Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 04: HISTORIES
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff 
Wells Record of Pine Mountain School

WELLS RECORD of Pine Mountain School GUIDE 1913-1928

Ethel de Long. [melv_II_album_026.jpg]

TAGS: Wells Record of Pine Mountain Settlement School Guide 1913-1928, Evelyn K. Wells, settlement schools, histories, William Creech, Ethel de Long Zande, Katherine Pettit, Hindman Settlement School, index to Wells Record of PMSS


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This WELLS RECORD OF PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL 1913-1928 GUIDE is a description by Evelyn K. Wells of the first fifteen years of the Pine Mountain Settlement School. This record aims to give a story which, when read in conjunction with the literature which has been sent out from the School, would present a picture of the School’s beginnings and growth, its early policies and standards, the growth of its traditions.

No attempt has been made to make it, in itself, the thrilling and inspiring tale that could be written; neither has there been an effort to appraise, to reassure the growth of the School’s influence, or to estimate the factors and personalities that have gone into its early history. There has also been a general avoidance of quotations from letters, literature, and other material used. It is rather to be used as a supplement to the literature, so that workers and visitors at the School in years to come may have some understanding of our beginnings.

At the time of Mrs. Ethel de Long Zande‘s death, when many changes were taking place in the personnel of the School, it was felt by many people that such a record, as this attempts to be, should be on file in the School Office. At the request of Miss Elizabeth C. Hench, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Miss Evelyn K. Wells, for fifteen years the School’s Secretary, returned to Pine Mountain in the spring of 1929 to work on it. Miss Hench met the expense of Miss Wells’ work for the first month. Miss Catherine Wright also made a contribution to the work.

Miss Wells used Miss Hench’s Secretary’s Records, which were very full, the School file of literature, and all early letters and records available in the office. She consulted people, by letter or verbally, who were associated with the beginnings of the School, such as, notably, Katherine Pettit, Henry CreechColumbus Creech, Harriet Butler, Norma Stoughton and others.

The account of the Road has been checked by Mrs. Celia (Cathcart) Holton, that of the Medical Settlement by Miss Harriet Butler, and that of the Fireside Industries by Miss Florence Daniels.



1.       Foreword

2.       Introductory

3.       Year by Year [Construction, Workers, Gifts, Children, Events, etc.]



4.          Physical Growth

5.          Support and Budget

6.          Some Interesting Gifts

7.        Industrial and Vocational

8.         Farm – Dairy – Poultry

9.         The Country Cottage

10.        Academic

11.       Health

12.      Extension Work

13.       The Fireside Industries

14.       Folk Songs and Dance

15.        Athletics

16.        Dramatics

17.        Some Contributions to the Outside World

18.        Religious Life

19.        The Road

20.        Various Happenings

21.        Policies – General

22.        List of Workers


02 Introductory

In the spring of 1899 Miss Katherine Pettit, on a walking trip through Harlan, Bell and Leslie counties, first looked out on the Pine Mountain Valley from the top of Pine Mountain. She spent the following night with a family on the head of Straight Creek, when another traveler, whose name she never learned, gave her a description of the Pine Mountain and Big Laurel district. This aroused her interest to such an extent that she told him she would come there to work that summer.

The interesting circumstances which prevented her carrying out the plan at that time, and led to the founding of the Hindman [Settlement] School in Leslie County, of which Miss Pettit was co-head until 1912, are part of the history of Hindman, and do not belong in this account. We need only say that through all the years of work at Hindman Miss Pettit never forgot her wish someday to work in Harlan County, and never missed an opportunity of sending word to Big Laurel that she would come as soon as she could.

Many of her messages went by way of the Rev. Lewis Lyttle, a Baptist preacher then living on Leatherwood Creek, who often came Hindman way on his itinerant preaching trips. [His grandson was a student at Hindman ?] He reported to Miss Pettit on the Big Laurel country, describing the great numbers of school children to be reached, the need of the countryside, and their desire to have a school and promise to help. At Pine Mountain, he enlisted the interest of the leading citizen, William Creech Sr. who, having established his sons and daughters as they married on farms of their own, still owned a large part of his purchase of 700 acres in pioneer days. That Mr. Creech, who was highly respected for his character and initiative, (he had brought in mail service, was bone-setter, tooth-puller, adviser on crops and agitator for better schools for a wide countryside) should at once take up the interests of the new school, was not surprising. Henry [Creech] and Columbus Creech, the sons of William, said at once that they would furnish lumber to build with, and Mr. Creech said he would give land, having in mind his holdings at the Bull Horn Ford.

Accordingly, when Miss Pettit, accompanied by Miss Harriet Butler, another Hindman worker who was eventually to have a large part in the building of the Pine Mountain Medical Settlement, came over with Mr. Lyttle in the spring of 1911, they stayed first with Mr. Lewis Turner at Big Laurel, talking about the proposed school to the people there, and then came on up Greasy Creek to William Creech and his wife, discussing with them the possibility of having the school at the Head of Greasy. As plans developed, it seemed more and more feasible to have the school at the foot of Pine Mountain, because it was a good place “where Greasy, Middle Fork, Line Fork, Leatherwood and Cutshin all head up against Pine Mountain; pure air, pure water and plenty of children to enjoy it.” In the fall of 1911 (See 9-page letter) Miss Pettit and Miss [Ethel] de Long reported the visit, says Helen de Long, who was visiting her sister at Hindman at the time.


