Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Visitors
Series 18: PUBLICATIONS RELATED
Dorothy H. Stiles’ Journal 1915
Dorothy Hancock Stiles (1893-1979)
TAGS: Dorothy H. Stile, journal of a 1915 visit to Kentucky, Dorothy Hancock Stiles, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Hindman Settlement School, travelogues, dairies
PUBLICATIONS RELATED 1915 Dorothy H. Stiles Kentucky Travel
Dorothy H. Stiles – Kentucky 1915 ; Dorothy Hancock Stiles ; “Dode” Stiles ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Wellesley College ; Hindman Settlement School ; Smith College ; travelogues ; Olive Dame Campbell ; John C. Campbell ; Russell Sage Foundation ; student volunteers ; housemother ; Eastover dormitory ; May Stone ; urban settlement houses ; typhoid fever ; Dorothy “Mollie” Gostenhofer ; Jess Stoddard ; The Depression ; World War II ; Laurence Wellington ; Bristol Taylor ; Lucy Wellington ; Peter Rogers ; Burton Rogers ; Cassie Ehrenfeld ; Ferris Hayes ; Miss Gutman ; Jim Francis ; Evelyn Du Pont Irving ; Mrs. Childers ; weavers ; Hall generation ; Liza Hall ; Auxier Hall ; shiveree ; Pushback ; moonshine ; Fred Amburgey ; Curtis Smith ; Spencer Combs ; logging truck road ; Widow Cornett ; Big Laurel ; hookworm ; dentists ; Polly Ann Cornett ; Old House ; Laurel Mountain ; Widow Griffith ; Frank Browning ; Bish Boggs ; Laurel House ; Pole House ; Evelyn Wells ; Margaret Lincoln ; Katherine Pettit ; ballads ; William Creech ; Will Lemis ; Jordan’s Trestle ; hospital girls ; Ishmael Amburgey ; John Wes ; Bro. McGowan ; barn boys ; Hagen Smith ; Bad Tal Hal l; The Drunkard’s Hell ; Letter That Never Came ; Sammy Combs ; Milton Moore ; Nonnie Everidge ; Hilliard Smith ; Miss Van Meter; Mr. Fisher ; Miss Cobb ; Miss Amerman ; Carrie Summers ; Miss Holman ; hospitals
BIOGRAPHY: Dorothy H. Stiles
Dorothy Hancock Stiles was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1893. She graduated from Wellesley (Massachusetts) College in 1914 and came to the Kentucky mountains just following her graduation in the same year. Her journal documents her activity at Hindman Settlement School in the spring of 1915.
Dorothy Stiles was never directly associated with Pine Mountain Settlement School but left a remarkable travelogue that details the conditions in eastern Kentucky in 1914-1915, just a year and a half after the founding of Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1913 by Katherine Pettit and Ethel de Long. Somewhat similar to the travelogue of Olive Dame Campbell, who journeyed with her husband, John C. Campbell, to eastern Kentucky and other Appalachian mountain areas in 1908 and 1909, Dorothy Stiles was an observant adventurer. Unlike the Campbells, Dorothy Stiles did not have the financial support of the Russell Sage Foundation, nor a scholarly intent behind her adventure, nor was she particularly reflective. Her account of her adventures is personal, reflexive, funny, engaging, and youthfully exuberant. Her narrative captures the energy of a country moving into a new era and provides a fresh and graphic snapshot of a region struggling to come to terms with change, without laboring over any deep analysis of change in context.
Dorothy Hancock Stiles came to the Hindman (Kentucky) Settlement School as a student volunteer from Wellesley College in the fall of 1914 and stayed through the spring of 1915. She was one of four students who had been recruited to the school to perform a multitude of tasks, including the role of housemother for the boy’s dormitory “Eastover.” She was also a teacher for several classrooms. Dorothy and her Wellesley classmates were most likely recruited by Hindman director May Stone who was a graduate of Wellesley in 1888. Many of the workers at Hindman had strong ties with Wellesley College, with Smith College, and with other women’s colleges in the northeast. Many of these colleges had long histories with the urban settlement house movement. Recruits from the northeastern institutions were numerous at Pine Mountain Settlement, Hindman Settlement, and other rural settlement institutions scattered throughout the southern Appalachians. This cultural exchange is fundamental to an understanding of the rural settlement movement in the southern Appalachians.
