as a community worker in its evolving health and education programs — arriving in 1918. It is clear that she also worked for her father and served as his eyes and ears for local issues, particularly in the important and growing Harlan County coal mines. Unfortunately, her correspondence from Pine Mountain is not available, but likely would be very revealing.
In May of 1918 Frank J. Hays President of the Executive Board of the United Mine Workers of America while meeting in Indianapolis, drafted a letter to Dr. Harry Garfield declaring that the coal production of the country was
“… far below the nations’ lowest possible estimated requirements, and that because of enforced idleness, miners who through their various organizations pledged their full support and co-operation to the fuel administration, are being forced to leave the mines in the industrial centers, where the car shortage [train coal -cars] shows no sign of improving.”
Coal Mining Review May 1, 1918, p. 4
The “forced idleness” was not just in the industrial center delivery points, but affected all coal-related industry, specifically mining of coal in the coalfields. The labor stoppage impacted most of the 500,000 mine workers. Further, the labor shortages brought about by the departure of foreign workers who had flocked to the new mining operations. The growing and severe economic hardship and pressure on the miners and their families in the Appalachian coalfields and coalfields began to be felt and noticed across the country. The “forced idleness” referred to in Hays’ letter reflected the practice of arbitrary pricing of coal that had to be negotiated. The negotiation process then idled workers while lengthy negotiations took place between operators and buyers. The price of coal was never consistent. With no pay coming in for miners while negotiations were underway, the workers could not take care of their union dues, and more importantly their health needs and debts. Many men left mining and those who stayed did so at great peril.
It was a tenuous and fragile economic existence for miners in 1918 and by May it had reached a crisis. There was no clear path as the world began to teeter on the edge of a health disaster. Hays, the UMW President asked Harry Garfield to help the union negotiate the minefield of rogue operators and the growing disregard for the lives of the mining workforce. Garfield set to work, but the journey quickly became more complex than just negotiating labor contracts.
In May of 1918, the War had ended but the residue was just catching up. Following the war, as if the ravages of battle had not taken the lives of enough Appalachians, another threat was building; that of economic instability and an enormous mining workforce weakened by unattended health issues and poor morale.
The CIDRAP researchers had done their homework and there was good reason to care at the time — as there was in 1918. Today, coal is still crucial and particularly to many underdeveloped countries that depend on supply coming from the U.S., but, the demand for coal in this country is steeply decreasing while the country and the world is deeply dependent on electricity. All the threats cited in the CIDRAP report were present in 2008 and in 1918 and many remain today and are potentially deadly if not addressed.
In 1917 when Dr. Harry Garfield assumed his leadership role in the new Federal Fuel Administration office, his role was vital to the survival of mining and miners but he had not yet encountered the other deadly threat —- a pandemic. Neither he nor the miners could imagine this even greater threat; a mysterious virus — deadly and with no cure. Popularly called the “Spanish Flu” because it was believed to have originated in Spain, the new threat created a storm of suspicion and exaggeration. The name “Spanish Flu” was, first of all, not accurate, but then news traveled slowly in August of 1918.
“Spanish Flu” did not originate in Spain, but its path of death was real with any name attached to it. In reality, the disease first appeared in the army barracks of the United States. The “Spanish” name had come quickly on the heels of an announcement that King Alfonso of Spain had come down with an unknown and untreatable flu or “la grippe.” The King’s illness was widely reported in news throughout the world. The “Spanish Flu”, then became the common name for what was not a “flu” but an H1N1 virus that had its origin in birds. Like the current disease, COVID 19, the “Spanish Flu” was a coronavirus with pandemic written all over it. The virus rapidly spread throughout the world in a manner similar to the current COVID 19 virus and also an earlier epidemic called the Black Death that killed 50 million Europeans in the Middle Ages or some 60% of Europe’s population at the time. The Black Death’s vector, or spreading agent was rats and fleas and it was not the first such outbreak through the earlier centuries.
The common practice of giving pandemic viruses easily recognized names is all too common, but it does little to describe the medical devestation such a virus wreaks on the populations of the world. Today we have linked COVID 19 with China where it apparently first appeared. China did not invent the scourage and blame will not take away its power. Linkage of the 1918 virus with Spain and the current association of COVID 19 with China do little to stop the spread of such virulent diseases. The Black Death described the color of the corpse when affected by the bubonic plague. That is perhaps as personal as “naming” can get.
Camp Funston, Emergency Hospital. Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine / Public domain
Most historic accounts point to the first identification of the 1918 virus in U.S. military personnel. A recent (2005) paper suggests that the first cases were in New York, but a more accepted historic origin was thought to be in Haskill County, Kansas at an Army Camp called Funston. The two H1N1 virus strains , 1918-19 and 2020, are linked by their similarity. There was and is no known medical intervention that will halt the progression of the disease. Like the COVID 19 virus now rampant across the world, the 1918 virus was resistant to treatment and no known vaccinations were on-hand to stop the pandemic. As soldiers and nurses and immigrating Europeans flooded into the United States at the end of World War I, the extensive and busy railway system carried the multitudes of persons back and forth across the country. The 1918 virus exploded in the army barracks, in the cities, and eventually in most corners of America. In Appalachia, the mining communities were the first to be devastated.
As the war in Europe heated up, the coal mines in the Appalachians were frantically mining anthracite coal to supply the need for manufacturing iron for the war and bituminous coal for ships and trains and home heating. In the East, anthracite coal mining was generally centered in Pennsylvania, while bituminous coal was almost exclusively mined in the coalfields of West Virginia and Kentucky. While delivering coal and coke for the war effort, and supplying home heating and electrical needs, shipments of millions of tons of coal crisscrossed the country’s rails and new railroads were created and new laborers flooded in to fill the labor gap. The demand for miners and down-stream workers was enormous and miners came from all areas of the country and from Europe and Mexico and other locations looking for work. But work was demanding and often dependent on an operator’s negotiation of pricing and cars to carry the coal.
Following the common story that the flu spread in the United States with the return of soldiers from the war, the first instance of the disease in Kentucky was reported in September of 1918. The first appearance of the disease had occurred just the month before. In Kentucky the infection has been blamed on a train carrying troops from Texas which stopped at Bowling Green where several army soldiers who were carriers of the disease got off the train and then transmitted the disease to local people in Bowling Green. From there the disease exploded in the regional population and promptly moved into the mountains of Kentucky through the very mobile mining population.
With no vaccines to slow its progression, the world-wide pandemic took hold of the tightly packed and transient mining camps of Appalachia in the late Fall of 1918 and began a deadly march on the lives and livelihood of miners and their families. World-wide the virus left a long trail of death. In 1918 the world population was about 1.8 billion of which an estimated 50 million deaths occurred. That would be approximately 2.7% of the world population. The higher estimate of 50 million deaths would suggest the 1918 virus killed 2.7% of the world population. Though the exact number and percentages are not fully known.
While an exact number count of deaths cannot be tallied, it is known that the death toll in WWI was smaller than the 1918-19 pandemic human toll. Across the country, with the devastation of WWI, still fresh in their minds, the people now found themselves facing an enemy even more frightening than guns and bombs and mustard gas; more frightening than the epidemics of typhoid, diphtheria, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, mumps, whooping cough, and more. The new disease, created dis-ease and fear as it had no face and its weapons were new, stealthy, and deadly.
The 1918 world-wide pandemic lasted until the early summer of 1919 and while short-lived, it is estimated to have infected over 500 million people, approximately one-third of the world’s population. Of this infected population, some 50,000,000 or more died of the virus, or, according to other data gatherers, some 3%-5% of the world’s population. No matter the incomprehensible numbers, Appalachians soon found that the world was smaller than they had imagined and that they were not as isolated as most in the Appalachian region believed to be the case.
COAL TOWNS AND THE 1918 PANDEMIC
Appalachia in 1918, was both fortunate and unfortunate with regard to the influenza pandemic. Kentucky death estimates are believed to be in the range of 14,000 deaths, though the exact number will never be known. The death registers of funeral homes often listed the cause of death as pneumonia but the course of the disease which resembles the current respiratory distress path of COVID 19 is often defined as a type of pneumonia. While the death records are difficult to untangle, they tell an unfortunate story that centers on the devastating toll the 1918-19 virus took on the crowded mining towns in the coalfields of Appalachia. The fortunate story is in the remote hollows and the sparsely populated agrarian or subsistence farming valleys of the region. There the story is one of social distancing.
Today we are looking at race and ethnicity in our data tracking of the COVID 19 deaths. In 1918-19 there was no consistent account kept of the race and ethnicity of miners and families. The Immigration Act had just passed in 1917 which required a literacy test for immigrants from the southern and eastern European groups, that aroused suspicion as the war in Europe heated up. Author Mina Carson tells us in her well-researched book Settlement Folk: Social Thought and the American Settlement Movement 1885-1930, (1990) that when the U.S. entered the war, “new legislation was proposed to coerce ‘100% Americanism’ by eradicating all signs of immigrants’ lingering loyalties to their native countries. The National Federation of Settlements was opposed to this government action suggesting that such an action would breed “misunderstanding and bitterness.”
Mary McDowell, a Kentuckian and leader in the Settlement Movement was a friend of Pine Mountain Settlement School’s Director, Katherine Pettit. McDowell’s co-worker, and Settlement Movement leader, Mary Simkhovitch, and many others in the movement opposed the use of such terms as “Americanization” and instead aimed for what they called “transnationalism” or the concept of a “new kind of nation of many peoples ‘whom God hath made of one blood.'” [Carson, p.159] This sentiment was to be heard often from Berea College, a Kentucky school founded in 1855, and a long-time advocate for the people of Appalachia as well as the world. The college motto: God hath made of one blood all peoples of the earth (Acts 17:26)” Is remarkably close the transnationalists.
Pine Mountain Settlement did not enter into this “transnationalism” debate directly, but later history demonstrates that many within the School who had served as missionaries or medical workers abroad understood the threat of coerced acculturation and its possible potential for ethnic cleansing such as that seen in Armenia. [See: Edith Cold, English Teacher]. The program at the School and its mountain founder William Creech strongly evidenced the commitment to “peoples acrost’ the seas.” [See Uncle William’s Reasons]
In 1914 when WWI began, many of the miners in the coalfields were immigrants. They had hired-on in the booming years in the coalfields of the Appalachian mountains. Many immigrants came just for this economic opportunity. However, as more and more countries in Europe were pulled into the growing European war, many immigrants fled the War. Yet, many were pulled by patriotism back to their country of origin. The need to fight the war in their homelands was a noble action, but the impact on mining in the American coal fields was devastating as miners headed “home” and new immigrants headed for the cities.
By 1917 those immigrant miners who chose to remain in the United States and who fought with the American Expeditionary Forces numbered near one million. Also by 1917 many foreign-born males were required by law to register between June 5, 1917 and September 12, 1918 with the government. Most of the foreign males required to register were from the following countries
TOTAL ENEMY ALIEN MALES
Holden, Arthur C. The Settlement Idea A Vision of Social Justice, New York: McMillian, 1922. Appendix p. 197
From numbers compiled from the Foreign Language Information Service of the American Red Cross, it is also known that nearly one million immigrants from the following groups joined the American Expeditionary Forces to fight in the Great War
Holden, Arthur C. The Settlement Idea A Vision of Social Justice, New York: McMillian, 1922. Appendix p. 198
German immigrants of German birth were not listed but were estimated to comprise between 10-15% of the American Expeditionary Forces according to the War Department. Males engaged in mining between the ages of 18 -45 comprised a significant proportion of the figures on the two tables. Interestingly, mention is not made in these statistics of the large number of Mexican miners who were engaged to fill vacancies in the mining operations. In 1919 this brief note appeared in the Mining Weekly stating
No more permits for the importation of Mexican labor, which has been used to considerable extent by bituminous coal operators recently, will be granted, the Labor Department announces, and permits already granted will be void after January 15. Mexicans permitted to enter the country temporarily for war work will be “repatriated gradually,” but there is no intention to deport such laborers.
Mining Weekly, 1919.
President Wilson’s announcement of “no more permits,” had been misinterpreted and there was great fear that deportation would start immediately. The enormous contributions of immigrants during the years of the Great War and during the Spanish Flu epidemic are seldom recognized but they often made the difference in maintaining both economic productivity and security and bolstering the American Expeditionary Forces.
The immigrant departures, internments, and injustices just as the war was ramping up and again as it was winding down and while the nation was faced with a pandemic are often overlooked, but there are many descendants in the Appalachian coalfields who still remember. The increasing demand for coal to fire the steel mills energized an economic emergency created by a labor shortage. Of those who left at the beginning of the war to fight for their countries, not so many returned to America at war’s end to resume work in the coalfields of Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and, West Virginia. At first, this exodus was an economic catastrophe played out in a labor shortage but little has been made of those immigrants who left to fight as patriots in the Great War. There is no debate, however, that when the pandemic infection took hold in the coal camps, it did not look at race, ethnicity, or patriotism and the human and economic catastrophe escalated in scale and misery.
As the virus took hold in the tightly packed coal camps, the crisis in the coalfields was not blamed on foreigners or foreign infection but was recognized as a problem that was home-grown and familiar but was incomprehensible in scale. The rapid infection-point of the virus could be directly associated with poor hygiene, a distracted population, and the slow-to-act or greedy industrial elite. The infection blame point was more insidious and blame was rarely sought and infrequently handed over to political rivalry.
Strangely, when the disease swept through the camps, it did not target the weak but was particularly deadly to a population that was thought to be the healthiest. Adults between the ages of 20-40 years of age died in great numbers. Men with weakened lungs from coal dust were remarkably susceptible. An unusual number of young Caucasian women also seemed to be particularly vulnerable. The death toll of both sexes was enormous in the mining towns and camps of Eastern Kentucky. One observer noted that in one camp he visited there were coffins on nearly all the porches in the camp placed there for those struck down or waiting to die from the virus. Finding able-bodied men who could dig graves was also a major problem for production as the maintenance of a work schedule at the mining camp could not be maintained nor enforced. Miners in the affected camps were rapidly becoming sick or assisting with the burials of family or neighbors and family. These efforts took precedence over the mining. In addition to the squabbles regarding coal pricing instability, the coal economy began to further deteriorate.
The rapid burial practice in the rural areas of Kentucky also had another side-story. The push for quick internment created tracking issues as there were insufficient records being gathered in the time of crisis and assembling an exact number for those who contracted the virus and who died of the pandemic was difficult to pull together and target. Most authorities who have looked at the mortality data from the eastern coalfields doubt its cumulative totals. It is likely that the numbers that were finally put together and that are fixed in the historical record were well below the actual deaths that occurred during the 1918-1919 years.
Remarkably, while history has not recorded those difficult years in a comprehensive and efficient manner, it has quickly forgotten the lessons of the pandemic. While few families in the Eastern coalfields escaped the contagion and the harsh suddenness of death and loss of a loved one, the historical record for the region is very slim and warrants only a brief treatment in history books about the region.
HARLAN AND CONTAGION IN THE COAL CAMPS
In Harlan County, the coal camps were running enormous mining operations in the 1916’s and 1917’s. The imperative to supply the war effort continued to be extreme and men and machines were pushed to a breaking point when contracts were settled. There were coal operators who tried to strike a balance in the enormous demands placed on their operations and there were others who saw their profits soar and felt no obligation to share the accruing wealth with their workers — many of whom were foreign-born. But there were exceptions to the rule of most coal camps. The exceptions were largely those operations that were well funded by mega-corporations. For example, great care had been given to infrastructure at Inland Steel’s company town, Benham, and at the International Harvester’s coal camp at Lynch, and at a handful of other well-run camps. These camps set an example for a high level of sanitation, pay, and for their medical support.
