Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
Marguerite Butler Letters 1915
TAGS: Marguerite Butler Letters 1915, students, Aunt Sal & Uncle William Creech, Katherine Pettit, maple sugar, Pole House, Ruth Gaines, Luigi Zande, pioneers, spinning, forest fires, Convention of Southern Workers, Southern Industrial Educational Board, Evelyn Wells, Celia Cathcart, baptizing, Far House, Sunday School, dairy, Laurel House, Edith Canterbury, playground and playhouse, Farmers Meeting, Columbus Creech, Christmas activities, grippe
This page, MARGUERITE BUTLER LETTERS 1915, provides contents, images, and transcriptions of letters from a PMSS teacher to her family, describing the early days of the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Her letters are given an approximate order, often assigned by Marguerite when she donated them to PMSS. Re-ordering may need to be made on some, as events suggest other years.
Click here to read Marguerite Butler’s biography.
CONTENTS: MARGUERITE BUTLER LETTERS 1915
1. 1915 LETTER 1 – January 1, 1915 – “Dear Mother — It seems quite natural to be sitting here…” [images 001-003]
2. 1915 LETTER 2 – February 10, 1915 – “Dear Family — I wonder if I told you about our competitions” [images 004-011]
Competition for neat hair ; Chester, grandson of Uncle William ; posture exercises ; clean hands competition ; making handkerchiefs ; maple sugar trip with Aunt Sal ; Pole House ; her Mother is ill ;
MBB Note:”I suppose it is hard for anyone now…” [image 012-013]
3. 1915 LETTER 3 – February (Sun., Mon.) 1915 – “Dear Family — I hardly know to whom to write…” [images 014-017]
Cooked steak over open coal of fire after children in bed ; Miss Gaines, Margaret (Peg), Margaret Rosilary, Eve Newman ; now have eggs ; Children to homes for visit ; Luigi Zande mends shoes ; Pole House respite ; book plates designed ; “pioneer ways” description ; $25 month salary ; volunteering ;
3a. 1915 LETTER 3A – February 19, 1915 – [salutation n/a] “Yesterday afternoon I went up to Aunt Sal’s…” [images 019-020]
To Aunt Sal’s house ; spinning with Aunt Sal’s sister ; lessons in spinning promised ; galax leaves sent from Marguerite ; corresponds with 30 people ; regrets not hearing Fritz Kreisler ;
MBB Note: “The ‘child’ is Caldosia [‘Docia’] Brown from Kingdom Come….” [image 021]
Wednesday night, February 24, 1915 – “Mother, dear — I shall attempt to write between numerous examinations…” [images 022 -027]
Examinations of necks, ears, arms, etc. ; baths ; Maudie Miller ; Minnie Miller ; Docia ; Becky May ; taught “The Lord is My Shepherd” ; listened to Victrola ; washed hair, cut hair ; Visit with Aunt Sal and Delia ; Eve Newman elected to Board of Trustees ; bookplate designed ; requests batteries ; “Dosia” is Calodosia Brown from Kingdom Come ; forest fires ; lime kilns ; eye drops ; handkerchiefs ; Convention of Southern Workers ; accidents ; children’s books ;
4. 1915 LETTER 4 – April 1915 – “Old Log House” – “Dear Mother — These last few days have been very exciting…” [images 028-035]
Forest fires ; going over boxes ; accident to boy ; $10,000 lumber damaged by fire ; school supplies ; Wilson tells “lie” ; Pettit and Gaines at Convention of Southern Workers conference ; Francis falls on stile and hits her head ; Monroe goes for nurse ; plans trip home ;
Wednesday afternoon, August 1915 [?] – “Dear Jeannette — Unless you are a Pine Mountaineer …” [images 036-039]
Writing is a chore ; refers to “quare” new workers ; President of the Southern Industrial Educational Board on campus ; Evelyn Wells comes from two years teaching in private eastern boarding school ; Celia Cathcart new to campus ; went to meeting and baptizing ; 14 “cunning tots” in kindergarten class ; Dot Phillips ; Miss Gaines ; chicken is only meat ; asks for butter ; visits with Aunt Sal ;
August, Monday night, 1915 – “Dear Jeannette — A week ago tonight at this time we were leaving Cincinnati….” [images 040-043]
Far House still under construction ; Saturday bed making ; Greasy Creek community came to do a work day at school, cleaning ; Sunday School ; dairy under development ; Arthur, farmer milks cows ; new Barn ; describes Laurel House ; ice storm ; more on Dosia ; boys put gowns over their clothes ; smallpox innoculation ;
September, Friday, 1915 – “Dear Mother — These are pretty busy days, but I like them so….” [images 044-052]
Helped Uncle William with his accounts ; judge at a debate of older boys ; Rook party ; hiking trip planned ; games with staff and children ; singing ballads ; requests letters to Dosia ; beginning of Pole House [?] ; requests sewing society’s help with mattress covers ; Mrs. Rankin ; expenses ; photographs ; Evelyn Wells ;
Early Fall, Friday, 1915 – “Dear Father & all — I am down at the playground this afternoon…” [images 053-058]
Playground and playhouse ; train to Harlan ; shopping with Dot Phillips and Ruth Gaines ; dinner at Aunt Sal’s with gritted corn bread, fall beans, etc. ; many hikes ; Ethel McCullough ; Elizabeth Roettinger ; day with Aunt Sal ; teaching little ones ; grocery needs ; Marie Krebbiel ;
Fall 1915 – [salutation n/a] [images 059-062] “I’ve been working hard over school …”
17 youngsters ; classes in Lodge possible again ; money for school comes just in time ; new Baker baby ; Jack’s Gap hike ; hike with Aunt Sal for full day ; Barn is progressing, may be done in 2-3 weeks ;
October, Sunday morning – “Dear Jeanette — This is a perfect day. I should love to go off …” [images 063-070]
Perfect day ; Farmer’s Meeting with Columbus Creech ; helped Uncle William with Post Office management ; Elizabeth Goodale Read and Marguerite have supper with Delia ; Halloween party in new Far House living room ; Uncle William’s birthday ; Miss Lincoln and Elizabeth Goodale Read to Cumberland Gap ; trip to Hindman ; Miss Read’s departure ;
Wednesday, November 17, 1915 – “Dear Jeannette — I thought you had all forgotten me….” [images 071-074]
Winter weather ; moved from House in the Woods ; little ones in Far House ; Ethel staying at Pole House with Elizabeth and Fliss Olds ; talked about house a lot, but no logs up yet [?] ; supper at Aunt Sal’s ; invited to Delia’s ; Jack’s Gap hike to see sunset ;
Christmas Letter (December 1915 or 1916?) – “Dear Mother, Father & Jeannette — I thought I would be able to write you before this …” [images 075-086]
Appreciated new coat ; visited Aunt Sal and Delia ; Christmas decorating and celebrating ; Uncle John the fiddler ; Uncle Dan Creech ; visiting neighbors ; distributed gifts to students ; Christmas eve supper and events ; Mr. Callahan as Santa ; caroling ; community tree ; Christmas pageant ; Christmas break ; preparing Open House ; requests for items from home ; supper with Ruth B. Gaines ;
5. 1915 LETTER 5 – Sun., Winter of 1915-1916 – “Dear Jeannette — Was so surprised to hear about Uncle Ed…” [images 087-092]
Epidemic of grippe ; staff coming and going ;
6. 1915 LETTER 6 – Spring 1915 or 1916? – “Dear Jeannette — It is just nine thirty and every bit of the housework is done. …” [images 093-098]
Planning Cumberland Gap trip ; Mrs. Ella Sue Light, housemother ; cleaning house with 6 boys ; flowers and snakes ; visiting new baby ; visiting sugar camp ; “Be good about writing” ;
GALLERY: MARGUERITE BUTLER LETTERS 1915
TRANSCRIPTION: MARGUERITE BUTLER LETTERS 1915
[Brackets indicate notations by HW.]