The opening weeks of Dorothy’s stay at Hindman were as an invalid. She had the misfortune to arrive during the fall of 1914 when nearly forty of the staff at the school were infected with typhoid fever from a polluted water source at the institution. She and other staff were fortunate that they did not die, as the disease was often fatal. Following her infection, she spent considerable time in recovery and, according to Stoddart, was still in recuperation in the spring of 1915. This difficult beginning, however severe, did not dampen her enthusiasm for the work ahead.
She was no delicate flower. She and her good friend and former college roommate, Dorothy (“Mollie”) Gostenhofer, were also not confined by or fearful of their new environment. In the spring of 1915, they spent many days exploring the region around Hindman on horseback, the only transportation available in the first part of a century for most people in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. “Mollie” and “Dode,” as Dorothy came to be known, were close observers of their environment, as well as youthful and spirited young women. The native curiosity and the energy of Dorothy are readily evident in the following excerpt from her diaries which details a trip to Pine Mountain from Hindman and the valleys between the two settlement schools.
DOROTHY H. STILES: Her Legacy
Jess Stoddart in her book, The Story of Hindman Settlement School (2002),** reflected on the documents that Dorothy Stiles left to the school and to her family about her brief time in Kentucky. She wrote,
Stiles was well suited to the work because she saw the funny side of everything, including her own cultural biases. Her diary is a refreshing picture of the school children in all their real-life behavior.” [Stoddart, p. 93]
In September of 2013, Pine Mountain was granted permission by the family of Dorothy Stiles to reproduce this abbreviated account of her 1915 Kentucky adventure which includes her travel from Hindman to the Pine Mountain Settlement School.**
The grandson of Dorothy Stiles, Bill Wellington, also provided additional information on her later life and tells us that she returned to New York after her eastern Kentucky adventure and soon was married in London, England.
Bill Wellington writes,
She had three children, a son, and two daughters. During the Depression, she and my grandfather lost everything, including their house in Mount Vernon. They moved to Amherst, MA, where her husband Laurence Wellington’s family lived. After WWII they moved to Florida.
My grandmother never spoke to us about her time in Kentucky. … I made a Facebook page about my grandmother’s trip to see Bristol Taylor [described in the travelogue]. I posted part of her journal and put up some photographs. You can see the page at https://www.facebook.com/grannyvisitsbristol . There is a short video of my grandmother winning a race with an egg in a spoon when she was in her sixties.
Dorothy died sometime in 1979, in Framingham, MA. Her youngest daughter Lucy died in February of this year .
The original transcription of Dorothy’s journals from the pencil and long-hand copy to the typed copy used for this web offering, was by Patricia Sampson Wellington, Dorothy’s daughter. She recognized the value of the accounts and also the importance of sharing the material with her family, as well as with Hindman Settlement. She had photographs from Dorothy’s Hindman stay which she copied and attached to her transcript. She found the journal among her mother’s possessions after she died.
**Through the efforts of Peter Rogers, son of Burton Rogers (former Director of Pine Mountain Settlement School), Bill Wellington contacted the Pine Mountain archive and provided HHW with a copy of the excerpted material. Subsequent correspondence resulted in permission from Bill and his family to reproduce this material in a web format for viewers of the Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections website.
TRANSCRIPTION: 1915 Dorothy H. Stiles Kentucky Travel
DOROTHY HANCOCK STILES
Monday, April 3
It is awfully amusing the way these people, especially the students, look upon one. We all seem to be regarded as know-it-alls. Last night Garland and Frank came in after supper asking for Miss Ehrenfeld — she being out I asked if I could help — yes — Garland had a sore throat, Frank a sore stomach. Frank said he reckoned he needed calomel—would I get it for him? Certainly. And what kind of salts would I advise? Here I was stumped, not being in the habit of advising salts for 26-year-old men in any formal manner. Not wishing to kill him, I suggested waiting until Cassie’s arrival. Garland and I gargled with Listerine and then we sang to my piano accompaniment. Walter and the girls came in, Walter breezy as ever and shaking the house every time he laughed. He showed a picture of a girl about whom he said he was “plumb crazy” but as he mentioned several others during the evening who had crazed him at various times, I took him with a grain of salt. What a flirt.
