MARGARET MOTTER Talk : Mixin’ Larns Both Parties

“I don’t want hit to be for this locality only; it can be for the whole state if they want it; hit can be for the whole world if they can get any good outen hit.” Uncle William Creech’s dream

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Staff/Personnel
“Mixin’ Larns Both Parties”

TAGS: Margaret Motter, fund raising, talks, education, Pine Mountain Settlement School, students’ homes ; mountain life ; rural schools ; PMSS program ; spiritual values ; school schedule ; preparing students for life ; staying apart from state education system ; Uncle William Creech’s vision ; areas of focus ; the farm ; the hospital ; community services ; doctor ; neighborhood clinics ; Pine Mountain Health Association ; July hospital report ; Dr. Elizabeth ; health consultant  ; Youth Guidance Institute ; aid from Kiwanis and Lions’ Clubs of Harlan and Crippled Children’ Fund of Harlan ; dream of new hospital ; the outposts ; Line Fork medical center activities ; Big Laurel Medical Settlement ; need for funding ; the graduates ;

“I don’t want hit to be for this locality only; it can be for the whole state if they want it; hit can be for the whole world if they can get any good outen hit.” Uncle William Creech

Margaret Motter often traveled around the country seeking financial donors for the Pine Mountain Settlement School. To that end, she spoke before various groups, using anecdotes and quotes to depict the nature of the mountain people and describing the mission, activities, and accomplishments of the School, as well as its needs. The following are several of the notes she wrote in the late 1940s to aid her in presenting her talks.



Margaret Motter Talk: “Mixin’ Larns Both Parties” – PMSS — Short General Summary [7 typewritten pages]

A Quotation [1 page in Margaret Motter’s handwriting]

A mountain man’s comment to a visitor: “…mixin’ larns both parties.”

Margaret Motter Talk: Outline [7 pages in Margaret Motter’s handwriting]

description of PMSS high school ; William Creech’s dream ; general plan of school ; 3-fold week covers body (medical care), mind (combatting old ideas), spirit (learn to enjoy beauty, culture) ; special days: Fair Day, May Day, Christmas ; graduates’ activities ;



[Note: This transcription has been edited slightly and abbreviations expanded for better readability.]

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P.M.S.S. — [A] Short General Summary

“Mixin’ larns both parties.”

A recent visit into homes of our boys and girls was very revealing. We noted in some the effort – (despite the difference in getting an adequate water supply) – to have a clean and tidy appearance, and the sordid, unsanitary conditions of others. Life far off in the hills, some distance from good roads, can be very difficult. Often the surrounding land is not productive enough to supply family needs and there is dependence upon small country stories for various supplies. The little rural schools attempt to cover elementary grades but attendance is frequently intermittent and the school term short, so that many children do not receive adequate preparation for high school. How does Pine Mountain fit into this picture?

Instead of giving so-called “book larnin’” to boys and girls in the mountain area for a school day of about 6 hours, Pine Mountain has a 24-hour-day program which is a more effective method of dealing with needs of these rural children than the regular school system of education can possibly employ. Also, we can emphasize spiritual values in a school like ours more than a public school is allowed to do. All credal faiths are accepted at Pine Mountain as it is non-sectarian.

Our children have a planned way of life with a certain amount of freedom – so many hours actually in school, so many hours at work, a period for play, a free hour each day, a well-selected diet, comfortable sleeping quarters with 9 hours in bed, 2 hours of supervised study, movies and different types of parties on Saturday evenings, and special services on Sunday in our beautiful chapel. The attempt is made from the daily routine of happy useful living here to prepare the boys and girls for proper adjustment to life in Harlan County and elsewhere so that they are able to make a living and to be of service in any community. This is the reason that we feel justified in allowing Pine Mountain to remain as a school apart from the regular state system of education and that we make no apology in asking neighbors and friends to help in its support…

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…so that it can be used as Uncle William said in the original deed – “…for school purposes as long as the Constitution of the U.S. stands.”

I shan’t go into detail regarding the beginnings of the school except to say that it is the result of the vision of this mountain man, Uncle William Creech, who had only a third grade education and dreamed for 30 years of a school in this section. He said he saw the young’uns going from bad to worse and “Hit was lack of education that caused it,” so he wanted these boys and girls to be “raised up for humanity.” The answer was in a school where they could live, work, play, learn to do things with their hands, and learn out of books; then they would help “to moralize” the community in which they lived.

How does Pine Mountain fulfill Uncle William’s dream and make a real contribution in the development of boys and girls and people of this area aside from its academic or general school work (which has received an “A” rating from the State Department of Education)? For proof of its usefulness let me call attention to 4 points: The Farm, the Hospital, the Outposts, and the graduates.