LETTER 1 Monday night, Jan 1,1915
Dear Mother – It seems quite natural to be sitting here with Peg [Margaret Watts] in front of the fire writing away. The little ones have just been tucked in. After supper tonight I read the two favorite stories to all the children. They are as dear as ever and Dosia simply darling. Peg said that while I was away she would look up at my picture — the enlargement of the ten of us — and say “Dear old Miss Butler, sweet old Miss Butler. When is she aiming to come back?” She told me herself that one day she kissed it. There are several new lovely children in the family. Miss De Long thinks it better to have younger children while we are living and working under such difficulties. The new ones are as affectionate as the old. Wouldn’t Jeanette love it tho’?!
Peg [Margaret Watts] was at the train and we all had a wonderful tramp over the mountain. Mallie, a sixteen-year-old girl, and Bill who is one of our oldest boys came too. He carried my suitcase clear across. I met many of the children way up the road. Christopher had just returned from a visit on Cutshin Creek, fourteen miles away, so he was immediately scrubbed from head to feet. In the midst of this process he saw me passing Old Log cabin and it was all they could do to keep him from tearing out. We miss Chester terribly, in fact everyone misses anyone who goes out for the family is so close.
Supper was just as nice as could be. We had it before the fire in the living room and after it the service. Of course Peg and I talked for ages last night and we aren’t talked out yet. We spent part of the evening fixing up our room for there were many plans to be made so as to let out a leak for our numerous additions. It will be so nice having the chafing dish and tea kettle.
School seemed natural in a way this morning and yet it was queer too. It will take a couple of days before I get back to all the ways of Pine M[ountain]. There are many children in the school and it was [all] I could do to handle my part.
This afternoon as soon as classes were over Peg and I tore up to Aunt Sal‘s and Uncle William‘s, visiting with them until supper time. We had a great time talking over Christmas and all the happenings since I left. Aunt Sal of course wanted us to stay for supper but we decided to come up Wednesday night instead. Last week they killed two hogs and she is going to give us a feast on meat.
I have many things to do before retiring so will say good night. Will write more next
It seems so queer without Miss Pettit. Miss Newman suddenly went home for Xmas. We expect her tomorrow.
LETTER 2 Feb. 10, 1915
I wonder if I told you about our competitions in school. Several weeks ago Miss De Long came down and we decided that at the end of two weeks the boy whose hair had made the greatest improvement would receive a set of military brushes, and the girl a lovely white brush and comb. I can’t imagine a contest like this appealing to seventeen-year-old boys and girls in the city but you should have seen the spirit. It was beautiful! Each morning the boys would carefully pat down their hair on entering the schoolroom — the few fortunate enough to possess combs used them. Probably I have told you about Chester — another Chester — grandson of Uncle William’s, who refused to come to school preferring to pack a gun and drink moonshine. He started in to school the Monday after I got back and is a fine pupil and in love with school. This very boy got the brushes. Nothing could have pleased him more, nor Miss de L[ong], nor me either. The one who sits or stands up the straightest for a month is to have a box of candy and from the way things look now he is going to get that, too. It is dear to see the children punch each other at the table, uttering a warning that they weren’t sitting up straight. Ethel’s uncle sent down a lot of lovely, green, sweet smelling soap. You see, the children who live at the school have to have clean hands but this doesn’t hold for those who come in from the outside. If a child keeps his hands clean for a week, so clean we never have to send them out to wash them, he gets a bar of soap. Really competition works wonders here for the desire to excel is very, very strong. Dosia got a cake of this wonderful soap yesterday and she carefully wrapped it in tissue paper, putting it on her shelf.
Each week the nurse talks to the school on hygiene, physiology, etc. Last week she brought some muslin which had been sent in to make handkerchiefs of. Each child, boy and girl, received one to hem and such a time as we had showing them how to do it here at home. Dosia received a box of little handkerchiefs because hers was done the best of all the girls, and one of the boys received a box too. Not only the stitches counted but the cleanliness too. For weeks we have heard nothing but how “I aim to get me a cake of soap” or “I aim to get me the candy” so you see we are plum full of the spirit.
It is nearly time to tap the trees for maple sugar and then we are going off with Aunt Sal into the woods for a whole day.
Miss De Long leaves next Tuesday for a month and a half. I don’t know what we are going to do without her. She told Peg and me we could spend any week-end at the Pole House we wanted to — I mean one week-end at any time. Isn’t that nice?
I am so glad you like your nurse, and that she is enjoying her extra pleasures. No, all the packages were quite secure. I am quite sure none were opened.
If you haven’t sent package with laundry bag, etc., will you put in it my little red 1914 song book which is in my top chiffonier drawer. Enclosed you will find check of $3.95 from Peg which covers toy I bought at Shillitoe’s and money for her skirt which I owed you.
I hope you are lots better by now.
Lots of love to all,
LETTER 3 Pine Mountain, KY, Sunday (Feb. 1915)
Dear Family — I hardly know to whom to write so shall make it a purely family letter. As the box of food was opened first I shall begin there. Everything was lovely but nothing could come up to that steak! Friday night after the children were all tucked in bed Miss [Ruth] Gaines, Peg, Margaret Rothary [teacher], Eve Newman [Secretary] and I had a grand supper cooking the steak before the living room fire. We couldn’t bear the thought of frying it so broiled on a home-made arrangement right on top of the hot coals. Nothing less than a moving picture could do justice to the scene – but it would have to include sounds too. Honestly we all sat there giving cheers to John Butler – they did mostly between great mouthfuls of it — never did anything ever taste so good. If you only knew, Father, the many nice things said about you. Miss Gaines insists your name has to go down in “Who’s Who.” I never heard such yells and cheers. I am sure we vied with a national baseball game. I recommend everyone a year in the mountains so they will appreciate food. However we have plenty of eggs now. They come in by the nice dozens so we have them nearly every morning.
Now about Mother’s and Jeanette‘s package. I saved it until this morning. I think the Bible is a lovely one, so complete and the print is good too. I love Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Really think it is one of the most attractive children’s books I have ever seen. My, won’t they love the pictures. I shall keep it in our room, not letting them have it alone. I think my desire for a library has been rather late in life, but I am crazy to own books. The candy was a beautiful surprise! We have just been enjoying it.
