STAPLETON REPORT – November 1931 “On the way to Pine Mt. Settlement school is Puncheon Camp …”

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton

Line Fork 1927 – 1947

STAPLETON REPORT – November 1931 “On the way to Pine Mt. Settlement school is Puncheon Camp …”


“On the way to Pine Mt. Settlement school is Puncheon Camp …”

November Notes Gilley P O Kentucky 1931

Dear Friends:-
On the way to Pine Mt Settlement school is Puncheon Camp, the first branch that runs into Line Fork from its source. A hunter built a shack up here forty years or so ago and ever since it has gone by that name. It is a rough little road thru a narrow wooded valley and creek bed which “Jas” has cleaned out enough so that he can get his wagon thru to his place at the extreme head of the hollow. Jas has followed running a moonshine still for many years and cultivating his steep and rocky acres along with Mary, who has raised five daughters and four sons and a nephew. Four have been in school a bit above the district grade. Three of them were at Pine Mt but somehow they could not stick it out. One persisted in carrying liquor to the school and had to be dismissed. One of the girls seemed very hopeful, appearing so enthusiastic. We were all much disappointed this Fall when she said she was not going back.

The house is a four roomed board building, very poorly finished and furnished – six beds but never made up nicely with white spread or embroidered sheets such as the most self-respecting of our neighbors have. But Mary likes to piece quilts, uses Diamond dyes to color the flour pokes and achieving a certain result with those materials. But she has no skill to make any thing very well.

To-day I find her resting on the porch and eating a “meller” apple, some of which are passed on to me. She and the girls, Addie and Flossie, had been gathering some black walnuts which were drying on the porch floor. At intervals some fat little grubs kept dropping thru the cracks in the ceiling of the porch and Mary said they were from chestnuts which the children had up there. These grubs develop after the chestnuts are gathered and to prevent them the nuts must be heated or packed in salt.

Flossie is in overalls and is about to finish washing at a place near the branch where she can scoop up the water. It is very low in their well up by the house. Winfield, Morgan and Addie are gathering corn ears with a mule and wooden sled to drag the load down to the crib. “Lum” a married son, who lives on Bear Branch just over the ridge, is also helping. They will help him get his down later.
Jas has quite a flock of turkeys and reckons he will sell them at Cumberland. They don’t seem to have fattened very well but he sold them at an average of two dollars apiece. He reckoned he might pay the doctor a dollar and a half, owed for six months, when he sold the turkeys but he hasn’t made out to do it. They seem though to have a remembering conscience any way.

Over the ridge on Bear Branch, lives the married son Columbus – Lum for short. His pretty little wife Elizabeth helped at the Cabin when the “fotched on teachers were here”. She has some notion of neatness but because they don’t intend to stay there “allers” they haven’t even tried to repair the old log house. The roof was a sieve all last winter and this Summer it is half replaced “but Lum didn’t get enough shingles to cover the porch so that still leaks”. Elizabeth said “Lum likes to read and I tell him he is no more account than a rag doll”. Yes he likes to hunt squirrels and has up to this time 129 to his credit this season, or discredit as the law allows a man to shoot only for his own use. It is very evident his family appetite for squirrel is abnormal. Mountain people are very partial to squirrel meat and a quarter is considered a reasonable price for a squirrel. The day I was there Lum had an order for ten and the neighbor who was going to the mine on Black Mt was there waiting for them and possibly a jar or two of “corn likker”.

Elizabeth was milking the cow one evening and when coming to the house noticed smoke between the logs. The paper which lined the inside by the chimney had caught on fire and the cabin was in imminent danger. She didn’t wait to go to the well for water but threw the milk with all her might on the flaming paper and put it out. She has a little boy of three and she thought he lit it. But it may have caught from “hippins” hanging in front of the fireplace.
Lum comes to the Cabin for books about once a month but never brings Elizabeth. Once I asked them to come for the night and hear the radio but they didn’t manage it. They have no mule so Elizabeth never goes anywhere except to Lum’s mother over the ridge. He offered to keep the boy Estil while she made a visit to her own mother on Cutshin some ten miles distant but she said “I reckoned I’d better just stay by and take care of what I had”.

At the very head of Bear Branch is Alec Boggs and Rainie with Rosie, Boyd, Addie, Maggie, Leemore, Evelyn and “Lil Liza Jane”. Boyd and Addie were at school the day I came on Rosie minding the others while Rainie helped Alec bring the corn ears down. Rosie was in very soiled torn overalls and the babies all so crusted over, I asked her if she could wash them so I could see how pretty they are. She very willingly complied but forgot her own face. “Lil Liza Jane had got so mad she cried herself to sleep” said Rosie. But she soon woke up and then Leemore cried because Rosie had to put her down and take baby. But I soon had them interested in batting a balloon I hung from the porch ceiling. Evelyn wouldn’t play and Rosie said “She is like that, she always pouts”. The sun was low between the hills and Rosie observed how pretty the sun-ball was when it went down that-a-way.

I was just leaving when Alec and Rainie came down with the sled load of corn. They were unloading into the substantial log crib. I remarked the new roof. Rainie said, “yes it had to be made before we could put the corn in”. The crib was built in 1917 so the roof lasted fourteen years. Alec brought me a handful of apples from the store in the crib as I stopped to chat for a few minutes. Near by the crib are two of the loveliest holly bushes one could ever hope to see. Just gleaming in glossy green leaves and bunches of large red berries. They had had but two rooms in their house for ten years but a year ago Alec added another and dug a well by the door so Rainie has no longer to carry water from the spring. Her life with Alec had a terribly stormy beginning. She left him for a year and wandered around with a neighbor man who left his wife. Finally he was found dead and Alec took Rainie back and she has been faithful ever since. When the last baby came Rainie’s mother Hannah said “pears like they had a house full”. But Rainie said “I aim to take care of every one the Lord sends me.”

