Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Marguerite Butler Letters 1920


TAGS: Marguerite Butler Letters 1920, vaccinations; training classes, workers, Katherine Pettit, students, school census, Girl Scouts, visitors, PMSS extensions, Christmas, new buildings, de Long family, new staff, student tours, social gatherings, murder, Divide School

Note: Letters are often undated. Often dates are assigned from the content of the letter. The following order of the 1920 LETTERS is approximate.

Click here to read Marguerite Butler’s biography.

CONTENTS: Marguerite Butler Letters 1920

bid_069 through bid_080

1a.  LETTER 1A – Sunday night (December 1919 or 1920?)- “Dear Mother — This has been a lovely day. I had my Sunday School this morning and the children were dear….”[images 001-007]

dinner at Sunday School student’s home ; played organ ; pancake supper at Open House with Misses Lawson and Sandstrom ; Miss Alice Butler quits as housemother ; Xmas tree, presents, and party at Incline school ; more schools to visit ; Girl Scout class ;

1b.  1920 LETTER 1B – Sunday (March? 1920?) “Dear Jeannette — This is a perfect day. Delia and I were going down to the Medical Settlement but the creeks were so high we can’t get over….” [images 008-017]

vaccinations ; tried to rescue Miss Sheltman from creek ; captains training class ; bandaging lessons ; Miss Garfield ; first play day on Line Fork ; overnight at Mary Ann’s ; dinner at Bill Creech’s ; sewing class on Line Fork ; asked father for wholesale rates and another box ; Miss Pettit sailing in Gulf of Mexico ;

2. 1920 LETTER 2 – Sunday (March 1920?) ” Dear Mother — I think I had better wait and write father next week after the box has come. We are looking forward to it … [images 018-022]

preparing for Easter ; taking children to Jack’s Gap ; family had fun at Open House ; still vaccinating ; Berto Zande’s one-year-old birthday party ; Marguerite Parkinson hired as Laurel House housemother ; captain’s training class of girl scouts ; upcoming events ; school rally day ;

3. 1920 LETTER 3 -Sunday (possibly early 1920?) “Dear Jeannette — Mother’s letter came last night and yours early in the week. I am glad you are all well and that Aunt Louie’s sickness didn’t turn into flu …” [images 023-028]

children playing in snow ; school census ; worked with Delia on Girl Scout matters ; helping with smallpox vaccinations ; community accepting vaccinations ;

4. 1920 LETTER 4 -Monday (April 1920?) ” Dear Mother — The box has been lovely! Miss Gaines and I have feasted alone, but tonight I am having Miss Melville — she is here for a few days…” [images 029-034]

Miss Melville and others visiting ; MB appointed superintendent of extension work ; helping Elizabeth Griffith with deeds ; eighth-graders present “Twelfth Night” ;

5. 1920 LETTER 5 – Sunday night, possibly April 1920 “Dear Father — Well, I guess you think this letter ought to be yours and right you are! The box couldn’t have come at a better time for today…” [images 035-040]

dinner on table rock ; supper at Zande’s with May Ritchie and Leon Deschamps ; MB and Miss Gaines walked down the mountain to visit family ; sewing class at Line Fork ; sending receipt for nine shares Cooper stock

6. 1920 LETTER 6 – April 25, 1920 (should come before previous letter) “Dear Father, Your letter was a surprise – And I hear you are getting to be quite a gardener. Is it vegetable too?…” [images 041-044]

Roettingers to visit ; invited father and Jeannette to visit ; dogwood winter ; scout rally day ; became first class scout ; scout activities ; will visit Harlan court for road money ;

MBB Note: “Sometime I must tell you about my experience in [current?] but I got $500 to build a bridge over the first ford behind where Uncle Salem the fiddler lived. I guess it was Bullhouse Ford.” [images 045 & 046]

7. 1920 LETTER 7 – Sunday (1920?) – move in new school house….week before I.M.U.) “Dear Mother –I was glad to have yours and Jeannette’s letters. I am sure she will be better…” [images 081-086 – not in numerical order]

distributing Christmas trees and presents ; supper at Delia Creech’s ; begin classes in new school house ; upcoming new buildings ; visited Nolansburg to raise fund for lumber ; news about the de Longs ; papered Uncle John’s house ; Ethel Wright, teacher, arrived ;

8. 1920 LETTER 8 – 1920?) “Dear Mother — The way I travel around the country. Have just sent the six boys out to see Pineville. I took them everyplace I could think of — moving picture show … [images 047-056]

took six boys on train to tour Pineville and Lincoln Memorial school in Middlesboro ;

9. 1920 LETTER 9 – Sunday (1920?) (“In my little chiffonier drawer I think there is some black ribbon for my watch. Please send it in letter.”) “Dear Mother – Well, I have though of you today….” [images 057-064]

May meeting day ; mother’s club down Greasy ; tea for May and Mr. Deschamps on Pole House hill ; birthday gathering for Aunt Louisa ; riding group of four passes through ; went to Line Fork ;

MBB Note: “Perhaps you will not want to keep this letter, but I though you & Burton (Rogers) would be interested. Naturally our families were greatly concerned….” [images 065-066]

10. LETTER 10 – Sept 17, 1920 (Parsons) – “Dear Mother — Thank you so much for the ribbon. It is just right and please let me know what I owe you….” [images 067-078]

accuses the doctor of murder ; Mr. Roettinger sent private detective ; doctor’s lawyer tries to buy off detective ; evidence against doctor ; the convict’s side ; Zandes hire criminal lawyer ; Celia and MB work at Divide School ;

MBB Note: “Thought this might interest you. The first year I volunteered & then $25 a month. I felt like a Vanderbilt when this was received. M.B.” [image 079]

DOCUMENT SIGNED BY K. PETTIT: “October 12, 1920. SALARY AGREEMENT We feel, in determining the amount of your vacation with pay,…” [image 080]

GALLERY: Marguerite Butler Letters 1920
I – images 001-046

GALLERY: Marguerite Butler Letters 1920
II – images 047-086

TRANSCRIPTION: Marguerite Butler Letters 1920

LETTER 1A – Sunday night (December 1919 or 1920?) – [images 001-007]

Dear Mother, This has been a lovely day. I had my Sunday School this morning and the children were dear — so interested and such dear young ones. Then I went home with one of them for dinner. I promised last Sunday that I would come so a good dinner awaited us. We sang around the fire afterwards and then I played the organ and everyone sang. I am glad of what music I ever had for the people do love to have you play the organ. It was after three when I got home.