By this time Ethel de Long, then the Principal of the Hindman School, had arranged to cooperate with Miss Pettit in the founding of a rural school where, remote from towns and town influences, the two could work out their ideal.

Mr. Creech, or Uncle William, as everybody called him, planned to exchange his land at the Bull Horn Ford for land owned by the Kentweva Coal Corporation at the Forks of Greasy, cleared farm land, and they hoped to interest Mr. John Shell, the owner of the adjoining property, to contribute a large tract. The idea was at that time to have a farm of some 600 acres. And so, in spite of the cordiality of the Big Laurel people, negotiations for land at the head of Greasy continued resulting in April 1912 in an agreement between Uncle William, Miss Pettit, and the representatives of the Kentweva Company, Mr. Chaffey, Mr. Wilson and Mr. [Charles] Robb, and Judge A.B. Cornett, meeting informally on the road, whereby Uncle William was to exchange some 70 acres at Bull Horn farm, with mineral rights, for the Company land at the head of Greasy, about 108 acres, the Company reserving the right of way for their logging railroad when they should begin lumbering operations in the neighborhood.

After this there was a good deal of trouble about the definition of the right of way, Uncle William refusing to sign the deed when it was drawn up, because it did not specify that the right of way was for a temporary road [railroad] through the school property. This clause was not revised to suit him until six months or so after the school was started, buildings broken ground for, farm improvement work begun, and funds beginning to come in. Finally, on December 31, 1913, Uncle William received from the Harlan Office of the Kentweva Coal Corporation, the Deed, and the Pine Mountain Settlement School came into legal existence. (Feeling had grown so [?] between Uncle William and Judge [A.B.] Cornett by this time that they were not on speaking terms, and the deed was flung out of the window of the office to Uncle William, who stood in the street below.)

This odious dispute, growing out of the informality of the first verbal agreement and Uncle William’s long mountaineer experience of disputed surveys and their resulting quarrels, may partly account for his insistence that the clause “bestows and conveys — for School purposes as long as the Constitution of the United States stands,” be included in the deed. But through it all there came a growing belief in what the school was to accomplish for his countryside, and the night the deed was signed by William Creech and his wife Sallie, who made her mark, and Miss Pettit and Miss de Long for the School, he gave the final touch to the affair by saying, “There now, that fixes it; now there’ll be a school here as long as the Constitution of the United States stands, less’n some furrin power comes and wipes us out!

There were, of course, between the time that Lewis Lyttle and Miss Pettit first met Uncle William, and the arrival of Miss Pettit and Miss de Long in the spring of 1913, many visits to Pine Mountain, with a growing feeling of friendship and admiration between the Hindman women and the Creech family, so say nothing of the neighbors up and down the creek. By this time [strike-through in MSS: “It was settled that Miss Pettit was to bring with her Miss Ethel de Long, then the principal of the Hindman School to share in directing the new school.] there was a delightful correspondence going on, exchange of presents, mountain picnics with roast squirrel killed and [p.5] cooked pioneer fashion by Uncle William, visits to Mr. E.M. Nolan, the son-in-law of Mr. John Shell, at Dry Hill in Leslie County,


Mr. Nolan’s efforts (unsuccessful, as well as everybody’s else) to interest Mr. Shell in giving land for the new school, the canvassing of the community by Henry Creech and Bennett Lewis, a son-in-law of Uncle William, for pledges for the school. Their efforts resulted in the pledging of about $400 in money, also considerable timber and some labor, but many people criticized Uncle William for his generosity, saying a man couldn’t “give and live” in this country where such a meager living was so laboriously wrought out of steep hillsides. But the Creeches grew more and more interested in the venture. Henry writes in 1912, *We want you to hurry and come and build that school.” In January of that year a delegation of Pine Mountain men visited Hindman, to get a picture of the sort of thing that was to come to their community. Miss Pettit and Miss de Long had declared that they would not come at all unless some of the Pine Mountain people knew from firsthand observation of Hindman what it was all like. One of Henry’s favorite stories is of the trip, the men riding all day in the saddle, their warm reception at Hindman, the welcome serving of school supper (they had had only a snack in their saddles at noon), their amazement when a bell rang in the middle of supper and everybody stopped eating while prayers were read, their great relief when the school filed out but they were allowed to go on eating. In the evening they met the prominent men of Hindman, hearing from them what the school meant, and discussed plans with Miss de Long for the cutting of logs for the first Pine Mountain house, Big Log; and the next morning they were not allowed to start back without a thorough inspection of all the work of the school. On the return trip, as they passed houses along the way, people came out to ask about the school. William Creech, who was ahead on the fastest nag, had an invariable reply: “It was far better than the most people in this country thinks Heaven is.” No wonder that Uncle William says in his Reasons, “One reason for me getting so liberal was the good work that I had been reliable informed the women at Hindman were doing.”

On April 10, 1913, Miss Pettit arrived to begin work and the next few weeks saw established at Uncle John Shell’s cottage opposite the post-office, a family consisting of Miss Pettit, Miss de Long, Miss Clara Davis, a nurse, Miss Norma Stoughton, an office worker, Fitzhugh Draughn, a Hindman boy, and Bertha Lewis, a grand-daughter of Uncle William.