Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Marguerite Butler Letters 1917

Marguerite Butler Letters 1917

Note: The MARGUERITE BUTLER LETTERS 1917 are given an approximate order, often assigned by Marguerite when she donated them to PMSS.

Click here to read Marguerite Butler’s biography.

CONTENTS: Marguerite Butler Letters 1917


1.    1917 [or 1916] LETTER 1 – “Dear Father — This ought to be for you all but…” [images 001-007] 

Thank you for box ; all day at Line Fork ; steak suppers ;

2.    1917 LETTER 2 – Easter 1917[?] -“Dear Mother — I wonder if you are having the snowy wintry day…” [images 008-013]

snowing ; preacher and sister visiting ; Miss Brewster’s birthday ; Boy Scouts’ show ; Line Fork sewing class ; dinner with couple in Bear Branch ; moonshine ; club at Greasy ; helped Bertha Lewis ; Big Laurel survey ; plans for community centers ; Blanch Jeacock helping Miss Gaines ; Sunday School ;

3.    1917 LETTER 3 – Open House, Tuesday afternoon – “Dear Jeannette — (Celia is in Chicago now!) Well aren’t you a celeb…” [images 014-019]

Celia in Chicago ; need alarm clock ; sending pictures of the place ; Open House description ; road to begin ; teaching ; children cleaning Laurel House ; worm treatments ; funny stories about the children ; dinner at Mary Ann’s ; returning home over the mountains ; supper with Ethel McCullough ;

4.    1917 LETTER 4 – Thursday Night (1917?) – “Dear Father — Most likely you have heard from Lucia…” [images 020-026]

steak party ; study hour ; my family of girls ; progress with Open House ; visiting the School ; all day trip on Pine Mountain to visit a squire ; may go to Whitesburg fiscal court in June ; may become community worker ;

5.    1917 LETTER 5 – Sunday, June 24 – “Dear Jeannette — It is too bad you were so disappointed…” [images 027-033]

6.    1917 LETTER 6 – Friday (probably 1917) – “Dear Mother — I have just written on all the pictures of ‘Open House'”….. [images 034-036] 

Open House pictures ; Ethel [McCullough] leaving ; new fireplace ; visited Aunt Sal and Delia ; Aunt Sal’s blind eye ; construction on schoolhouse ; resigning Woman’s Union office ; girls’ clothes ; Henry [Creech] recalls Cincinnati ;

MBB NOTE: “One time when Henry went to Louisville to a Masonic meeting…” MISSING IMAGE

7.    1917 LETTER 7 – August 17 [Letterhead: Kelly Hotel, Harlan, KY] – “Dear Mother — Well, we are having a time! Miss deL., Celia, Evelyn & I started out…” [images 037-039]

fundraising; Celia Cathcart returns home for funeral ; visiting coal mine companies for donations ; hotel supper ; supper at Mrs. Couter’s ;

8.    1917 LETTER 8 – September 6 – “Dear Father — From all accounts you have a lovely trip….” [images 040-043]

Columbus Creech; raising premiums for Harlan County Fair ; Fair  preparations ; everyone misses Miss Gaines ; have enough food ; Hulda’s visit ; telegram service ;

9.    1917 LETTER 9 – Monday, Sept. 24, & Oct, 16-19 – “Dear Mother — Don’t you like my paper…” [images 044-051]

mountain walk with Lorraine ; Henry and Delia Creech to visit Cincinnati ; preparing for the fair ; study hour ; plantings for Laurel House ;

10.  1917 LETTER 10 – Tuesday night, October 3 – “Dear Jeanette — Yours and mother’s letters have just come.” [images 052-058]

invites Jeannette to visit ; MB and Miss Pettit to visit Hyden and other stops ; Delia’s Cincinnati trip ; kinds of clothing and food to bring ; fair was successful ; rescued lost travelers ; Fair Day ; supper at Aunt Sal’s ; outing with Willie Stone and students ; helped Uncle William with government report ;

MBB Note: “1918 – Midsummer’s Night’s Dream was given in 1918-1917 [sic].…”[image 059] 

11.  1917 LETTER 11 – Sunday, December 2 – “Dear Jeannette — Thank you so much for Xmas cards….” [images 060-067] 

Xmas cards ; soldiers ; began sewing classes ; mothers club ; quarantine ; end of war ; Thanksgiving Day ; singing from porch to porch ; Thanksgiving dinner ; visit with Aunt Sal ; Midsummer Night’s Dream presentation ; dinner with 5 boys ; dreams of college ; Bonnie & Minnie arrive from Good Citizen’s Club ;

12.  1917 LETTER 12 – October – [no salutation] — “Last night took Uncle William a birthday cake with 72 candles….” [image 068] 

[incomplete page, no date or salutation, page crossed out – image 069] cold last night ; plans to leave ;

[remnant of page, no date or salutation – Spring 1917 or 1918?] “Crocuses & daffodils are up & on the tables….” [images 070-072] 

old fashioned dinner with workers and community ; Aunt Judy’s pie ; tales of “haints” and witches ; Mr. Creech descendant of President Harrison ; children are happy ; Mary Rockwell to arrive any day ; celebrating end of WWI ;

MBB & other’s notes: “Letter #6 seems to refer to end of WWI….” [image 073] 

13. 1917 LETTER 13 – [Sunday, Nov. 18, 1917] “…not much faith was laid in that paper…” [images 074-079] IMAGE FOR FIRST PAGE (“Dear Jeannette –“) IS MISSING

mob from Benham ; celebrating peace ; Mrs. Zande’s Thanksgiving service ; planning errand trip on Bobby ; supper at Far House with Misses Whitmore, Lavender, Robbins, and Peck ; visited Mrs. Zande’s house ; Mrs. Zande’s baby ; boys went possum hunting ; planning supper at O.H. ; children to give “Midsummer Night’s Dream” play ; requests Xmas cards ; skirt styles changing ;

GALLERY: Marguerite Butler Letters 1917

TRANSCRIPTION: Marguerite Butler Letters 1917

[Brackets indicate notations by HW.]

LETTER 1 Sunday (1916? – 1917?) [images 001-007]

Dear Father — This ought to be for you all, but I guess after such a box you think it is your turn. The box came Thursday night in perfect condition. The candy and cake came Friday night. Everything is so good !!!