Miss Lawson, Miss Sandstrom and I had a pancake supper at Open House. When I was at Old Log I promised them one. We had a lovely fire in the living room with big back log and sat around it talking until nearly seven before we started to get supper. The pancakes were good, and they both insisted it was the best meal they had had since they left home. It is ten now and we have just come down from Open House. It was the first time either one had been there except for a few minutes.

The first three days last week the creeks were so frozen you couldn’t travel on horseback. No one was seen riding. Thursday it turned warm and poured all day, so instead of traveling around the country leaving Xmas trees I stayed here and helped Miss Gaines.

Miss Alice Butler is no longer housemother. She gave up here two days after Miss Gaines got back. She is teaching in place of one of the teachers who was called home. Miss Butler is a small person, not able to work with people. I have been disappointed in her all fall and Miss Gaines is even more so than I.

Friday I had a tree down at the Incline school and the children were dear. Everything was ready in meal poke and knapsack, so right after breakfast I started out. No one knew I was coming. When I got to the school, sent one of the boys out for a tree. He wanted to know if I wanted a holly bush and I told him no, a spruce pine – we call it hemlock. Well, he got a beauty, perfect in shape and so large we had to cut off four feet before we could stand it up in the schoolroom. All the children went out to play while Rob Short, the teacher, and I trimmed it. In a few minutes it was lovely with Walter’s tinsel, the colored stings the children at our church made and the beads, candles, lights, colored pencils for boys tied on the tree and Clarkie’s dolls all around the tree. Little red cardboard automobiles filled with candy were running in all directions from the tree. When the children came in they called “trains, trains!” thinking the automobiles were trains. Most of them had never seen a candle. We sang some Xmas songs and I told them the Xmas story. And how the girls loved their dolls. One little girl simply clung to me all the time and she said “We had no Xmas at our house but candy and poppy bought that.”

I want to write Clarkie and her girls but I wanted to wait until I had more. Everything is packed and ready and tomorrow I start out for another on Abner’s Branch. I want one at Dillon and one on Straight Creek too this week. It doesn’t make any difference if Xmas is forgotten by city folks, the children love it too. Everyone here insists I have the best job. It is the most interesting and I wouldn’t swap with a soul.

Do send me J[eannette]’s letters. I have thought of her all week and wanted to write but where does the time go? I do hope she is having a good time. My box came. I have $4.75 and will send check next time. I want J[eannette] to get a few things for me so I’ll wait and make out check to cover all.

It is getting late and I must be up at 5:30, so good-night. I am getting along fine. Laurel House is piping hot and scalding hot water so when I get in at night I take a hot bath and have a more comfortable place to sit in than you.

Am getting very gay in my old age. Friday night had the party for the children here and last night went to Girl Scout class. I’m going to be a Captain.

Good night — Love to you all – Marguerite

LETTER 1B – Sunday (March? 1920?) – [images 008-017]

Dear Jeannette – This is a perfect day. Delia and I were going down to the Medical Settlement but the creeks are so high we can’t get over Bullhouse Ford. Miss Sandstrom and I are going to walk about a mile down the road to vaccinate another family. Tell Dr. Allen I can almost do it in my sleep now. Have done babies 14 months to old ladies 76 years. And then fixing them afterwards. I tell you it has kept me busy. I like it a lot.

Well, I had an experience yesterday. I started out about ten to vaccinate this same family I’m going to do today. It was snowing and blowing a perfect gale. Just as I got to the lane (where you cross the mountain) two of the workers, Melinda and Golden Hoff were trying to cross the creek. The creek was terribly high so one by one they climbed along the rail fence. I called to them and went along the high road and when just out of sight they called that Miss Sheltman had gone into the creek. I ran back, over the fence and down the hill, thinking possibly just a foot had gone in and that she could wear my boots. She went in to her waist, but was determined she wouldn’t go back. The rest wanted her to go back and meet them today in Pineville (her home is in Louisville and she was going for a week taking Golden with her and Linda to the hospital.) I couldn’t see any way to get her over but finally spied a rather narrow place with a nice little island in the center and thought I would try it and help her. I jumped on the island and it was nothing but grass and mud brought down by the tide and in I went to my waist. I wish I could have seen my face for it was a shock. Miss Sheltman had to pull me out. We simply roared. My boots had a quart of water in them.

I thought I might as well go on and vaccinate family and dry out there so I cut up the hill and by time I got there my foot was nearly caked in ice. They built up a big fire and I took off all the clothes I could, got everything out to begin and in the excitement lost tiny rubber bulb so couldn’t do a thing. I ran home, my dress just clinging to me, my petticoat in my arms, and simply howling all the way. Ran right into Grover Bailey and he must have thought I was crazy but it was all so funny. I took a hot bath and in forty-five minutes no one would ever have known I went swimming in March.

Yesterday was to have been rally day but it was postponed to first pretty day next week. The boy and girl scouts are running the whole thing.

Last night the captains training class met and Miss Sandstrom gave us lessons in bandaging. It is fascinating. We learned to do five different kinds. I take my second class test this week and then am going to try for first class scout by May 1st.


Miss Garfield is perfectly fine, a splendid girl. She is the daughter you know of president of Williams and granddaughter of President Garfield.

Tuesday I had my first play day on Line Fork. There were about ten big boys, twenty-five altogether. We played games, did jumping relays and dashes and I taught them one folk dance. They loved it. This Tuesday we are going to learn another.