I had a lovely letter from Kit saying the girls were all sending me something but it hasn’t arrived as yet. It is from my three roommates, Janie and Nonie I think. Also had a dear birthday card from Mrs. Mayer.
It is so quiet here today for most of the children went home for the week-end, Docia among them. This is her first visit home since last October, quite a while for a nine-year-old child. When they all return we will have to turn to the scrubbing act for after a few days in their cabins they are not overly clean.
I received the check, Father, and thank you many, many times for it. Now I shall have my own bank account. I thought I only owed Jeanette $1.08. The shoes also came and I sent them both back ~ not that they didn’t fit for I didn’t even try them on but I couldn’t ever wear new shoes down here. Why, it’s scandalous to think of it. I still have about four pair of shoes, all still hanging together in parts, and can easily manage. Our Italian man of all trades tho’ he came to us as a stone mason does everything from building houses to the cleaning of chimneys and mending of shoes. He is going to mend three pair for me tomorrow, so please never send new shoes. I am so glad to get the crochet needle. I still want laundry bag, handkerchiefs, “1914” red song book, new nightgowns hurried along for it is getting mighty warm, box of talcum powder, tube of Kolyna’s tooth paste and I think I had better have a couple of gauze shirts. My supply is down to four. Do you think my wants never cease but you see when you live in a wilderness away from all markets you are still bound to have some wants.
Last night Miss Gains and I went up to the Pole House to see the sunset and it was perfectly beautiful changing from silver to gold and then to red. Peg and Margaret Rothary [teacher] rode sixteen miles with one of the older boys in our farm wagon to haul supplies. They were simply bounced to pieces but had quite a great day stopping at mill on their way home to have meal ground.
I think it is fine about your bargain in suits. Do tell me the color of them. Also, who are the Frances and Edith for whom the nurse made towels? I shall see Uncle William about those other two packages. Will add a word tomorrow night.
No doubt by this time you have noticed my book plate for I intend to enclose one. Isn’t it a perfect beauty and to think that Kit and Pat designed it! Nothing could have pleased me more. A bookplate of my own! Several of the girls gave it to me. It came in Saturday night’s mail but by some mistake was carried down to “Old Log Cabin“. Yesterday I had a lovely talk with Miss de Long about plans for the school for next year. You don’t know how good it makes you feel to know you have not been a failure in your first job even if you don’t receive pay! She was perfectly willing to start right now and pay me a salary which would cover my expenses for the rest of the year but I thought I would prefer volunteering my services to the school until May for at present it is in such desperate need for money. However, I shall have a salary next year sufficient to be absolutely independent. I can hardly wait, and then won’t I chuckle over Jeanette. No matter how small the salary it is almost pure gain for our expenses are almost nothing. I have spent hardly $2.50 since Christmas.
Margaret Rothary is not coming back next year and I doubt whether Peg will. Miss de Long made me solemnly promise that I would for two reasons: — she thought it would be desperate for the school if I didn’t stay for I understand the children and then know just where the school stands, and then thought it would be harmful for me to stop after one year of mostly plans and preparations. Of course I am crazy to come back and glad that everything is settled. I hope you all approve. You don’t know what it means to begin at the very beginning of a school this way and just build it up. It is an experience rare to have.
Your nice gifts have made me so happy. I loved every one.
I shall have a long vacation at home — from middle of May until end of August.
Lots of love to all, Marguerite
Uncle William didn’t have time to go thru parcel post tags this P.M.
[MBB Note: I suppose it is hard for anyone now, with the good roads, and market at the door, to realize our pioneer days and what it meant to have food we were accustomed to. For a long time not eggs, no milk (one sorry cow in a _____ log house a mile down the road at El Nolan‘s.) Even today rice, macaroni, etc., do not appeal but I eat them. You might be interested to know that my second year I received $25 a month and thought I was rich. I only wanted to cover expenses and be independent.]
1915 LETTER 3A – February 19, 1915 [salutation n/a]
Yesterday afternoon I went up to Aunt Sal’s and her sister was there spinning. It certainly was a picture to see this old woman spinning on an old, old wheel alongside of the fireplace. Aunt Sal is going to teach me how to spin and then with the yarn spun to knit a pair of heavy stockings for riding horseback. Miss de Long left Wednesday morning for a month, half of speech making in Buffalo, New York and all thru the east. The school is in such desperate need for money. Miss Pettit arrives two weeks from today and I shall certainly be glad to see her. Just think it has been four months since I have seen her for she went out four days before I came.
I am sending you some galax leaves from our mountains. I think the coloring is beautiful. Put them in water and they will keep for some time. My check book arrived last night so I am on my way to managing my own affairs. I shall feel so proud next year with a salary. I intend to buy all my own clothes and everything, absolute independency, not like Jeannette. Of course my wants will be few for my supply of winter things is still good.
You give Uncle Ed and Aunt Louie my love. I have so many letters always to write. I correspond with nearly thirty people and it is not joke! I would have given anything to hear Kreisler. Makes me sick to think of it.
Love to all, Marguerite
Wednesday night, February 24, 1915
Mother, dear — I shall attempt to write between numerous examinations of necks, ears and arms and scrubbing of backs for it is bath night and I have the little girls in my room. They simply love to have their backs scrubbed — in fact they say at intervals during the time between baths “Oh, Miss Butler, I jest love to have you scrub my back better than anything.” I have just commented on clean feet and legs.
X Maudie Miller X from Minnie Miller
X from Becky May X from Docia
These are kisses from Maudie and Minnie Miller, Becky May [Huff] and lastly my daughter who, without doubt, is the most adorable child that ever walked the earth.
Tonight was simply lovely — one of the dearest sights I have ever seen! After supper, as usual, we all gathered around the living room fire with our family of little ones. I promised the girls I would play for them “The Lord is my Shepherd” as I have been teaching it to them at night. Then the boys wanted to know it so each girl picked out a boy to whom she wanted to teach it and a lovelier picture you never saw. Miss Gaines and I sat and wondered at their dear ways. You should have heard these little teachers and little scholars endeavoring to master “he restoreth my soul,” “Yea, tho’ I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death,” and “thou anointest my head…” Their earnestness was shown in their facial expressions. Really I don’t know when I have seen anything more impressive than these little groups trying to learn that lovely psalm. After seven minutes all the boys stood around us and repeated the psalm and then the girls did. They had learned it quite well too.
This will please Jeanette I know. Each child chose a piece he or she wanted me to play on the victrola; most of the selections were such as “Bake Dat Chicken Pie,” “Hear Dem Wedding Bells” and “Preacher and the Bear.” My daughter chose Schumann-Heink’s “Holy Night,” Miss Gaines and I a Misha Elman and Kreitzler one. Every child but one at the end of the concert thought the last three I mentioned were the prettiest. Don’t you think it quite remarkable that these children should appreciate such?
All afternoon I washed the children’s hair; yesterday I cut hair. So you see tonight we have a houseful of very clean children as everyone has a clean head and has just had a bath.