Went down town hunting for horses today. Ferris Hayes said we could have his if Miss Gutman didn’t want him, which she did. Ferris was drunk but pleasant. Now we’re waiting to hear about Jim Francis — Carol is engaged to Evelyn Du Pont Irving.
Tuesday April 4
Jim Francis let us have his Molly. So far it is settled, and D.V. we’ll start tomorrow. Called on Mrs. Childers this afternoon — a very interesting call. She doesn’t weave anymore because she was so disheartened at the sight of a woolen mill turning out 100 yards a day. She says that when Miss Stone first came here she was just a “pore little woman” like myself, but she certainly has “took on flesh” in these parts. Mrs. C. thinks fat is a disease and recommends running to the top of the mountains and drinking vinegar and water. She said the Hall generation are worthless and have killing in the blood. Can’t live without some sort of meanness. She thinks Liza and Auxier may become something if they can be kept away from their worthless kin.
Most of the town boys are coming to school drunk or with awful hangovers. They had a shivaree on Pushback Sunday and the moonshine flowed free — even Fred Amburgey aged 10 was drunk in school.
Played Miss Stiles went to Pine Mountain and took in her saddle pockets====when it came to “H” Raleigh thoughtfully put in a husband.
Wednesday April 5
Off to Pine Mountain at three o’clock this afternoon after a mix-up about horses. When it came to going I had two — Jim Francis’ Molly and Curtis Smith’s big red nag, but I finally took Molly. We left in the midst of a cold drizzle, our nags loaded each with saddle pockets, one of oilcloth which I held together with safety pins, and a green canvas affair. We had food enough for a regiment.
Our ride over to the Spencer Combs’ where we are staying tonight was pokey, 12 miles in 4 hours, and we didn’t get here until nearly 8 o’clock. There were so many charming bits of color on the way. One I think of was a weather-beaten gray log cabin against a background of three tall pines and three Japanesy little peach trees with their pink blossoms in front. The hills themselves had that lovely grayish green tint of April and the shad bush and red bud are just poking out their first blooms. We were overtaken by the dark and finished our way with only the faintest little crescent moon to show us fords. We asked our way continually, but there were long lonely stretches and once, just as we were despairing, two angels came along on mules and showed us the road. The horses almost fainted with joy when the Combs stable appeared.
A nice Combs girl came to the door and said Mrs. Smith riding on ahead had announced our arrival but they had almost given us up. We offered to put up our horses but a Combs man said there were too many men loafing around.
The house is of the mountain aristocracy awfully comfortable two story affair with our room in a little wing opening on a piazza — a fire blazing away and a general appearance of cleanliness. A “Kentucky” banner hangs above the fireplace with one of those awful “Chicken Inspector” badges pinned on it. Where did they get this piece of the city?
I couldn’t keep more than notes the rest of the way and I have only one item for Thursday April 6. It reads “Lost on the top of nowhere” but [it] expresses a good deal. I wrote it while sitting on a log watching the horses; Molly meanwhile had scrambled down a holler lookin’ for signs of civilization.