Joe Bramlett Album – Barn and farmyard with Ayrshire herd, c. 1945. [bram_-28.jpg]

1. The Farm

a. Our school farm is a demonstration to mountain people and pupils of better farming methods, use of the tractor, more up-to-date machinery, and the practical benefit from the silo (one of 2 in the county).

b. Exhibits at Fairs
(1) At the State Fair in Harlan County, got 3rd prize and part of that exhibit was from our farm.
(2) At our Community Fair our exhibits of garden produce create interest and comment from neighbors. This is an incentive for better [pro.?] of future crops.
(3) Our herd is registered thoroughbred Ayrshire. We collect bull fees from the people in the county who have wished to use our bull for breeding purposes.

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We appreciate the cooperation we are getting from Mr. Davis and Mr. Taylor and all the help they give us to make our farm a real benefit not only to the school but to the entire community.

Grace Rood Album II. Infant in incubator at new hospital in West Wind.rood_142

2. The Hospital
Our hospital is not only of service to our own pupils but to the community. We serve a radius of 350 square miles where there is no medical care.

a. Our hospital has 12 beds and 5 bassinets. We have an incubator which has been used to save the lives of several babies. A recent one weighed 2¼ pounds.

b. Outside service
Our doctor goes by jeep to hold neighborhood clinics each Tuesday. One week she goes in one direction about 13 miles and the next week about 7 miles in another direction. Many of the patients served in this way would not come to our hospital for treatment of consultation.

A girl student accompanies the doctor each week to serve as Nurse’s Aide. She gets valuable experience and often the inspiration for becoming a nurse.

c. Pine Mountain Health Association

In connection with the hospital we have the Pine Mountain Health Association. A family pays $12 a year for membership, and in return gets: general medical care at the hospital, all medicines except special serums, and a special daily rate at the hospital if they need to come for treatment. This is great help to a family in case of continued illness, i.e., the neighbor’s daughter (B.M. Begley) who was quite ill all summer 1948.

Another example is the miner (in a local mine) who was hurt by a slate fall and would have died if our doctor and nurse had not gone at once to give him plasma, first aid, treatment for shock, etc.

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A few figures from the hospital report for July will show the value of our hospital to the community.

Community or clinic calls —– 216
Community bed patients ——- 232
Maternity cases —————— 6
Students in local Creech School given [co.?] medical checkups by the doctor – 26

d. Other services of our doctor
Dr. Elizabeth was a health consultant at Youth Guidance Institute early in October 1948 in Harlan County.

e. Our hospital in cooperation with outside aid
(1) Kiwanis and Lions’ Clubs of Harlan have helped us send students to Louisville and elsewhere for medical care.
(2) These clubs and individual have helped us to give glasses to needy pupils.
(3) Through Crippled Children’ Fund of Harlan a knee operation was made possible for a pupil who had been so badly hurt in an automobile accident that she could not walk without bending almost to the floor. Now she can walk in an upright position, graduated in spring 1948, and is a freshman at Union [XTN?] College.

We sorely need a new hospital and dream of the William Creech memorial hospital with 25 or 30 beds, where we can better serve this entire area.

3. The Outposts

024a. [Line Fork School] mccullough_I_024a

a. For over 20 years our school has maintained a center at Gilley on Line Fork, 7 miles from the school in Letcher County. There we have had people doing social and educational work and at times having Sunday School and preaching services.

Boy Scout activity, sewing classes for mothers, and book clubs through a circulating library have been benefits to young and old in the community.

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b. Another neighborhood that we have served is about 4 miles down Greasy Creek at Big Laurel. We have called this the Medical Settlement because for many years, a doctor, a nurse, and a community worker lived there and rendered additional service. This is an example of the type of locality where education and XTN influence alone can raise the community level above feuding and lawlessness. A county school is there which is doing its part, but at present we are unable to carry on our share of this challenging work because of the failure to find the right type of workers and the lack of funds. Unless we can have additional contributions to our budget we can no longer support this outpost.

4. The Graduates
Finally we come to a word about our graduates. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Success of a school is often judged by success of its graduates. Uncle William once said of the school, “I don’t want hit to be for this locality only. Hit can be for the whole state if they want it. Hit can be for the whole world if they can get any good out of it.” Let us see where some of our students have gone and what type of service they are rendering.

a. Business
(1) At a business house in Harlan – Wardrupp’s – we find former Pine Mountain students and graduates. The manager is a Pine Mountain graduate.
(2) Many students clerk in stores and are doing well.
(3) Successful salesmen.
(4) Some graduates are in restaurants or hotels in buying or preparation of food.

“Alex Branch School, 1948.” Interior of classroom with children, teacher. [nace_II_album_077.jpg]

b. Education
(1) Reaching out we find some graduates helping in the county elementary school.

(a) Letcher County — 2 graduates who have had 1 year of college.
(b) Leslie County – 2 graduates teaching in an isolated section.