Friday I gave all day to Line Fork getting back just at dark. Miss Gaines hasn’t been well all week. That night the children went to a party at the Far House, so at 6:30 we cooked part of the steak, made tea and toast and with the lettuce had a feast. Last night at supper we had another party finishing the steak. When the box came Miss G. [Gaines] said “Let’s not have a soul to this party it’s too good.” So far we haven’t had anyone, but it just happened that way. We may yet—the cake is lovely, candy too. Have been eating candy all afternoon.

LETTER 2 – Easter 1917[?] – [images 008-013] 

Dear Mother — I wonder if you are having snow. Yesterday morning it was perfect and by one o’clock there was a regular blizzard. A preacher from near and his sister from New York came, I served them tea entertained them until

pg. 02. [bid_036]
nearly half past four. Then hurried back to get the steak ready. It was Miss Brewster’s birthday. She is a teacher, and this lady’s from New York, so the children brought in on little plates three small cakes with a lighted candle in each one. In the evening the boy scouts gave a minstrel show and it was clever. We laughed until our sides ached. There were only two rehearsals. It was great! First scene was at North Pole —James Madison, the explorer, in heavy clothes, fur cap and gun came in pulling a sled with a barrel on it marked “KITCHEN” – The cook, colored, in a white suit climbed out of “kitchen.” He turned barrel around and on other side was printed “DRIED APPLES.” That was the food. The scene went on with just the two, very witty, and at the end the cook died. Mat said -“The North Pole has claimed many a victim and it claims this. What shall I take home to his wife for a souvenir?” Dead cook sits up just long enough to say, “Dried apples, boss, dried apples!!!” One scene was a congress session in 1999 — all women, president a woman. The women all brought their husbands, tiny little men who sat on one side of room. The discussion was on “prohibiting men from coffee drinking.” Of course Mr. [Leon] Deschamps was the main one but all the boys were simply great. One act was a regiment of colored troops training in camp, and part II same troops in action. Then there were several serenades, clogging, playing, etc. It was a great success and the girl scouts are all excited now over giving one.

Friday had my first sewing class on Line Fork it was a splendid beginning. Eighteen came to sew, several others to look on and during the afternoon four men came in to see us, too, I got there before twelve and five were already there. For an hour we played games and I tore around like a wild Indian. The girls certainly responded and I think everyone had a good time. That is the creek Miss Pettit has been so anxious for us to begin on. I went over there last Monday seeing everyone about it. Had dinner with an old couple up in Bear Branch, the prettiest spot in this country. The people seemed so enthusiastic about the class. Miss P[ettit] has always said it would be the hardest community to work in anywhere — all but two families make moonshine.

Wednesday had my club down Greasy. I went to Bertha Lewis’ and helped her dress her three small ‘young-uns.” Then she got on their horse. I gave her Ruby, 7 months old, put the boy twin 2 1/2 yrs. behind her, and Gladys in front. Then I got on Bobby and took the tiny baby. We were a procession going down the creek. Bertha with a twin in front and one behind and I with the baby. Down hill and up hill, through creeks and over logs we went!

Thursday did my survey of Big Laurel district. Mss Pettit is making definite plans for community centers and each week I have word from her of more maps and more to go in maps. I had to send one to Cleveland Red Cross this week and now must get one off to New York.

Mother asked who was helping Miss Gaines — just Miss Jeacock [Blanch Jeacock] she does the kitchen work.

I am enclosing pictures of Hulda‘s baby. Please send them back. Isn’t she the dear? Elizabeth wrote about my dress. I told G. B. at Xmas I would not sell it. Jeannette can tell her over phone. She seemed so uncertain about wanting it. Mrs. Mayers sent me a birthday card. I wish mother would thank her for me. I’l send her some galax leaves some day, Mrs. Mayers never forgets my birthday.

Today I walked up to my Sunday School, It was freezing but beautiful. There were

pg.03 [bid_037]
quite a lot of children out. We built a good fire and all sat around the stove. The woods are so bad it is all you can do to walk.

I almost forgot to thank J. B. for the handkerchiefs. They are my kind. I can’t tell you now how the sausage is but they can’t beat the steak It was so tender. I had letters from Kit, Corrine and Ethel. Ethel, Kit and Pat are all sending something but it hasn’t arrived as yet.

Good night. Thank you one and all. Mother said something about giving you money for my ______(?). Let me know what I owe for mother has enough ways for her money.

Love to you all, Marguerite

LETTER 3 – Open House, Tuesday afternoon – [images 014-019] 
pg. 01 [bid_038]

Celia [Celia Cathcart] is in Chicago now!

Tuesday afternoon
Dear Jeannette — Well, aren’t you a celeb, tho’, with your new job. It sounds perfectly lovely but I can’t imagine Mr. Staps giving up the cathedral position. Possibly you can come down in the fall for a couple weeks, getting a substitute. Was so sorry to learn about Mary Louise. Do drop me a card about her. Yes, I sent card and check to Emmeline. Had already written a long letter to Mr. and Mrs. Murray. Mother can send my suit to Aunt Em. I have the skirt wrapped up now to send — with it my white _____ to be washed. The bag and couple good handkerchiefs I do not want back — Just wait and send all things together. Also, send my Palm Beach pictures. I want to show the children — the ones of the ocean, fishing, etc. I have a terrible time trying to wake up. Several mornings I have slept until after breakfast bell, so I had better have alarm clock. Just a cheap little one please.

I’m sending some pictures of the place. None are good of the house but today Ethel [McCullough] took some more. Don’t you think I have some nice children? Have written on the back of the pictures. Have more but these are most interesting.

Did Lucia ever come to see Mother? She said she wanted to.

It is so pretty here at Open House now. I am sitting in the living room and can look out on the mountains in almost every direction. It surely is open. We have fourteen double windows which open out and eight single ones, besides two sleeping porches and a balcony, front and back rock terrace. Ethel so wants her mother to come but I know mother had better wait for the road. They hope to begin it this summer.

I am teaching in the morning, having charge of all upstairs in Laurel House, and all downstairs except kitchen department and laundry. I tell you it is no joke for five children to wash and dry dishes for 85 people in an hour, besides sweeping and dusting room and dozens of other odd things. You simply cannot believe the work these children do unless you see it. Little Martha Callahan who is hardly four waited on their table this noon. She did it beautifully. We had strawberries for dessert and when she carried the bowls to the table, ten high, they reached most to her chin, but above the top was a broad grin. The little girl scrubbing, cleans Miss Pettit’s room with Melinda every day. The two have full charge of it and the sleeping porch.

We are giving treatment for all kinds of worms this week, hook, stomach and round. Most of my children have all three kinds. I started in a week ago yesterday, taking just two a day. The way these children stand up and take all this vile stuff without a word everyday I marvel more.

Green Bailey [Gross] spelled “there” “thar” in his story in school. I asked him how he spelled it and wrote “there” on the board, to which he replied “l don’t want hit writ that way. Hit’s ‘thar.'” He’s the one at Xmas that called “Lookout, fellers, for your noses, thar’s Santa!”

The other night at supper the children didn’t sing the song and I asked them afterwards if they didn’t know it. Becky May said she couldn’t sing. I told her I knew differently from the way she sang every day when she did dishes, to which she said “Well, it’s a homemade song.” Really there’s not an hour one of them doesn’t say something funny.

Sunday Ethel [McCullough], Lorraine (who is one of the big girls) and I went down to Mary Ann‘s for dinner. I felt as though I were going to Europe. Mary Ann just married this March and I hadn’t seen her house. Everything was so nice, and we had the best dinner.

pg. 02 [bid_38]
We left about quarter of three coming home by way of Little Laurel and over the ridge to Uncle William‘s. I alone had been that way but as there was no trail (at least one which Lorraine described as used by a cow before the Revolutionary War) we got lost. We had the time of our lives climbing over ridges, then regular laurel jungles — oh! The mountains were perfect sight and through thickets for nearly three hours, finally landing on Greasy just a mile above where we left it. It was lots of fun. We had supper and turned in.

Last night Ethel [McCullough] and I had supper here alone on our front rock. She would love to stay on and on forever. Hope you all are well.

Love, Marguerite

LETTER 4 – Thursday night, (1917?) – [images 020-026]

Dear Father — Most likely you have heard from Lucia Ulane about our steak party. Was a most successful party! There were six of us EthelBess Crower, Lucia, Miss [Ruth] Gaines, Ruth Hellickson [Helleckson?] from Indianapolis and I. We did justice to everything. Of course we cooked the steak outside on my new broiler, made coffee, toast, butter, tomato and lettuce salad. We all sat on our large table rock, which is just next to the outside fire, with the food in the center so everyone could just grab and eat. Miss Gaines, as usual, said nice things about John Butler in fact, that is all we heard. We ate until we simply had to stop, not before.

My pen point is bent and I’m having a hard time writing. This is study hour for my children. Everyone is quiet working away on their studies. I have a lovely family of girls from nine to fourteen years. They are such friends and have the best time together in work as well as play. The school has improved so in many ways. Things run so much more smoothly with not so much supervision. The older girls are trained enough to be over work and they train children, too.

Open House grows nicer every day. We are still chopping up great logs, burning brush and cleaning up around. Today the second floor in the living room was put down, wide tongue-grooved boards, Almost everything is done now, but furnishing it, and most of the things we’ll get here in way of furniture.

The day isn’t long enough to do everything. I don’t know of a busier but when you see what has been accomplished in four years you see that it pays. It seems almost impossible to get letters written. Every night I can write one in this study hour, except when I help the children with their work.

I think it would be fine if Jeannette and Ruth could come for a couple of weeks this summer. I hope the house will be all done by that time. Ethel [McCullough] was saying today that she would like to bring Margaret Clark down this summer and it would be nice if Jeannette could come with her so unless something has been said to Ruth it would be better to wait for I don’t think it wise to have too many here at one time. Ethel [McCullough] would like to come back this summer.

I really haven’t made any definite plans yet for Miss de Long is still out but I am not tired. I would rather wait to come home for a month at the end of October. Anyway we can wait and see.

Yesterday I rode thirty-six miles to see a squire in the next county. l left at 7:30. getting back at 6:30. Such a journey over ridges, thru’ creek beds and over mountain trails is a day’s jaunt. The country was lovely! The laurel is all coming out. I rode all day along the north side of Pine Mountain under great cliffs of rocks. At times it was so

pg. 02 [bid_040]
wild I wouldn’t pass a house for hours. All day I passed only two men on horses and one woman walking. Others were in front of their homes but not travelling along the road. My trip was quite successful. May go to Whitesburg, a ride of 70 miles, the first Tuesday in June to speak before fiscal court. Whitesburg, the county seat of Letcher County, may give $1000 to fix Line Fork road, which heads up at the divide two miles above us, joining with our road. Miss Pettit wants me to be a community worker and I would love it for I’ll see lots of country and people both that way.

Children have gone to bed and I must go bandage up one of the children’s feet. Will write as often as I can. We are still enjoying the box.

My love to all. Marguerite

LETTER 5 – [images 027-033]
Sunday (June 24 – 27)

Dear Jeannette – –

It is too bad you were so disappointed but still twenty-five dollars seems a lot for five days. There is so much to see all around country. And then this wouldn’t have been such an interesting time for we are having vacation, and many of the children are home for two weeks. Some big ones had to go on account of crops, too, so the family is small, Ethel said to tell you she felt SO badly you couldn’t get here that she was laid low and couldn’t get home. As it happened Mr. Deschamps, a Belgian, who has been here all winter came back until he has his call. He has enlisted with forest engineers.

He works under Miss Pettit so he took charge of everything, giving K P. a rest for a couple days. She is at Open House. Ethel and I having moved down to Laurel so she could have complete quiet. As things turned out it is just as well_ I know you’ll get here sometime. I send John Lewis across mountain. He lives on other side just 1/2 mile below [railroad] station.

The children are in Sunday School now the singing sounds so nice. Joyl one of the workers is going over to Sunday School at Little Laurel this afternoon and offered to take my children. having supper on the way home. That means I’ll be free.

The other night Aunt Sal sent down word for Ethel [Ethel de Long ] and me to come up tor supper — They were going to rob the bee gums. It is a great sight even it I did get stung. In two nights got almost a hundred pounds Of honey and still more to come.