These two towns in Harlan County, Benham, and Lynch, were models of health care, and, in later years when Pine Mountain encountered medical emergencies they could not meet, they often called on the physicians and services available in the two coal camps. In the 1918-19 pandemic, the numbers of dead at the efficiently managed towns and camps were not as great as those that failed the health needs of their populations. Still, mitigation of the new “flu” created failure after failure. The bottom line was that in the pandemic of 1918-1919, common protections and practice and skilled medical knowledge were sometimes not enough, especially in densely populated centers.
By 1932 many of the coal camps in Harlan County were still lagging behind in their commitment to health needs and the grave health needs and great disparity within the county of Harlan are clearly documented by the study of health needs conducted by Dr. Iva M. Miller for the Save the Children Foundation in the 1932 Health Survey of Harlan County, Kentucky —just 12 years following the pandemic.
The scenario of the entry of the 1918 pandemic into Harlan County can be traced from a record of one of the earliest coal towns of Appalachia, Kaymoor in West Virginia. It was here that the story of the contagion played out so cruelly and that under-scores the tragedy of close-living, inadequate hygiene, and managerial and economic insensitivity. It is a story that became all too familiar in the coal dominated economy of the Central Appalachians in the 1918’s – 1920’s. Many coal towns like those of Kaymoor became the vectors for the pandemic in the surrounding region.
Kaymoor was one of the first company coal towns. Belonging to Lo Moor Iron Company, the coalmining operation supplied its black gold to the pig iron plant of Lo Moor Company located near Clifton Forge, in Alleghany County, Virginia. Abiel Abbot Low, a wealthy investor, and owner of the Lo Moor Iron Company, was a board member of the C&O rail line which was the new and only access to the Lo Moor Iron company and to its rich iron deposits. Abiel Abbot Low owned four thousand acres of iron ore in Alleghany County, Virginia, and the associated rail line linked to the southern West Virginia coal country where he had purchased eleven-thousand acres of coal land in Fayette County, West Virginia. With his transportation system in place, he then proceeded to build out his empire by establishing a series of coal town communities. The cooperative communities, aggregated under the name Kaymoor were begun in 1899. A full description of the Kaymoor communities may be found in Crandall A. Shifflett’s informative and deeply researched book, Coal Towns: Life, Work, and Culture in Company Towns of Southern Appalachia, 1880-1960 (pp. 38-40).
When the Spanish Flu and other diseases came to Appalachia, the closely packed coal towns, such as those like Kaymoor, were the most vulnerable sources for infection. The Spanish Flu was not the first epidemic to strike Kaymoor. It was particularly suited for infection. First it was smallpox in 1904 which was addressed by the community physician by inoculation — but not for all. When the company realized that inoculation would cost $60,000.00 to include all in the community, they parceled out the shots to those who could afford to pay or were cronies. It was selfish and a deadly mistake. The epidemic took off. It quickly killed hundreds of miners and their families. When the Spanish Flu arrived there was no vaccine to quibble about and the Company, guided by the large fatality numbers in the smallpox epidemic, mandated what is now call “Social Distancing.” Shifflet tells us that there were
“… drastic curtailments of activity to prevent its spread. Schools were closed, the theater was shut down, only one customer at a time was allowed in the barber shops, and all public meetings were discouraged as company doctors at Kaymoor One ‘… worked day and night to prevent the inexorable spread of the deadliest influenza epidemic in American history.’ “
Shifflett [p.56] notes the following correspondence as his source: E.R. Price to Dr. Don J. Schleissmann, Public Health Service, series 7, box 17, Wheelwright Collection, King Library, University of Kentucky, Lexington.
Their efforts were, however, too late. It is interesting that the physicians of the day and even later historians initially blamed the Kaymoor pandemic infection on the water supply and the lack of adequate sewers, not realizing until too late that the main culprit was human contact. The failure to grasp the transmission process was at first not unusual, as there were so many diseases in the coal camps that were caused by poor hygiene and by inadequate water and sewage systems, like that seen earlier at Hindman School. But, while the new disease was not directly associated with personal hygiene its spread was eventually determined to be directly tied to a personal hygiene regime — especially hand-washing. So many of the diseases in Appalachian communities could be and were directly associated with poor personal hygiene and inadequate health education and poor medical support systems. But the Spanish Flu, like the current COVID 19 was unfamiliar and more elusive in its contagion process.
QUARANTINE AND PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL
Outside the coal camps and the towns and cities in Harlan County, associated with the mining of coal, the 1918 contagion found that it had to fight a myriad of stubborn obstacles. One of them was Katherine Pettit — a force to be reckoned with. She reported in a note to a Pine Mountain Board of Trustee member, Mrs. Morton, who lived in Lexington, Kentucky, that while the flu was all around Pine Mountain School, it [the School] was untouched. She writes
Dear Mrs. Morton,
It was so good of you to be anxious about us … We have no influenza now, though it is still around us. Three-hundred have died in Harlan County, I hear …
Pettit, Katherine. Letter to Mrs. Morton, PMSS Collections. [pettit_1918_007.jpg] November 13, 1918
As Katherine Pettit relayed in this note to Mrs. Morton, Pine Mountain was spared the ravages of the 1918 pandemic. If any reason may be pointed to, it would be that the School had practiced quarantine many times in the past.
Katherine Pettit writing to her sister “Min” on November 8, 1918, notes that
“…tomorrow Miss Gaines [Ruth Gaines], comes from Massachusetts, and Miss Parkinson from Kansas. They are all to be isolated in Miss Butler’s house up on the mountain until we are sure they haven’t brought influenza. And I am wishing you could come now, and do the same thing…”
Letter: Katherine Pettit to Mrs. Waller O. Bullock, 8 November, 1918. PMSS Archive. Pettit Correspondence 1918. [pettit_1918_009.jpg]
Quarantine of the School in the fall of 1918 prevented a single case of Spanish Influenza from breaking out, though neighbors, showing a low immunity, were ravaged This was a most effective lesson to everybody on the value of quarantine. We have not always been as fortunate in keeping out contagious diseases and measles (1920, Boys House needed to take care of the 40 cases), mumps (worst in 1926, when they overflowed to the Country Cottage) and whooping cough (1924) have been our worst epidemics. There have been two deaths from sickness, among the children of the School. In 1923 Harry Callahan died of spinal meningitis resulting from severe injuries to the head when he was thrown from a moving train, and in 1924, James Gilbert died, also of spinal meningitis. There has been a steady decrease in colds and minor epidemics as underweight children have been built up by extra milk, rest [and] other special care, which has reacted upon the[ir] physical vigor.”
Wells, Evelyn. Wells Record 11 PMSS Health 1913-1928. Unpublished early history of Pine Mountain School that includes an outline of health care at the School from 1914 to 1928.
As reported by staff member Evelyn Wells in December of 1918
“And, influenza everywhere, though no cases at the school yet. Only one or two children are going home for vacation. We are rigidly quarantined, an object lesson we hope for the whole countryside.
Influenza, typhoid, diptheria, gun-shot wounds, snake bite, birthing babies, teaching children how to brush their teeth, wash their faces and hands, how not to hold the water dipper over the water bucket as they drank from it, teaching food preservation, food storage, how to bandage a wound, which herbs were harmful, which helpful …. the list is a long one in the diaries and letters of the nurses and doctors who worked in the two medical clinics that were managed by Pine Mountain Settlement. The first-hand accounts of treating a wide range of medical issues give some sense of the demands placed on those medical doctors and nurses who served the Pine Mountain Valley and beyond from the two clinics that were established to the east of the Pine Mountain Settlement School in Letcher County and to the west at Big Laurel on Greasy Creek. A Red Cross nurse, Frances Palmer, who had survived WWI and the 1918 pandemic came to Pine Mountain to assist with the development of two satellite health centers at the School in 1920.