We left the Spencer Combs’ after a very comfortable night and an unusually good breakfast with the family. The old man saw us off and said the only price he would charge for our staying was for us to come back again. From the Combs’ on the foot of Irishman we rode up to main Carr, and forded at Cody for the ride up Defeated. It was perfectly lovely riding in the early morning, just as the sun was burning up the mist off the hills. Defeated is such a pretty creek, through beech woods a good part of the day. We were fortunate in meeting angels every time we came to a branch or we would have been lost thus early in the game. We did take a wrong turn going up the gap between Defeated and Bull, but it wasn’t much of a mistake. Bull commenced to be wilder than Defeated at its head, with cabins further apart. We took a picture of one windowless affair that seemed to have no occupants, but in riding by I saw a woman with her eye to a hole in the wall, watching Molly take the picture! Down towards its mouth Bull fell in cascades and waterfalls between great cliffs with pine trees growing down to the edge of the water. About three miles from the mouth a logging truck road began, and when we came to the mouth of the Kentucky we seemed to be surely in civilization, for there was a railroad station and quite a little settlement which turned out to be Cornettsville. We rode for a mile before we came to Leatherwood and a ford. The river was not very deep and there was no trouble getting across. Leatherwood was quite a hideous and barren creek and miles long. It took us about 4 hours to make it. About 3 miles from the mouth we stopped at the Widow Cornett’s to inquire the way and distance to Big Laurel and her very pessimistic son replied that it was at least 50 miles away and we couldn’t possibly make it by night. We knew it couldn’t be more than 17, so we pressed on. About one o’clock both ourselves and the horses began to get hungry. Molly’s horse chewed at every green thing that we passed, so we stopped off at a cabin with a dirty but interesting family. They all looked hookwormy and one had sore eyes but the head of the family, a grandmother of about forty years was most entertaining. We sat on the porch and ate out of our saddlebags, while our hostess talked and spat incessantly. She told us of Spencer Combs’ son, a “tooth dentist” who had pulled her daughter’s “tusk,” and always replied to Molly with a “Yes Mate.” Her name was Polly Ann Cornett and we promised to send her a picture of her family, which we took. She took us in the house and showed a picture of her son in the Army, hung between a “What is home without a Mother” and “What is home without a Father.” The low rafters were all decorated with mottoes and texts in colored chalk.
Love is like a rang of gold;
Hard to gain and hard to hold.
Polly Ann urged us to come again and sent us on feeling quite refreshed. Leatherwood seemed to stretch on interminably and it was a long time before we got to the branch. We were advised to go up Old House, then over Laurel Mountain, and down to Little Laurel, then along it to Greasy. Once turned up Old House we commenced to go straight up in the air on an awfully rough trail. When just about despairing we met another guardian angel who lived by the mouth —the Widow Griffith. She directed us up her cornfield, and then three miles over the ridges of Laurel to Frank Brownings’. Her cornfield was absolutely at right angles to level ground and we had to lead the horses up, stopping every few feet to rest. I have never made such a climb.
Once at the top we turned off on to a narrow path and then began the ridge ride. There was hardly any path at all, and what there was got worse and worse. The only compensation was a marvelous view over high ranges and thickly wooded valleys. When we got to a place where the path ceased abruptly in a large felled tree we were rather upset, but by jumping our horses over it we pressed on. There was a deep gloom when the trail forked, and it was at this juncture that Molly descended into a holler and I sat with the horses writing “Lost on the top of nowhere.” M. returned with the news that we were to keep on over the ridge so we did, leading our horses on a path that went —- VVVVVVVVV — and varied the monotony with logs across the way and bramble thickets. We met one more man who told us we were going straight, though very soon after meeting him there was no trail at all. We attempted to follow the ridges which seemed to keep undulating into the horizon, but very soon we decided that if we were ever to get off the mountain before dark we had better retrace our steps and get a guide — much easier said than done. Going back we struck no trail at all and soon were hopelessly lost on a steep wooded incline with the sun ball going down fast. We were awfully afraid for the horses legs for in some places they had almost to sit down and slide. Once Brock caught his front legs around a tree and started a land slide with his hind legs — a pleasant moment. It kept growing darker and darker and we were almost prepared or resigned to a night spent on the ridge. We started calling but our voices simply re-echoed from hill to hill. By some stroke of luck we came upon a faint path going down hill, and in the dim light Molly saw a house in the holler. This we made for with every ounce of energy we had left, dragging our tired horses after us. The house proved to be a deserted barn, and our hopes fell until we discovered a tiny creek, and creeks mean habitation if you follow them long enough. Off we went in the dark, with just a tiny crescent moon to shine on the water and show us that we were going straight. At branches we gave the horses a loose rein and let them decide. After a while we heard the faint barking of a dog, and it was the most welcome sound in the world. When I smelled smoke I felt like Daniel Boone himself relying on his senses in the wilderness. At the fork of two creeks we came upon a cabin, and shouted at the gate. A woman came out and poured ice water on our hopes by announcing that we were still 8 miles from Pine Mountain. Tired as we were we wanted to finish it up, and a man seemed to think that we could. He was not at all cordial, though the woman asked us to stay. We went on however, and very soon took a wrong path which left us in a cornfield. This was the last straw so we turned back to the cabin. We were so tired that we decided not even to ask if they had had smallpox there. We would have stayed in a leper settlement. This time the man came running out and was exceedingly cordial, urging us to get down and come in, which we did. There were ten children in the room and a slatternly looking woman around the fire. They all stared at us constantly as we ate our supper. The man said, “Woman, git up and cook,” to his wife, but we spared her the trouble. The man scratched his head violently with a pen knife as he talked, which augured well for the night. We saw those 12 people and two double beds, and suggested sleeping on the floor, but that was very tobacco juicy. Anyway the woman would not let us, and pointed to one of the beds. The man delicately left us to disrobe but most of the six sons stayed. We lived up to the school rules and put on nightgowns but left a few underclothes and stockings on and added a wrapper to the ensemble. Our audience was fascinated. With trepidation we advanced to the bed, wondering how many bedfellows we would have, but it was evidently for us alone. I took a towel to put over the pillow, and we both arranged our wrappers so that the blankets couldn’t get near our faces. Oh, the aroma of that bed! The lady of the house crowded all the girls in the other bed and the men presumably for another room. Our room was windowless, and our hostess bolted the door, then lighted a kerosene lamp without any chimney, not to mention pulling out a pipe when she got into bed. Before she retired however, she came over to our bed and said mysteriously, “I’ll tell you now why my man wasn’t anxious for you to stay at first.”
Of course we both thought of an unhurried smallpox corpse under the bed, at least, but she went on with something almost as bad.
“My man aims to have to ride for the doctor tonight. I’m afixen to have a baby afore mornin, and I’m mighty glad you wimmin are here to help me.”
We received this news with varied feelings, not having included anything of the sort in our itinerary — our help was also questionable. Having thrown this bomb the expectant mother retired to her pipe, though Molly urged her to sleep with us!
What a night! The room was boiling hot; two kittens cried incessantly; the lamp smoked; the dog howled outside; a cow with a bell on roamed around rubbing itself on the house; hogs rooted beneath; a mule brayed; and seven children snored. And the fleas and chinches dined sumptuously upon us. We lay awake watching the firelight flicker, and scratching. Mrs. Bish Boggs, or “Bugs” as we called her, moaned and snored and creaked and smoked and kept asking us if we were resting well. We dropped off about one o’clock and awoke with a start to hear Mrs. B. B. screaming, “Vreeland! Vreeland!”
The time has come thought I. Timidly I offered my services and was enormously relieved to find she only wanted a boy to light the fires. It was three o’clock and almost time to get up. The family gathered to watch us dress and did not miss a trick. Mrs. B. urged us to stay for breakfast, but we preferred a dawn ride, and off we started at 5 a.m. I was glad it wasn’t any lighter, so we could not see all the details of our stopping place. As for the road, we never could have found it in the dark, and there were only two houses before we came to Greasy. It was a lovely morning but very cold. Greasy was beautiful despite its name, with lots of pine trees and holly bushes. There was a good deal of color concentrated in the bee-gums that we passed. One house had blue, green, pink and yellow ones.
The school we found about 8 o’clock. It is so much prettier than Hindman, with the higher mountains and the heavily wooded slopes. It looks very new. Laurel House, their dining room, is still unfinished and the other houses are spic and span. It is very different from this place. They are still dealing with the primitive there. All the children have such a back woods look and they talk like old timers. They are much more the real thing, though the teachers say they are pretty bad. But coming from the Cutchin [sic Cutshin] and Pine Mountain country they have never had a chance to see anything but depredation of the most horrible kind.