Had a very successful workers’ meeting the other night of just permanent workers. We are going to install a splendid system of student labor pay, labor graded so each child must earn a certain percent of scholarship, the older ones over $80 possibly. We are practicing economy in every detail. The other day Miss Melville read government report saying “It was the patriotic duty of every citizen of U. S. to leave nothing on their plates,” We have always practiced it now to the last degree [Clean Plate Club]. After each meal my squad of dining room children, five from nine to fourteen years old, make tour of inspection, Becky May coming running with one burnt peanut all excited “Miss Butler, look hyer, found hit on Miss Spencer’s table.” The same day another one came with about one bite of greens, the tough stems unable to chew. Well, yesterday noon announced before the whole dining room the number of times people had failed in their patriotic duty and which tables got a mark. The children won’t leave a crumb — – yesterday noon Coy Callahan had a worm in a radish. He ate everything but worm, completely around it. I was away at meal the other day and afterwards my children told me they had scraped their plates and come mighty nigh eating them too.

It is so nice having Miss de Long here. She was away three months. We are going to work hard in summer school tutoring especially backward children. There are two boys and a girl. all about fourteen and barely in third grade. They are so eager it won’t be hard for them. The girl had never been to school before she came here last December, Yesterday I was out in the supply closet working away with talkative Viola. She has improved so you wouldn’t know her. She said “Miss Butler, do you think hit’s right for people to wear false hair?” Of course had to say no, all the time smiling over E’s Junior (?) to which she replied: “I think hit’s quare that people haint satisfied with what the Lord gave ’em, If he wanted ’em to have a lot, he’d had given hit to ’em.”

Mss Gaines is feeding the family on 33 cents a person a day. That includes all labor,  her salary, expense of keeping up Laurel House, freight charges. etc. We want to reduce it to 25 cents, She did it last year on 20 cents, but of course everything is so much higher. Celia [Celia Cathcart] sent a delicious box of Martha Washington chocolates from Chicago.

Give Glenna and Charlie my love. I guess they are with you now, also Grace when she gets there.

Miss de Long brought back lovely flags of Italy, Belgium, France, England and U.S. At supper we had a great celebration.  — Mr. Zande hung up the Italian, Mr. Deschamps the Belgian, Miss Melville [Angela Melville], who was born in England, the British. Miss Wyman who collected the songs here last year sent word the French one was for her as she loved France, having spent a great deal of time there, Such cheering and singing. They are all hung over balcony.

Will you get from Shilitoe’s for Miss Gaines 2 doz. small mouse traps, very simple ones, three egg beaters and a gross of  “L” initials, red and in script, to mark Laurel House things; charge them to Mother, they will give 10% off for school, and have them all sent together parcel post. Send bill with goods and Miss Gaines will send check to Mother

Chimney in our kitchen is up, The men have been working there all week.

Good-bye E. and I are going to have supper up Steele Trap this evening.

Love to all,


My box came, thank mother, watch also.

Letter 5a
Monday (1917 ? Easter)

Dear Mother,

(1917? Easter)

I wonder if you are having the snowy, wintry day that we are here. Everything is white pines and hemlocks are lovely! This has been a rare day for me. Soon after nine I came to Open House to spend the day and it has been a treat. Here I am on a stool in front of a big log fire. This my eleventh letter, about seven were business ones.  Miss Gaines came up at one for dinner. We had it on the little tea table in the living room before the fire. I cooked bacon (they were having macaroni at school) we fried eggs, toasted biscuit, tea, some salad left from yesterday. and cake. I am hoping your box will come tonight. I think this weather it will keep all right.

Yesterday was a lovely Easter. At 4:45 seven of the girls and I got up to sing carols. Mrs. Zande asked me on Tuesday if I would do it but didn’t say anything to children until Thursday. They were so excited about keeping it a secret and they really kept it, no one knew. Thurs., Fri. and Sat. Nights after I got back we came up here to practice. We sang three songs, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” Come, Ye Faithful” and “The Strife is O’er.” We sang at all the houses at the School and Aunt Sal’s, getting back at 6:30 [a.m.]. At breakfast the children were all excited over the Easter Bunny, which late Sat. night fixed on one of the tables in a nest of grey moss which Pettit sent from Louisiana, with baby chicks and eggs all around. Mrs. Z[ande] didn’t come to breakfast, so I announced the bunny had come to the Pine Knoll and when everyone was thru breakfast they all flew in all directions. and it was so pretty seeing the children scrambling all over the hill – the Pole House hill. I had to leave then for my Sunday School.  Ninnie went with me to hide the eggs while I was having Sunday School. On Saturday about eight of the children and I cleaned up the school, decorated with spice-wood. maple and Pussy  Willow. It did look nice. I had an organ moved up, so that helped a lot with the Easter songs. So many of the parents went. the house was nearly packed. We had Easter verses and the story. I am sure it was the first time that some had ever heard it. I gave six Bibles to the six children who had the best and young looking for the candied eggs. No one had ever done it before.  Late yesterday afternoon when Miss Lawson was riding back from Harten she saw a woman and seven children out hunting for eggs in case we had missed some. I had —the dining room was lovely with them.

Miss Parkinson [Marguerite Parkinson] arrived yesterday to be housemother at Laurel House. It was so good to see her and she will be such a help to Miss Gaines. Most of the afternoon we visited. I was tired, having gone to bed the night before at 10:30 p_m_ and awakened about 3 a.m. The songs we were going to sing kept going through my head. That is going to see old Aunt Bette Bailey I wrote you about. She was tickled to pieces with what I brought her. Said never before in her life had she received such presents. Whan I came she said “I’m as proud to see ye coming as one of my brothers and sisters, and I love ye more.” She has a sister, Nance Pace, at Hamilton, Ohio, and if I go to Hamilton am going to hunt her up in the directory. It was a lovely ride but oh! I was tired when I got home that day. I rode over four mountains and on top of one of the mountains for four miles, up ” plum at the heed of the hollow.” The daughter of the old, old Uncle John Shell, claimed to be the oldest man in the world, lives there.