Frances Palmer (Conquist) only stayed at Pine Mountain for six months before returning to Minnesota to be married. She was one of the first nurses to be placed in the new health settlement at Line Fork, in the neighboring county of Letcher. She describes an incident remembered from one of her tasks at the Line Fork Settlement which involved the removal of bullets from a young man caught up in a local feud. The Frances Palmer story is a short but revealing tale of a small Eastern Kentucky community at Line Fork and Frances Palmer’s lessons learned in the horrors of WWI in France. There, in the later years of the war along with 23,800 other Red Cross nurse volunteers, she treated soldiers injured by trench and gas warfare. These war injuries were some of the most ghastly of that merciless war. It was a new challenge and Frances Palmer was heroic and she excelled. In 1919, as a Red Cross nurse, she won a commendation from General Pershing for her “conspicuous service at Chateau-Thierry and at St. Mihiel”, two of the hospitals serving the most vicious battles fought by Americans serving in the war. She later worked in Coblenz, Germany as the war came to an end. There she again, she demonstrated her superior nursing skills while taking care of the multitude of gravely wounded and disabled soldiers. WWI was one of the most brutal wars in history. Frances Palmer lived it. When Frances returned home, it was to a country devastated by a pandemic but she volunteered to come to Eastern Kentucky to address another war that was being waged in Eastern Kentucky. A public health crisis that was evolving there and it had reached the attention of the nation. Experienced and in-experienced women workers looked to their own country and many came to the Central Appalachians..
Like Katherine Pettit, Frances Palmer was committed to serving the needs of the country’s health. A practical idealist, she had demonstrated that she could tolerate difficult environments and that she could do so at grave danger to herself and with courage that was commendable. Her service to the health of her country was a commitment made by so many other women serving in the Red Cross corps.
This is Frances Palmer’s brief account of one incident in her service to the Line Fork Settlement, a satellite health and education center near Pine Mountain Settlement School. A bullet-wounded young man …
It seems that several attempts had been made to “git” one of the young men of the community; and one Sunday night when he was alone in the store at Bear Branch [page 10] some one fired at him and filled his back and side full of shot. Word was soon brought to us, and Miss Dennis and I hurried to the store, where we found him lying on a cot. Most of the shots were superficial, but they were numerous. Nancy, who lives near the store, held the only light which was a miner’s lamp; and in the midst of first aid she fainted, and left me in the dark! Soon the light was burning again and after poor Nancy had had several dippers of water poured over her, she was ready to help again. I tried to persuade them to call a doctor, but they did not think it necessary.
For six or seven days the patient stayed at the store, as he lived some distance up the mountain side. Dressings were changed twice a day, and each time, more shot would be removed. When time came for him to go home, several of the boys cut two tamaracks, cleaned the trunks, and made a stretcher from a quilt and coats: they then carried him up the mountain to his cabin where he was confined to his cabin and bed for several weeks. Between his banjo and book and magazines from the settlement, time passed quickly until he was up and about again.
On my way home from this place, I was called to see a “risen” [boil] on a girl’s arm. She had had it for weeks, and the poultices of red sumac root, or apple and vinegar, of lim [?] root and sweet milk, of buckeye bark and cornmeal, and of hot oatmeal, did not seem to help it. All I could do at this time was to show them how to use the hot salt packs and say I would return in the morning. The next day I applied glycerine and gauze dressings and was informed that they didn’t like the salt packs and had put Vick’s salve on. [When I came to apply] the third poultice I found the oatmeal poultice on again and was almost ready to give up. But the girl had lost so much sleep and was in such pain, that she finally consented to have it opened and glycerine applied again. The next visit found things as I had left them and the “risen” draining well with the patient free from pain.
Pine Mountain Settlement is remote. It was spared the rapid infection seen in the close living of the coal camps in Harlan County. This was because a quarantine was initiated. “A stay at home mandate.” The community of Pine Mountan Settlement reflects a history of valuing the quarantine of infected persons and all the health benefits that go along with it. Quarantine is now a medical necessity in a virulent epidemic. Pine Mountain is a remote community, but it is a disciplined community. The people know how to survive hard times. Social distancing has been the lifestyle in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky for most of its history. Social distancing is in many ways not a mandate but a social pride that people enjoy. Social distancing is a solitude and an independence not found easily in urban environs. Most of Harlan County is now a rural culture well-versed in survival and “make-do” though less so than in years past. But, what remains within the culture of the families of the area are the memories of hard-times and the “make-do” of parents, grandparents, and relatives. Rural America, generally carries this recent memory of the skills to survive hard-times. What is less certain is how the current pandemic will test those skills of rural America including Appalachia and how that divide — rural and urban — will be re-shaped by surviving this hard-time.
Today, courage equal to that shown by Frances Palmer Conquist, is tbeing shown by many health professionals in this country, and by the many workers in Doctor’s Without Borders, workers for WHO, and a multitude of other health care providers here and abroad as they engage the hidden enemy of COVID 19. Today, when we social distance it is women and men like Frances Palmer and her cohorts that WE need to protect with masks and with respect. This is — and it should be — our contribution to this war against the hidden enemy, COVID 19. Wearing a mask and remembering that the six-feet needed for social distancing is our respect for quarantine and for each other. It is not too much to ask in “hard-times.”
Pine Mountain Settlement School Environmental Education
SALAMANDERS at Pine Mountain Settlement School
TAGS: salamanders, green salamander, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Clifford H. Pope, Harlan County, Kentucky, Plethdons, Plethodon Aneides aeneus, Greasy Creek, Limestone Creek, 1928 , ecological life histories, chestnut trees, ecological history, eggs, hibernation, salamander aggression, red-backed salamanders,
The salamanders of Pine Mountain Settlement School are some of its most fascinating residents and like the School, they have an engaging history —- one that has captured the attention of herpetologists through the years.
In 1928 Clifford H. Pope a herpetologist and conservationist with the American Museum of Natural History engaged in a field study of salamanders from the mountains of North Carolina to the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky. His study was far-ranging and one segment took place at Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky. Funded by the Douglas Burden Research Fund, Pope was at the School for the purpose of a field study to determine the relationships of four species of the genus Plethdon — P. glutinosus, P. shermani, P. jordani, and P. metcalfi. The focus of Pope’s work at Pine Mountain was a species within the Plethdontidae family, known as Aneides aeneus. Also called the “green salamander,” it is today a rare lungless salamander seldom encountered in the region.
The Plethdon salamander genus
In his published research in American Museum Novitates, No. 306, April 14, 1928, he noted the hospitality he received at the School from “Mrs. Ethel de Long Zande and her colleagues who made me feel very much at home while collecting …” Pope was at Pine Mountain Settlement for five days, from July 20th until the 25th and a return for one day on the 28th. He was assisted in his search for salamanders by a Pine Mountain student, Evans Compton. Evans, a thirteen-year-old, was familiar with the local terrain and acted as an assistant in the collection of the salamanders.
The salamander search is described in Clifford Pope’s notes from his field diary:
July 20. We hunted for part of the afternoon on the School grounds just below the reservfoir in damp, thick woods and found one specien inside of a large, decayed log.
July 21. during the morning we hunted in the forest along the Laden Trail, a wagon road that crosses Pine Mountain about a mile southwest of the School, and found five specimens (A.M.N.H. Nos. 25583-25587) as follows: (a) a small one under the very loose bark of a solid log lying beside the road. Only a little bark remained on the log; (b) two small ones under the bark of a limb of a large, prostrate water oak. The log was solid and the specimens were about five feet above the ground; (c) one more under the very loose bark of a large, prostrate, solid, chestnut log lying by the road; (d) the fifth under the bark of a large, solid, prostrate log embedded in a thicket above the road.
