Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Marguerite Butler Letters 1918


001 1918 Marguerite Butler Letters. Letter 1, image 001. “Dear Mother…” but_1918_04_001


TAGS: Marguerite Butler Letters 1918, Ruth Gaines, Katherine Pettit, students, teachers, Aunt Sal Creech, Celia Cathcart, Ethel de Long Zande, community fair, Open House, board members, School House dedication, pageants, Lincoln Memorial University, Miss Lincoln, Mrs. Light, Rev. Alfred Lee Wilson

The MARGUERITE BUTLER LETTERS 1918 are from a PMSS worker to her family. The page includes images of the letters, list of contents, and transcription.

Note: Letters are given an approximate order, often assigned by Marguerite when she donated them to PMSS.

Click here to read Marguerite Butler’s biography.

Marguerite Butler Letters 1918: CONTENTS

1.     1918 LETTER – Monday, March 4 “Dear Mother — Henry has seen the pictures…” [images 001-008]

writing to Walter ; problems with watch ; Miss Ruth B. Gaines joined Miss Pettit to visit schools ; MB and Miss Gaines climbed knoll ; prepared Miss [Kitty ?] Faucett’s room ; took children to Steele Trap ; children sent boxes of leaves ; supper and records with children around fire ; cleaning [Laurel House?] ; when to send food ;

1a.   1918 LETTER – Monday afternoon, March 18 “Dear Mother — This is the perfect spring…” [images 009 – 014]

Marguerite Butler, Miss Ruth Gaines, and Miss Preston climbed ridge ; Aunt Sal not well ; sending coon hides to be tanned ; plans to meet Celia [Cathcart] at LMU ; Mrs. Light and Miss Lincoln rode to Hindman ; supper with workers and students ;

MBB Note: “This must have been in July 1918 just before the schools opened.“[image 015]

2.     1918 LETTER – Wednesday, July 1918 “Dear Mother — Your letter came last night…” [images 016-021]

MB and Miss de Long catch train to Harlan for teacher’s institute meeting ; MB to join de Long in Frankfort to meet teachers ; provisions ; mail carrier strike ;

MBB Note ” Mrs. [Cooper?] lived on the ridge…” [images 022-023]

3.     1918 LETTER – Sunday, [October 1918?] “Dear Mother — This has been a busy time…” [images 024-027] 

description of fair activities ; Open House kitchen ; going to Straight Creek and Dillon school ; problem with horse ;

4.     1918 LETTER – Sunday night, October 1918 (1919*) “Dear Mother — I certainly hated to see Miss Gaines go…” [images 028-036]

[*NOTE: “…Letter No 4 under 1918 is misplaced. Someone has written in ink ‘October 1918’ on the first scanned page, but the heart of this letter is an account of the Pine Mountain Board meeting and dedication of the schoolhouse (second one) that occurred in October 1919. This is confirmed by Darwin D. Martin’s account of that meeting, “Our First Visit to Pine Mountain Settlement School. Inc. October 9-12, 1919,” and also by an article in the March 1920 notes which identified the Trustees present….” Per email from James Greene III, October 4, 2022.]

missing Miss Gaines ; board members visit school ; school house dedication ; pageant ; in charge of breakfast for the board ; board meetings ; Good Citizenship Club meeting ; preaching by Rev. Alfred Lee Wilson ; new housekeeper ;

5.     1918 LETTER – Monday, December [1918 ? 1920?] “Dear Father — Your box came Friday night…” [images 037-040]

appreciation for food boxes ; Sam Turner killed Doc Nolan, moonshiner ; sewing class ; Xmas caroling contest ; supper with Miss Ruth Gaines ;

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Marguerite Butler Letters 1918: TRANSCRIPTION

[Brackets indicate notations by HW.]

LETTER 1 Monday, March 4, 1918 [images 001-008]

Dear Mother,
Henry has seen the pictures so I am enclosing them. Thank J. B. for pansy seeds— have them planted. I guess Walter liked his birthday gifts from all of you. I wrote him. Thought about sending him something but really I had nothing here and thought you would send him food. I’ll be anxious to hear if he gets his furlough. It is such a short time he has been there. I think it will be lovely for father to go down if he cannot come home.