I was surprised to have father’s letter. How do we about potatoes  —do without.  I will send you some of the Xmas pamphlets. Am enclosing announcement of Dot Meigs, lived at Whitlocks with me. You may destroy. The other is a letter from Katherine Wright, [?]  whom I wrote you of. The friend of Miss Norma’s. That is why she didn’t call you up.

I think my sweater is lovely.  I will add a line tonight. Box came. Everything kept splendidly. The tomatoes as solid. We will feast. Thank you!

Love, Marguerite

LETTER 6 – Friday, (probably 1917) – [images 034-036]
pg.01 [bid_037]

Dear Mother — I have just written on all the pictures of ‘Open House”. Don’t you think we have a nice, nice house? We are very proud of it.

I don’t think there is anything special to tell. No doubt you have heard from Ethel [McCullough] by now. She hated so to leave more than ever before. I miss her so it doesn’t seem as tho’ she had really gone. Everyone likes her so much, the children, people and all. The night she left I was lost. Monday night Miss Gaines, Ethel [McCullough] and I cooked supper to celebrate our new fireplace. We couldn’t get away early so it was a fashionable meal – time, not eats. At 8 p.m. we were served with bacon, eggs, potatoes and cocoa. A feast for here. The fireplace is lovely and most convenient to cook on. It is as high as a table with a [ledge] 5 feet 6 inches long and about 20 inches wide.

This afternoon I went to see Aunt Saland Delia. First time I had been to Delia’s in six weeks. I asked Aunt Sal why she didnt go see a city with Henry and Delia this fall. She said she was too old, and then added, “Why, Margie, what about my eye. and I’d strain th’other one jest a looking at things.” Uncle William and I sat there and howled. Her eyesight in one eye is just about gone now and she was afraid she’d lose the other, too.

The schoolhouse is coming along quite fine. They are up to the roof — just beams, of course. They hope to finish it by winter.

I wrote to Jessie Foley yesterday enclosing a letter to Woman’s Union resigning from Office. Did you ever tell Miss Elliot I couldn’t speak for her at camp this summer. Please phone to her if you have not. I must write about Sunday School too. I hope Jeannette has sent off [mouse?_____________].

I am trying tonight to fit up fifteen growing girls with clothes enough for about five.

Henry said they had the hardest time deciding whether it should be John Butler or Chas. McC. but on account of four Johns in family decided on other name. He said not a day went by that he didn’t think of something that happened in Cincinnati.

I do hope you all keep well. There seems to be no end of sickness.

Many happy greetings and love, Marguerite

[image of MBB note is missing]

[MBB Note: One time when Henry went to Louisville to a Masonic meeting Delia went along and afterwards on to Cincinnati for several days with my family. Mother loved writing with them. Later Delia sent mother a beautiful quilt she had made. ]

LETTER 7 – August 17, 1917 – [images 037-039]
[letterhead] Kelly Hotel, Harlan KY

Dear Mother – Well, we are having a time! Miss Celia, Evelyn and I started out 2:30 Wednesday, By supper time we had $800. That night Celia [Cathcart] had a telegram saying her grandmother was very low and it was best to come, so at 6 the next morning she left and I got a telegram from her this afternoon saying that she arrived home this morning and her grandmother died yesterday afternoon. I am terribly sorry she did not get there in time for they were so devoted. I don’t know now what Celia will do. If she comes back it will not be for several weeks.

The second morning we three started out and by last night had $2,193, very much encouraged, This morning Miss deL left for coal mines about twenty miles down the Cumberland and tonight will be in Pineville to see the president of a coal mine there. Evelyn and I also travelled out to mines, I going to two about fifteen miles up Clover Creek. One company holds its meeting Monday and almost promised $100. The other company is brand new , not even ready for business and the two men heads said to appeal again in 60 days and we would get it. They were both lovely, each one invited me to his home for dinner, One has been a teacher for 14 years and is most interested in schools. Besides this, got $100 from a company here and two five dollar pledges, Evelyn got $360 so you see not counting Miss de Long have almost $2,700, 200 over our set amount.

If we can possibly finish up tomorrow will leave on noon train, otherwise stay over until Sunday. The first night we were at hotel the waiter came in with a great plank steak all fancy with asparagus, pimentos, peas, potatoes. etc. The hotel is run on American plan, so this surprise was the cook’s treat. Wasn’t that dear of him. We were quite overcome. Last night we were invited out for supper — lovely home way up one mountain, over-looking town, valleys and mountains everywhere. It was the best supper. Evelyn and ate until we fairly disgraced ourselves. Mrs. Couter was a teacher in Presbyterian school here in Harlan for 3 years. Last year married lawyer here and now its her home for good.

Am so sleepy must go to bed. Will send word next week about final results.

Love to you all. Marguerite.

LETTER 8 – September 6, 1917 – [images 040-043]

Dear Father — From all accounts, you had a lovely trip. My, weren’t you a sport to take a taxi to “280.” After such a splurge I don’t know whether I dare enclose a list of premiums for our fair or not and ask if you will help in the cause. Probably you know that Columbus Creech and I are getting it up first. Harlan County Fair [to?] to be held here last Saturday in September. Two professors of agriculture are coming from Ky. State University to be judges and speak. We hope for a big day. so far l have about $40

pg. 02 [bid_041]
raised for premiums. Mr. McCullough sent $25. Wasn’t that lovely? It certainly cheered my heart. The people are most enthusiastic, all planning on what they can enter. Our children are bringing things too. Any help will be most welcome!

From J’s letter tonight she is still a gay lady. Never heard of such gay times — sounds like our life while you were in California. This happened to be some paper I brought home from my five days in Harlan (Kelly Hotel).

Was glad to hear about Miss Gaines and Green Bailey’s short visit. We do miss her here. My, she is the life of Laurel House. I think she is more missed by everyone that even Miss Pettit and Miss de Long are.

Now please father don’t send any boxes of food unless I write. Had quite a bit sent in, Rockwell had, too and so there is quite a supply. Then, I won’t be able to live at Open House now Miss Gaines is away. Later this winter we want steaks. Miss Gaines and I have our parties all planned out.

I guess Hulda has told you all about Pine Mt. and her visit here. She certainly was in love with everything.