So many little things happen all the time that I can’t think of them. Sunday Eve Newman and I had a lovely visit with Aunt Sal and Delia, her daughter, taking the family of little ones with us.
Monday night I really had lots of fun playing games outside with the children from five-thirty until seven, bedtime. They are dear to play with and I, just in my glory.
Had a lovely note from Miss Pettit saying she was glad, “glad in her heart” that I was with them next year. She said it was the best news Miss de Long brought her (they met at Board meeting last week.) Miss Pettit comes now in a little over a week. Miss Newman was elected at the meeting a member of the board of the school.
Miss Pettit was not here so of course could not come to our party, and as it was just a couple nights before Miss de Long was to leave she couldn’t spare the time. However we sent her share down. Yes, the six of us devoured it all.
Kit and Pat designed my bookplate, had the plate made and a hundred copies of it. I have the plate, so I can have an indefinite number made from it. I love it, too!
I have not received package which you said you were sending. I think it a joke the way my wants increase, but if you still have a package to send do put in enough strong black elastic for a pair of round garters and a battery No. 740 “EverReady,” 4 3/5 inches long, for my flashlight.
It is late now and I have stopped several times to talk so must say good-night. I do hope you are improving each day.
Love to all, Marguerite
[MBB Note: The “child” is Caldosia [“Docia“] Brown from Kingdom Come. In my album I have a picture of her at seven (she looks forty or more) and one after she came to the school.]
LETTER 4 –April 1915, Wednesday, “Old Log House”
Dear Mother — These last few days have been very exciting ones for the forest fires have been pretty bad. Monday night I went down to see the lime kiln which was lighted that afternoon and you can imagine my surprise when I saw the whole sky above Pine Mountain. red and every little while flames leaping up. By yesterday afternoon it was part way down this side but now is under control in our direction. They are still fighting it tho’ on the other side of the mountain and up the creek about two miles. Everywhere word was carried for more help and men and boys came from all over to fight, some working from early yesterday morning until late last night without a bite. The whole valley is filled with smoke, it looks like a dense fog. They were afraid yesterday that if the fire got much farther down the school fence would go and that would mean several hundreds of dollars. Uncle William said over $10,000 worth of lumber has so far been damaged. Miss Pettit and Miss de Long are both away, too, so you can imagine how relieved we all are that little damage was done to the school.
These last days are very, very busy ones for me. In the last two weeks I have worked thirty-five hours going over school supplies. It is a terrible job. Boxes upon boxes have accumulated in these last two years and have never been gone over. Everything was in a frightful mess but I hope to leave things entirely straightened out.
Then, too, I have a family of my own which means more responsibility. I must tell you about my experiences last Friday. Of course I arose at 5:30 a.m. Before school time the house must be put in order with water “packed,” etc., drops put in all the children’s eyes, clean handkerchiefs given out and other things done. After teaching all morning, working over school supplies for four hours, watching the children in their playtime and punishing nine year old Wilson for telling a lie it was supper time.
While Miss Pettit and Miss Gaines are away – they are attending a Convention of Southern Workers – breakfast and supper are sent down to us here. I took all the children out on a lovely rock for ours and on the way home eight-year-old Francis fell backward as she was crossing the stile, hitting her head on a rock. The blood streamed down and the eight enamel bowls and spoons which she was carrying flew in all directions. I had sent Christopher on to build a fire so we would have water for the dishes. As he is “fleet-foot” I told Monroe to call him to go for the nurse, which Monroe promptly did, adding an exaggerated and bloody account of Francis’ condition, which made her cry more than ever. I, drowned in blood, carried her to the house, heated water, hushed up the frightened young ones and had all the dishes gathered up, which every child in his excitement had dropped somewhere along the road. In the midst of this Miss Pettit’s boys all arrived for stories. Well, I know I can manage sextets or three pairs of triplets now. I put Francis to bed after the nurse had fixed her head, and then read the “Jungle Book” out on the porch to a mob of children while two of the boys washed the dishes. After they were all tucked in bed that night I stood out looking at the mountains and wondered how I had courage to “mother” them here alone. Really I felt as tho’ I were in a wilderness of my own for we are more than a quarter of a mile from any neighbors.
Have you asked Florence if the date you set for the luncheon is all right. Don’t you think Fort Mitchell club is the nicer of the two -I think the shade of green is lovely.
I will let you know next week just when you can expect me. It will be either Saturday or Sunday morning. I cannot tell at present if I shall be able to leave on Friday or not.
I am so glad you are getting stronger. Expect to see you at the Grand Central when I arrive. I hope Walter has a lovely trip. Tell him good-bye for me and be sure to have him take my love to Aunt Rosa.
Good-bye, with lots of love for you all, Marguerite
Wednesday afternoon [MBB: This must have been August 1915]
Dear Jeannette – Unless you are a Pine Mountaineer you can’t realize what an effort writing is. Honest, I meant to write for last mail but somehow strings were pulling me in every other direction. It was just impossible to do it! Was mighty glad to hear from you last night and I shall enclose a letter from mother which came at the same time.
To go back to the beginning – in a way it seemed natural to be back and again “quare” for there are so many new workers. The children were darling! About half way down the mountainside I heard many voices shouting out some little sentimental song on “How they loved Miss Butler” and it was the little girls who had hidden behind bushes, etc. They flew up the mountainside to me. Each one had a pretty, too – a basket made of leaves filled with plums, etc. The boys ran out from their work all along the way. Miss WellGs and I have been sleeping in the tent as the President of the Southern Industrial Educational Board had my porch. We are not all settled yet but Miss Welles is to be in the Far House with Miss del. [de Long] and probably Miss Cathcart will room with me. They are both very nice! and I am sure will be fine with the children.
The first few days we were busy having meetings with Miss del., fixing up the “House in the Woods,” hunting out school supplies and such like. On Sunday a crowd of us walked five miles down Greazy to meeting and baptizing. It was my first baptizing and a sight I shall never forget. We were all dead that night!
The tiny tots are cunning in school but quite a problem. I have fourteen in the kindergarten and my hands are full. Poor Miss Welles was all in after the first morning.
She has been teaching for two years in a private eastern boarding school and said this work was so much harder – the teaching I mean. They are both very enthused over it all.
Have had two visits with Aunt Sal. Sometime soon we are going to take a trip together over on Little Laurel. Aunt Sal seemed so glad to see me as she says that “Lizzie” (Elizabeth), “Little Ethel” and I are like her own children and she loves us and somehow she feels different toward the rest. Uncle William has a very sick brother across the mountain so he has been with him a lot lately. I have just seen him once.
I just bet Mother and Father will be home Friday. It seems a crime that I couldn’t have waited but I guess it was all for the best. It will be such fun hearing about it all. They must be in Kansas today anyway.
I hope you covered my good coat and suit up well. I shall let you know when I hear about Pat’s birthday. Tell Nettie I miss her cooking terribly. Have seen butter (such as it is) once since I left and chicken is the only kind of meat. When it is cold enough I am going to have Father send me butter. Peg and I could make a pound last three weeks last spring.