Wednesday after my club down Greasy I rode down to the Dr.’s to get points, stopped at Old Log long enough to change knapsacks, drink some tea, and have some sandwiches and cake, which Miss S. had all ready, and then ride on to Mary Ann’s to spend the night. It was about dark when I got there and I tell you Bobby went. Rob wanted to go to Harlan and Mary Ann was afraid to stay alone. You should have seen me fencing Bobby in the shed, climbing in the loft for hay, currying him, etc., and washing in the creek. We had a nice visit that night as we sat by the log fire in the tiny log room, the two children asleep in the bed, one 2 yrs. , one 1 month. I couldn’t help thinking of that as typical life for mountain girl, and Mary Ann but twenty-two.

Early the next morning I started vaccinating and fixing arms of all that had been. I worked my way back getting in about four. Dinner at Bill Creech’s that day – a chicken one too. Three chicken dinners for me in a week.

Friday I had my sewing class on Line Fork and dinner there too. It was a special invitation and they had the good sausage that Father likes.

This is for Father. Could he, from Cincinnati Wholesale, sell to Mr. Deschamp and Zande together at wholesale rates. One would order only large orders and not very often and they wondered if they could buy at wholesale rates and if so, what quantity would be necessary. Be sure to write me this week about it.

Then still on the food question tell father before warm weather we would appreciate another box. I know it has just been only a month but when warm weather sets in it will be hard to send one. We have about one tablespoon of butter left. We inch out a pound I tell you.

I think you did well in your exams. Tell Clarky a month after I sent basket a note came from Mr. Nolan, postmaster, saying package was held for postage. I had sent a dollar for three packages and he only took two of it. Got mixed up, I suppose, so for a month it sat 1/2 mile down the road. I knew everything in it would be dried but I was so busy at time knew I would never get it off if I opened it and repacked. And I sent hemlocks with roots, too, so they could be planted.

Miss Pettit is on a yacht for a month in Gulf of Mexico. She is going to conference April 6 – 8 and then will be back.

My arm is perfectly all right. Vaccination took and scab dropped off yesterday.

Mother need not bother about fixing box for old lady. I can get some things from Mrs. Zande. She told me last night.

Kit and Pat sent me a little round enamel pin and lingerie clasps to match, Miss Gaines two combination suits, and Ethel, a box of candy, maple sugar (six cakes) and a darling painted basket. Then I had several birthday letters.

Guess I have told you all the news. Isn’t this a long letter?

Be sure to write about Deschamps’ order. I hope you all keep well.

Lovingly, Marguerite

LETTER 2 – Sunday (March 1920?) – [images 018-022]

Dear Mother — I think I had better wait and write father next week after the box has come. We are looking forward to it. Tell Father that I told Mr. Deschamps that Cin. [Cincinnati] Wholesale did not sell to consumers. He understood perfectly. I didn’t suggest Father get them for him or that Walter ship at cost for I think Walter is having a harder time getting started than either Mr. Zande or Mr. Deschamps and it doesn’t seem fair. If they were only going to order once or twice. Father could do it but it will be continually and in the summer he is away.

I had Sunday School again today. It is a perfect day. We are getting ready for Easter and hope on that day to have many of the grown-up people come. The children are learning Easter songs and verses and are so excited.

It is now about 2:30. Our children are in Sunday School and as soon as they get back I’m going to take them to foot of Jack’s Gap for supper. Last Sunday I took this whole family to Open House. They had the best time. We made cocoa — had supper in living room around the fire, and then I read aloud while they all cracked nuts.

You about know what I do every day now. Am still vaccinating and taking care of arms. This morning when I started for Sunday School I had besides supplies for that, vaccinating ones and girl scout’s things. Made stops both ways getting a lot done and then took care of about six arms there.

Miss Pettit comes back the end of this week for a week and will go out again to conference in Knoxville. We enclose a card I had from her — had a letter too this week. It will be good to have her back.

Berto [Zande] was one year old Thursday. He had a party – six of the smallest ones went, all in white dresses and suits and white stockings. Each child had a little round cake with one candle in center. He is a lovely big boy.

Miss Parkinson [Marguerite Parkinson, teacher and housemother] is coming in two weeks to be housemother at Laurel House. She is so crazy to come back, is getting her sister to substitute in teaching for her rest of year. I persuaded Miss G[aines] to write for her. We both liked her a lot — and she is too happy for words to get back. Miss Andrews [Alice Andrews, housemother] is here now, house-mothering girls at office building. They are best of friends and it will be so nice for both to be here.

Last night Mr. Deschamps had the captain’s training class of girl scouts at school-house to drill. We all wore bloomers and middies and it seemed like days at V. C. [Vasser College].

Nonie had thought of coming for a month but she isn’t well enough. I had a letter from Jane one night this week saying Nonie ran a slight fever every afternoon and had no strength. Lee is to be married end of April. Do tell me where Eloise Wiseman is –with her mother and Elizabeth.

The drugs came all right. I guess we will have no more trouble with mail. Mr. Enoch Howard, post office man at Ross Point [just above Putney or Dillon], has been taken off this week to be tried for stealing. Two government inspectors caught him. Not a thing has been lost since he was found out. We have always thought the trouble there.

Celia sent us a two-pound box of candy last week. She is as busy as can be. I’ll enclose her last letter. You may destroy it.

Such a busy time as next six weeks will be here. An Easter play, the eighth grade are going to give Twelfth Night end of school, scout rally day, the school birthday in April, May Day and Commencement. About ten will graduate from eighth grade. We are going to have a regular commencement and diplomas and one of Uncle William’s granddaughters in the class. They have done some high school work but only eighth grade arithmetic.

Our school rally day was last Monday. [Minnie?] made a lovely speech. [Mat?] and Mrs. Zande made speeches, singing and folk-dancing, and then races. Everyone joined in, workers and all. In tug of war the girls pulled the boys. About sixty of us were in it and such yelling. There were obstacle races and we laughed until we cried. I hope you are all well.

