HELEN WILMER STONE

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
Wilmer Stone. X_099_workers_2506_mod.jpg

Helen Wilmer Stone with kittens. [X_099_workers_2506_mod.jpg]

HELEN WILMER STONE, Housemother 1914-1922


TAGS: Helen Wilmer Stone ; Helen Wilmer Stone Viner ; Vassar College ; Marguerite Butler ; mountain craft ; housemothers ; teachers ; vocational training ; hygiene education ; Weaving Shop ; cottage industries ; Clementine Douglass ; vegetable dying ; Shanty Shane ; Spinning Wheel ; weaving ; Smith Community Life School ; craft revival movement ; Henry C. Viner ; Edith Vanderbilt ; Biltmore Village ; Charlotte Yale ; Eleanor Vance ; Frances Goodrich ; Allenstand (Allanstand) Cottage Industries ; craft enterprises ; Biltmore Estate Industries ; Southern Highland Craft Guild ; scrapbooks ; weaving samples ; Hunter Library ; Red Fish, LA ; Saluda, NC ; AshEville, NC ; Allanstand, NC ;


Helen Wilmer Stone [Viner] (c.1891- 1978) was born in Red Fish, Louisiana, apparently a plantation near New Orleans, according to biographical information found in Philis Alvic’s carefully researched Weavers of the Southern Highlands (2003), census records, and Vassar College records. Her attendance at Vassar put her in touch with other Vassar graduates who knew Pine Mountain Settlement School or worked there, especially Marguerite Butler who came to Pine Mountain the same year (1914) as Stone.

Helen Wilmer Stone (apparently she preferred the simple Wilmer Stone) was evidently born into a family of wealth and privilege who spent their summers in the cool mountains of Saluda, North Carolina, a favorite summer retreat for wealthy northerners. It was the Saluda-Vassar connection that brought her to Pine Mountain, but it was the Saluda connection that gave her a deep appreciation for mountain craft. When the two came together in Wilmer Stone, she spent the remainder of her life as a craftsperson.

Stone’s responsibilities at Pine Mountain are described as that of housemother, but there are indications that she also taught classes at the School. Housemothering at Pine Mountain was often seen as a teaching position, as vocational training and hygiene were part of the School’s educational program.

Both Stone and Butler spent eight years at Pine Mountain. Both left the School in the same year (1922), Marguerite for John C. Campbell Folk School and Wilmer Stone to Saluda where she established a weaving cooperative and a retail store, the Weaving Shop, in 1923. The lessons she had learned at Pine Mountain transferred well to her new endeavors. In late 1923 she was working with the community of Saluda to build a cottage industry shop with her friend Clementine Douglass, whom she had met when Douglass worked in Harlan County at a nearby school and who received instruction from Stone in vegetable dying at Pine Mountain. The two had taken residence in a small cottage they called “Shanty Shane” which served as both residence and early shop. Both women shared an interest in weaving and particularly weaving with naturally dyed yarns. Stone was able to make a productive operation of the Weaving Shop but Clementine Douglass soon moved on to Asheville, NC, where she could care for her mother more comfortably.

Once settled, Douglass established her own shop, the Spinning Wheel. in 1926. Douglass had been inspired to turn to weaving as an enterprise by her summer work at the Smith Community Life School in Harlan County, not far from Pine Mountain. She met Helen Wilmer Stone during her summers in Harlan when she traveled to nearby Pine Mountain and to mountain homes that were still weaving in the 1920s. Both Stone and Douglass were early forerunners of the Craft Revival movement in the area and found a supportive community in western North Carolina. In the 1940 Census, Stone is described as still living in Saluda, North Carolina, and married to Henry C. Viner, an Englishman. Little is known of her husband.

Stone’s early venture into marketing craft was not new to the area, as Edith Vanderbilt had established a craft enterprise in Biltmore Village near Asheville, and enlisted the aid of Charlotte Yale and Eleanor Vance to run the operation. Frances Goodrich had a well established program for cottage industries very early at Allenstand (or, Allanstand). Stone’s weaving business was surrounded by craft enterprises and many became legend in the history of the so-called Craft Revival movement.

