Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Catherine Rittenhouse (1886-1958)
Mary Dana (1879-19??)
Volunteer Workers, Summer 1914

Catherine Rittenhouse with children. X_100_workers_2531.jpg

Catherine Rittenhouse with children.[ X_100_workers_2531.jpg]


Summer Volunteer Workers, June 19 – August 1, 1914

TAGS: Catherine Rittenhouse, PMSS staff, Mary Dana, volunteers, Pine Mountain Settlement School, education, Leroy W. Sanford, Summer 1914, rural education, Minnesota, Hennepin County

Catherine Rittenhouse came to Pine Mountain Settlement School as a volunteer worker in the summer of 1914, in the second year of the School’s existence. She was accompanied by Mary Dana who also worked for the same period of time. The two were engaged in many activities, including teaching and caring for the boarding students.

Along with the founders, Katherine Pettit and Ethel De Long, and a part-time nurse who promptly went on vacation, Catherine and her friend felt their way through the earliest activities of the School and the community. It was a sensory, life-shifting experience neither would forget.  

Catherine’s letters home and her collection of photographic images are vivid records of her work, her reflections, and the life of the School. They describe the initial shock that all staff encountered: the lack of sanitation, poor well water, the rampant diseases, particularly diarrhea, the insects, snakes, mad dogs, and the oppressive heat of summer. However, the challenges were deeper than just those physical discomforts. The distance Catherine felt from the culture of the people is palpable.

Summer and the many inconveniences of living so far from any supply center could discourage even the most seasoned dwellers at the School. But the fear, disgust, and daily struggles soon gave way to their rewarding engagements with the young students and the people of the community.

CATHERINE RITTENHOUSE: Letters Accompanying the Collection, 1958

Following Catherine’s death in 1958, her husband, Leroy W. Sanford, sent typewritten transcriptions of her letters and photographs to Pine Mountain Settlement School to be added to the Archive. A copy of the letter from Mr. Leroy W. Sanford that accompanied the images and correspondence follows:

Minneapolis, Minnesota
April 24, 1958

The recent death on March 22nd of my wife, Mrs. Catherine Rittenhouse Sanford, has prompted me to write you this letter.

In the summer of 1914, shortly before our marriage which occurred in 1915, Mrs. Sanford — then Miss Catherine Rittenhouse — and a close friend and distant relative of hers, Miss Mary Dana (who later became Mrs. C.V. Kennedy and is now deceased) spent about six weeks as voluntary workers at the Pine Mountain Settlement School which had been started shortly before that time. As you can well imagine, they worked under very primitive conditions doing some teaching and performing such other tasks as were necessary at the time.

Mrs. Sanford often spoke of the time she spent down there, which she regarded as one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences of her entire lifetime. She always followed the gradual development of the school with great interest and has sent small contributions from time to time at the Christmas season.

At the time of her death, my daughters and I suggested memorials to Plymouth Congregational Church of this city, of which my wife and I have been members for over forty years. Out of the amount received, I have requested the Church to forward to you the sum of $25 as a memorial to Mrs. Sanford.

I am enclosing a transcript which Mrs. Sanford made of the letters which she wrote to her parents while she was down there. She often spoke of Mr. William Creech who, as I understand it, was one of the founders of the school, and must have been a very interesting character. I trust you will find this of interest. In any event it is yours for such disposition as you see fit.



Rittenhouse Collection. Two letters to PMSS from L.W. Sanford, about donation of the collection, 1958. [D2_06_ritt_notes002]


Catherine Rittenhouse was born May 31, 1886, in St. Paul, Minnesota, and she died March 22, 1958, in Hennepin County, Minnesota. She was one of three children born to Charles Edwin Rittenhouse, a banker, and Grace (Hubbell) Rittenhouse. (A note in a list of PMSS Workers indicates that Charles Rittenhouse “was connected to PMSS board.”)

Catherine married Leroy “Lee” Woodworth Sanford (1886-1969) in 1915. They had four children.

Miss Mary Dana [1879-19??] married Charles V. Kennedy. As of the 1930 U.S. Census, the couple was living in Miami, Florida, where Charles worked as a real estate salesman.

See Also:


Catherine Rittenhouse
Mary Dana

Alt. Title

Catherine Rittenhouse Sanford ; Katherine (incorrect spelling) Rittenhouse ;
Mary Dana Kennedy



Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Catherine Rittenhouse ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Mary Dana ; volunteer workers ; education ; folklore ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Berea, KY ; Katherine Pettit ; Ethel de Long Zande

Subject LCSH

Rittenhouse, Catherine, — 1886-1958.
Dana, Mary, — 1879-19??
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY


Leroy W. Sanford


Text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents, correspondence and photographs in file folders in filing cabinet


Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 7: Director’s Papers and Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff

Coverage Temporal


Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Wellesley, MA ; Plainsfield, NJ ; Durham, NH ; Berea, KY ;


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




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and photographs of Catherine Rittenhouse Sanford ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Catherine Rittenhouse family




Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers

Processed by

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last updated

2015-06-03 hhw ; 2016-12-28 hhw ; 2023-02-14 aae ;


Information on Rittenhouse family from web resources and from family. Leroy W. Sanford letter.

“Catherine Rittenhouse.” FamilySearch Family Tree. ; accessed 14 Feb 2023. Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1900”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 Feb 2023), Catherine Rittenhouse in entry for Chas E Rittenhouse, 1900. Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 February 2023), Charles V Kennedy, Miami, Dade, Florida, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 53, sheet 10B, line 63, family 225, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002). Internet resource.

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