Lovingly, Marguerite

LETTER 3 – Sunday (possibly early 1920?) – [images 023-028]

Dear Jeannette — Mother’s letter came last night and yours early in the week. I am glad you are all well and that Aunt Louie’s sickness didn’t turn into flu. I dreamed that Walter was sick on Friday night. Do wish me for me many happy returns of the day. I wonder if May will be down for dinner. How old is he, 30?

This is another snowy, blowy day. I walked to Divide and back. The snow stuck so to Bobby’s feet I had him taken back to barn and walked. The country is lovely. It has been snowing most of the week. The children have come from Sunday School — we have it in the afternoon here — and now are having the best time sliding outside. Clara just came in to put on bloomers and her face is crimson. They love the snow.

Wednesday in the snow I went down to Bertha‘s to our club and on Thursday clear to Cutshin to Henry L. Baker’s mother’s and father’s. I had to take school census and so just started for I had waited two weeks for a good day. The day was a blowy, snowy, wintry one for sure. No one was active. I crossed over a mountain as steep as any I ever hope to cross. No one had crossed that day, one person the day before, and it was all I could do to find the way. Aunt Katie and Uncle Henry are dear, both of them. I had dinner there, did my business and started back before two. Coming back it blew like fury and I never have seen anything lovelier. An old rail fence all up the mountain along the trail, a mass of wild grape vines thru the trees all along the way, everything so wild, everything covered with snow, one tiny log house the only thing in sight, and it way down below the valley. It was cold, I tell you.

Friday I had my sewing class on Line Fork. Boys are coming now and I tell you ’tis an exciting day on Line Fork. I went down below the school house for dinner Friday and they certainly did have a nice one. I am invited two weeks ahead of time. Everyone is so excited and enthusiastic over it.

Delia [Creech] came down yesterday for the day. She certainly loves to come down. She is on the Girl Scout Council. I am Deputy Commissioner of the Council, the one that does the work. We organized last night, adopted constitution and sent off charter to the national organization.

Everyone is being vaccinated. There is one case of small pox on this side of the mountain, but sufficient to excite people and it is wonderful how they are responding. Four years ago it was impossible to get people vaccinated and now they are coming from all directions. There are too many for the doctor to do so I am going to help Incline way and do all on Line Fork. Today I stopped in at Aunt Sis’s on my way from Sunday School and she asked me to come do her and Uncle John. You know that is quite a step for old people like that to realize the importance and want it done. You see it has never been done in the mountains. I expect Dr. Huse to send the vaccine tomorrow and I’ll start out Tuesday.

Sunday night — as usual we had supper around the fire and then the Victrola. The children love music.

Have Miss Jacoby knit my sweater. The wool is in my bottom chiffonier drawer, brown and white wool. I want it a slip-on — V neck — purl 7 stitches, knit 7 stitches from bottom to waist line. I want the sleeves set in and cuffs –I mean the bottom of sleeve purled to hold close in hand — length of my sleeve from under arm to wrist is 18 inches. I am not particular about rest. She may know nice ways to finish neck.

I am riding Bobby. The mare they got for me I don’t like so I have only ridden her three times. As soon as I find a horse I like I can get him.

Thought mother might like to see Hindman folder. You can destroy E’s letters.

Delia [Creech] wants some knitting needles. I can’t write to order them for I do not know size. She wants 4, the amber flexible bone ones this size. You can have Shillitoes send to me and charge to school — no hurry — sometime when you are in store.

Girl Scouts are giving a play this Saturday night.

Miss Gaines sends her love. — Goodnight — Lovingly, Marguerite

LETTER 4 – Monday (April 1920?) – [images 029-034]

Dear Mother — The box has been lovely! Miss Gaines and I have feasted alone, but tonight I am having Miss Melville — she is here for a few days — Miss Andrews [Alice Andrews, housemother], Miss Parkinson [Marguerite Parkinson, teacher and housemother] and of course R.B.G. [Ruth B. Gaines?] ! Our menu is sausage, toast and tea, grapefruit, salad and cake.

This is regular April weather – showers and sunshine all day. Yesterday was so perfect I couldn’t settle down to write. I walked to S. S. right up thru the fields most of the way — wore white and no sweater. Miss G[aines] went to Open House for day. I got back about one – washed and we had dinner on big rock in back of house. Then we wandered up Limestone picking wild flowers and for awhile sat alongside the creek. We read, lounged about, cooked supper in the living room, getting back here about eight.

There is a workers’ meeting at two o’clock. All morning I have been busy with one thing and another.

Miss Pettit got back Friday & as I rode by from Line Fork that afternoon she called out I must come over that night. Miss Melville [Angela Melville] has been raising money for the extension work and now she has enough for one center. Of course Miss Pettit wants it started immediately.

Saturday Mrs. Z[ande], Miss Pettit & Miss Melville had a meeting, as soon as it was over Miss P[ettit] came tearing down to announce I had been appointed superintendent of all extension work –– that is, starting the five centers as soon as the money is raised, getting the workers, and then supervising the running of them all. She really was rare trying to impress upon me what a wonderful job it was, the most important, etc., etc. I wouldn’t live in any center, would be here but ride about among them, Oh, yes! and still have supervision of schools with an assistant. Assistants are a joke here so you wouldn’t appreciate that. I didn’t say I would stay for years and accept the job but I am going to run the building of the first one. I can say where that one ought to be, and then have to explain it to the people, see if they want it, are willing to give land and labor to build house.

Old Aunt Betts Bailey, the one I told you about, is coming here next Monday to spend the night with me. She is a dear old soul. I had to make that trip again last Thursday. Old Elizabeth Griffith, her sister-in-law, who lives at the very head of a hollow with one blind son, owns a miserable farm which a preacher (this shows how good mountain preachers are) is trying to get away from her for one Griffith boy married his daughter, and died a year ago last fall with flu. She cannot read or write & there is no one to help her. I got two deeds last Thursday and sent to Mr. Roettinger. He is going to do what he can. Poor soul was so grateful she wanted to give me a chicken, her last can of peaches and made me climb up into a loft to pick out nice corn for Bobby.