I am going to send my watch home in a day or so and I wish one of you would take it to Hensbede’s. I sent it out at Xmas by Miss Shipley and have just paid out $2.50 for nothing. Please go to Mr. Crowen and tell him unless something can be done to watch so it keeps time it is up to the firm to make the watch good. I don’t understand it. Regularly every night I wind it and often it loses a half hour a night. It has lost over an hour since last night. Explain that three months after I got the watch I left the city so that I couldn’t be running in every week to have it regulated. I do think it is up to Hensbede’s to see that it is a good piece of work. A $55 watch ought to be of some account. I’d rather they keep it two months if during that time they are working with it, and not letting it lie idle. The supper bell is ringing now. It has lost exactly 25 minutes in four hours. Don’t you think that is the limit?

Will send a letter from Maudie written when she was at Louisville. She and Bonnie got back last Friday. They had a lovely time but wouldn’t want to live in Louisville for anything. Thought Pine Mt. so much prettier. Please send it back.

Miss Gaines [Ruth B. Gaines] went out last Saturday to meet Miss Pettit. They are going to visit about five or six schools, among them Buckhorn and Hindman. First time Miss Pettit has been back to Hindman since she left for good five years ago. I expect they will be back about the middle of next week.

It was a perfect day Saturday when Miss G. [Ruth B. Gaines] started. I climbed to top of knoll behind Aunt Sis’ with her. Didn’t intend to go a step but it was so lovely and she kept urging me to go a little farther, I in my gingham apron. When I got back the children had done all the work. I started in staining furniture in Miss Faucett‘s [Edna Fawcett, Farm, Housemother, Teacher] room and with a couple children got the room ready for her.

She came in that afternoon, three months’ vacation, and has room next to mine. It looks so pretty now with all new furniture,

This afternoon I sent off a box of “pretties” to you. Yesterday I took some of the children up Steele Trap and we had the nicest time. The big basket made of rhododendron leaves and filled with galax, etc., [Mossie?] made and gathered for you and J. She said father might enjoy it too. Wasn’t that dear? The little basket Caldona made for Elizabeth. I sent off a box to Ethel, too, which the children picked yesterday. We had supper around the fire. The schoolhouse boys have been coming for Sunday supper but they went to Jack’s Gap and took their supper, so we were alone. It was nice for a change. Then each child chose her favorite record and by firelight we had a concert.

When Miss G is gone we’re all going to houseclean. If you think “280” is a job, come to L. H. [Laurel House]. We have started to scrub walls and ceiling of kitchen.

You said to let you know when we wanted a box. More than one a month would spoil us. About the 15th, Miss G. Ruth B. Gaines] will be back and we’d both welcome one. Nothing could be nicer than the kind Father has been sending — lettuce, celery, butter,


white bread (it was SO good), sausage were delicious. Instead of steak do I dare suggest lamb chops. They would be lovely. Mother you said while I was home that you would send some jelly and watermelon preserve which you had put up, for you had so much. We have almost no jelly and if the next time you could put some in it would be fine. You and father wouldn’t believe the number of meals we get out of one box. The last of our lettuce went Friday night from my birthday box. We feel as tho’ we were losing a dear friend when it really goes.

All our measles are over. ‘Tis study hour so I must go. My love to you all, Marguerite.

Do you know where you were five years ago tonight? Had a lovely long letter from Hulda tonight.

LETTER 1a Monday afternoon, March 18, 1918 [images 009-014]

Dear Mother — This is a perfect spring day — just the kind you long to be out in the woods. Yesterday afternoon Miss Gaines, Miss Preston and I went out climbing straight up and up and up a ridge where I had never been before. We each filled a basket with plants of all kinds. I thought I’d send mine to Grace Derby. It is very pretty and I think she’ll like it.

Aunt Sal is a little better but not well by any means. I don’t see how she’ll ever be good for anything again. She still seems to enjoy the lemons. Isn’t it queer that she should like them? I am going up to see her a little while this afternoon.

I am sending home three coon hides which I want tanned. Uncle William said he was sure there must be a tannery in Cincinnati. I hate to use my good seal skin set tor every day and thought this would make me a muff and collar for a coat. Just keep the skins there when they’re done. They will have to be fixed right off or the bugs will get in. I was looking at my old fox set the other day and wondered what you would think about my giving it to Miss Gaines if she wanted it. She certainly deserves it and I know will never be able to buy a set herself. Next year she will most likely be in New York. I don’t think I could use the set the way it is and if I had the coon muff made wouldn’t need. Please tell me in your next letter what you think about it.

Celia [Cathcart] is coming to Cin’ti Friday to meet her mother and father. She will be there until Tuesday. She’ll most likely call you up. From there she is going down to Knoxville to a conference for several days. She wants me to come out to Cumberland Gap to meet her that following Friday, returning together on Sunday. “Lincoln Memorial” – a splendid school is there and we would like to visit it. Two of the teachers have been here. I may go but haven’t mentioned it to Miss Pettit as yet.

Mrs. Light and Miss Lincoln rode to Hindman, leaving last Thursday. I hardly expect them back until tomorrow night. Willy has been living at the Far House having that family. Her hands are full too.

Last night all the workers and all the big boys and girls had supper in our living room after the children were in bed. I had to put the whole family to bed and give three baths as three of the children had gone home over Sunday so when I got down they were all thru but I ate, don’t fear.

Just decided to send this basket to Mrs. Nelson for I have sent Margaret and Edith Strong one. ‘Tis my one extravagance. Later I may send one to Grace.

Good-bye. Lots o’ love, Marguerite.

P. S. No, Aunt Sal wouldn’t take any soups or malted milk. I am sure when she wants more lemons I’ll drop you a card. Am enclosing an envelope of Jeannette’s which came last Saturday night (March 16) and was sent March 2. The last [few?] letters have been re-addressed. M.


MBB Note – [image 015]

This must have been in July 1918 just before the schools opened.

LETTER 2 Wednesday [July?] 1918 [images 016-021]

Dear Mother — Your letter came last night but I hardly had a chance to read it until today. At 3 a.m. I was out of bed and fifteen minutes later at Tool House to meet Miss de L[ong]. She was late and at 3:35 we started out — pitch black, both with lanterns and a small pack, to pick our way thro’ mud and make 5:30 train. At top of mt. there was a tiny streak of light dawn! Half way down other side we put out our lanterns, hid them and flew. From halfway rocks we had one half hour and made it. I don’t know how we did. Honestly not halfway down the track I heard the train whistle and saw the smoke. We fairly flew and whenever we came to the cow catchers at the crossings we were so hot and tired could hardly walk the track. We tho’t we had lost it but something in us made us go on. We got there — the train in view behind us. At 6 we were in Harlan, had breakfast and went to bed until 9:30. We were silly by this time, our toes all had
blisters so we giggled most of the time instead of sleeping.

This is teacher’s institute week and a special meeting we had to come to. They have divided the county into six districts. In our district there are ten rural schools, some nearly 20 miles away. We are to have supervision over those schools. It’s just what Miss Pettit and E. de L[ong] have wanted and to think this should have been suggested by the county superintendent. I guess I’ll have the job.

Mrs. Zande had to go on to Frankfort about road. I intended leaving tonight. John D. will be at Dillon with Bobby — I was going over tonight getting there about eleven but in the morning I’m to meet teachers of my schools. One boy I taught my first year. Tonight is a party at Presbyterian Church. I’m going out to meet them. I am so glad girls are actually coming. I’ll be somewhere. Hope E. and Alma are coming, too.

Now about provisions. Our mail carrier has gone on a strike. For two weeks we have had parcel post only once. The school sends a worker for first class mail three times a week. No telling when a change will be made, not until inspector comes.  J. had better check boxes of food with their luggage and I’ll leave word tomorrow for John Lewis to come with two mules. If they need three he can get another. You wouldn’t dare send parcel post.  J. knows as well as I what would be nice: cheese, bacon, sausage, white bread, crackers, canned goods (sardines. tuna fish. etc.), cocoa, just what you always send. Have plenty of tea, coffee and peanut butter. The girls will want to cook breakfasts and suppers.

So Walter is in France. I’ll be anxious to hear for sure. I thought he would be going soon. Isn’t it nice that he got to see N. Y.

Have to go to train to send message to John D. to leave Bobby for me tomorrow. Poor boy will walk over alone. Good-night. Love, Marguerite.

If mail situation is straightened out I’ll send card Saturday and you will get it Monday. Father can send few provisions now and some later. Then probably we’ll be getting mail. If not he can
send P.P. to Dillon and John Lewis can bring over. I don’t want any white shoes.

MBB Note – [images 022-023]

Mrs. [Cooper?] lived on the ridge between Straight Creek and Beech Fork. I always stayed with the old folks on the [?], a favorite staying place. Everyone at Pine Mt. wanted to go with me.

LETTER 3 Sunday [October 1918?] [images 024-027]

Dear Mother — This has been a busy time. ‘Twas a wonderful day yesterday for fair – there were a lot out and we had wonderful speaking, one man and two women from


State University. Dinner was served on playground, lamb stew with dumplings, and about three o’clock everyone went up to Aunt Sal’s where preaching for Uncle Wm. began. I was too tired to go but I went up this morning. There were hundreds there and mules and horses tied to nearly every tree on the mountainside. All the old ladies wore black dresses and black sunbonnets. They were lovely – Aunt Sal, Uncle Wm’s three sisters and others. I saw everyone I ever knew.