Telegrams come right thru now. Just send to Pine address. They are phoned to Dillon and as soon as one arrives John Lewis starts someone over the mountain with it. Mary’s telegram came to Dillon over phone at 7:30 a.m. Soon after nine a boy was here with it. At 9:30 Mary left in time to make [down?] train. Very good service – speed!

Am so glad you both enjoyed your trip so — Good-night —

Lovingly, Marguerite

LETTER 9 – Monday, September 24, 1917 – [images 044-048]

Dear Mother — Don’t you like my paper? It’s all I have right here — Somehow the days go by and I mean to write but don’t. Yesterday Lorraine, one of the big girls, and I had a lovely day over on the cliffs half way down yon side of the mountain. It was the same trip which Miss Gaines, Columbus and I took a year ago last spring, only then the trees were not all out in leaf. Never have I taken such a hard trip. It was a climb almost straight up, not one sign of a trail from the minute we left Open House until we got back to and then the briars and brambles were so thick. I know we climbed over rocks and cliffs which you would have said no one could possibly. Our sense of direction guided us to the very spot — a stream under a great cliff., thick with rhododendron — where we cooked bacon, eggs, coffee and toast. (You should have seen us starting out with coffee pot, frying pan, bandana handkerchiefs with food slung over our backs. and sweaters tied around us.) After dinner we pulled off our shoes and stockings to climb around cliffs; shoes were too slippery. Columbus says the rocks cover seven acres. I took some pictures, only hope they are good. We hoped to cook supper out, too, but it got so dark we came home. We knew we were behind school somewhere, but the woods were so thick we could not see a thing, and if we didn’t come out fifty feet within Open House. It never seemed so much like home.

We stretched out on the window seat in the living room for a while, then got up and cooked supper. My! it did taste good. After a hot bath we were ready for bed. Today I wouldn’t know I had been out on a tramp.

Mother, did I ever tell you that Henry and Delia were coming to the twentieth of next month? They will only be there three or four days. Ethel, if she’s home, will want them for a night I think; Mr. Roettinger will, too, but I think it would be nice if you wrote Delia (Mrs. Henry Creech) and asked her to stay at our house so she

pg.03 [bid_042]
would feel she had a central place. I’ve invited her but it hasn’t come from you at home. Saturday I went up and measured her for a suit. She is sending off for a nice blue serge suit. Asked me what she must have for I would know better than she would.

She is so excited over everything and is working so hard so she can go. You’ll enjoy them for they are both fine. I’ll let you know later exact day they arrive. They have been so lovely to me always. Henry is the delegate from here to Grandson’s convention in Louisville October 16 – 19. That is how they happen to be going to Cincinnati. Saturday afternoon I went up to Delia’s to measure for her suit and we gritted [corn] bread, the greatest treat in the mountains. I gritted it and made it and it really was delicious. Delia said, “l never did sit down to no better supper in my life.” We had besides the gritted bread fall beans, roasting ears and butter. They were all so sweet about it all.

Our fair [Fair Day] is this Saturday. Mr. Roettinger [Philip Roettinger, lawyer and Board of Trustee member] is coming for it. I have the work in the hands of five committees so I feel quite free. Three men (Mr. R, two professors from state university) and nine women are expected — from Berea, Lexington, St. Louis — where not!

‘Tis late now. Study hour. The children wanted a story. Some built a fire in the dining room and I read to them for a time. Laurel House is going to be so pretty. Miss Pettit with a group of children is planting laurel, rhododendron, pine and hemlock all around, We’ve started English Ivy up the foundation – and all under kitchen and laundry windows are peony bushes. The house is white and the plan is to have very heavy planting around.

Thank Father again for his check. I ought to have written this to him. Will next time.

Good night, with love to all, Marguerite

LETTER 10 – Tuesday night, October 3, 1917 [images 052-058]

Dear Jeanette — Yours and mother’s letters have just come. You were mixed in your dates, giving Sundays in September instead of October. Now do come, for this month is perfect! The children are all so excited and planning already to come meet you. I would rather you leave October 21st for a week from tomorrow. Miss Pettit and I start for Hyden, county seat of Leslie County, to be gone almost a week. I may be back late Monday night, October 15. but most likely not until the 16th. Miss Pettit asked me to go way last summer. She’s to be one of the judges for the fair and since I have charge of fair again next year think it will help me a lot. I am going on “Bobby” with luggage, KP [Katherine Pettit] walking. Will be on the way three days, stopping one night with one of our old girls at the school and another at the new community center staffed twenty miles down Cutshin Creek. K. P. is going on to other mountain schools and from there to Lexington for a couple weeks. so you’ll miss her, I’m very sorry to say. If you can come better the week of October 14 do so, and I’ll try to get back the 15th.

Now about Delia [Delia Creech]– She’s to be in Cincinnati about 20, 21, 22nd. Of course you’ll be there two days with them. You must be, for think what it will mean for them to ride in an automobile. Delia visited Elizabeth Roettinger [wife of Philip Roettinger, BOT] at Lincoln last year and thought – “hit the finest riding ever was” but I don’t think she’s ever been in one but that time.

Didn’t you save the letter about clothes I sent before? Wear walking shoes. heavy stockings. WIA skirts, no silk dresses, silk socks, etc. Bring your blue sweater, you can wear my mackinaw over it for already we’ve been having freezing weather.


ice in kettles outside this morning. Don’t bring middies to wear at school — all right on tramps but workers wear nice things here. You’ll see for yourself we’re very civilized. Cost $2 for a mule over mt. Yes, you can easily walk it and mule can bring luggage. If I can I’ll meet you but doubt it as I teach handwork until 3:30 every afternoon. Have father send steak, butter, some sausages, etc. — not much. so we can cook at Open House a couple suppers. You can get some breakfast here, but I’d get most meals at school. In so short a time you’ll have much to see and won’t want to waste time cooking all the time. Have enough bedding here. Can get some from Laurel House. Our beds are three-quarter size, and you’ll want to sleep together to keep warm. Leaves are just beginning to tum. Think in a couple weeks everything will be a mass of color – unless this very heavy frost makes leaves fall.

Have not heard from Celia yet, but expect them sometime. I think it would be great if E. [Ethel ?] could come with you for when I couldn’t get off E. could take you places.