Saturday night the eighth grade gave seven scenes from Twelfth Night. It was splendid. Kitty [Kitty Ritchie] as Viola was just about perfect, and John D. as Sir Toby and James Madison as Sir Andrew. The children loved them and just shrieked when they came in.

Will you ask father to send on this card from Ohio Cities Gas. It sounds the sensible thing to do but thought I had better let him see it. If ’tis more money, that for me. Ask father if it is all right to wait until May to invest in Cooper Co. I sent Shillitoes check for needles — was writing. Yes, I sent you money for Emily’s bathrobe.

Good-bye — Lovingly, Marguerite

LETTER 5 – Sunday night (possibly April 1920) – [images 035-040]

Dear Father, Well, I guess you think this letter ought to be yours and right you are! The box couldn’t have come at a better time for today all the children went across the mountains to the Metcalf rocks for the day. It came last night and everything had kept beautifully. Of course I had Sunday School but began early so I could get back. We had sausage – they are the best ever — always send that kind, what are they called? — bread and butter, fruit salad and lemonade. We ate on the big table rock behind Open House and then lay on the table, read and slept. It was a perfect day — the trees are a lacey green and the dogwood in full bloom. We had to leave at four to get ready to go to Zande’s for supper. May [May Ritchie] and Mr. Deschamps [Leon Deschamps] were there. We had a lovely time and good supper. Are just back from there.

Tomorrow I have two children coming to help me clean Open House. Mary Rockwell and her married sister come next Sunday. Probably after they go you will be well enough to make the trip. You see they will be at O[pen] H[ouse] so we couldn’t very well put up a man at the same time.

Miss Gaines and I had the loveliest trip last week. Left early Monday morning – perfect day – R.B.G. [Ruth B. Gaines] walking, I following in a couple of hours with knapsacks, sweaters, etc. on Bobby. We cooked dinner ten miles down the mountain. It was about four when we got there and how glad they were to see us. They couldn’t do enough. Bee gums were robbed, chickens killed, last can of tomatoes opened, and greens, lettuce – onions picked for every meal. We couldn’t have been treated more royally at the White House. It is the prettiest spot in all the mountains, everything white with dogwood. This little clean, log house right in the midst of the perfect orchard! I know it would be clean enough for Mother! All work stopped while we were there. I expect two of the girls to come up here over next Sunday.

Yesterday I went to Line Fork to have my sewing class. Was invited out for dinner as I am nearly every Saturday. The children are sewing so much better — you wouldn’t believe there could be the improvement.

I am enclosing my receipt for nine shares Cooper stock. Will you please put it in safe keeping. You never did say if Liberty Bonds could be invested. I shouldn’t think they could. I do hope Dr. S. Allen will help you. I know his wife. They say he is fine. And let me know if Cara is back. Poor mother, I don’t want her all worn out.

Do tell me what millionaire’s salary is J. B. drawing. I must say good-night and go to bed.

– Love to all – Marguerite

LETTER 6 – April 25, 1920 – [images 041-044; should come before previous letter]

Dear Father — Your letter was a surprise – And I hear you are getting to be quite a gardener. Is it vegetable too? Did the bushes you set out last fall live – the ones Mr. Harbison sent?

Mr. Roettinger [Philip Roettinger, Board of Trustees] and Elizabeth [Elizabeth Roettinger, daughter] are coming next week. Couldn’t you and J[eannette] come with them? I don’t know whether you would rather wait and come later on, or have Mr. Roettinger for company. Why don’t you have J[eannette] call up (they live on Howell Ave., Clifton), Elizabeth is there now, and talk it over. If J[eannette] is out of school the two of you be sports and come too.

This is a queer day, rainy and cold. I guess it is our dogwood winter. It began to rain just as we were leaving Sunday School and I was soaked when I got here. We have been having beautiful weather but every spring have a rainy, cold spell for a while — the people call it “dogwood winter”.

Yesterday was scout rally day. I invested the new tenderfoot and second class scouts. Mrs. Zande took her oath so I had to perform. Then at the very end I got my badge and certificate for first class scout – am the only first class one. I wanted to know all about it so that I could start scouting other places.

The children did signaling with flags, first aid and stretcher bearer drill, the sword dance, which is the regular scout dance, and scout games. At the end, the flag was lowered while all the boy and girl scouts stood at salute. The children have gotten so much out of scouting this year.

Tuesday I am going to Harlan for two or three days. Have many things to do, the chief one being to speak before fiscal court to get money for road from here to Big Laurel. You never can tell when you can get before court. Miss Sandstrom is going with me to see about some public health work. I was going to ride clear there but Miss Sandstrom [Esther Sandstrom, nurse] has ridden so little it would take too long going with her, so now I am going by train.

This is to remind Mother and J[eannette] not to forget my hats. They could take both to Richs; have Panama one fixed and let them send both from store.

The first part of next week Miss Gaines and I may go to Cooper‘s, where Clarkie went. I promised them that I would come when apple blossoms were out. Write this week what you decide about coming – be sure!!

Lovingly, Marguerite

MBB Note [images 045 & 046]

Sometime I must tell you about my experience in [current?] but I got $500 to build a bridge over the first ford behind where Uncle Salem the fiddler lived. I guess it was Bullhouse Ford.

LETTER 7 – Sunday (1920?) – [images 081-086; not in numerical order]

Dear Mother –I was glad to have yours and Jeannette’s letters. I am sure she will be better if she has her tonsils and adenoids out. I always thought she had them for she sleeps with her mouth open. Only hope she was well enough to enjoy part of her visit.

I had my Sunday School as usual this morning – four new children. It was a lovely snowy day – the mountains looked beautiful. On the way I collected eleven children so it was an orphan asylum going along. Last night two of the older girls, Bonnie and Vergie, came and asked if they please couldn’t teach a Sunday School in one of my schools.

Tomorrow Miss Sandstrom and I are going down Straight Creek for two days to have my last tree [Christmas Tree]. We will stay tomorrow night at Cooper’s, Clarkie’s and my favorite place. Tell Clarkie I have waited on purpose in writing her so I can tell her about Cooper’s. I have things packed to have a tree there too tomorrow night.