Dot Phillips and I are going to Harlan to meet Miss Gaines a week from Saturday. I can taste steak already. After four months of high living it is hard to get back into the ropes.
Do write all about the grand Butlers.
Love to all, Marguerite
Monday night, August 1915
Dear Jeannette — A week ago tonight at this time we were leaving Cincinnati. I thought it was going to be hard to get down to work but really it wasn’t bad at all. Somehow at the end of the second day it all seemed so natural and I felt as tho’ I’d been here a long time. We have been working pretty hard for really the house was a sight. I am having school now from 1 – 4:15 for with a 6:30 breakfast the Far House people can not get the living room ready for school in time. That means I’m here all morning to help Miss Gaines and we have accomplished quite a lot.
You should have seen us Saturday. About 8:30 I was up here superintending bed making (clean sheet day), collecting of laundry, etc., when Miss Gaines tore up to announce all Greasy was coming to do the living room. I left everything, donned a chem. apron and in five minutes had four dusting books while I carried and stacked them out in the hall. I think we have no less than 500. It was a busy day but by night the living room was entirely done, windows washed, curtains washed, furniture oiled, etc., dining room scrubbed and windows washed and the kitchen scrubbed. By the time all the children were tucked in clean beds, all clean and in clean gowns, we sat down to enjoy an hour of peace with a nice feeling all inside.
Sunday was a lovely time. I am having the class of oldest boys and girls who are very interesting. I don’t suppose I ever told you that Miss de Long and Miss Pettit wanted me last fall to take charge of the Sunday School and I refused. Decided while I was home that I would help out the rest of the year so have this class. After dinner four of our neighbors came in and we all visited, played victrola, etc., for awhile. Later on Miss Gaines and I went up to the barn to see Arthur milk. Honestly I can’t believe my eyes when I think of what we used for a barn last year – an old log cabin. Really it is a beauty. Every detail has been worked out. The cows are kept so clean and the whole section for them is immaculate. If you hear of anyone who wants to give something, tell them two white suits for the farm boy to milk in. Then we went over to the Laurel House which is another dream. The kitchen with its windows along one whole side and entering upon a court beside, the stove big enough to cook for the family, with a baker in a separate room, two sinks (not in yet but ordered, one for dishes, one for pots and pans,) a pastry room, storeroom for food, wood cellar, cement laundry, dining room large enough for family of about seventy and two sleeping porches which will accommodate about ten each, done. Only a part of the house is up but Miss de [Long] hopes to raise enough money when she’s out to complete it this spring.
Saturday Pine Mt. was lovelier than I’ve ever seen it. Every tree was white and sparkling with ice. It was so dazzling in the sun it almost hurt your eyes. I was crazy to climb it!
Dosia [Docia] has been dear. Of course she wanted to know about everything and everyone. She has a bad arm. It [smallpox innoculation] didn’t take at first so was done again last week. Mine didn’t take. My face is most well. Part of the scab is off.
One of my new jobs is putting all the children to bed every night. I’ll be able to tell you tales if the boys keep up at the rate they started. The other night they came down for their prayers with their gowns over all their clothes — were all ready for bed. Tonight I made every last one get out of bed to wash. ‘Tis late and I must go to bed. Am sending you a kerchief and mother a letter from Dosia.
Goodnight – Love to you all, Marguerite
Friday, Sept. 1915
Dear Mother, These are pretty busy days, but I like them so. Have just come from Uncle William’s where I finished his last account through ‘Z’. He said he was “mighty proud, and I couldn’t tell how to pay ye. Somehow it’s better to have friends like Margie than it is gold.” Wasn’t that dear? He could never have caught up and I did it all in about fifteen hours. Am going to help him at odd times all winter. I love doing it with him.
In a few minutes I must leave to be a judge at a debate between two of the older boys in afternoon school. It’s their first debate and I think it’s going to be lots of fun. Three of us were asked to judge. After that I have playground and tonight all the workers and the older children are invited to Miss de Long’s for a “Rook” party. Father and Jeannette know what that is. Then I’m going to spend the night at the tent with Miss Reed for we two “aim to have a soon start” in the morning on a walking trip for two days. We don’t know where we are going, just amble along and visit wherever we choose, returning late Sunday night. She is a lovely person, a writer, and the mountain people love her!
Last night we had a nice party here for Dot Philips who left this morning. About thirty-two were there. We played “Musical Chairs”, “Spin the Plate”, “Wink” and such games. Served a fruit drink – concoction of anything we could lay our hands on, and a lovely big cake which had “Dot” written across the top of it. Afterwards we got them to singing some of the ballads for we want so to start a ballad club. All that afternoon I had been working with Uncle William.
Mother do you think the sewing society will be able to make the mattress covers. Miss Pettit has never gotten over your making some for she thinks they are about the most important things in the house and they are if you want to keep the mattresses nice. I told her you had the measurements for some and would have made them last winter if you had not been sick. I guess you are still pretty busy but Mrs. Rankin said the society would work for the school this fall. These have shrunk terribly so I think you ought to shrink the goods first and then allow some too.
Thank you for the interest money. You can tell Father for me that what with the prospects of a house, trip home Xmas and trip east next June his $10 per will be most acceptable. It will pay my railroad fare all four times to and fro from P. M. home. He’ll never miss it and he is even boarding Jeanette. If there were no house in view all would be different but at present with my $40 in bank there is little hopes of my meeting my expenses.
Tell J[eannette] to write to Docia. She is crazy for a letter and wants a picture too. Have her send one, if only a Kodak one. Also ask her to send me those pictures of Docia which we took this summer. They are in my book in left hand upper chiffonier drawer. Fix them so they won’t bend. I’ll write to Charlie. We three want to send him something from here.
I completely forgot your birthday. If I had only known I could have stepped around the corner to the jeweler’s. I hope when Elizabeth comes we can actually get to work on the house. Miss Pettit is giving us our poles. Are going to have oak and chestnut logs. They are clearing forty acres for pasture land now.
Later now – I am up in Evelyn Wells‘ room. She is making cocoa for me. The debate was rare – I’ll have to tell you about it later.
Do tell me how the street looks. Is our end paved? How does the new house near the corner look?
Mr. Murray sent me his book. I must write him, too.
Am going away most every week-end this month. Quite a gay lady!
Must stop now.
Love to you all,
Friday (early fall, 1915)
Dear Father and all – I am down at the playground this afternoon for it is my day on duty. I am perched in the doorway of the children’s playhouse so I can see if everything goes right. Usually I play with the children but some letters had to be written today so they must play alone.
We, too, are having regular summer weather. It has been perfect for the last twelve days. They say it is as hot as they had it all summer.
Everyone manages to be pretty busy for work somehow piles up here more than any other place it seems. The new workers are very enthused over it and all are here until May — two teachers, a secretary and a housekeeper for the other house. Miss Newman, the regular secretary, is leaving for a year’s study at Columbia.