A long unt in the afternoon, along the base of Pine Mountian about a mile northeast of the School, netted only one specimen. It was taken on the edge of a clump of scrub trees under the bark of a solid section of a log lying in a dry, overgrown pasture. The log was exposed to the sun.
July 22. Our morning’s search was fruitless but in the afternoon we found one specimen a mile below the School near Greasy Creek under the bark of a section of a solid water oak lying exposed to the sun in an area devestated by lumbermen and another (A.M.N.H. No. 25589) under the remaining loose bark of a solid, prostrate log also well exposed and lying in the same devestated area.
July 23. Hunting in the forest near the base of Pine Mountain about two miles southwest of the School we found four specimens (A.M.N.H. Nos. 25590-25593), the first two under the loose, decaying bark on the upper side of a huge, prostrate chestnut log and the last under the loose bark of another fallen chestnut tree four or five feet in diameter and not far from the first. Both logs were solid. The third specimen was found with a batch of fourteen eggs ina prostrate water-oak limb eight feet long and one foot in diameter. The eggs were in a long, shallow cavity one to three inches wide by one deep and near one end of the limb. Much of the bark was missing and the log, though still solid, had a thin layer of decayed wood under the bark where the eggs were found. The cavity was on the side of the log and so the eggs, though virtually suspended, actually rested against the cavity’s bottom or the side of the log.
[Discussion of egg cache]
July 24. During a long half-day’s search we found only one specimen (A.M.N.H. No. 25594). It ws taken in the forest near the base of Pine Mountain some two miles southwest of the School under the very loose, decaying bark of a chestnut limb or small tree barely a foot in diameter leaning against other trees. The salamander was aout five feet above the forest floor.
July 25. It was not until this date that we really found the true habitat of A. aeneus. On this day our first three hours netted twelve specimens and yet we hunted just where we had worked before with little result. Searchig in the forest along the Laden Trail we found: (a) one at the base of Pine Mountian under the very loose bark of a solid chestnut stump five feet high and ten inches in diameter; (b) six or seven more not far away under the very loose bark of a solid white walnut limb some twelve fee long and eight inches in diameter lying near a strea in heavy shade with one end propped against small trees and the other resting on the ground; (c) two more only twenty feet away on a solid, poplar log placed much as the white walnut just described; (d) two more under the bark of the end branches of a large, solid, basswood log lying in a tangle of weeds and bushes about halfway up Pine Mountain, three to four feet above the forest floor; (e) two more under the bark of a large, solid chestnut limb lying across a fallen tree; and finally, (f) four more under the bark of a large, solid, maple log lying near the road about halfway up the mountain.
July 28. In about an hour’s hunting alone in the woods between the School and the reservoir I found five specimens: (a) two of which were under the loose bark of a slender, solid, chestnut log leaning against some living trees; (b) one more three feet from the ground under the loose bark of a small, solid stump about four feet high; and finally, (c) two more, one large and one small four to five feet from the ground under the loose bark of an upright, dead white walnut tree still quite solid and only four to six inches in diameter.
Aneides aeneus,then lives under the loose bark of dead trees.
Pope, p. 8
It is interesting that Pope’s assessment that the habitat of the Aneides aeneus was “under the loose bark of dead trees.” This has been questioned to some degree by more recent articles that suggest the preferred habitat of many green salamanders is indeed in some cases under the loose bark of dead trees in arboreal areas but they are also regularly found in the crevices of rocks. For example, a 1952 article by Robert E. Gordon, a Naturalist at the Highlands Biological Station in North Carolina managed by the Biology Department of the University of Georgia, Athens, he describes crevices to be the preferred habitat. The abstract of Gordon’s study states
” In eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and adjacent portions of Tennessee Aneides aeneus is found to occur in an arboreal or arboreal-rock crevice habitat. Its habitat in all other portions of its range is chiefly rock crevices. The region of arboreal habitat coincides with the undifferentiated mixed mesophytic forest [of Emma Lucy] Braun,] while the rock habitat generally occurs in regions of segregated forests of the mixed mesophytic type. ”
While Pope focused on the arboreal habitat, he seems to have had some difficulty identifying the names of trees in his field notes and relied on the information given by one of Pine Mountain’s students. He says
Unfortunately, only the popular names of the trees on which my series were taken can be given though these may be relied upon because they were verified by an advanced student of the Settlement School.
12 examples were living in chestnut 8 or 9 examples were living on white walnut 5 examples were living on water oak 4 examples were living on maple 2 examples were living on poplar 2 examples were living on basswood 1 example was living on pine 1 example was living in a decayed log
Three additional specimens were found on logs which I failed to identify. The names of at least two of these undetermined logs would be included in the above list. The great number of fallen chestnuts on Pine Mountain mayaccount for their heading the list.
Pope, p. 8
While salamanders have the reputation of being indestructible — going through fire and not being burned, etc., today their numbers are on the decline. In the mid-1970’s the Aneides aeneus that Pope and other found fascinating, started to experience a decline and some call it a population collapse in many of it common ranges. Those who have been monitoring the main 7 green salamander populations have documented “… a 98% decline in relative abundance since 1970.” The decline is remarkably rapid and a novel agent is suspected. Some agents under consideration are climate change, epidemic disease, and over-collecting by pet enthusiasts. [See: Corser, Jeffrey D. “Decline of disjunct green salamander (Aneides aeneus) populations in the southern Appalachians,” Biological Conservation 97(1):119-126.
Pine Mountain Settlement School Series: DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Foodways
FOOD CHALLENGE AND WWI “THE GOSPEL OF THE CLEAN PLATE”
By 1916 it was clear that Pine Mountain Settlement School was food challenged and more ways were needed to supply the workers and children with a sustainable and nutritious diet that would go beyond the current mountain practices. By 1917 the challenges and food shortages of WWI were being felt across the country and Pine Mountain joined thousands of institutions in subscribing to President Woodrow Wilson’s programs to conserve food. Administered by Herbert Hoover, the “Gospel of the Clean Plate,” was started as an attempt to ensure that there would be adequate food for the troops and for the Europeans caught up in WWI. The government designed a program for certain days to be “meatless, sweetless, wheatless and porkless.” Each state was charged to oversee the program and to monitor commercial businesses and restaurants.
The staff at Pine Mountain followed the war efforts intently, as did many Americans. Many of the staff came from missionary families, and were familiar with many of the dynamics of the European conflicts. One staff, in particular, was following the war daily. Leon Deschamps, a Belgian, still had family in Belgium and watched the war unfold with great anxiety. In May of 1917, the strain was too much and he left the School to fight in the Great War for his homeland. Deschamps was much admired by the staff and students at the school. He was a vital part of the farming activity at the school and when he left his departure left a void and not just a little anxiety. Before he left, Deschamps made sure that Pine Mountain understood that he would return following the end of conflict. He also made sure that the School was committed to the support of the Belgian ReliefFund. Deschamps, as the school’s forester and farmer knew what the loss of a farmer at Pine Mountain meant, but his need to join the war effort was overwhelming and immediate, Mr. Baugh, who had worked with him, assumed his responsibilities in the forest and the farm and the campus had Deschamps promise to retrun to Pine Mountain following the end of the conflict. His strong belief in the war effort and his subsequent departure stirred many students to action to support the War and was their first introduction to a world “beyond the seas.”
The children began to imagine Mr. Deschamps in the fields of war and for them, Belgium became a real place. A campaign was put into place by the students, not just the staff. They determined to save money for the War effort, and particularly for Belgium, by rationing themselves once a week. This rationing included adhering to the “Clean Plate Club”. The children took the idea one step further.
On a chosen day, the children planned to forego their meal and to substitute a lean fare of rice with cocoa rather than a full course meal. These rice and cocoa meals were adopted following WWI for other occasions when the Schoolchildren adopted some cause which required saving money. For example, the swimming pool was a rice and cocoa student project but clearly, other campaigns held little persuasion alongside the looming disaster in Europe and the danger to one of their own — the forester and farmer, Leon Deschamps.
“JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT!”
The students at Pine Mountain were well prepared to be “Clean Plate” eaters as one of the rules of the School was that all students must eat at least three bites of the food served to them. The story is told of a young boy who was served some soup from the communal large bowl at the center of the dining table. As he lifted the spoon to his mouth and took the first taste he quickly offered his uncensored opinion. “It tastes like soap!” he exclaimed. Somewhere in the depths of the kitchen a soap bar had inadvertently fallen into the soup pot. The young boy, startled all the children as no one was to comment on their like and dislike of any one food. He looked around the table at his fellow diners and quickly recovered, “And, that’s just the way I like it!” he said as he looked sharply at the supervising staff at the table and continued to slurp the offensive soup.
The Clean Plate Club asked that America, ” Leave a clean dinner plate. Take only such food as you will eat. Thousands are starving in Europe.”
Another piece of the effort to promote the “Gospel of the Clean Plate” was the industrial training that young women received at Practice House, the home economics training center at the School. Practice House, also called Model Home and Country Cottage was built with funds that were donated to the School by the New York Auxilliary of the Southern Industrial Educational Association. The donation was a testimony to their very active woman NYC President, Mrs. Algernon S. Sullivan. Mrs. Sullivan was a generous supporter of Pine Mountain Settlement School. The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is well known in academic circles for its high minded ideals. For example : the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is presented to undergraduate seniors at colleges on vote of the faculty for an individual who “exhibits Sullivan’s ideals of heart, mind, and conduct as evidenced by a spirit of love for and helpfulness to others, who ‘excels in high ideals of living, in fine spiritual qualities, and in generous and unselfish service to others.’ ” [Wikipedia]
Practice House/Country Cottage was just that, a place to practice frugality and attention to good housekeeping, gardening, cooking, budgeting, and other household skills. These were the skills that made the difference during war-time.
Evelyn Wells in her gathered letters and history of the School describes the Practice House in this manner:
“Our Country Cottage aimed to show them [the girls at Pine Mountain] what was good about their own methods, and to introduce to them others that they badly needed to learn. Some ideas with which we started had to be abandoned, such as well with water running by gravity to the kitchen sink because we could not strike water …”
Cornelia Walker, a Cornell graduate, and our Domestic Science teacher in 1922-1923, was the first hostess. There followed Mrs. Seidlinger,Mary Work, Annette Van Bezey, and in 1926, Marguerite Emerson. During Mrs. Emerson’s regime, the name was changed from the Model Home to the Country Cottage.
No attempt is here made to estimate what this building has meant to the groups of girls who three at a time have spent six weeks in the Country Cottage, cooking, living on a carefully worked out budget, caring for the cow and selling its milk, and entertaining, under the guidance of the housemother. The garden was also important, and a summer worker has usually (and with varying degrees of success) canned its produce for the family’s winter consumption.
Two lots of lumber were measured out “according to the Country Cottage plan” and were then sold to community families. The house and the terraced gardens were copied by many in the area.
The structure was built between 1922 and 1923 and was then remodeled in 1927 and again in 1951. It became a staff residence in 1940 and today serves as a residence for various interns at the School.
Evelyn Wells noted that “We regret that as a neighborhood house it has not become the center that was one of its ideals at the first.”
While the home only accommodated three girls at a time, the impact on those three girls was profound and had a lasting effect on the surrounding community. [The girls were rotated through the program for short periods of time.]
[From The Pine Cone, May 1935, p.3]
“Groups of four or five girls have lived at Practice House each six weeks period of this school year to learn what they could of home life. Twenty-eight girls have had the privilege of making it their home this year while at school.
We realize just as a nation is the composite of the states of which it is made, a state is dependent upon the atmosphere of the communities with it and in turn, the atmosphere of a community is the home life in the community. We feel we can do a little bit of world service by helping to make the girls of Pine Mountain worthy home members. A worthy home member is one who not only does her share of the work willingly but one who adds to the joy of the home by her desire to do the right thing and by her pleasant courteous manner.
Some of the more immediate aims which we have held before us have been as follows:
1. The desire and ability to prepare attractive, tasty meals that were well balanced and inexpensive.
2. The desire and ability to plan and carry on the work in an orderly way.
3. To develop a feeling of helpfulness, thoughtfulness and interest in others.
4. Desire to become a socially poised person.
The work has been grouped and each girl has taken her turn at the various types of work to be done in the home life here
“Mr. Hayes has been teaching his A-1 and A-2 Agriculture classes how to butcher hogs. Hence good pork chops and hams appear on the dining table.”
Most all butchering of meats was conducted by the school during the Boarding School years and meats were canned, salt-cured, sometimes frozen, smoked, and sometimes dried.
This recipe for liver-loaf is most likely scaled for calf liver, but pork liver and even chicken livers could be substituted. The author would have no desire for any!
[From The Pine Cone, April 1934, p.3]
LIVER LOAF – REALLY!?
One way to make a popular cut of the animal go ’round!
1 1/2 lbs. liver 1 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs 1-4 cup melted fat 1 egg 1 teaspoon salt 1-8 teaspoon pepper 1 onion — chopped
Pour boiling water over liver. Let stand five minutes. Drain and chop fine and add all other ingredients, mix thoroughly and shape into loaf. Put into greased baking dish, or lay strips of salt pork or bacon on top, add one cup water, bake one hour, add one cup tomatoes or tomato soup fifteen minutes before taking from the oven.
In the photograph below a woman prepares food in a traditional enameled metal bowl. Sometimes called flow-ware, these enameled metal-ware pots were favorites in Appalachia and in the South at the turn of the century. Either a blue or a red flow-ware color these metal-ware containers were found in many homes and continue to be prized as family keep-sakes.
On this page below, is Aunt Sal (Sally Creech) seated at her churn in her very tidy kitchen. In this posed photograph of Sal, she is seated at the churn which was a necessary kitchen tool for all households that owned milk cows. Tools in most mountain households were often hand-made or were purchased from “Tinkers” who roamed the mountain valley with wares such as tin pans, crockery, and wash-boards. “Tinkers also made it part of their trade to repair items. Rarely would any item be thrown away and then only if completely broken or ruined.
Kitchens could also be as rudimentary as cast-iron pots on tripods located near the backyard doorway, or they could be fully equipped centers of family life., as seen in this photograph. The dangers associated with yard kitchens, the soap pots, and the “blue” pots (indigo dye pots), often located in the yard, are obvious. Small children and adults frequently suffered scalds and burns from these open-air kitchens. A daughter of Aunt Sal was scalded and died from the burns. The luxury of an indoor kitchen was only for those whose home was large enough to accommodate an indoor cooking space. More frequently, the fireplace was a center of household meals and large cast iron pots hanging on hooks or settled on stones, or buried in cinders, were sources of family meals. This kind of cooking encouraged stews, soups, and simple baked goods.
HOME ECONOMICS RECIPES
A variation of the old and well-known favorite:
Spider Corn Bread
1 3/4 cups of milk 1 egg 1 cup corn meal 1-3 cup of flour 2 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 tablespoon fat
Beat egg and add one cup milk; stir in corn meal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder which have been sifted together; turn into a heavy, new frying pan in which the fat has been melted; pour in remainder of milk but do not stir it. Bake about twenty-five minutes in a hot oven. There should be a line of creamy custard through the bread. Cut like pie and serve hot.
Don’t let an aversion to spiders or bugs stop a trial of this corn-meal bread. It is delicious!
One of the goals in later years was to provide at least a quart of milk per person per day. Further, the staff was allotted quarts through the end of the Boarding School years (1949) This supplement, no doubt, was a great off-set for the prior Great Depression years as well as both World Wars.