This week I had one at Dillon and one on Abner’s [Abner’s Branch]. They were both lovely trees and we had lots of fun. The children love their dolls. You should see me starting off with a meal poke over saddle and knapsack hung from pommel. I am loaded down. This week I wrote an article for the next school notes which will come out very soon. It is just on the school work.

Miss Gaines and I had supper at Delia’s [Delia Creech] Friday night and a good one. Fried chicken, gravy and sweet potatoes, it poured torrents and we waded to our knees in mud but here we don’t think anything of that.

Tomorrow they have school in the new school house. In a year new office and school building. This spring they are going to build boys’ house and hospital here.

One day I went to Nolansburg on business about lumber for prison camp and ties. It was a begging errand — wanted the owner to donate $157, cost of flooring, and instead he gave $500 and pledge of $100 for camp. He was a lovely man.

Tonight I am going to Old Log for supper with Miss Sandstrom. She went as far as Cincinnati this week with Mrs. de Long and Miss Helen de Long and brought back sausage. They took Mrs. de Long [mother of Ethel and Helen ?] to a sanitarium in Asheville. She has been wretched all winter – had to carry her over mountain on a stretcher.

Next Thursday Miss Gaines and I are going to Mrs. Creech’s for dinner. She is planning all sorts of good things.

I may go to Middlesboro with five boys to a conference next Saturday, spending Sunday at Lincoln Memorial. Mrs. Zande asked me to go but they are waiting for particulars about meeting.

This week two mornings I papered Uncle John, the fiddler’s house. With a teaspoon mixed the flour paste in the only wash basin and applied with a shaving brush. It was a job, I tell, but it is nearly done. One room, no windows, it makes it a lot lighter.

A Miss Wright [Ethel Wright, teacher], lovely girl, friend of Miss Norma Geier’s, is here now, so we both wrote Miss Norma to come. You call her and tell her we are expecting her.

My arm is getting along fine. It tires easily but I try not do much with it so it is getting stronger all the time.

I will enclose check for $8.25. $4.75 is yours for bathrobe and have Jeannette with $3.50 buy at Wurlitzer’s one large record book $1.50, and two records — the Paulist choir one that we have “[Vue?] Jesu” – the loveliest one — and Gluck and [Reiner’s/] “Au Claire de la Lune”. One is $1.00 and one $.85. They will send and insure from store.

Good-bye, Love, Marguerite

LETTER 8 – (1920?) – [images 047-056]

Dear Mother – The way I travel around the country. Have just sent the six boys out to see Pineville. I took them everyplace I could think of — moving picture show (no show, but we went inside and saw what we could), tried the church doors, saw school and this hotel (Continental). Now they have gone to watch them work on the court-house.

We got in at 1:30 and we leave at 6:18. I will stay at Harlan this night but the boys will cross over the mountain. We left Lincoln [University] at 10 this morning, walking to Cumberland Gap for train. Had two hours to wait at Middlesboro so we went through the school and all thru an old big hotel. I went in and told the proprietor the boys had never seen a big hotel and he took us everywhere to the very top floor. We sat at a counter, having egg, ham sandwiches, pie, etc., for lunch. Malcolm, a lovely boy, sat there grinning for all he was worth saying “I’m sure happy and hit only cost me 25


cents”. This was his first train ride, automobile ride and picture show.

To start at the beginning we left Pine Mt. Friday afternoon in the pouring rain. It had rained four days and the creeks were raging torrents. I have never seen anything like them. We had to stay on the south side of our little creek all the way to the trail for we couldn’t ever cross it. It was just dark when we got to the track. Two of the boys and I stayed at Chad Lewis’s — the nicest place. I had a room alone. We had lots of fun that night. I took the alarm clock for we had to get up at 4 a.m. I awakened at 12:35 and didn’t go back to sleep – just waited for clock. It was pouring and as dark as Egypt’s night. I washed under the roof drippings. At 4:30 we started down the track. It was so weird with just the lantern light and the river raging so we couldn’t hear each other speak. I had rubber boots on and raincoat. My shoes were in my pockets. J’s dress and blue coat tied in rubber and in a meal poke — How different from traveling in an automobile and riding in pullman.

In the tiny station we sat on meal sacks — ten men and I — pouring outside and nearly as much within. Halfway to Pineville light came. At Oulu we waited part of the time in crowded dressing room and part of the time without, for our fast train for Middlesboro. Malcolm said “Hit seems like this one outruns the other.” It was eight when we got to Middlesboro. As the boys’ money was limited I knew they wouldn’t want to go to a hotel for breakfast so in the back of an Italian grocery store we had bananas, ham sandwiches and milk.

Then I hunted up a minister and YMCA man to find out about conference. It has been postponed and on account of tides we had not received the letter. Lincoln was the biggest part of trip so altho’ the boys were disappointed it didn’t make so much difference. I hunted up a Ford (I called this an automobile) and the seven of us and driver all piled in. It was still pouring. He took us to gap at top of mountain but on account of mountain slide could not go on. We walked the last three miles. Miss Buffum saw us coming. They had been looking for us since Thursday — and rushed for her opera glasses to make sure.

You would have been proud of your daughter then for she was stylish. This year three of our children are there – Mossie, Nancy and Chester Blanton. They were so pleased to see us all. Two other girls who were with us our first year are there too. That afternoon the whole Pine Mt. delegation, girls and boys and Miss Buffum, went around to see all the buildings. That night we all went to a picture show. They have one at the school every Saturday night. That night Judge and Mrs. Marvin (he is a judge from Cleveland and this year is with Lincoln and has opened a law course in correction (he is president of their board of trustees. I met them there before) had about six of us in their room for hot chocolate, wafers and cake. We were there until after eleven and I was dead.

Sunday morning Miss Buffum and I were invited to Mrs. Hubble’s, the president’s wife, for breakfast. We had a lovely breakfast and a lovely time.

