Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 14: MEDICAL

VIRGINIA AND RAY GARNER 110 Photograph Stills for PMSS Film 1941 Set 3

103 Medical doctor and assistant examining student. [garner_ray-103]

TAGS: Medical, Health, Hygiene, doctors, nurses, Line Fork Settlement, Medical Settlement at Big Laurel, Infirmary, West Wind Creech Hospital


The Medical Settlement Big Laurel Prospectus 1921-1940 is the earliest record of planning for a medical satellite settlement associated with Pine Mountain Settlement School. Located at the mouth of Big Laurel and Greasy Creek, the Medical Settlement was a short four-mile trip from the main Pine Mountain Settlement School campus. The Medical Settlement at Big Laurel and the Line Fork Settlement were the only additional medical and educational settlements realized of the seven that Katherine Pettit, the Pine Mountain Settlement School’s founder, accomplished. Today, little remains of either site. The cabins have been removed or burned and medical and educational services from the sites were suspended in the early 1950s.

It was Pettit’s and William Creech‘s hope to fill the void of medical services on the North Side of the long Pine Mountain. The mountain isolated families from the nearest medical services in Harlan town, across the roadless and rugged mountain from the community. For the years of the Boarding School, medical care was available through Pine Mountain Settlement and later through Frontier Nursing Services.

Today the need for medical services continues to persist in the Pine Mountain Valley and the surrounding hollows. While a paved road now crosses the mountain, the nearest hospital is approximately forty-five minutes from the campus of the School.

The early history of the attempt to meet the medical needs of the valley is included in this body of MEDICAL documents. It constitutes some of the most remarkable stories associated with the school and is a testimony to the heartiness of both the community families as well as the doctors and nurses who attempted to address chronic disease, maternity needs, emergency surgeries, alcoholism, cancer, epidemics, and mental health crises.

The MEDICAL Guide covers the years from 1913 to the Community School years when only nurse Grace Rood remained. She was asked to attend to School health and critical medical concerns. As the population increased and the roads improved medical assistance from the School was phased out and the Harlan or Hazard Appalachian Regional Hospitals today serve as the nearest locations for medical care of the Pine Mountain Valley population.

Go To: