Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 04: ADMINISTRATION – Directors
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Burton Rogers, Teacher, Director 1942-1973
Burton Brush Rogers (1909-2007)

Burton Rogers Director

Burton Brush Rogers. [rogers_mod.jpg]

TAGS:  Burton Rogers, Pine Mountain Settlement School Director, Yale University, Mary Blagden Rogers, Sherman CT, English teacher, Yale In China program, Yali Union Middle School in Changsha, Environmental Education


Counselor, Teacher 1942-1945
Counselor, Teacher, Principal 1947-1949
Director 1949-1973

Burton Rogers, teacher, principal, and director, had one the longest tenures of any staff at Pine Mountain Settlement School from 1942 to 1973. As director, 1949- 973, he was the longest occupant of that office in the history of the School. In his role as director he helped to shepherd the School through some of its most complex changes and re-positioning efforts, assisting the institution and staff as it moved from a residential boarding school to a community school and through the closure altogether of the public education program on the school grounds.

With his wife, Mary Blagden Rogers, he built a new direction for the School in the Environmental Education programs and multiple community outreach initiatives. Throughout the eras, the surrounding community on the North side of  Pine Mountain was always at the center of his attention.

Burton Brush Rogers was born May 3, 1909, on a farm in Sherman, Connecticut. In 1930, he received an undergraduate degree in American History from the Yale College of Yale University in New Haven, CT. Upon graduation, he went to China for eight years as a member of the staff of the Yale-in-China program, where he taught in the English as a Second Language program at the Yali Union Middle School in Changsha.

He left China in 1934 to study for his master’s degree in education at Yale University. He completed one year at Yale and the remaining three terms at the University of London in England. After graduation, Burton returned to China and provided four additional years of instruction at Yali Union Middle School. [See NOTES below]

Burton met Mary Blagden during his time in London, and when he returned to China, he continued to write to Mary. In the summer of 1940 he traveled to India where Mary was an instructor at a school in Murhu, India, near Ranchi, where they were married. Mary and Burton then returned to China where they both taught for another year before the political climate became too hostile and the Chinese Civil War too dangerous to continue working there.

Burton and Mary Rogers and son, Christopher. [1X_100_workers_2654]_mod.jpg

Burton and Mary Rogers and son, Christopher. [X_100_workers_2654_mod.jpg]

By 1941 Burton and Mary had returned once again to Yale University where Burton began work on a doctorate of religious education at the Yale Divinity School. During that time, Burton and Mary explored work placements in rural locations. According to information provided by the family of Burton and Mary, they were interested in “a rural setting that offered education beyond standard academics.” They found that workplace at Pine Mountain Settlement School and, in April of 1942, came to Pine Mountain, Burton as a counselor and teacher, and Mary as a housemother.

The Rogers continued their interest in China, but never were able to visit or work there again. In 1945, however, Burton traveled back to India to serve two years as staff for the American Friends Service Committee. [Go to Rogers’ 1945-1946 Report from India for images and transcription.]

By 1947, with their first child, Christopher, they returned to Pine Mountain where they were to remain for approximately the next forty-six years. For the first several years Burton worked again as a counselor/teacher and then as principal of the School. In 1949 he assumed the role of Director, a position he held until 1973. An accounting of those many years is still being processed from the approximately 14 boxes of administrative documents.


When Mary died at Pine Mountain in 1993, Burton moved to Lexington, Kentucky, near his youngest son, Peter Rogers, and family. In Lexington, he continued to be active in his local community, particularly the Lexington Friends Meeting circle. He also regularly attended local concerts, recitals, and plays. When able, he was a regular visitor to Pine Mountain and frequently entertained Pine Mountain guests in his home in Lexington. Burton died on June 18, 2007. He was 98 years old.

BURTON ROGERS: Lifetime as an Educator

A brief life history provided by Burton Roger’s family, 05/01/1999. Text is lightly edited for clarity.

May 3, 1909.

    • Born in Maplemont at Sherman, Conn., to John Theodore and Ruth Brush Rogers.

Fall 1915 – Spring 1922.

    • Attended New Milford High School in New Milford, Conn.

Sept 1926 – Spring 1930.

    • Attended Yale College (the academic undergraduate school of Yale University) in New Haven, Conn. BA (major in American History)

Summer 1930 – Summer 1934.

    • By train to San Francisco; by ship, via Honolulu, Hawaii to Yokohama, Japan; visited Peking; by freighter to Shanghai; by steamer up the river to Changsha.
    • Two-year “bachelor” program with Yale-in-China teaching English at Yali Union Middle School in Changsha, China.
    • Stayed on at Yali as head of English Department when Frank Hutchins recalled to New  Haven for fundraising.
    • By train from Changsha to Hankow, Peking, Mukden, Harbin; joined by Winifred Galbraith on trans-Siberia, Moscow, Berlin, Paris (arriving on Bastille Day); visit Northern France; joined parents at Le Havre and traveled with them by boat to Hamburg; by train through Leipzig, Nuremberg, Dikelsbuhl [umlaut], Munich Passion Play at Oberammergau, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Interlaken, Switzerland, Rhine Valley, Holland, to London. Through Southern England by car; by boat to New York; returned to Sherman [Conn].

Fall 1934 – Spring 1935.

    • Graduate School at Yale for Masters in Education.

Summer 1935.

    • Berlin “tutor” exchange (austauschdienst) to learn German; Munich for summer school.

Fall 1935 – Fall 1936.

    • Graduate studies in linguistics and phonetics at University of London.
    • Met Mary Blagden [Rogers], a student at Institute of Education University of London.
    • Driving tour through Germany and Belgium with Eva and Mary Blagden and Hubert Pocock.

Spring 1937.

    • Returned to Sherman to write thesis on the teaching of English in China.
    • MA in Education from Yale.

Summer 1937 – Spring 1941.

    • German liner, Europa, to Southhampton; driven by Eva Blagden to visit in Yately. (Mary was off teaching at Hayes Court School in Kent). Then on to London; by train through Germany (hike 75 mi. through Black Forest from Baden-Baden to Freiberg with friends), then to Genoa. German liner through Suez, Colombo, Singapore, Manila, Hong King; by the new train to Changsha.
    • Taught English (as head of English department) in Yali Union Middle School.
    • The first Japanese bombing of Changsha came on Thanksgiving Day, 1937.
    • Moved school inland to Yuanling in September 1938 due to Japanese advance.
    • Yuanling was largely destroyed August 18, 1939, by Japanese bombers but the school area spared.
    • US Counsel and British authorities recommended in Feb. 1941 that trans-Pacific travelers start leaving China as soon as possible.
    • May 1941, by boat to Changsha, boat and train to Guilin, plane by night over Japanese occupied territory to Hong Kong; Norwegian freighter via Philippines to San Pedro, California; by train to Seattle; then to New York; to Sherman, Conn.

Summer 1940.

    • By truck to Kunming; by plane to Lashio and Rangoon; by boat to Calcutta; by train to Ranchi to visit Mary Blagden; Trips in Northern India.
    • Engaged to Mary Blagden at Ranchi Lake on July 29, 1940. Married Aug. 20, 1940, at Murhu.
    • Returned to Chia via Calcutta, boat to Rangoon; train to Mandalay, Lashio; plane to Kunming; busses to Guiyang; then by Red Cross truck to Yuanling.

Spring 1942.

    • Enrolled in Yale Divinity School in religious education.
    • Christopher (‘Kit’) born Jan 16 in New Haven.

June 30, 1942 – Spring 1947.

    • Pendle Hill; training sessions with American Friends Service Committee.
    • Sailed from New York via Egypt, British troop boat to Bombay, to train to Calcutta and by truck to Contai (100 miles south).
    • Closing AFSC [American Friends Service Committee] relief programs (after 1942 floods and 1943 famine) and inspecting weaving co-ops.
    • After MR [Mary Rogers] and Kit arrived from visit in England, they traveled over to Calcutta; served as finance officer and interpreter for relief teams during riots.
    • From Bombay by ship to London; about a month at Yately; sail on America troop transport arriving in New York on July 3.
    • Returned to Pine Mountain July 13.

Fall 1947 – Spring 1994.

    • Taught English and Social Studies [at PMSS].
    • Nov. 7, 1947; Peter born in the Infirmary (Hill House).
    • 1949: Pine Mountain closed boarding school and invited the county to consolidate local one-room elementary schools on PMSS campus. BBR [Burton] appointed Director of PMSS (and also Principal of the consolidated school until 1952).
    • 1971: County moved school to Green Hills and PMSS started the Environmental Education program.
    • 1973: Retired as Director of PMSS. Named Director, Emeritus. (MR [Mary] continued on as staff of Environmental Education program).

Spring 1994.
Lexington, KY.

By DR. LARRY SHINN, President, Berea College

Burton was such an important figure in the development of Pine Mountain Settlement School’s programs and history that his death records the passing of an era not only at Pine Mountain but also in 20th century Appalachia. May we all celebrate his long and meaningful life, even as we mourn our loss.

Dr. Larry Shinn, President, Berea College

GALLERY: Burton Rogers

Click on image for full view.


BURTON ROGERS 1945-1946 Report from India

BURTON ROGERS 2007 Memorial and Funeral


A table of Burton Rogers’ Director files held at Pine Mountain. Contains records largely from 1941 until 1973, when Burton stepped down from the position of Director. The files and correspondence with the Board of Trustees are particularly rich with history, Biographical details and descriptions of the educational programs at the School, talks and other important documents remain to be processed. Files are still in processing and many are not available to the public at this time.


MARY ROGERS Staff Biography

SECOND GENERATION Photograph Album c. 1930s

Settlement Schools of Appalachia KET.org

Title Burton Rogers
Alt. Title Burton Brush Rogers
Identifier https://pinemountainsettlement.net/?page_id=2083
Creator Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY
Alt. Creator Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;
Subject Keyword Burton Rogers ; Burton Brush Rogers ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; education ; directors ; principals ; public education ; Mary Rogers ; environmental education ; community outreach ; Yale College ; Yale University ; Yale-in-China program ; English as a Second Language ; Lali Union Middle School ; University of London ; Chinese Civil War ; Yale Divinity School ; American Friends Service Committee ; Lexington Friends Meeting ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Sherman, CT ; New Haven, CT ; Changsha, China ; London, England ; Lexington, KY ; Edward V. Gulick ; Dr. Fritz Eitel ; Old Log ;
Subject LCSH Rogers, Burton Brush, — 1909 – 2007.
Educators — Biography.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Rural schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Schools — Appalachian Region.
Missions — China.
Date 2007-06-26
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
Source Series 7: Director’s Files ; Series 9: Staff/Personnel ;
Language English
Relation Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 7: Director’s Files and Series 9: Staff/Personnel
Coverage Temporal 1909 – 2007
Coverage Spatial Pine Mountain, KY ; Sherman, CT ; New Haven, CT ; Changsha, China ; London, England ; Lexington, KY ;
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 Burton Brush Rogers ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Burton Brush Rogers ;
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 Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;
Last updated 2001-05-28 hhw ; 2013-09-10 hhw ; 2013-10-29 aae ; 2014-07-28 hhw ; 2020-09-20 hhw
Bibliography Drake, Fred W., Ed. Ruth Hemenway: A Memoir of Revolutionary China, 1924 – 1941. University of Massachusetts Press, 1977. Print.
Elder, B J. The Oriole’s Song: An American Girlhood in Wartime China. Norwalk:EastBridge, 2003. Print.

Gulick, Edward V. Teaching in Wartime China: A Photo­ Memoir, 1937–1939. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995. Print.

Gulick, Edward V. Peter Parker and the Opening of China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973. Print.

Morris, Glyn. Less Travelled Roads. New York: Vantage Press, 1977. Print.


The following is a list of individuals who served with Burton Rogers in China. Compiled by Edward V. Gulick, a colleague in China and included in his autobiographical account of Teaching in Wartime China…, and in Peter Parker and the Opening of China, (1973). This list reflects the context and central figures who helped to shape Burton’s educational views and work at Pine Mountain. One of Burton’s close friends was the missionary Dr. Fritz Eitel of the Liebenzeller Mission whose work as a “medical pioneer” in China is detailed in the Gulick book and Francis Hutchins, President of Berea College ( who was for a time Director of the Yale in China Programs, where he supervised Burton.

Central figures at Yali, the Yale School in China

Hans Borchardt: a German military advisor to Chiang Kai­-shek
Minotte Chatfield: Yale ’36; Senior Bachelor
Dr. H. C. Chang: head of the Hsiang Ya Hospital
Rocky Chin: recent Yale Ph.D. in international relations; an American visitor
”Gerald”: my summer traveling companion in Southwest China in 1938
Phil Greene: member of the permanent staff; chief surgeon of Hsiang Ya
Ruth Greene: wife of Phil; mother of Anne, Ellen, Fritz, and Peggy
Jackson Ho: member of Yali faculty and athletic director
Frank [Francis S.] Hutchins: our “boss”; representative of the Yale-­in-China home office in New Haven
Louise Hutchins: medical intern at Hsiang Ya; wife of Frank [Francis Hutchins]
Edna Hutchinson: member of permanent staff; dean of the nursing school
Lao Ch’i­chiang: principal of the Yali Middle School
Dr. Walter Liebenthal: refugee from Nazi Germany; eminent Sanskrit scholar
Jeannette Lin: gynecologist; head of a tiny refugee clinic
Burton Rogers: Yale ’30; permanent staff; head of English department
Dwight Rugh: Yali chaplain; permanent staff
John Runnalls: Yale ’37; my traveling companion to China; Junior Bachelor
Preston Schoyer: “Fritz”; novelist; former Bachelor who returned to help out
Shao Tze­feng: member of Yali faculty; Confucian classicist; proctor
Sid Sweet: Yale ’36; Senior Bachelor
Dr. George Tootell: medical missionary at the Presbyterian Hospital in Changte
Ying K’ai­shih: dean of the Yali Middle School; one of China’s top educators

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