We cooked dinner behind O. H. [Open House]. I did with all Laurel House girls. They are over to Miss Pettit’s now. Tonight Dr., nurse, Miss P_, Miss G. and l are going to meeting with two from University to learn of state’s plan for extension work through county. They were wild about 0. H. kitchen. Want to send state official photographers up to take pictures of O. H. (interiors) to show country people what a kitchen can be like.

Tomorrow I am going to Straight Creek, getting back Tuesday night. Wed, over to Dillon school for our meeting of teachers, trustees and superintendent on Friday. After that I can breathe for awhile. We don’t know what we are going to do about my horse. Maybe we’ll swap her for a horse well broken. Certainly is a valuable animal, almost too high bred.

All this week I visited my schools. Got a lot done. Yesterday at fair we raised $30 for prizes for next year. It was quite exciting.

Tell Clarkie I’ll see our old friends the Coopers.

Must run and dress. My love to you all, Marguerite

LETTER 4 Sunday night, October 1918 (1919*)

[*NOTE: “…Letter No 4 under 1918 is misplaced. Someone has written in ink ‘October 1918’ on the first scanned page, but the heart of this letter is an account of the Pine Mountain Board meeting and dedication of the schoolhouse (second one) that occurred in October 1919. This is confirmed by Darwin D. Martin’s account of that meeting, “Our First Visit to Pine Mountain Settlement School. Inc. October 9-12, 1919,” and also by an article in the March 1920 notes which identified the Trustees present….” Per email from James Greene III, October 4, 2022.]

Dear Mother,
I certainly hated to see Miss Gaines go — we all did and the place is mighty lonesome without her. I walked to the spring with her that morning — got back just in time for dinner, All afternoon I helped fix O.H. for guests. It did look lovely with fall flowers, goldenrod and leaves.

Thursday Mrs. Zande and I went to the top of the mountain to meet the board members. I guess Miss G. told you of them. I packed the lunch: tongue, eggs to fry, biscuit, coffee, cheese and cookies. We built a fire at the spring and had everything ready when they came riding along on seven mules and horses. The trail looked like Fifth Avenue. Mr. Martin, our new president of the board, from Buffalo, brought his daughter and her friend — Smith 1916 girls. They were both lovely and stayed at O.H. with me. Miss Dann especially was so attractive, so much to her and so interested in everything.

That night we had informal reception on L H. [Laurel House] porch for members and workers. Miss Settle [Mary Winifred Settle] stayed at O. H. [Open House] too, that night. We had a lovely fire, talked, ate nuts and candy until late.

The next day Mrs. Z. and I took them all over grounds. In the afternoon were the dedication exercises at the schoolhouse [Burkham School House II]. They were impressive with speeches from two of the trustees, a prayer by Mr. [Alfred Lee] Wilson, minister of Wyoming Presbyterian Church, [N.Y] talk by Mrs. Z. [Ethel de Long Zande] and singing. It is a lovely building: the auditorium in center downstairs with immense fireplace, stage at back with dressing rooms off each side. Stairs go up from either side of auditorium. Then there are six classrooms, all large rooms.


After the dedication, the children gave a pageant [tableau vivant] at top of Pole House Hill – the history of Pine Mountain. In the Prologue were the Spirit of Wind, Spirit of Water, and Spirit of the Hearth. In Episode I came the Indians, then the earliest settlers here, old Adrian and Polly Metcalf, their children, riding in on a nag. The man wore an old coonskin cap, carried a rifle. They were all dressed in linsey woolsey as they were 75 years ago. The children were splendid, too. In the third episode were Aunt Sal, Uncle Wm., their two children, as they came to Pine Mt. 45 years ago, the dream Uncle Wm. dreamed, and in the final one, the school – They were groups representing work, play, ballads, folk dances, Boy Scouts and at the end Columbia, standing for good citizenship. The tableau at the end was lovely, all singing “America the Beautiful” with the flag flying above Columbia. It was a beautiful thing.