Meals at Pine Mountain cost the school 33 cents per person per day in 1925 and “it requires great skill and ingenuity to serve interesting food for this sum of money, in a place where there is no ice, and no market where the fresh meat is local beef or pork possible only in cold weather. Miss Gains, [Ruth B. Gaines] who has been with us thirteen years, has developed so unusual an ability in dealing with these circumscribed conditions that she has often been urged to get up an institutional cookbook for others up against such difficulties as we have .”
Our main dishes for dinner are wonderful mixtures of fish and potato, rice and tomato, cheese and bacon. Variety at breakfast comes with fish-cakes, potato cakes, French cream toast, and at supper with a vegetable or cream soup, a bean or potato salad. “
[Worker letter, n.d., source unknown]
OLD LAUREL HOUSE
Kitchen in Old Laurel House
The earliest kitchen at the school was very rudimentary until a new kitchen was planned and included in the first central dining and community building called ‘Laurel House.’ For the day, it was a state of the art facility and was equipped to accommodate the growing population of the school. The fire that destroyed this first Laurel House in 1943 was a tragedy in many ways. It seriously disrupted the food supply at the school and the loss of life in the tragic fire was emotionally devastating for many who worked and knew the students who died in the fire. While it may be suspected that the fire began in the kitchen, it is known that was not the case and that the small living quarters in the building was the source of the fire.
GIRL’S HOME ECONOMIC CLASS 1934
The Girl’s Home Economic Class of the tenth grade, under the guidance of Miss Smith has been making Menus for the day and testing them by the following rules:
1. Distribute the protein, carbohydrates and fats equally throughout the day
2. Do not serve the same food twice in one day.
3. Do not serve more than one strongly flavored food at a meal.
4. Balance the soft, solid and crisp foods.
5. Do not serve several acids or sweet foods at one meal.
6. Season foods mildly, but tastily.
7. Serve left-overs in a new form and always attractively.
8. Greasy meats and vegetables and poorly seasoned foods are not appetizing.
9…Include daily —
(a) One quart of milk for each child and one pint for adult.
(b) Two vegetables besides potatoes. (one raw)
(c) Two Fruits. (one raw)
(d) Whole ceral in some form.
(f) One egg and a serving of meat for an adult.
10. Serve light desserts, as fruit or milk pudding with heavy meals.
11. Serve heavy desserts, such as, pie or cake with light meals.
12. Serve only one relish or jam at a meal.
13. Avoid serving colorless meals.
14. Plan simple meals.
15. Consider the cost carefully.
2 cups grated raw or cooked carrots 1 cup water 4 tablespoonfuls sugar 4 tablespoonfuls chopped mint leaves 4 tablespoonfuls butter
Cook the water and sugar until syrup like. Stir in the butter and add the mint leaves. Pour over the carrots and serve.
The family will not object to carrots when served in this interesting way.
The Pine Cone, February 1934
When coal stoves with ovens became more common-place and could be afforded, baking was a point of pride for most mountain households . The regulation of heat in the coal oven was an art but once mastered the cook would rarely trade up for the newer ovens. Electric ovens became a part of some households when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) brought electricity to the Pine Mountain valley. Through the Rural Electric Cooperative (REC), often referred to as the REA, or Rural Electric Association, a part of the New Deal programs of the late 1930s, many household routines changed, but life in the kitchen was very slow to change. While the electric stove became a regular household item following WWII it was slow to be adopted in the Appalachians. Propane gas stoves were used by some mountain families, but by far the most frequent home stove found in mountain communities until well into the 1950’s, was the coal stove.
Pine Mountain was fortunate to have a superbly equipped kitchen in the Old Laurel House and there the coal stove was a central source of fresh baked breads. The kitchen was staffed with a dietitian who was an important member of both the dietary health of the school and the homemaker educational programs during the Boarding School years.
The Pine Cone, Dec. 1934
MAPLE SUGAR MAKING IN THE KENTUCKY MOUNTAINS
“The time for making Maple sugar is during the months of February and March. The sap “startups” at this time. The trees are “tapped” and the sap is collected in a pail. Tapping is accomplished by boring a hole in the tree, driving a spout in and hanging a bucket on it. The sap looks like clear water but has a sweet taste.
Somewhere in the maple grove, there is a small shed, a “sugar camp” as it is called, to shelter the furnace, a large supply of wood and the evaporating pan.
When the sap buckets are full they are either carried to the camp by hand or the sap is sent through gutters. It is “boiled down” to a thin syrup and then it is taken out and boilded down to sugar in small pans.
It takes 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup ready for table use and a gallon of syrup will make about two pounds of sugar. “
[The Pine Cone, date????]
Making molasses was another labor-intensive activity at Pine Mountain. The Creech family, near the school, almost always raised sugar cane, the source of the liquid used to create molasses.
First, the cane was harvested while still green but mature. Then, the cane was trimmed of leaves and bundles of canes were placed in a mill where the canes were crushed to extract the juice of the plant. The juice was funneled into containers and then deposited into a large iron pot or a flat metal pan that was positioned over a continuous fire. The pot or pan of cane juice was allowed to boil until it became sugar sweet, concentrated and thick. The foam on the top of the syrup was constantly dipped off the boiling molasses. Most often this was everyone’s job and a most rewarding of jobs. The foam sticks to the canes dipped into the molasses and make a sweet treat for all who come to “Stir-Off” the sorghum.
The young molasses is called “Sorghum.” It is sweet, light, and gentle in flavor. When the molasses is cooked more, the syrup became more concentrated and heavier in flavor and sugar. This dark molasses is the bulk of the molasses-making process. This very dark molasses, usually at the bottom of the pot, is referred to as “black-strap molasses” and the strong flavor of this residue was sometimes added to corn silage for the livestock. It to sweetened it and encouraged the fermentation of the chopped silage which was generally made from green corn stalks. The Gospel of the Clean Plate was not just for those seated at a table, it carried over into every aspect of growing, preparing, and making more palatable nature’s bounty.
Pine Mountain Settlement School DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Pigs
DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Pigs
November 13, 1913
My Dear Friend:
The problem of a fence is confronting us now. Our kindergarten teacher who was here this summer was so diverted by our efforts to protect our garden, our crop and our grounds from the hogs that she wrote the enclosed account of the pig that interested her the most. Just how pronounced a pig’s personality is, you can guess from the fact that she even had to name them.
We are anxiously questioning just how long we must wait until “Sammy” and “his brothers and his sisters and his aunts” are excluded from their paradise.
We need a mile of fencing for the part of our 234 acres that we must fence. We can get a discount of from a generous manufacturer of the best hog-proof fencing, but even so, counting the cost of locust posts gates and post holes dug on steep ground, we need $700 before we begin. If you can’t be a “flying figure in bluejeans yelling ‘Suey!, Suey!, can you be a substitute in the shape of some rods of woven wire, five foot fence?
Faithfully yours, Katherine Pettit
enclosure: Story of “Sammy” by Evangeline Bishop
Just why Pine Mountain Settlement School should not benefit himself and family, as well as the humans of the community, was quite beyond Sammy’s comprehension.
Did he not possess cravings and unsatisfied longings for better things; did he not come to the close of each day hungry for the unattainable; and had he not heard that this School existed for the sole purpose of fulfilling needs?
The word “Settlement” but added charm, for to Sammy it gave visions of permanency and far reaching satisfaction. Yes! It was certainly good to be alive, and a member of this community, and he firmly resolved to be on hand every day, rain or shine in a receptive mood, ready to embrace every opportunity. To be filled to the utmost was his great ambition.
He and his brothers and sisters and immediate forebear grunted the subject over pro and con in their rock house under the cliff. Mammy Pig wise in the ways of humans, flopped her ears in doubt.
“It may prove to be an excellent school, it may fill every unsatisfied gnawing, but, I have my doubts.”
“One and all I warn you to let them alone, for I have not only heard, but absolutely know, that humans eat little pigs.”
A tremor shot through the group, they glanced at one another with beady eyes, and uncurled their tails in horror.
