Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY
Series 19: STUDENTS
John T. Harber Student 1936-1937
John T. Harber (1922-1995)
Ted Clarence Harber (1923-1990)


155 Glyn Morris and students. Photograph still by Virginia and Ray Garner, funded by Harmon Foundation, 1941. [garner_ray-155]

TAGS: John T. Harber, J.T. Harber, John Thomas Harber, Ted Clarence Harber, students, Pine Mountain Settlement School, school applications, family histories, progress reports, teacher evaluations, Arthur Dodd, Glyn Morris, student counselors, Everett K. Wilson, summer work at PMSS

JOHN T. HARBER Student, 1936-1937

Includes mention of his brother, TED CLARENCE HARBER, Student 1936-1937

At Pine Mountain

John T. Harber and his brother, Ted Clarence Harber, were students for a short time at Pine Mountain Settlement School, from 1936 until 1937. 

John, known as “J.T.,” was ready to enter his first year of high school when he applied to the PMSS. According to his application, he enjoyed hunting, fishing, and swimming, read war and adventure books, liked to study science, arithmetic, and history, and was interested in aviation, mechanics, and blacksmithing. He had been a Boy Scout for two years, serving as an assistant patrol leader.

On November 10, 1936, the student counselor, Everett K. Wilson, sent the good news to the two Harber brothers that their application had been accepted. He then instructed them to come immediately and each brings a $10 entrance fee, $1 breakage fee (returnable), and $5 for first month’s tuition. They would be sent a catalog to be read by both boys and their parents “very carefully,” including instructions about clothing, seeing a dentist beforehand, and having their “tonsils removed if necessary.” Wilson writes that he expects the boys to “withstand the pangs of homesickness … and that you will put forth every effort in your work here. We also expect the support and cooperation of your parents in this.” They arrived at the school on November 22nd.

At the close of the school year in May 1937, John was thought by several teachers as having the potential to do well at school if he was willing to apply himself. At this time of the school year, it was the School’s custom to send to parents summaries of the work their children had done. In his letter, Principal Arthur Dodd provided a list of quotes from John’s teachers, evaluating his second term activities. Their positive statements included:

“In Ethics he was thoughtful and attentive. … Seems to enjoy looking up things in the library.”

“J.T. has a good mind and can reason.”

“In Literature he shows appreciation for some things and skill in interpretation.”

“In General Science he stands second in the class, and is doing good work. He is interested in all types of mechanical devices.”

“[His Vocational Civics indicates] considerable conscientious work;…willingness to consider a new point of view and attack a social problem from a different angle. (This shown by his gradual change in attitude toward the mining situation in the county.)” 

Consequently, according to Dodd, a place in the School would be saved for him for the next school year. In June, he was offered summer work at PMSS for four or five weeks as payment of his entrance fee and several months’ tuition. At first, John wrote that he could not come in June because he had a job selling Rawleigh productsIn a later letter he wrote the same to Director Glyn Morris stating that “I sure will miss going in swimming and eating the strawberries.” 

Eventually, John did arrive at the school in August and then stayed to attend school when it opened in September. However, his time at PMSS was cut short. He was suspended by the School in November 1937 due to several incidents of misbehavior. His brother also ended his time at PMSS in 1937 but it is not recorded whether he did so at the same time.

John Harber left behind at least two writings when he departed Pine Mountain. One was a brief handwritten biography of the Arctic explorer, Vilhjalmur Stefansson. for English class in September 1937. The other was a poem that he submitted to the student publication, The Pine Cone [October 1937, Vol. 5, No. 1, page 3]: 


One evening our boarder came in carrying a large bullfrog which he had caught in the swamp. He said ,”I am going to teach it how to jump.” I thought he was crazy because a frog doesn’t have to be taught how to jump. Anyway, the man did nothing for the next three months but sit in the back yard and teach his frog how to jump. 

This man liked to bet so he would take his frog out and bet on him. He would bet that the frog could jump six feet high and catch a fly out of the air, or that it could jump over a line ten feet away. He always won.
J.T. Harber


John Thomas Harber was born on May 31, 1922, to Clarence Damer Harber (1895-1996), who worked for the coal company, and Missouri [Missouria, Missoura B., Misoura Belle?] Cox Harber (1901-1977). He was the oldest of his four brothers:

Ted Clarence Harber (1923-1990)
Clarence Edward “Ted” (1924-1992)
Linden William (1928-2002)
Loris Paul Harber (1929-1993)

He also mentioned two sisters in his PMSS student application.

John’s address on his application was Wallins Creek, Harlan County, Kentucky, where he was born. As of an October 1936 letter to the student counselor, his family was living in Buffalo Chilton Coal Camp, Kistler, Logan County,West Virginia. 

John Thomas Harber died in 1995.

Title John T. Harber
Ted Clarence Harber
Alt. Title John Harber ; J.T. Harber ; John Thomas Harber ;
Ted Harber ;
Creator Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Alt. Creator Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;
Subject Keyword John T. Harber ; John Thomas Harber ; J.T. Harber ; Ted Clarence Harber ; students ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; school applications ; family histories ; progress reports ; teacher evaluations ; Arthur Dodd ; Glyn Morris ; Everett K. Wilson ; student counselors ; summer work at PMSS ; 
Subject LCSH Harber, John T., — 1922 – 1995.
Harber, Ted Clarence, — 1923 – 1990.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Date 2022-02-24 aae
Publisher Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Contributor n/a
Type Collections ; text ; image ;
Format Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet.
Source Series 09: Biography ; Series 19: Students ; 
Language English
Relation Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography and Series 19: Students.
Coverage Temporal 1932 – 1939.
Coverage Spatial Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Wallins Creek, KY ; Kistler, WVA ;
Rights Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Donor n/a
Description Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of John T. Harber or Ted Clarence Harber ; clippings, photographs, books by or about John T. Harber or Ted Clarence Harber ;
Acquisition n/d
Citation “[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Processed By Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;
Last Updated  
Sources FamilySearch FAMILY TREE – Internet resource, accessed 2022-02-23.

“John T. (J.T.) Harber and Ted Clarence Harber.” Series 09: Biography and Series 19: Student. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2022-02-23). (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002). Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2022-02-23), John T Harber in household of Clarence D Harber, Trap Hill Magisterial District, Raleigh, West Virginia, United States; Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 4443. Internet resource.

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JOHN T. HARBER Student Record