We stayed in Pole House, a little one room dwelling with such a nice sleeping porch. The first thing we did was scrub and then burn all the clothes we had worn at the Bish “Bugs”‘. Evelyn Wells and Margaret Lincoln took us about on Friday and showed off the school. After supper we went over to Miss Pettit‘s and her children sang ballads. We slept much better than the preceding night, though we both got into a single bed that sank in the middle and neither one of us could turn over without mutual consent.In the midst of rain we set out again on Saturday morning. Uncle William told us we didn’t rightly have to do anything in the world but die. We were lost very soon and found ourselves wondering over one of those horrible ridges and there was nothing to do but retrace our steps. The angel Gabriel disguised as a woman on a mule met us returning and piloted us over the road that opened onto Line Fork, and then we were so far safely started for Kingdom Come. About one o’clock we came to the Will Lemis’s where we were to ask directions and Mr. Lemis dashed our hopes by telling us that Kingdom Come was much further away than we had thought, so we decided to travel onto the Widow Cornett‘s on Leatherwood. We ate our lunch at the Lemis’ and Mrs. L. gave us some good milk in two very dirty glasses. Off in the rain and snow to Leatherwood, which was swollen and rapid. We forded it 25 times before we got to the widow’s at 5. She wasn’t too cordial, but we threw ourselves on her mercy and she led us to a clean room and a fire. We had to wash on the porch, but were very comfortable otherwise. We had a good supper and were frightfully hungry after travelling all day and being soaked and frozen. After supper there seemed nothing more inviting than bed. We each made a chart of the bites we had received at the Boggs’ so we would know if there were any more at the widow’s. Molly had 71 and I had 46, but mine were much worse. We were not bitten and felt greatly relieved in the morning. Breakfast was the same as supper. The widow seemed to think we could never get across the Kentucky. Her pessimistic son, who appeared in a soldier’s uniform didn’t think so either, but said that he and another man might be hired to swim our horses across while we traversed “Jordan’s Trestle.” We waited around for them and started off in more snow. The pessimistic one said my horse had a sore back and would undoubtedly lie down and roll with me. We managed the river perfectly without swimming and got only a little wet.
The ride home was in a snowstorm, but with an absence of adventure. We rode through four counties—Harlan, Perry, Letcher and Knott, before reaching Hindman; a marvelous trip and worth every bite.
Friday April 14
Such a nice picnic on the mountain above the store. We gave it for the hospital girls and Mallie and Ida and they seemed to enjoy it so much. Ida said it was the best time she had had since she had come to Hindman, and it really was the simplest affair with nothing but toasted bacon and sausages.
Spent the evening with Miss F. and the boys went up the hill with Lemis and Ishmael to put out some fires.
Saturday April 15
In a vile mood this morning so spared the settlement my presence and walked over to the farm where Miss F. and most of the boys were at work. They all stopped work to watch me cross the footlog over the creek, a bridge which was really nothing but a twig. Lemis came rushing up with two poles which I used as canes and I just managed to make it. I helped with the potatoes for a while and then rode home in the school wagon with Miss F., Edison, Uncle Joe, Hurum and Law-zy, not to mention many bags of potatoes, barrels and farm paraphernalia. The two mules could hardly pull us out of mud-holes, and the wagon is the most tipsy thing I’ve ever felt and so high up that Edison gallantly lifted me out or I would undoubtedly have “dashed my foot against a stone.”
Spent a quiet afternoon manicuring my talons and sewing.
M. is away on a ride to Lot’s Creek.
Fell halfway through the footbridge and halfway dislocated most of me on the way to the village to buy the boys some candy. Seven of them consumed .59 worth. No one was in the store so John Wes went in and waited on us.
Sunday April 16
Led the singing in S.S. this morning, feeling like a fool. Stayed to church and heard Bro. McGowan drool on. All the little Smiths went to sleep on top of each other.
An awful man named Geddes from Gettysburg at dinner. Cassie took him over the hospital and inadvertently led him into the operating room where my disgusting display was spread out on the table.
Watched the barn boys milk, and they are going to teach me how.
Tuesday April 18
A busy schoolmarm has little time in which to write.
Hagen Smith in a composition on a trip at sea —
“She climbed up in the balustrade and looked over the sea.”