Maternal advice did not cause Sammy loss of sleep, or deter him from making a personal investigation of the School.
The next morning, slipping quietly away, he trotted down the road, his tail curled tight in anticipation, and emitting grunts of keenest pleasure. With hope, confidence in himself and humanity at large, he made his way up the stepping stones toward a very large hole in the fence.
He was about to enter, when a voice rang out —
“Walter! Walter! shut the gate, there’s a pig coming in.”
“Ugh,” grunted Sammy, “That must mean me, but why shouldn’t I enter the Land of Promise, I’d like to know?” and determinedly he trotted on.
Suddenly he wheeled and flew down the steps a flying figure in bluejeans after him, wildly waving its arms, throwing stones, and yelling, “Suey! Suey!” which interpreted by Sammy meant “Move on! Move on!”
“What highly excitable creatures humans are, ” thought Sammy as out of harm’s way he turned to view the “Land of Plenty.”
The hole in the fence had disappeared. “Guess I’ll reconnoiter,” thought Sammy. “Perhaps there’s another hole.”
Cautiously he worked his way along the fence, touching it here and there, hoping a large hole might somehow mysteriously appear. Perseverance usually succeeds, and so it proved in Sammy’s case, for under the fence he found a hole just large enough to squeeze thro[ugh]. Elated, but a little doubtful, he made his way around the house. Not a human in sight. Hope beat high. A bucket near the kitchen door wafted most tantalizing odors to Sammy’s nostrils. What could it be? He must find out what that pail contained.
In another moment it was over, and Sammy gorging himself with all possible speed, for at any moment a dreaded human might appear. Never had he found anything quite so palatable. A few bread crumbs, potato peeling, beet parings, apple cores odds and ends of various delicious things hastily thrown together. So busy was the beneficiary of the School that he failed to hear approaching footsteps, but did not fail to hear another voice rending the air wit h “Allafair! Allafair! here’s that pig again. he’s eating the chicken-feed up.”
Around the corner shot a vision in flaming red, going through wild gymnastics.
“This is too much, I’m done for,” thought Sammy, and turned and fled.
“I wonder if I can ever find that hole again.”
Up the hill and down again, around the hose, and back of the tent, flew the pursued Sammy, wondering if that human’s attention would never cease. It was simply awful! Horrors! another flying figure blotting the landscape shrieking ad passing through dreadful contortions. Stones and sticks rained through the air. With dreadful cunning Sammy’s every move was maneuvered. Before him appeared the big hole he now knew to be a gate. He made for it with all speed and shot through breathless but unharmed.
“Well! I never,” quoth Sammy. “I trust this will not occur often or I shall certainly lose flesh.”
He found a secluded spot, within hearing and paid strict attention. A voice explained —
“Well! Our troubles have begun. I expect we’ll be pestered all summer with those pigs.” Another voice chimed in —
“Everyone must be careful to keep the gate closed and the boys must look at the fence and fix any holes.”
“Oh dear! I do hope they won’t get into the garden and eat the tomatoes and corn up.”
Sammy had had excitement enough for one day, so wended his way slowly home to the rock house, under the cliff, there to consult further with his family and plan his summer’s campaign. If there was benefit to be derived from that school, he would get it.
The next day he unselfishly invited two of his brothers to accompany him. They arrived just in time to see a human in blue cross the road with a dish in her hand, and to hear,
“Bertha, where are you going??”
“I’m going to feed the chickens” replied the blue human, and proceeded on her way.
“Chicken-feed,” mused Sammy. “Ugh! that’s what I ate yesterday and found good.” Aloud he said —
“Watch that human fellow, and see what she does with that chicken feed.”
Quietly they watched her pass through a gate, and disappear around the corner of a building. Then began a hurried running to and fro along the fence, in quest of a hole.
“Ugh! Ugh! Eureka! Eureka!” called Sammy. This way fellows to the chicken-feed,” and in another moment the feed was disappearing with surprising rapidity, but not in the direction intended.
” I thoroughly approve of this School, for the benefits it bestows are, —- ” Sammy’s remarks were cut short, for another shrieking human in a blue skirt and flapping collar, bore down upon the trio. They scattered and fled in confusion.
“Well! ” quoth Sammy from a safe retreat, “I am both surprised and horrified at the actions of these humans. had heard they possessed calm and were dignified. I have also heard that they sometimes go crazy. I wonder if that is what the trouble is. It does seem strange that just the sight of e should throw them all into convulsions?”
“Perhaps there is something wrong with me.” Carefully he looked himself over and found to his entire satisfaction his tail properly curled, and himself a fair looking specimen of razorback pighood Therefore no blame could attach to him because of those queer human antics.
Day after day, week in and week out, he visited the School accepting of its benefits as the occasion presented itself.
Day after day, week in and week out, the same wild commotion resulted among the humans.
He overheard someone say the back yard needed cleaning up. He concluded here was a chance to return good for evil, found an entrance, and went to work, beginning on a basket of apples. For his efforts he received a stone, and a hurried “Suey! — Suey!” with emphasis.
He brought his whole family down and strove to put the chicken yard in order even here the ungrateful humans interfered. Nothing daunted he retired to the barn ad invited his brothers to help him clean out the mules’ feed boxes, and so save them the trouble. But even in that remote spot peace was not to be found.
Go where he would, do what he could, the situation was spoiled by the sudden appearance of a wild and exclamatory human.
One day he bethought himself of the remarks he had heard earlier in the season, of a garden and tomatoes, corn, etc.
He would investigate immediately.
He consulted his mother. She knew where said garden was, but warned him to let well enough alone, but perseverance being Sammy’s strongest characteristic it fairly pushed him into that garden.
It is wholly unnecessary to linger long upon the consternation and sorrow created among the humans; the havoc wrought by Sammy and his immediate relatives, or his own personal inner satisfaction, at this his latest venture.
Could he have heard the sadness and longing in the vices of the humans, whose sole vegetable diet for weeks had consisted of string beans or beheld their woebegone countenance as they contemplated the work of his mouth, and thought upon the cool, green vegetables that had disappeared into the stomachs of his family, Sammy might have been struck with contrition for the havoc of his summer’s campaign.
As it was, the garden was far from the School proper and only occasionally did a peculiar human wander through, and Sammy was happy.
All good things come to an end sometime, and one sad day Sammy heard that a brand new wire fence that pigs could neither get over, through or under was wanted.
A consultation of the Pig family resulted. Sammy’s only comment was
“Well This certainly has been a strenuous summer for me and from a pig’s standpoint, I question the wisdom of that School. Personally, I do not care to come into close contact with those humans and certainly hope I have caused them fully as much trouble this summer as they have caused me.”
Turning over on his side he went to sleep to dream of a fenceless garden, filled with every known vegetable, rich pans of chicken-feed here and there, and whole boxes of mule feed just waiting for him, and best of all this pigs’ paradise utterly devoid of humans.
Dear Friend Letters: Evangeline Bishop
KENTUCKY STATE FENCE LAWS 1942 –
By the 1930’s and 40’s the Kentucky regulations controlling the free-roaming movement of livestock had been addressed and there were laws that prohibited free-ranging animals and addressed strays and trespassing.
If the owner or bailee of livestock has a lawful fence, and his or her livestock break through or over the fence and upon the premises of another which are not enclosed by a lawful fence, he or she shall not be responsible for the first trespass but shall be liable for all subsequent trespasses. Effective: June 29, 2017
Terms Used In Kentucky Statute 256.090
Lawful fence: means : (a) A strong and sound fence, four (4) feet high, so close that cattle cannot creep through, made of rails, or plank, or wire and plank, or iron, or hedge, or stone or brick. See Kentucky Statutes 256.010
livestock: means cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, alpacas, llamas, buffaloes, or any other animals of the bovine, ovine, porcine, caprine, equine, or camelid species. See Kentucky Statutes 256.010