Last Saturday [Dorothy] ‘Dot’ Philips and I walked across the mountain and took the train for Harlan. Miss Gaines came in Sunday morning and we went over to meet her. Really had a lovely time shopping for everyone at the school, seeing the county superintendent of schools, judge and all high mucky mucks for Miss Pettit, etc. We feasted, stuffed ice cream, went to the movies and reveled in two hot baths. Two of the older boys of the school walked over Saturday night clear to Harlan — eighteen miles — reaching there at eleven o’clock. After a day’s work on the farm they started out at six P.M. Miss Gaines looks very rested and she was eager to get back. I never experienced a hotter walk than ours was Sunday over the mountain. We had lots of
fun for there were about ten of us in the party and the boys had no end of candy, grapes, peaches, etc. It took us from 11:20 a.m. until four to make it. Of course we rested many places and occasionally the boys entertained us with a jig to the accompaniment of a mouth harp. No mountain could phase them.
Monday night four of us went up to Aunt Sal’s for dinner and again on Wednesday night for a treat of gritted corn bread, Kentucky fall beans and “taters” (potatoes) with lots of butter. I helped grit the corn for it is quite a job and had my first lesson in the making of it. It really is delicious.
There are many new workers here at present who don’t know the trails so I go along to show them. Really I have walked miles (am sorry, but my pen has given out) in these three weeks. Yesterday I met two girls right after school and we started out for a grand tramp — cooked out dinner part way up the mountain and then slowly ambled on visiting here and there and finally wading in a glorious pool about dark. We stopped for supper a couple miles down Greasy and afterwards ran sets in the orchard. Had a beautiful walk home in the moonlight reaching here about ten. It was the first set running one of the girls had seen and she loved it.
Aunt Sal and I may take off for the day tomorrow. I was going with her one afternoon this week but couldn’t get off so I tore up before school to tell her I couldn’t go but one of the other girls would love to. She said “Margie, it pleases me a sight not to go for I got a headache but I aimed to take over that ridge if you went. I’d love to go with that other woman but I aim to go with you. I can’t cross the ridge twice and I want to go with you.” I felt quite flattered for Aunt Sal is such a favorite with all. The other day she said “I jest love a sight for Lizzie, Little Ethel and you to eat with me. It ‘pears like you’re my children.” The above are Ethel McCullough and Elizabeth Roettinger.
I surely have the little ones this year in school and they are lots harder than the big ones. They take every minute of your time.
I would love to have a few groceries sometime soon if you have time to bother about it and thought I’d suggest a few things I’d like most: lemons, oranges, any kind of a cracker and cookie, condensed milk, and some cans of meat – salmon, tuna fish or anything of that kind. I have tea, bouillon and a can of cocoa. Later on I would love nothing better than a steak and butter but it’s too warm for that now.
Was it Marie Krebbiel who was thinking of coming down? Wouldn’t it have been lovely?
Was so glad to hear about Jeanette. Have many letters to write so must say goodbye. No mention if they would send me a comb and my old rain hat.
Good-bye with love for all,
I have been working hard over school this week and finally have everything the way I want it. Had new shelf put in for my supplies, a blackboard stand made and low benches and a low table this shape. [drawing] I can be in the center and manage my seventeen youngsters. I hate to think of leaving our “House in the Woods” and really have no idea just where we’ll teach this winter. We hate to think of resorting to the Lodge Room again. The way everyone goes along on faith is remarkable. The school was down to $14 running expenses a week or so again when $500 came in one lump. Miss Pettit said such has happened for the last twenty years and she hopes the good Lord will be kind enough to continue it.
I had a nice visit to many of our neighbors up a little branch the other afternoon when I took a visitor out sight-seeing. We stopped in to see the new two-day-old Baker baby, thirteenth child in that family, who was lying in his mother’s arms, she fully dressed in dirty clothes and in a dirty bed. The baby had on a dark blue dress and one cheek was all covered with candy where Johnnie, aged four, had been kissing it. They live in two rooms and a more typical mountain cabin I never did see.
Tomorrow morning five of us are going to get up at four and walk up to Jack’s Gap to see the sunrise, cooking our breakfast on top of the mountain. I have always wanted to do it, and now the moon will light our way clear up the mountain.
Last Saturday Aunt Sal and I “set off” across a ridge for the whole day. Most likely I told you we were thinking of going. She is charming and we did have the best time. We would sit down to rest and Aunt Sal would smoke and tell me early tales of how she raised all her young’uns on that field, and how she with Polly and Joe, ages four and five then, would hoe the hillside from morn till night while the three little ones took care of themselves. It was a hard walk and Aunt Sal got pretty tired. We had dinner over on Little Laurel with an interesting family. It was quite late when we got back so I fixed supper for Aunt Sal and churned.
Sunday I took charge of Miss de Long’s family, giving her a rest. That night the whole school had supper a little way up the mountain. We made coffee for the grownups and all toasted cheese sandwiches.
Our barn is progressing wonderfully. Three weeks ago the land wasn’t even cleared for it and it looks as tho’ it will all be done in about two or three more weeks. They raised about $1,065. for it.
Haven’t heard a word from Ethel. Had a note from Mr. Murray.
Good-bye, Love to you all,
Sunday morning, October 1915
Dear Jeannette, This is a perfect day. I should love to go off on a long hike but feel ’tis my duty to help entertain the callers today. It is just ten now and already we have had four boys, four girls and two little children here. I madly dash for picture books, story books, newspapers or play the Victrola to try to amuse them. You see the people like to come here on Sunday for it’s their only free day.
I’ve been working pretty hard this week. Wednesday was our Farmer’s Meeting and Columbus and I had charge of it. Lots of people came from miles around and everything went off fine. We cooked dinner for everyone in big iron kettles outside. Columbus Creech was elected president and your youngest child Secretary and Treasurer (I mean your darling sister – tho’t I was writing to mother for a minute) for the County Fair for next year. It’s going to be lots of fun! You didn’t know what a celebrated sister you had, did you?
I helped Uncle William on a post office order one afternoon this week. I’d love to do nothing but help him in his store and Aunt Sal about the house. I am going to help the secretary, Margaret Lincoln, with the mail every mail night. It’s great fun, for everyone gathers at the post-office and makes it quite exciting. What with three or four mules tied outside and several lights about, why you think you are on Fifth Avenue. I’m official now and can go behind the counter at any time (have never been sworn in but just the same I’m official.)
Friday night Miss Read [Dora Read Goodale] and I had supper with Delia. I do so want you to come down
soon and know these people. I know you would like them.
Yesterday was a busy day. At twelve we started in to decorate Far House living room for a Hallowe’en party. The fireplace was banked with leaves with a pumpkin in the center. Then we had crepe paper with Hallowe’en pictures all across the tables, big pumpkins in the center and from two far corners you could just see pumpkin faces from among leaves. My children in kindergarten had made lanterns and baskets, so really the room looked very pretty. It was Uncle William’s birthday so he came about four and we had a cake for him with candles, etc. All the children sang to him and wished on the candles. Then they bobbed for apples, carried peanuts and potatoes on knives, pinned tail on the donkey and had other games. At suppertime they all sat around a big fire and we had just the candles lighted in the pumpkins. Pumpkin pie, peanuts and candy made it a real party. Miss Read told them tales and then the “buggers” came — some of the boys dressed up. Of course they went wild chasing them. About seven o’clock the little ones went to bed and all the grown-up ones came and so the party continued till nine. I tell you I was ready for bed.
