Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Ethel S. Norton, Teacher 1927
Ethel S. Norton Jordan (d. 1988)


Ethel Norton and her class in front of Burkham School House with their log cabin project, 1927. Norton is center, back row. [norton_101.jpg]

TAGS: Ethel S. Norton, Ethel S. Norton Jordan, Pine Mountain Settlement School, education, teachers, Rebel Rock, photographs, students, Fiddler John Lewis, Antioch College, University of Oregon, YWCA, USO, WWII, Percy MacKaye, theater, trains, roads, travel, Abby Winnie Christensen, John Lewis


Teacher, Fifth and Sixth Grades, 1927

Core documents, correspondence, writing, photographs and papers of Ethel S. Norton are distributed throughout the Pine Mountain Settlement School collections. A Scrapbook and Photograph Album makes up the central material in the Ethel S. Norton collection. It is the most extensive documentation of the life of Ethel S. Norton while she was a teacher at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the late nineteen-twenties. The Scrapbook, divided into Parts 1 through 4, was donated by the stepdaughter.

By 1927 Pine Mountain Settlement School was thriving as an educational institution. Founded in 1913, the School started with a population of very young children. By the mid to late twenties, the age of the children had gone up as had the School census. Through the energetic work of Katherine Pettit and her co-director, Ethel de Long Zande, the School had a sound financial backing during these years and the physical infrastructure of the institution was in place, even though the first Burkham School House I had burned in a tragic fire in the early years and was replaced at great expense to the School.

Ethel Norton came to Pine Mountain in 1927, the year she graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was a student at Antioch from 1924 to 1927. At Pine Mountain, she was charged to teach the fifth and sixth-grade classes. As described in her “My Dear Everybody Back-Home Letter,” she had a total of 40 pupils in the two classes. (See full transcription of the letter below.)

ETHEL S. NORTON: After Pine Mountain

Ethel left Pine Mountain around 1928 or 1929 for other teaching positions. She served for a time as Dean of Women (possibly at Albright College in Reading, PA, according to the Teacher’s College Record, after teaching English at a high school in Amityville, Long Island.) Later she was a director of a YWCA program for the USO (United States Organizations, Inc.). In 1943 Ethel married Mr. ___ Jordan and the two traveled to Oregon where Ethel taught at the University of Oregon in Eugene.


Ethel S. Norton Jordan and her husband retired in the town of Gold Beach, Oregon, where she lived until 1980 when her husband died. She then moved to Washington state to be near her stepdaughter. Ethel Norton died of cancer in 1988.

See Also:
ETHEL S. NORTON Scrapbook and Photograph Album Part 1
ETHEL S. NORTON Scrapbook and Photograph Album Part 2
ETHEL S. NORTON Scrapbook and Photograph Album Part 3
ETHEL S. NORTON Scrapbook and Photograph Album Part 4

ETHEL S. NORTON Correspondence and Supplemental Material 


Pine Mountain Settlement School,
Pine Mountain,
Harlan County, Kentucky.

My Dear Everybody-Back Home: –

Well here I am in the wilds of Kentucky. It is actually wild too. The first Sunday I was here one of the workers came into Mrs. Zande‘s house where some of us were having supper and announced that she had that day (Sunday) had the most exciting experience since she had been at Pine Mountain. She and some boys were walking in the mountains and came into the midst of some fierce shooting. In the distance she saw a man fall. The firing subsided when they saw her, a woman. But, as soon as she was out of range of the guns the shooting started up again. The next day the children were talking about somebody’s brother having been killed the day before. This happened near a lumber camp, Putney, not more than five miles from the school.

But, even though the air in these mountains is dangerously filled with weird shots and strange sounds, it is perfectly beautiful here now. In that same air is the fragrance of “the green trees a-growin’, and the sound of the birds singing.

Speaking of birds, I think immediately of the striking Kentucky Cardinal, or Redbird. I saw a lovely one just as I started up the mountain on Joe, the mule.

And now I must tell you about my remarkable trip. I traveled all night on the sleeper from Cincinnati. About six o’clock in the morning the train stopped at a very small mining town, Pineville. There Mrs. Preston, an interesting person who was on the train, and I had breakfast. It was a terrible meal. I was afraid to drink the milk, and the eggs were rubberized instead of being poached. The lady explained in a mumbling tone that she never did know how to poach an egg, and that the cook was having “a morning after the night before.” But we did the best we could and went back to the train which was to carry us up into the mountains.

We passed one little mining settlement after another, and finally came to a rather large town with respectable streets and a few nice-looking stores. This town was Wallins where Mrs. Preston left me. She has a millinery and clothing store there and had come from Cincinnati where she had done some buying for the Spring season.