The fair was a great success — was perfect day. Several hundred people. About 9 o’clock people began riding in with saddle bags or pokes stuffed with apples, parsnips, beets, corn, canned goods, etc. I guess Mr. Roettinger will tell you about it. He certainly was lovely! When I get home I’ll tell you all about it, for if I get started now will go on forever.

Friday was a hard day for dozens of things were to be finished for fair, found for ten guests (Berea, State University and Mr. Roettinger, etc.) All day I never sat down except at meals. After supper I showed Mr. R. [Roettinger] Laurel House and then took him over to Miss Pettit’s. Just as I got back girls came to me and said they heard someone calling from top of mountain. First secretary from here, now at Berea, with two friends got lost trying to come over by way of Jack’s Gap. It was then 6:30, pitch dark, but Lorraine, nicest big girl ever, and I started right up the mountain after them, with flash and lanterns. Mr. Zande soon overtook us and we did have an exciting climb. For about an hour and fifteen minutes we climbed up and up, over cliffs and more cliffs. Mr. Z. said grade was from 85 to 90%. All the time of course we called to them for directions, they to us, and E. deL [Ethel de Long]. from below called to both crowds. Their voices seemed miles off, the cliff cut off the sound so. They had given up all hopes of anyone reaching them and planned to spend night on mountain. We knew they could never get down the way we went up, so followed mt. along top of Jack’s Gap and then down trail and home reaching here at eleven. It was a lovely moonlight night. We liked it a lot, but the other three had been walking since 11:30 in the morning and were all in. When we got home, fixed supper, took guests to Open House, it was 12 when Lorraine and I started upstairs to bed.

The next day was Fair. At 5:30 was up and day went off beautifully. That night Aunt Sal invited Mr. R.[eoettinger], three Berea people and me to supper — sent word asking me to come early and “help fix.” It was a spread – gritted bread, fall beans. roasting ears and butter.

Sunday, Willie Stone and I took our children off together, about 20 boys and girls from 12 – 15 years. Boys as a treat bought 1/2 sweet potatoes. We built enormous fire, roasted them and all sat around telling stories and playing games.

Monday morning spent five hours making out government report with Uncle William for post office. This morning was a [carpenter?]. Life is very varied!

Think I have answered all questions. Ask anything you want to know and write immediately so I’ll hear before I leave. If you write Thurs., hear by Sat. If you prefer one week, state same.

Love to all,

MBB Note – [image 059]

1918 – Midsummer’s Night’s Dream was given in 1918-1917 [sic] was dedication of School House.

LETTER 11 – Sunday, December 2, 1917 – [images 060-067] 

Dear Jeannette, Thank you so much for Xmas cards —-l like them very much. Am enclosing check for $1.50. Will put in separate note about baskets. Hope they reached you all right. Mother may open this letter.

Have you heard anything from Walter yet? It is three weeks now SO I should think you would hear. Think of the soldiers who really will be back by Xmas.

I haven’t told Celia about >lamp chimney?] but will to-night for we are going to have supper at O. H. [Open House]. I don’t see much of her, sometimes not to talk to for several days. Yes, I got two boxes of clothes from Clarkey and wrote to her about them.

I begin sewing tomorrow — Will have five classes, leaving Wednesday free to [start?] Mothers Club down Greasy as soon as quarantine is lifted. There are still many cases around. It doesn’t look as tho’ we would be free from it all winter. They have so many cases at Hindman. I had the children’s clothes sent back for knew we couldn’t get there until spring.

Yesterday afternoon about four o’clock Miss G. and I walked down to Aunt [Sis?], but of course couldn’t go in. It was a lovely evening cold and clear with beautiful yellow sunset. We were frozen when we got back and starved. Made it in an hour and fifteen minutes with quite a visit there. I wish you could have seen her in a homespun


skirt so ragged and torn it was threadbare to her knees. She said if she had had her a gun she would have shot too when she heard the war was over. Her face was lovely when we talked about peace.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving Day. It was pouring when we awakened by nevertheless when rising bell rang everyone went out on porch of their house and one house after another sang one verse of lovely old hymn. At the end all together singing Doxology. It cleared up soon after breakfast and was a perfect day sky a heavenly blue with lovely clouds. It was so warm we didn’t need a coat in middle of day. The mountains were a soft gray and pink. Really it was one ot the prettiest days I’ve ever known.

Before dinner we had a service in the dining room and at the end a child from each table told what they were thankful for. Some were dear. We had a good dinner – beef meat pie, browned potatoes, fruit salad, celery, jelly, pickles, coffee and pumpkin pie. Everything except fruit for salad was our own make. I played the victrola during dinner. Many the children said, “Hit was the best dinner ever had in all my life.”

In the afternoon Miss G and I went up to see Aunt Sal. She was fixing a big supper for Columbus to invite some girls up and was just as happy and excited as a child. She wanted us to stay so badly. Delia had come down, stuffed and roasted a turkey. The children all danced on the grass at Miss Pettit‘s – it was like a summer day.

At 4:30 was the play — Midsummer Night’s Dream — and without a doubt it was the best amateur play I ever have seen. Was given in playroom – the moss, perfect forest of rhododendron and hemlock trees made a perfect setting. The floor was covered with
moss and leaves. Really you couldn’t see a sign of the wall. I guess I told you some of
the characters: John D. as “Bottom,” James Madison “Peter Quince”, Coy “Puck”, Raymond “Oberon” and Kitty “Titania,” Enoch as “Demetrius.” Five little girls were fairies, Lillie, Hulda. Linda, Bessie Mary and Louise (Golden’s little sister. a beauty).

They danced beautifully and were as graceful as could be. They were all in white, with wings and rhododendron crowns. Kitty had her hair flowing, bound with band of rhododendron buds. She was beautiful. Every bit of it was splendid. No one had slightest thought of stage fright, each one loved it, so were perfectly natural. When Pyramus (John D.) came in with ass’s head I thought the children would raise the roof and when he awakened and sang the love song I nearly fell off my box seat ,a true box seat — chair on top of great chest in last row. He and Mat were so splendid. I kept wishing everyone I knew were seeing it. All tradesmen were good. When the lion came in Fido wanted to tear him up. The children loved the fairies best for they had never seen anything like it in their lives. When Titania was sitting upon her throne of
moss and all lovely green things with the fairies at her feet it was dear.