Yale and Vance of the Biltmore Estate Industries later moved to Tryon, near Saluda, and became friends and neighbors of Stone when they sold their business in the Village to Fred Seely and he industrialized their weaving industry in his Biltmore Industries. Frances Goodrich’s early shop, the Allenstand Cottage Industries, founded in 1908, later moved to Asheville where it later gave birth to the Southern Highland Craft Guild when Goodrich turned over her business to the Guild.

While a student at Vassar, Stone had majored in political science but her responsibilities at Pine Mountain appear to have always been that of a housemother and her interests always tended toward craft. A small scrapbook of weaving samples and notes held by John C. Campbell Folk School (and digitized by Western Carolina’s Hunter Library) show Stone’s craft interests and also her careful work at documenting mountain craft. Apparently, she passed the scrapbook along to Clementine Douglass where it was finally donated to John C. Campbell Folk School. It is clearly marked by Wilmer Stone’s hand as having been created at Pine Mountain. The weaving samples in the scrapbook distinctly show her interest in local craft.

During the early years of the School, “housemothering” was considered to be as important a job as classroom teacher, for education was considered to be part of all the activity at the School. The scrapbook possibly served several purposes for Wilmer Stone, not the least of which was a ready-made instruction book for students and staff. Not everyone was adept at “mothering” but Wilmer Stone seemed to be quite at home in the role. There is evidence Wilmer was a much loved and admired housemother during her years at the institution.


GALLERY: Helen Wilmer Stone

CORRESPONDENCE GALLERY

 


Title

Helen Wilmer Stone

Alt. Title

Helen Wilmer Stone Viner ; Wilmer Stone ; Wilmer Viner ;

Identifier

https://pinemountainsettlement.net/?page_id=15172

Creator

Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Helen Wilmer Stone ; Helen Wilmer Stone Viner ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Philis Alvic ; Vassar College ; Marguerite Butler ; mountain craft ; housemothers ; teachers ; vocational training ; hygiene education ; John C. Campbell Folk School ; Weaving Shop ; cottage industries ; Clementine Douglass ; vegetable dying ; Shanty Shane ; Spinning Wheel ; weaving ; Smith Community Life School ; craft revival movement ; Henry C. Viner ; Edith Vanderbilt ; Biltmore Village ; Charlotte Yale ; Eleanor Vance ; Frances Goodrich ; Allenstand (Allanstand) Cottage Industries ; craft enterprises ; Biltmore Estate Industries ; Southern Highland Craft Guild ; scrapbooks ; weaving samples ; Hunter Library ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Red Fish, LA ; Saluda, NC ; Ashville, NC ; Allanstand, NC ;

Subject LCSH

Stone, Helen Wilmer,– c. 1891- 1978.
Dyes and dyeing — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Hand weaving — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Appalachia — History.
Educators — Biography.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (KY) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region.
Rural schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.

Date

2010-01-08

Publisher

Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Contributor

n/a

Type

Text ; image ;

Format

Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet ; photography album(s) ;

Source

Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel

Language

English

Relation

Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel

Temporal Coverage

1893 – 1984

Spatial Coverage

Pine Mountain, KY ; Red Fish, LA ; Saluda, NC ; Ashville, NC ; Allanstand, NC ;

Rights

Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Donor

n/a

Description

Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers created by or addressed to Helen Wilmer Stone ; clippings, photographs, publications by or about Helen Wilmer Stone.

Acquisition

n/d

Citation

“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed by

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Last updated

2010-01-08 aae ; 2013-10-29 aae ; 2014-04-18 hhw ; 2014-08-03 hhw ; 2014-09-08 ; 2014-12-21 hhw ; 2014-12-31 aae ; 2017-06-07 AAE ;

Bibliography

Sources

Alvic, Philis. Weavers of the Southern Highlands. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2003. Print.

Becker, Jane S. Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Internet resource.

Craft Revival: Shaping Western North Carolina Past and Present. Cullowhee, N.C: Hunter Library, Western Carolina University, 2006. Internet resource.

Davison, Marguerite Porter. A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, self-published, 1944 [first printing]; Swarthmore, PA, 1950; 1989 [26th printing]. Print.

Davison, Marguerite P. A Handweaver’s Pattern Book for Four-Harness Looms. Swarthmore, Pa: The author, 1945. Print.

Goodrich, Frances L, and Jan Davidson. Mountain Homespun: A Facsimile of the Original, Published in 1931. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2010. Internet resource.

Stone, Helen Wilmer. Series 09: Biography – StaffPersonnel. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Archival material.

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