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(2) At Pine Mountain

(a) Women graduates have been members of the staff and have served as housemothers or worked in the office or kitchen.
(b) Men who have been here are now on staff – one a former pupil is now the general maintenance man; the other a graduate, now our busy [eff.?] farmer.

c. Homemaking

When we visit the homes of Pine Mountain pupils or graduates, we usually find them attractive and tidy. Children are being reared in a a creditable manner.

d. Other types of service
(1) Army or Navy in war: Many served here in this country, in Europe, in the Pacific, and elsewhere. Six made the supreme sacrifice.
(2) Many girls have become practical or trained nurses and one (granddaughter of Uncle William) has become a doctor.
(3) XTN service – One graduate is now teaching and hopes to go to Berea [College] next year to prepare for some church work.

Another graduate has almost completed study for a Master’s degree in Religious Education; served 1 year in Finland in rehabilitation under AFSC; received award – Humanitarian Work.

Many others could be given, but for lack of time. I might add that graduates and former students believing in the school are now sending their children for the advantage of an education at Pine Mountain.

Coal companies not only take out valuable coal which is sent away for use, but bring advantages to a community. In many instances with better wages and the conveniences offered to workers in their employ they have helped raise the standard of living.

We too are dealing with a [val. pro.?]– the boys and girls of our mountain area whom we hope to train for usefulness wherever they may go. With increasing…

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…costs of maintenance and the limited amount each pupil can pay, our budget is almost frightening since income and contributions are lower. That is why we present our story to you and appeal for the support of this worthwhile cultural and social center. “Do you care to make an investment in human life?”

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A mountain man’s comment to a visitor:

“Well, I allow that thar’s a heap o’ things goin’ on up thar that we all don’t know nary thing about.”

“An’ hit’s the case, I reckon, that thar’s a heap o’ things goin’ on down hyre that you all don’t know nary thing about.”

After a short pause, he came to this philosophical conclusion: “An’ mixin’ larns both parties.”

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Mme. Regent, Officers, Friends…heartwarming…privilege of being here to speak for P.M.S.S.

1. “…Mixin’ larns both parties.”

2. P.M.S.S. Is [a] non-sectarian, XTN, vocational high school for 100 boys and girls in southeastern Kentucky, 20 miles from Harlan over a mountain trail. The children come from 5 counties, chiefly Harlan, Belle, Breathitt, Letcher, and Leslie.

3. Interesting and dramatic beginnings, the result of a dream of a mountain man, Uncle William Creech (third grade education). His words, “I don’t look after wealth for them…” – challenge –

4. General plan of the school: Pay $10.00, work and help run the school. Dignity of work, self-respect, fine spirit, “One thing I don’t like…”

5. 3-fold week of school is like “Y” [drawing of triangle] (body, mind, spirit).

a. Body
Physical exam at the infirmary and important inoculations; teach health habits; open windows, bathing (Rhody Melindy); diseases to combat; medical staff – 1 doctor, 2 nurses serve at our little hospital and surrounding community (area of 300 square miles). People have learned to come to the hospital; care for mothers and babies; doctor has weekly clinic at Line Fork and down Greasy [Big Laurel Medical Settlement].

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b. Mind

(1) We had to combat some old ideas, i.e., square world. “I don’t believe in going….” “When I seed….” On the whole, old ideas are dying out.

(2) Mountain people have a zeal for larnin’. “Books read plum through – kiver to kiver.”Law, a body couldn’t book up all I don’t know.” “I don’t like school but I like what it makes you be.” That “boy” is now a valued worker.

c. Spirit
Appreciation of beauty; learn to enjoy little things, to see the beauty about them. Mountain people are very poetic. Words – (corn all a-silky, peep o’ day, dusky dark).

Learn and appreciate their own culture, i.e., ballads, use of leisure time, folk-dancing, nature study, handicrafts. “Better for folkses character to larn ’em to work with hands.” XTN way of living [so?] feuds must go.

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Special Days at Pine Mountain

(1) Fair Day in fall; community gathering, exhibits ; [sp. match?], drama and singing ballads, etc.

(2) May Day – Colorful happy time when children enjoy all types of folk dancing around the May pole on the green.

(3) Christmas – Most beautiful time of all. The week before Christmas vacation, one round of happy activity – garlands, wreaths, Melissa’s answer about prettiest thing she ever saw. Special assembly – drama of Christmas carols in dining room. mummers’ play. Nativity Play, giving at manger.

Sacrificial meals; Charity Fund. Between Christmas and New Year’s, a big community party (300) men, women, children, when gifts are given and refreshments and games are in order. Our Christmas has affected the community and the children. “Love and joy” in cabin…

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“Hit’s the peacefullest.”

With all these impressions and the training the children get at work and in school, what do they do with it? Teachers, homemakers, nurses, doctors – many served in the war – 6 Gold Stars on our service flag – 1 a grandson of Uncle William, who lies on an island in the South Pacific.

Carrying out Uncle William’s dream: “I don’t want hit to be for this locality only; it can be for the whole state if they want it; hit can be for the whole world if they can get any good outen hit.”

Viet Nam visitors [1968] . lynn_paul_comm_002c






For links to additional pages about Margaret Motter, see 


EDUCATION Viet Nam Visitors at PMSS 1968