That night we invited five of the boys here for supper. Miss G. had five very small turkeys roasted for workers’ supper. We decided we would rather have ours with children if each one
only had a little so we had nicest party around fire, made cocoa over open fire and heated gravy. I told the children about our tree ceremonies at college and they were thrilled. Boys and girls alike sat there almost spellbound. So many of them have made up their minds they are going through college and it really is lovely to see their faces when they talk about it. Next year the advanced Cass is going to begin Latin They are doing quite advanced work in history, English and arithmetic. I think they’ll get through college, too, when as determined as they are.

Bonnie & Minnie have just come in. They have been to their club “Good Citizen’s Club” and are so excited —

I wonder if you got my [?] about the box. Hope so for we are living for that steak — We still have a little butter of that lb. Miss G. brought back —

Good-night — with love, Marguerite


LETTER 12 – October, 1917 – [image 068] 

Last night took Uncle William a birthday cake with 72 candles. Tonight is a great
Halloween party on top floor of school house. Children are so excited they can hardly
wait. Tell father the children were tickled to pieces with the oranges.

[Incomplete page, no date or salutation – [image 069] 

…comfortable. If G. & Eliz. thought it was cold last night they should be here now. Last night was freezing. It took courage to leave the fire.

If Emily & Miss Gaines are back I’ll leave a week from….

LETTER 12A – Spring 1917 or 1918? – [images 070-072]

[Image and transcription for page 1 is missing ]

Page 2

…crocuses and daffodils are up and on the tables, arbutus and anemones are out, the spicewood and redbud trees are budding. The sounds of birds and frogs are good, too. Of course the children love it. They play outside after supper before study hour.

Last Friday we had an old fashioned dinner cooked by some of the old ladies around. Cooked at Old Log over the fire in iron kettles and baking pans. J. will remember I had a baking pan at Open House. Aunt Judy made a high pie in it. She covered the lid with hot coals. Really it was delicious. We made ash and chip cake. About twenty were there. Just a few of the workers — the ones who knew the people and had been here several years.

Then we all sat around the fire listening to their tales. If only I could remember them just the way they tell them. Some really believe in “hants and witches” and they tell about certain men who firmly believed their wives were witches and ‘witched them to bread” meaning witched everything away so all they had to eat was bread. Father, did you meet old Mr. Creech at mouth of Little Laurel? He believes his first wife was one, and I didn’t know until last week that he was a descendant of President Harrison. His mother a Harrison, and her father William Henry Harrison –

[Undated fragment]
The children are all well. They are always so happy. Not a child in this house knows what it is to be otherwise. Good-bye. May add a line tonight if I have forgotten anything. Mary Rockwell comes any day.
Love, Marguerite

MBB & Other’s Notes – [image 073] 

[Note: “Letter # 6 seems to refer to end of WWI. If so, date must be 1919. The talk
by Mrs. Zande seems to be covered on page 9 of Evelyn Wells’ 1919 letters.”]

[Note by Mary Rogers: “WWI ended 11-11-18.”]

LETTER 13 – Sunday, Nov. 18, 1917 

[image of first page is missing]

Dear Jeannette — This is a rainy queer day – warm and with quite a wind. About nine o’clock just as I came out of furnace cellar who did I see but a mob from Benham. They descend upon us monthly. I told them we were quarantined. They started off for B.L_H. now two hours ago. I guess wandering around in rain. They came down on early train expecting to go back tonight on late one.

How differently we celebrated peace from the city way. Of course we had no idea until Tuesday night about 7, think of it, almost forty-eight hours and then we weren’t sure for no papers came to school. Miss Fogg had seen Uncle William Creech’s “Cincinnati Post” and

[images 074-079]

not much faith was laid in that paper. As we had never been fooled by false report, thought we’d risk it once. Mr. Zande began firing at Pole House, Irving at Farm House, Columbus up the creek, and Kenneth Nolan down. The children were all studying and I told them they could run out for about fifteen minutes. The school gathered on school house hill, ringing bells, shouting, beating on pans and laundry tubs, just a merry group, no one was loud. Then everyone sang “Oh, God, Our Help in Ages Past” and “Star Spangled Banner”. That ended it and once more study hour was resumed, but I think the children felt what had

Wednesday night


…no mail so it was not until Thursday night that we were certain so. Friday supper Mrs. Zande had a very simple, but most impressive, Thanksgiving service. Three of our boys in school had filled out their papers. I can hardly realize now it over. Didn’t the American troops do wonderfully at Ghent. That is where Walter was, isn’t it? I hope Mother will hear from him soon. How I should love to have been there at the very end.

Tomorrow I may go off on Bobby on errand. Will be hard trip for will leave before dawn and not get back till after dark out. There’s a moon now so it won’t be so bad. I will not stay anywhere over night, Last night Miss Whitmore, Lavender, Robbins and Peck had Celia and me to Far House for supper, Had a lovely time. Cooked in Miss Lavender’s room, the one at
extreme right all to itself. Was Mrs. Zande’s when she lived at Far House. We had the best things to eat. Miss Peck is a Vassar 1917 girl. her sister was in my class.

Celia and I went to see Mrs. Zande’s house — it is dear — up on mountain behind Far House, They won’t be in it for ages tho’. I told Clarkie to tell you about Mrs. Zande’s baby I’m sure, or Ethel. I was writing to them just after I found out so told one of them. In one of my sewing classes – begin a week from tomorrow —we are going to make the baby outfit for her. She will furnish material. I know the children will love it, they don’t know it yet. Last night eight little boys went possum hunting and brought in the dearest little one you ever did see. They were so dear. Came here to show us. Now the girls want me to go with them.

If all is well, Celia, Miss G. and I are going to have supper at O. H. [Open House] tonight. Haven’t been there since the children are going to give ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Thanksgiving. They have been studying it in school. They love plays better than anything.

Will you get about twenty-five Xmas cards for me, all .05 – plain – you know the kind I like. You might get a few $.10 ones. I can hardly realize Xmas is only six weeks off. From the styles skirts are narrow but don’t dare change my suit.

Good-bye, lots of love, Marguerite Butler

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