Laden train station. Angela Melville Album II, Part I. [melv_II_album_008.jpg]

I then had to go past a few more mining towns to a place called Laden [near Putney] which is made up of nothing more than a shack which serves as a post-office, or rather a place where baggage is thrown off, and as a waiting station. I had decided that I would not get off there unless I was sure that Mr. Lewis, [John Lewis] the man who was to meet me, was right there waiting for me. Luckily, when I stepped off the train Mr. Lewis was there with the mule. I thought it queer that there was only one. But I later found that Mr. Lewis was to walk beside the mule, and that I was to ride him. Well, I managed to mount him, none too gracefully, I am sure, (You have no idea how wide a mule is!), and off we started, Mr, Lewis, the mule, and I. Up and up we walked (a mule only walks, you know!). It was a most beautiful walk.

Angela Melville Album II - Part IV ; ETHEL S. NORTON Staff

Restored version. “Miss Linda Neville” left) and “John Lewis” (right). [melv_II_album_199x.jpg]

We kept to the road pretty well, but sometimes we took to the short trails in order to make a short cut across a hill. All along the way there were great, beautiful trees and lovely, moss-covered rocks. Doubtless, one could find a great many specimens of algae and mosses near the streams along the way. At least my mind hurried to some of the things we have learned in our Biology course.

Finally, as we came near to the top of the mountain we came face to face with a huge rock that rose high above us. It is called Rebel Rock and it has a delightful story. The tale is told by one of the Nolans who keeps the Post Office and store about a half a mile from here. Mr. Nolan’s father-in-law lived at the time of the Civil War. One night he gave shelter to a Rebel soldier who had been shooting from this high rock upon some Union soldiers below. The Union soldiers when they discovered his position of advantage began to climb the ridges in the mountain to the position of the Rebel. Of course, he began to climb higher on the rock until he could go no farther. Then he jumped. It happened that he very fortunately landed in the branches of a tree, and, so was saved from a horrible death, he ran down the other side of the mountain and was given a hiding place in Uncle John Shells house. (You perhaps have seen pictures of him or heard of him as the oldest man in our country. He lived to be about one hundred and twenty-four years old. That was Uncle John Shell.) Certainly anyone could very nicely conceal himself in one of the Kentucky cabins. The people of Kentucky mountains have a way of building their houses without any windows, or with one small one and a door. Sometimes mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, a cousin, an aunt, and eight or ten children at least live in one of these cabins.

——The next day the Rebel went back for his hat and his gun which he had left on the rock. It is the old custom of a mountaineer to take particularly good care of his hat. He will always make a special effort to keep his hat right with him. This Rebel found his gun standing up, the muzzle in the ground, with his hat on the top of it and a note pinned upon it with these words written on it: “Here lies a damn Rebel.” Ever since, this huge rock has been called Rebel Rock.

“Rebel’s Rock.” [norton_006.jpg]

Just a little past Rebel Rock we started down the other side of Pine Mountain. This was very tiresome riding because the road was so steep and the mule had a difficult time getting a footing because it was so muddy.

Finally, we could see the Pine Mountain Settlement in the distance, its three main buildings with their picturesque green (light) roofs, and all the other log and stone houses, situated in different places on the mountainside.



On and on we came (By this time I thought the ride would never end) past the Nolan’s store and finally up to the gate and into the settlement proper. I was feeling rather stiff and weary, and was very glad to see Mildred Adams (the Antioch girl who had been here for five weeks) waving her hand and welcoming me with a twinkling smile. She has probably by this time told everyone back at school that she never has seen anyone look so screamingly funny as I did on that mule. Mildred took care of me and after a few hours rest I was ready to enjoy my Kentucky experience and the good supper to which we went. It was nice to have Mildred with me during those first few meals. It is difficult to get a large variety of food here.

We have cornbread every meal and never have any butter. But now I am used to it and like the food very much. At first, however it surely did seem different.

I live in the room that Mildred occupied. It is in one of the loveliest houses, called Far House. Above it on the mountainside is Mrs. Zande’s home, and not very far away from it is the lovely new church house [Chapel] . Big Laurel [Laurel House I] and the School [Burkham School House] are farther down in the valley. The dining room is in Big Laurel house. There are also such cottages as Old Log, Farm HouseInfirmary, and others, in which from eight to twenty children live with one or two house-mothers and a teacher.

Miss Christensen is the house-mother at Far House. She is a lovely person and knows many Old English dances like The Running Set and Black Nag, which she is teaching to us all. She is a graduate of Radcliffe.