We went to church that morning and in the afternoon Mossie, her roommate and I went all over the grounds. Mossie is such a splendid girl and Miss Buffum told me she was leading her class. Isn’t that fine? She loves it and is so fond of her roommate. The boys all climbed the pinnacle that afternoon. Dr. Denforth, a charming woman, had Miss Buffum and me over to her room for supper — sausage, grapefruit, salad, toast and coffee — and plenty of it. That night the head of the conservatory had the same six of night before in her room including Judge Marvin for hot chocolate, fruit salad and wafers and cake. I never felt so honored. Four parties given for me in 24


hours. That beat J.’s Memphis record.

This morning Miss Buffum and I had breakfast an hour after the rest, then visited classes until we had to leave. The boys had a wonderful time and I think most of them are determined to get there some day.

I have had no mail since last Tuesday on account of tides so I expect a letter from home when I get back.

Ask Clarkie to tell you about our tree at Cooper’s – the one on Straight Creek. I am sending home a suitcase; meal poke is yours. The skirt Miss Mollay is going to fix but leave it until she comes back for I am in no hurry. Be sure to put the envelope I marked in my desk and the rest of literature I thought you might have to give people. That lovely towel Miss G[aines]’ mother made for me. The old blue dress is for J. to use cleaning machine.

Tell Clarkie and Mrs. Cooper I packed baskets for them with hemlock and rhododendron and of course creeks rose so they couldn’t go out. I guess it will all be dead by time it reaches them. Also tell Johnny I know the basket is not perfect, no Pine Mt. ones are yet but as she was ordering so many Hindman ones I thought it ought to come from Pine Mt. I sent Alice Stephens a Hindman one.

Do send me Aunt Rosa’s address. I must close. Will be so anxious to know if Jeannette is all right.

Good-bye. Love, Marguerite

LETTER 9 – Sunday (1920?) – [images 057-064]

(In my little chiffonier drawer I think there is some black ribbon for my watch. Please send it in letter.)


Dear Mother — Well, I have thought of you today. Riding home from S. S. I pictured you all spinning along some road at a little faster speed than Bobby’s. Then when R.B.G[aines]. and I were having dinner up Limestone, I pictured you all at a Banker chicken dinner. I do hope you had a good day.

This was big May meeting day down Greasy — six preachers, some funerals preached, graves decorated and some baptized. Everyone went from here — all the children went so dinners were all out. No one is back yet and it is nearly six. I got back so late from S. S. I didn’t try to go down.

Tomorrow if it is a good day I’m going to Stony Fork to see old Elizabeth Griffith about the deeds I wrote you about. Miss Sandstrom is going with me and we will take turns riding, cooking our lunch on top of the mountain. It is a hard day’s trip.

Wednesday I had my mother’s club down Greasy and I hurried back for we were having a very grand tea for May and Mr. Deschamps. It was up on Pole House hill, a lovely spot and Mrs. Zande had her best china and silver. Big wicker chairs, stools, lovely baskets of flowers were around. May wore her wedding dress and did look so lovely in it – a simple white organdy, so becoming. She made it herself. Everyone wore their best. Some of the older girls were invited, twenty-nine were there in all, and unlike stylish teas we all sat around and talked until supper bell. Mary Rockwell, her sister from Italy and friend from N. Y. did all the decorating and serving. We had tea, coffee, three kinds of sandwiches and several kinds of cookies — brownies. We had a nice time.

Friday afternoon was our scout’s meeting. Just at the last minute heard it was Aunt Luisa‘s birthday (Uncle John fiddler’s wife). We hurried around, fixed flowers and candles on gingerbread for a cake, cut a big bouquet of flags, different colors, and took also a shawl and some soup. We sang to her. Uncle John played his fiddle and


ended by singing “The Star Spangled Banner.” One day he told me he had heard it once and wanted to know how it went. Going down I remembered it. They were both so grateful and so pleased. We had to hurry back for supper.

Last night four people came riding in. They, with a guide, are taking a trip thru Ky. mountains. For ten years they have been doing it and just last year began on Ky. One of the party, Mr. Aldrich, is music critic for N. Y. Times. Miss Heurter is a violinist, lives in Greenwich village and appeared in breeches, big boots, hair bobbed. Mr. Jackson a lawyer and his wife. They were very interesting. They left this morning stopping at meeting along the way.

Yesterday I went to Line Fork. I took lunch and decided I just wouldn’t eat anywhere. The first place I stopped, only 10 by my time, they were getting dinner and insisted I stay. I told them I wanted to go to take something to old Mrs. Hail nearly 80, the cow kicked her six weeks ago and broke her hip. She just lies there, only the old man and two grandchildren to care for her. Before I got there I ate. Of course they wanted me to have dinner but I told them I had it. I got to school, unsaddled Bobby and was getting the sewing ready when Bert Smith, who lives just across the creek, called to come over. She said I never had eaten there so she fixed dinner for me that day and they just waited. She had made a cake, opened blackberries (biggest treat). I thought of escaping twice and caught at last. The people are so nice tho.

Am enclosing card from Kit, letter I thought Jeannette would like to see from Miss Ingram about conference in Danville. Write Emmeline and ask if she would like a guest from Oct. 29 – Nov. 1. Miss P. insisted I send the letter to you about my teaching. Three schools have been offered to me for next year. Then I’m adding note to one about my stocks for father to see. I’m so glad Father’s box came when it did. I don’t want another until these people leave. O.K. They may be here weeks. Would rather have food when Pat comes.

Father’s garden must be fine. Do have him plant in flower garden some flags. I’ll send Aunt Em some laurel – not quite out yet. The rug can be about 30 x 54 in. It doesn’t have to be exactly that size. Love to you all. Marguerite

MBB note to Mary Rogers – [images 065-066]

Perhaps you will not want to keep this letter, but I thought you and Burton would be interested. Naturally our families were greatly concerned. The newspapers gave the impression it must have been a convict. The very day before I rode the same trail after visiting the Dillon School, I had to appear in court as I had a long conversation with the veterinarian. M.B.