The nurse got a box last night so we are going down to Old Log cabin for lunch today.
I am sorry you did not get Glendale Church. This M. C. one is quite near tho’, isn’t it? Am so glad you all got to hear Miss de Long. Did Father like her talk?
Elizabeth came last night and as soon as Ethel comes we’ll decide about our house. No, father did not send me my allowance.
Miss Lincoln [Margaret Lincoln] went out as far as Cumberland Gap with Miss Read who left this morning and I let her wear my green hat. It looked dear on her. I like it very much. Wednesday morning three of us, possibly Elizabeth too, leave for Hindman to be gone till Sunday. I hope Ethel won’t come while we’re away. If packages come from Hindman don’t open them for I hope to do some Christmas shopping there. Put them up in the storeroom.
I hated so to see Miss Read go for she is perfectly lovely – a very unusual person. We really became very good friends and she invited me to visit her in Lynn next summer when I’m east.
Will you ask Mother if she thinks it would be all right for me to write Miss Kirwood to see if she would make me a quilt. I have always loved these old ones out of silk pieces. I can pay her for it.
How is Mr. Murray now? If anything should happen to him would I have to come home after what he said last summer? He seemed so feeble a few weeks ago. That’s why I ask it.
You might call up Ethel and tell her Elizabeth and I may be away until next Sunday.
Lots of love,
Wednesday, November 17, 1915
Dear Jeannette — I thought you had all forgotten me. Do you know I didn’t have a word from home for ten days. I was beginning to think something had happened.
Ethel is sitting here marking our children’s underwear for the winter — ’tis my job but she is doing it like an angel while I write this. It has been so hard to write letters lately for we have been extra busy. Monday morning we awoke to find it winter, winter weather so it was a grand scramble to move our school from the House in the Woods so we could have school in the afternoon. I am having my little ones in the Far House
living room. It is this shape [drawing of the living room] and my little table with chairs back in the wing. For stories and reading we make a little circle around the fire. So many of my children live at the Far House and they are so tiny that this seemed the wise thing to do.
I am so tired and so much is going on around me that I haven’t any idea what I’m saying. Supper was so nice tonight. We had a roaring big fire in the living room with an immense back log. Miss Pettit is so nice and she was lovely tonight. Afterwards all the children toasted marshmallows. Ethel has been staying at the Pole House so far with Elizabeth and [Florence] ‘Fliss’ Olds (V[asser]. C[ollege]. 1912) but today she moved down here to be with us for the rest of her time.
We have talked about the house a lot but as yet no logs are up. Have chosen a wonderful sight for it on Columbus’ knoll, but Elizabeth’s family are still opposed to her building off school ground.
Miss Pettit and Miss Gaines went off from Saturday a.m. until Monday night, leaving me to take their place. I tell you it kept me busy and I was constantly on duty.
Last Friday the four of us (I + the three Pole House people) had supper at Aunt Sal’s. We started out yesterday afternoon at 2:30 expecting to climb Jack’s Gap to see the sunset but when we got part way realized we never could make it by dark so instead climbed to the top of a ridge – watched the sunset and cooked our supper. It was a beautiful night and we had such fun coming home by moonlight. The creeks were high and we had a killing time crossing them. Everyone of us fell in during the trip.
We are all invited to Delia’s [Creech] for supper this Friday night. Everyone has been so nice to the girls. Am so glad Mother went to see the_______ . Do have her write what she thinks about my dresses.
Is the whole street finished? From Father’s letter it seemed it was.
Do write more often.
Friday night, [Dec. 1915 or 1916]
Dear Mother, Father & Jeannette — I thought I would be able to write you before this but honestly the only letter I have written before today was to Ethel and that was on account of the victrola. I certainly was pleased with my coat, mother, and with my book, Jeannette. As far as I could make out from mother’s letter father was giving me the balance for my liberty loan, but it sounded too good to be true. Is that right? It certainly would be fine! My coat is wonderfully warm — everyone is wild over it. Of course I wore it Christmas Day. About one o’clock was had quite a snow storm. I sported my new coat and went up to see Aunt Sal and Delia. Delia is so pleased with her dishes. They came Saturday. She was having the nicest time that afternoon with the three children. They had a little tree. All the children had hung up their stockings too.
Christmas was lovely from beginning to end and I guess you will want to hear it all. All week long we made wreaths and every night the children danced and sang songs around the tree, each night lighting three candles and every child putting a pretty on the tree. Saturday afternoon we had a working to decorate the dining room, Miss de L[ong], [Angela] Melville, [Edith] Canterbury, [Elizabeth] Shipley and I. Really the room was a picture with wreaths at every window, door and over fireplace, great hemlock trees banked in every corner and around balcony pillars and tiny ones on all the tables with just a little tinsel and a red Santa on top. That night we had candles on all the tables and three little ones on the tree by fire. It looked like a fairyland. Soon after everyone was seated my eight little girls, all in white with red hair ribbons, sang an old carol “The Ivy and the Holly,” hanging the ivy, which we call laurel, from the balcony. Becky May and Maudie were so happy and excited they were radiant! After supper we sang carols for a long time. Miss Pettit had a Xmas party for everyone that night but I was too tired to go.
Sunday evening every family took their tree [Christmas Tree] around to our old neighbors — Far House to Uncle John the fiddler, Old Log to Uncle Dan Creech, Big Log to Aunt Sal and one to Aunt Sis. When we got to the gate we lighted it, going in singing “Here We Come Wasseling.” She was as pleased as could be. Everyone crowded into little back room, tree in the center on a chair and we sang all the carols. She wanted us to sing some again. We had only three candles on it and she said “Hit pears like a little tree suits our family best and the three candles for the three of us.” We named the candles, she and Uncle John went out at the same time and it pleased her so. We took down several gifts for them, some useful, some toys — a doll and a scrapbook for Aunt Sis. You have no idea how they all love dolls.
Monday was the busiest day. Willie and I assorted out all the Christmas gifts. Every box was taken to school house and there we arranged everything according to ages and as fair as we could distributed the gifts. It was lots of fun but work too!