That night Mrs. Z. had a supper party in perfect [?] for them and the next morning Miss Pettit a breakfast down by the creek. I took charge of it and it was work but all went nicely and Mr. Martin said: “a breakfast long to be remembered.” It was a perfect morning.  J. [Jeannette] probably knows the spot in front of B.L.H. [Big Log House] We had one kettle to heat water and another fire with big broiler to cook. Miss Settle [Mary Winifred Settle] helped me. Breakfast for 14 served in style and cooked over campfire is no joke — shredded wheat, strawberries and cream, ham, fried eggs, fried apples, biscuit and butter, coffee, then hoe cake and sorghum. We cooked everything there and served. They all had a lovely time. Henry, a member of the local advisory board, was invited and he was tickled. He told early tales of Uncle Wm. & Pine Mt. [See Workers Photo Album]

At 9:30 was the executive board meeting. At 10:45 Mr. Zande]Mr. Deschamps and I, as heads of departments (my, I have the swellhead) went to make speeches. It was an interesting meeting.

In the afternoon two women came riding in from Hyden, one Ann Baker, Vassar 1912, tell Ethel. They stayed at O. H. [Open House] too.

Last night at the Good Citizenship Club Mr. [Daniel Minor] Lord from N. Y. and Mr. [Alfred Lee] Wilson spoke. They were both good. Mr. Lord conferring certain honors on boy scouts. Again we sat in front of the fire last night and talked until late.

The board members went off this morning in the pouring rain. They had to go and such a time as we had getting them off. Rain hats, raincoats, rubber boots, suitcases in burlap bags and wrapped in oilcloth. They were a funny sight, a whole line.

The whole school was going down to Big Laurel today — take dinner to hear Mr. Wilson preach, but it simply poured. He preached here this afternoon and was splendid. Emily said “l would heap rather hear a man like him talk than the old fashion kind. You can get something out of what he says.” They see the difference all right.  

I worked on my surveys all day, sending them off tonight by insured mail. It was a job and I don’t feel I did them as well as I ought to.

Tomorrow I am starting out to visit two schools. I am anxious to see how certain classes go after our teachers’ divisional meeting. Tuesday I have to go to Harlan to fiscal court to see if we can get a bridge over Bullhorn ford that is where J. B. and Clarke had their pictures taken. I will be on the go now steadily for a couple weeks.

Miss Alice Butler, the new housemother here, is great, a lovely person. Priscilla Brown
knows her. I think Mrs. Brown too.

Mother, I thought of your birthday but too late to write on time. I am glad you liked the umbrella. Did Frances move her furniture into playhouse and is her daughter there too? My shoes came o.k. Must say good-night haven’t I been good making up tor last week.

Love to all, Marguerite


LETTER 5 Sunday [December 1918? 1920?]

Dear Father,
Your box came Friday night and mother’s Saturday night, both in splendid condition. My! but the steak was good. Haven’t touched the sausage yet — yes, we did too. Friday night at 8:30 cooked some in the kitchen. Thought we hadn’t. The bread and butter did taste so good. Thank Nannie for the cinnamon cake. It is the best one yet. This supply will last until Xmas. Never did see so many sardines and our basket of fruit is overflowing. Miss G. said this was the best steak. I told her that was her same old story but she insisted this one was.

Nothing special has happened at the school — but excitement in neighborhood. Sam Turner (one of Ethel McCulloughs friends) killed Doc Nolan (greatest moonshiner in mountains, they say worth $75,000) and shot two other men, one Becky May ‘s uncle, the other lived on Gabe’s Branch, first house above falls. I pointed out Doc Nolan to Clarkie last summer. We met them carrying moonshine over mountain. They all have stills and everyone thinks making extra supply for Xmas, when at 8 pm must have quarreled. No one knows straight of it but they were all drunk. The one who was killed leaves a wife and six children, oldest one seven years old. He was sort of head of a “still” trust as it were. So I imagine this will hurt their business. His still has been raided twice by government officials and just this fall he was caught.

I have begun sewing again. Have one class of boys – Jeannette knows some of them: Golden and Colen Hogg. They are cunning youngsters and just love it!

Tomorrow night we are going to have a contest between houses singing Xmas carols. The children are getting so excited over it. Yesterday they brought home some lovely holly. I am still planning to leave day after Xmas if all is well.

My! I was so disappointed to hear Ethel is going before Xmas. Somehow I had a feeling that she would. I surely will miss her and the family too — Mother spoke about Grace [La…?] and the baby. They won’t be at our house, will they? Hulda is coming to Cin’ti and I’ll want her for a few days and probably Kathryn.

Tell Jeannette what she suggested about Xmas suits me. Celia is in Harlan. I forgot to ask her about the lamp but will let J. know. I am enclosing a couple cards to go in my baskets.

‘Tis later. We had supper in Miss G’s room tonight – Sausage, bread & butter, lettuce and tea. Everything did taste so good I don’t know what we’d do without the boxes. Go down now and sing with the children.

Thank you so much for all the good things. Lots of love, Marguerite

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