LETTER 10 – Friday afternoon, September 17, 1920 (Parsons) – [images 067-078]

Dear Mother — Thank you so much for the ribbon. It is just right and please let me know what I owe you.

Mother I am telling you what we all feel stronger than I can express, it was the doctor. We have just had a meeting of workers now and we all feel we must have our families believe in our judgment, for public opinion means so much. There is not one possible clue against a single convict, every man can be accounted for and for two hours I could write evidences against the D[octo]r.

Mr. Roettinger sent down Mr. Jackson (and he has an assistant), a private detective, the best he could find in Cincinnati. The first night Mr. Jackson was in Harlan, a little Jew newspaper reporter from Cinti. Post announced his name (he intended keeping it secret). This same Jew tried to talk to me but I gave him little. While Mr. Jackson was at dinner or just finishing it, a lawyer of


Dr.’s asked him his price — tried to buy him. Mr. Jackson said his first impulse was to knock him down on the spot. You see if Dr.’s lawyer thought him an innocent man why would he try to buy off private detective who came to represent neither side but find guilty man? Mr. Jackson has studied everything, ridden same mule over same way. (Dr. claims he got lost) and it took detective to ride a certain distance in 14 minutes which it took the Dr. nearly two hours. Dr. can not account for this time and it is barely 200 yards from the place.

Why, Mother, from the minute he got here until he left he did and said the queerest things, everything so plain now. None of his stories agree, fully thirty of us have given testimony. He described her to me, what she wore, her suit and shoes, kept damning the “nigger,” saying how could a woman cross that mountain alone, said he watched for her tracks and couldn’t find them and supposed she got in an hour ahead of him. For almost a half hour I talked to him, he kept repeating, never looked at me, and at the time I wondered why if he was so anxious about her Tuesday afternoon and knew she was coming to the school, why he didn’t ask as soon as he got in if she had arrived. We knew of it at dinner on Wednesday.

He met Mr. Nolan at the head of the lane and Mr. Nolan thought him so foolish and insulting he got mad at him. I don’t want to give the conversation exactly but he first said the mule came out of Noah’s Ark – (an excuse for getting in at 4 P M). When J. Pat and I came, some walking, in the rain, I late in getting to Dillon, having dinner on top of the mountain and just poking along we got here at 3. Then he asked if we had mail once in six months, where we got it, was it above or below Dillon. You see he knew she had mailed her bag from Dillon and was afraid it would be in that night and we begin searching.

Why didn’t he ask Mr. Nolan, the first man he saw if a school lady had passed, for he insisted to me she was a teacher or a nurse, he knew the minute he saw her she was from the city. When he got to the barn the first thing he asked was about mail again. Miss Mann at the barn was afraid of him from the start and the minute he got there she rushed to the house for Emily. The detective feels there is absolutely no question in the matter. Of course he is the only bright man working on it.

Now for the convict side. When this happened there wasn’t a man I don’t believe in Harlan County who wouldn’t have burned Dr. alive at the spot. Two days later there was a tide of feeling in Harlan town for the Dr. and condemning the convict. You see the Dr. is an appointee of Republican governor Morrow. Immediately Chad Nolan, a politician arrived in Harlan from Frankfort, stood on the street corner, and announced it couldn’t be a white man, it was a “nigger’s work”, and you know mob psychology. Aren’t white men constantly doing the same thing? The camp has been there two years and not one word has a darky ever said but this happened the day the Dr. crossed and pages of evidences against him. You see the politicians naturally don’t want a Republican man appointed by the governor convicted — it would harm their party and campaign.

Mother there has not been a true report in the paper. Of course we could to every paper send an article but this is Mrs. Zande’s plan. Monday she and Mr. Zande went to Louisville for the best criminal lawyer in the state and they feel they have him. Only a few of us even know his name. He is going to work quietly for a couple months. I believe the Dr. is guilty as much as I believe father could never do such a thing, and everyone else on this side of Pine Mt. and many on the other the same. Of course the Republican Party will try to buy off people like they did the detective but Mrs. Zande


said today she felt no one who testified against the doctor could be changed for any money. I am writing you this simply to have you and my friends there know how we feel and what we are doing. Mrs. Z. is going to write an article for school notes. The school is not dropping it simply because Harlan officials, all Republican, think we are beaten. Do not believe the papers. I think we will all see the day the Dr. is convicted. You see it is generally believed he is a dope fiend — he tried to get moonshine at several places when he got off the train, and our lawyer is certain he [c….?] a great deal from his past history. I think when he did it he believed everyone would lay it on a convict. That was his outlet — and this all shows, Mother, that the mountains are safer than the city, for it takes a city man and thank goodness, our country men could not do it.

Celia is here. I met her Wed. at Dillon on my way to Harlan. Last night we three had supper at O. H. and we are going up again tonight. This morning Celia went with me to the Divide School. We both taught classes and then built a bookcase and changed around a lot of things.

‘Tis bed time — good-night — I’ll be home before long.

Lovingly, Marguerite P. S. Nothing I say must get in a newspaper.

MBB Note – [image 079]

Thought this might interest you. The first year I volunteered & then $25 a month. I felt like a Vanderbilt when this was received. M.B.

DOCUMENT SIGNED BY K. PETTIT – October 12, 1920 – [image 080]


We feel, in determining the amount of your vacation with pay, we should be guided by the policy we have already established in regard to the office, which allows one month’s vacation with pay after nine months of service.

We have always allowed workers to take a couple of weeks now and then, without reducing their salary, and if you prefer to take two months’ vacation with pay, all at one time, rather than one month with pay and two short vacations of two weeks each in the nine months, it will be entirely satisfactory to us. The agreement then, is as follows:

Your salary is to be $900 per year, and you will have two straight months vacation with pay; whether you prefer to take this all at once, or broken up in shorter periods, makes no difference to the Executive Committee.

Miss Marguerite Butler,
Mt. Auburn, Cincinnati, Ohio.


[signed] Katherine Pettit

Return to MARGUERITE BUTLER LETTERS 1914-1970 Guide