Christmas eve supper was the very nicest of all. Again we had all candles and Clarkie’s little red chimneys at every place. In center of the dining room was a table set for 12, quite apart from all other tables. Twelve small children acted out “Here We Come Wassaling,” Green Bailey [Gross] with white beard the man of the house, Linda in long skirts and shawl and cap the lady, J_______ i and Luther the servants, Lillie and Bessie Mary the cooks in little white caps and aprons. Probably Father and Jeannette will remember some of these children. In came the other six children singing, waving hemlock branches and dancing all around the tables, finally coming to the man and lady of the house who were sitting in big easy chairs. They invited the children to eat. It was dear and the children just so unconscious that it was most real. This was a surprise. Green Bailey had the time of his life toasting the marshmallows which Clarkie had in the chimneys by candle flame. After supper while we were singing carols Santa’s bells were heard. The children immediately were all ready to run. (Sunday night when at supper his bells were heard Coldona was so frightened she shook.) In came Santa (Mr. Callahan) with a pack on his back bringing his little boy, Willie, (Wilmen Stoere). Last year Santa told them he had a little boy Willie so William Gross, Green Bailey’s brother, wrote asking that Santa not bring him a thing but please bring his little boy Willie. They were so delighted they shrieked and clapped. Jeems threw his arms around Willie saying “God bless you, Willie Santa”. Santa gave everyone a big apple. Of course that night we had to light the tree, hang up our stockings and sing some more. By time we filled cornucopias for everyone, took them around to all the houses, also apples and oranges, filled our stockings it was way past midnight. It was after one when I got to bed, to be awakened before four by Miss de L[ong] and the boys singing carols. When they got back to Laurel House at five after making the tour of all houses and to Aunt Sal’s, the bell was rung and everyone went out on their porches, all wrapped up in big coats. Of course it was pitch black and just as quiet. The Far House sang “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” — then we answered . We went to other porch toward Big Log House, sang it again, and Big Log answered us. It was so pretty. Everyone flew to dress and it didn’t take long. Such excitement with the stockings. Miss de L[ong] and I had everything that would make noise on the breakfast tables, horns, whistles, etc. Never did you hear such noise or see such happy children. Many of them brought their dolls and sat them on the table. Cam came over to show his which Gary had named “Queen Elizabeth.”
At 10:30 there was the community tree in House in Woods and a pageant by all the children acting out the Xmas story. Maudie was Mary. It was so simple, lovely and impressive. Miss de Long had simple service before the pageant and after it Santa came giving candy to everyone and balloons to be blown up–all colors. It was cold and rainy so people didn’t stay long. At noon every family had bread and milk at its own house for our dinner was at four. In the playroom top floor of school house the big ones played games all afternoon. Christmas night was quiet — it was peaceful to have it so. I thought of you many times wondering what you were doing about dinner and if Father stood the hard work. I’ll be anxious to hear.
Many of the children are gone and most of the workers. By tomorrow there will be only twenty in our family — all will be back next Wednesday. Miss Gaines and I thought we would have time to do extra things, but so far “no rest for the wicked.”
I have been to Open House once for about ten minutes. Have had a desk made for my room, book case is being made today.
Will you please send me a book giving records, Victor will be enough, and could you spare one of the arrangements for cleaning records. Would also like some needles, half-tone ones, please. Why did Maxel’s send pictures by freight? Mr. Zande says we can haul no more this winter. Did I pay them or not? I got the bill of lading. I wish Mother sometime would send me that short lamp chimney, both of them, my sewing basket that Aunt Rosa sent me last year, my stamp box and paper cutter. I’m in no hurry, but sometime.
I had a letter from Hulda asking that I write her all about Xmas. I couldn’t do it again so will you let her read this. I’ll write her but not so in detail. Mr. Murray might like to hear a part of it too. I promised to drop him a line if I had time but honestly I have so many notes to write and so much work I want to do by next Wednesday.
Celia is coming back next year. I think you had better buy the socks for as far as I can see nothing is saved and I don’t see when Mossie could find time to knit them. I’m doing wristlets now.
I must stop. R.B.G. [Ruth B. Gaines] and I are going to have supper and then play Ethel’s victrola. Don’t you think that wonderful for her to send. My! We’ll enjoy it.
Love to all,
I wrote Walter for Xmas but wasn’t sure about his address.
1915 LETTER 5 – Sunday – Winter of 1915-1916
Dear Jeannette – Was so surprised to hear about Uncle Ed – only hope he’ll be better soon. Am anxious to know if you went to Cleveland. I think you are crazy if you didn’t. Yes, the watch came all right. The rubbers are fine! The right kind for here exactly. The dainty ladies’ boots which you sent first would have been in holes in a few days over our rough, rocky paths. Mother wanted to know if I needed some boots. No, I can get along beautifully and our winter weather is most over now. Mother said that Potter’s owed her still. I can make huge of that in May easily – just let them credit her with it.
My cold is so much better – most gone. We have had a regular epidemic of grippe. At least ten have been in bed with it and many have had bad colds.
I don’t think Miss Gaines will be here longer than July. She really can not do the work. Celia is not coming back next year either. Willie is living at the Old Log Cabin and has a family of three — two girls and one boy — all a week old (at Pine Mt.) She has a killing time the other night — two women arrived with a little boy eight, girl seven.
1915 LETTER 6 – Sunday morning (Spring 1915 or 1916?)
Dear Jeannette — It is just nine thirty and every bit of the housework is done. The children are all out playing for about a half hour until it’s time for Sunday School, so unless K. P. [Katherine Pettit] comes I’m good for a little while. I wonder if Celia called you up. She sent me a box of Mullove’s candy with a note “I wish you were here!” Even Uncle William thought she might have gone to some other place besides Cincinnati. He didn’t think it was quite right. Miss Gaines and I are to leave Thursday morning, reaching Cumberland Gap about six that night. Celia joins us there about noon on Friday. I haven’t been across Pine Mt. since January 4th so am looking forward to the trip. We’ll be back Sunday. Mrs. Light [Mrs. Ella Sue Light, housemother] is taking my children in school for two days and I guess K. P. will have to take the house.
You should have seen me yesterday. From 5:30 until 11:30 we were rushing around with usual Saturday morning housework. Then at twelve right after dinner I started in with a gang of six boys — three had never scrubbed before and two only once-to do the halls and stairs. We had a siege of it. The boys were dear! Honestly I think we have some of the loveliest children in our house now that we’ve ever had. Afterwards I was dead. I lay down and read for awhile, then took a scrub which lasted an hour and felt fine for the evening work. Twas bath night and I had every boy and girl in the house to see to, clean clothes and all. Some bath nights here are worth
more than moving picture shows.
This is a beautiful day. All our flowers are coming up. I have on my table now a little vase of yellow and blue violets and another of little pink wild flowers. Snakes are out, too!!!
Friday afternoon I took Linda almost home on Bobby. She rode behind me and it was a time for she is so small to hold on. Dosia trudged on in front. They have a new little baby brother, just two weeks old, and of course we had to let the children go home to see him. They are coming back today. We left right after dinner on Friday and it was six when I got back. Dosia as so pleased to get Nettie’s letter.
Aunt Sal is so much better. Columbus [Creech] has been in sugar camp all this month and they have been stirring it off this week. Wednesday Uncle Wm. came down for several of us to come right up. He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just leave. I had children from 12 – 3 in work, 3 – 5 on the playground and from 6:15 studying. At five I went up during supper time (it was my week having service and shouldn’t have cut but just did) and of course the stir-off was over. They had another one the next day so I could come. When the sugar water has boiled until it is of a certain consistency you beat it and it becomes the loveliest creamiest cake you ever tasted — just like opera creams.
Tell Mother I’ll want Miss Malloy to make the blue linen dress from Hindman and a couple afternoon ones.
Be good about writing. Had a letter from Mr. Keirn that Kathryn has scarlet fever. I wrote her.
Love to you all,