Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09:BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Series 11: FARM


Barn. Dairy crew member with Mrs. Martha Burns, manager of dairy. 1925-1931. [II_7_barn_282.jpg]


Martha Burns: Supervisor of the Dairy & Poultry Departments
& Teacher of Dairying 1921, 1925-1931

TAGS: Martha Burns, PMSS workers, PMSS farm, PMSS dairy, Ayrshire cows, teaching, PMSS poultry division, milking, Little Log, Cabin, Darwin D. Martin, Luigi Zande, Evelyn K. Wells,  Hindman Settlement School

Martha Burns’ qualities must have included sturdiness and a keen knowledge of farm animal maintenance. Those attributes would have been needed to smoothly run a barn full of Ayrshire cows, milked twice daily by the students, as well as teaching dairying and overseeing the poultry division (the “hennery”). As the “Dairy Woman,” at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the 1920s, she was indeed known for her many years of good work and her devotion to educating the School’s students whom she supervised.

A fundraising letter, written in 1930, described Martha Burns’ work:

…A daily duty is the milking. Mrs. Burns is rightly proud of her well-kept modern barn and her Ayrshires, but she let us drive the cows out for a milking picture so that you might see them. You may judge that the boys who do this work are proud of it when you learn that in January the dairy supplied the dining room with 12,379 pounds of milk from sixteen cows. We didn’t realize how much it was until we thought of it as six tons!

Martha Burns Staf

Dear Friend Letter, April 1930, page 02. [dear_friends_1930_04_002.jpg]

By 1928, Mrs. Burns was living in a one-room pole house, known as the “Cabin,” or “Little Log,” on the PMSS campus. Darwin D. Martin, PMSS trustee, described her home in a letter dated March 6, 1928:

I don’t believe I have written you since Mrs. Burns moved into the “Cabin.” It is the cutest place you ever saw, and almost every worker here has asked Luigi [Zande] when he will build them one like it. His reply invariably is, “When you are married.” He should, to be consistent, add “and widowed” (or divorced!)

Harriet Crutchfield, a fifth-grade teacher at Pine Mountain from 1928 to 1930, also mentioned Mrs. Burns’ home and farm activities in a letter to her parents:

Mrs. Burns, a woman of about 55, is a mountaineer and quite an unusual person, as she is crazy about Miss [Marguerite] Emerson and doesn’t live far from here, in a cute little one-room cabin of her own. I see quite a bit of her. She is in charge of the cows & chickens and they say her domain is a sight to see. I haven’t gotten over there yet. She works her head off and everything is as neat and clean as a pin. We have 16 cows now.

When Mrs. Burns resigned from her position on  June 1, 1931, Evelyn K. Wells, Acting Director, wrote:

Mrs. Martha Burns has been supervisor of the Pine Mountain Settlement School Dairy for several years, during a period when the herd was building up from small beginnings. She has been an enthusiastic worker in her department, sensing to the full its importance both in the health of the school in providing abundant, clean milk and in educating the boys and girls in the care of the cows. She has also had charge of our poultry and has been successful with them.

Mrs. Burns leaves us with the goodwill of the entire staff of workers, and their admiration of her uprightness and their belief in her deep interest in the welfare of the young people of the Kentucky Mountains.
[Signed] Evelyn K. Wells
Acting Director

In the 1940s, Martha Burns supervised the farm at Hindman (KY) Settlement School. As indicated in her correspondence, she stayed several weeks at Pine Mountain Settlement School as a visitor in 1961, when Burton Rogers was the School’s director.

On the PMSS campus, Martha Burns, a widow, was better known as “Mrs. Burns.” She was born c. 1880 in Kentucky.


Tea on the lawn at Zande House [Dogwood Breakfast ?], 1930. (l. to r.) Sally Loomis, a visitor Miss Taylor, Dr. Alfreda Withington, Miss Burbrick, Mrs. Burns, Miss Melville, Mrs. Barti…, Miss McDavid, Mrs. Bo… [X_100_workers_2541.jpg]

See also: MARTHA BURNS Correspondence


Martha Burns

Alt. Title

Mrs. Burns




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Martha Burns ; Mrs. Burns ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Ayrshire cows ; teaching ; PMSS poultry division ; milking ; Little Log ; Cabin ; Darwin D. Martin ; Luigi Zande ; Evelyn K. Wells ; Hindman Settlement School ;

Subject LCSH

Burns, Martha, — c. 1880 – [?].
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Dairy farming — Kentucky — Management


2015-09-23 aae


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel ; Series 11: Farm ;




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel ; Series 11: Farm ;

Coverage Temporal

1880 – 1961

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Hindman, 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 administrative papers of Martha Burns ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Martha Burns ;




“[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

2015-09-23 aae ; 2020-09-13 aae ;



“Martha Burns.” Ethel S. Norton Scrapbook and Photographs (Part I) ; Darwin D. Martin Correspondence 1928 ; Dear Friend Letters 1930 ; Hench Cow Letters 1927 ; Notes 1927 ; Notes 1928 ; Margaret Motter Notebook ; Box 24, ID#24-47. Series 09: Staff/Personnel ; Series 11: Farm. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.  Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 September 2015), Martha Burns in household of Kathrine Pettit, District 4, Harlan, Kentucky, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0024, sheet 16B, family 291, line 76, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 749; FHL microfilm 2,340,484. Internet resource.

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