Far House has a lovely stone fire-place around which the children gather to study in the evenings during the week, and to play games and to read in their spare hours. It does seem wonderful to live in a rough cabin, to sit often before a cheerful fire, to wake up in the morning when the birds are singing (at five-thirty), and to see the rosy sky as the sun comes up behind Pine Mountain, to hear the children singing snatches of the old ballads as they go down the road to breakfast, and, finally, at the end of a tired day to see the character-ful sky as the sun goes down behind the high mountain to the west of Pine Valley.

As to my school, the work there is very interesting. The children vary greatly in ability and training. Some have “better blood” as they say in Kentucky. These can do very good work. Some have had the usual amount of training. But many of them have been one of ten or twelve children struggling for existence in such a cabin as I have described before, and some have had only eighteen or twenty months of school. I have forty pupils in the Fifth and Sixth Grades, and although the two grades are separated for classes, I have to prepare for every subject except the Reading in the Fifth Grade. I feel that I will not be able to do as much for them as I had hoped I could do.

Nevertheless, this is “aiming to be” (another Kentucky expression) a very interesting, as well as valuable experience for me.

Last Sunday I saw the setting for Percy MacKaye‘s play, “This Fine Pretty World” and also met Uncle John Fiddler, about whom Percy MacKaye has written a poem which is published in the Yale Review (January 1925).

Uncle John Fiddler and Aunt Louize. cobb_alice_041

Mrs. John C. Campbell, wife of John C. Campbell who wrote “The Southern Highlander and His Homeland,” who has recently been in Denmark studying the Folk Schools and who has tried with much success some work along this line near Berea College, is visiting Pine Mountain School now. Yesterday she led us in singing some of the old ballads which Cecil Sharp collected when he was at Pine Mountain School about eight years ago. Every day something new comes up which makes life in the Kentucky Mountains more delightful.

— Ethel Norton.











Ethel S. Norton

Alt. Title

Ethel S. Norton Jordan, Ethel Jordon ;




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Ethel S. Norton ; Ethel S. Norton Jordan ; Ethel Jordan ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Ethel S. Norton Collection ; scrapbooks ; photograph albums ; Katherine Pettit ; Ethel de Long Zande ; Antioch College ; elementary school teachers ; deans of women ; Albright College ; YWCA ; USO ; University of Oregon ; Zande House ; lumber camps ; mining towns ; travel ; Mrs. Preston ; post offices ; Mr. Lewis ; mules ; Rebel Rock ; Nolan Family ; Civil War ; Uncle John Shell ; cabins ; Mildred Adams ; food ; Far House ; Chapel ; Laurel House I ; Burkham School House ; Old Log ; Farm House ; Infirmary ; Miss Christensen ; housemothers ; Old English dances ; Running Set ; Black Nag ; ballads ; Percy MacKaye ; This Fine Pretty World ; Uncle John Fiddler ; Mr. and Mrs. John C. Campbell ; Berea College ; Cecil Sharp ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Yellow Springs, OH ; Reading, PA ; Amityville, NY ; Eugene, OR ; Gold Beach, OR ; WA ; Putney, KY ; Pineville, KY ; Berea, KY ;

Subject LCSH

Norton (Jordan), Ethel S. — c. 1900 – 1988.
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




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet ; 1 scrapbook ; photographs ;


Series 09: Staff and Personnel




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Staff/Personnel ; Abby Winch “Winnie “Christiansen ;

Coverage Temporal


Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Yellow Springs, OH ; Reading, PA ; Amityville, NY ; Eugene, OR ; Gold Beach, OR ; WA ; Putney, KY ; Pineville, KY ; 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.


Patricia Laughlin, step-daughter of Ethel S. Norton Jordan.


Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Ethel S. Norton (Jordan) ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Ethel S. Norton (Jordan) ; A Scrapbook/Photograph Album makes up the central material in the Ethel S. Norton collection. Core documents, correspondence, writing, photographs and papers of Ethel S. Norton are distributed throughout the Pine Mountain Settlement School collections, however the Scrapbook, divided into Parts I, II, and III, donated by the stepdaughter of Mrs. Ethel S. Norton Jordan, are the most extensive documents that detail the life of Ethel S. Norton while at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the late nineteen-twenties.




“[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

2007-09-14 hhw ; 2009-04-10 hhw ; 2009-08-16 hhw ; 2015-09-08 hhw ; 2015-09-09 aae ; 2015-09-09 hhw ; 2017-03-23 hhw ;



“Norton, Ethel S.” Ethel S. Norton Collection. Series 09: Staff/Personnel. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Archival resource.

Norton, John K. “Guidance (Division III): Student Personnel Administration.” Teachers College Record Volume 41 Number 2, 1939, p. 168-170 ID Number: 8876, Date Accessed: 9/9/2015. Internet resource.

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