One day recently Rosie came to the Cabin to ask for a coat for her mother like the one I gave her aunt Sary saying “any one big enough for you would fit her”. She had not had a coat for two years and couldn’t even go to meeting as Bish Boggs’ her father-in-law on Big Laurel. It seems to be the custom of having preaching at various homes during the winter. I had a coat to pass on and Rosie was so happy to carry it home to her mother. There was a little tam that suited her so she also was happy with a gift.

Over another ridge at the head of Jake’s Creek lives Rainie’s mother Hannah and sister Liza Jane Boggs. Lil Liza Jane is named after her as she went to Rainie’s assistance on a terribly stormy night. Her husband Art is a brother of Alec. They have no children so Liza Jane sometimes borrows Addie or Maggie for weeks at a time until Rainie just won’t hear to her staying any longer. Just below here live Hi & Sara Hall. Sara is sister to Hannah and Poll another sister living over another ridge but near enough to neighbor. Her husband is “Doc Metcalf” the man midwife, who has been the stand-by of perhaps fifty families for twenty years. When the time is uncertain he may go and stay for several days before the babe arrives, at twenty-five cents a day besides his food. His own daughter went home to be confined so Poll could wait on her. She didn’t stay more than a week as she must get back to her tiny home on Line Fork where her husband Clarence with little boy were staying alone. These women never come to the Cabin, so I see them in their homes. We send them Scripture Pictorial Calendars for Christmas. I wish I could say they are all read but they at least suggest that we have Jesus Who would save them if they would only get to know and follow His teaching.

We have had such a stream of visitors from the distant Beech Fork & Clover, from Big Leatherwood and Stony. Two sisters Dovie and Lory Brown with the young baby Lovetta of the former. Poor little young things with foolish young husbands – no land, so they had no garden stuff to eke out the crop of corn they had made, no canned tomatoes or dried fruit, no cow or chickens. One feels so utterly helpless with people of no resources whatever. It was almost pitiful in my own ears as I very seriously advised the ailing Lory how to bake the corn bread and chew it thoroughly to get the best effect. A bottle of cod liver oil will supply some of the lack in her food. A few clothes and a dolly for Lory’s little five year old Elaine, some pretties (used Xmas cards) for Christmas day in the morning. All are urged to keep them for that day and they were grateful. Lory is to come again in March for some baby clothes needed in April. I have some on hand but it seemed best to have her come again and see me then.

Bessie Witt’s mother came in just as I was writing the above. Bessie was in Pine Mt school for some time. Later she had some work helping the cook in a lumber camp but since the work closed last summer she has been at home. They rent a poor little farm and made quite a crop of corn but moles ate their sweet taters and they didn’t discover the depredations until the potatoes were about all gone. The Irish taters did not do well. Seven and a half bushels were planted and about the same amount were harvested. The other garden stuff was poor and now their cow is dry for two months. Two months ago, the father of the family left them and took himself to a distant creek to a sister’s home. They traced him only to be flatly told he was not going back and they can get along without him.

Could we help them sell some corn so they can buy some other food? She had brought one of her few cans of fruit because we had helped them last year. She had two boys with her with some slight eye trouble, an infection. One, Boyd, was her own boy to whom I had sent treatment for tonsillitis. The other is an orphan who “took up” with them and they had shared what they had with him for two years. We couldn’t do much but they listened to the radio and I told them a lovely Christmas story. Boyd carried a box of Xmas cards to his school for the teacher to distribute as he is teaching on Christmas day so as to make up time and get away to Berea in February for further training. The rural schools begin their school work in July so the teachers are able to get away from their schools to the Normal schools in February or March. Some clothing was sent as well as pictures with which Bessie was to decorate their cabin. She recalls the Christmas festivities at Pine Mt with such joy.

At the head of Stony Fork are Grace and Joe Sparkman and their small sons Iddie and Leonard seven and a half and six. Their cousin Isabel had told them how she had enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the Cabin. Leonard had said “I’d like to eat at the Cabin but I ain’t been invited”. Grace told me this after I had asked them “to take a night with us”. So last Saturday Grace and the two boys came all freshly scrubbed and shining. They had walked the five miles, Leonard’s dog Cap attending. It was much disturbed by not being admitted to the house tho he was welcome to the porch. It whined and yelped for an hour after we had retired but the boys were not disturbed. They enjoyed a game of dominoes after supper. Joe had some but he had never offered to play with the little boys. Grace says he is “ornery”. Once he offered to give her a thrashing because she had been away without his permission. She was on the mule with one of the little boys. She said, “Well just take Iddie while I get me a limb and we’ll have this thing out right now”. Needless to say he did not carry out his threat. “Once he threw a drunk” she said and she did go away until he begged her to come back. Now he is planning on a new log house as the old one is falling about their heads. He had gotten out a number of logs and Grace was helping “to snake” them up the branch (to the site selected), about half a mile on a single trail or footpath.

Iddie and Leonard very much enjoyed the S S class on Sunday morning and as the rain came down in torrents after the children has assembled I had to keep them until the rain let up so we had stories and a game of bouncing ball in the living room. The boys were quite delighted at having slept in single beds. Joe says he will get them each a bed when he gets the new house built.

A Holiness preacher was at Bear Branch school house on Sunday and all the young people of the neighborhood were on the way to hear him when the downpour of rain caught them. But they went on to the preaching and sat in their wet things for three hours.
We are nothing if not ardent at the head of Line Fork.

With hearty greetings for a Blessed Christmas
From The Stapletons

**Transcription by Gretchen Rasch