Thursday April 20
It seems that Auxier has a really fearful heredity. His grandfather was “Bad Tal” Hall who was finally hung for a murder in Virginia, though he killed twelve or more people in Kentucky. Lemis told me some stories about him this afternoon and says the boys call Auxier “Bad Tal.” Lemis, though threatened with appendicitis, was in a bloodthirsty mood and we talked of gore exclusively through the window—he resting on the porch and I on Cassie’s bed. Ishmael Amburgey’s father was killed by Tandy Martin, and Ishmael’s brother Maryland used to take pot shots at Tandy every time he passed the Amburgey’s house. Someone would pass on the news that Tandy was coming and Maryland would hop up from the fields, snatch up his rifle and post himself where he could watch the bend in Carr. Ishmael remembers hiding behind the chimney and watching Tandy lurch in the saddle as he was struck by Maryland’s bullet. Lemis wanted to know if I had ever seen anyone shot, and rehearsed with joy how he and two cousins were carousing on the hills at Christmas time when one of the boys shot the other by mistake with a 22. Lemis said,”Gee-oh, I just laughed and laughed.” I rebuked him for callousness but Lemis said he was so funny lying there saying, “You damn fool, you shot me.” We conversed also on snake bites and Lemis says you must cut the snake right in two and rub the parts on the bite. There is a ‘swelling viper” that gets so mad when you spit tobacco juice at it that it bites itself and dies. Plain spit will not do, unfortunately.
Una in my physiology exam — “If I was to be exposed to smallpox or diphtheria I would go straight to a doctor and take an intozicant.”
Fridav April 21
THE DRUNKARD’S HELL
‘Twas on a dark and stormy night
I saw and heard an awful sight
The lightening flashed, the thunder rolled
About my dark benighted soul —
I saw a gulf far down below
Where all poor dying drunkards go
An awful thought no tongue could tell
Is this the doom — the drunkard’s hell?
I saw another weeping crowd
With blood shot eyes and voices loud
“Come in young men and join the room
This is the whiskey seller’s doom.”
I started and got there at last
I thought I’d take one spirit’s glass
And every time I’d stir it well
I’d think about the drunkard’s hell.
I dashed it down and left the place
And went to seek redeeming grace
I felt like Paul who once did pray
Because God washed his sins away.
I started out to change my life
To seek my own neglected wife
I found her weeping by her bed
Because her darling babe was dead.
I told her not to mourn and weep
Because her babe had gone to sleep
Her little soul had fled away
To dwell with Christ the endless day.
I took her by the lily white hand
She was so weak she could not stand
And told her tales of Heaven fair
That God might bless and save us there.
If all the boys would join a hand
And pass a law throughout the land
These whisky shops would have to flee
And leave the State of Kentucky free.
My drinking days have passed away
When first I bowed my knees to pray
But now I live a sober life
In a true home with a loving wife.
— Unknown Author
LETTER THAT NEVER CAME
“A letter for me?” was the question that he asked of the mailman at the closing of the day.
He turned sadly with a sigh, while a tear stood in his eye,
then he bowed his head and slowly walked away.
Then he murmured, “Can it be? Will it never come to me?”
Had he waited all these many years in vain?
Yet from early morning’s light he would watch ’til dark at night
for that letter but alas it never came.
Was it from a gray haired Mother, a sweetheart or brother?
Had he waited all these many years in vain?
Yet from early morning’s light he would watch with spirits bright
But the letter that he longed for never came.
He had waited many years, joy had mingled with his tears
When the old post master met him with a smile
How his features they would brighten and his sad heart seemed to lighten,
But his vain hopes lasted only for a while
When the post master would say, “There is nothing here today.”
He’d bemoan his fate yet no one would he blame —
Then he murmured, “Surely, she must sometimes think of me.”
Still he wondered why that missive never came.
So one day up on the shore he was found but life was o’er
His poor soul had gone out with the tide,
In his hand they found a note with the last words that he wrote,
Should a letter come, please place it by my side?
Sweet flowers twine around his tombstone, o’er his mound
On which was scrawled his age, also his name,
Many years have gone they say since his spirit passed away
But the letter that he longed for never came.
Lemis gave me these two choice ditties —
Saturday April 22
The Sunbeam show at the Baptist church last evening —
I chaperoned the hospital girls and took Sammy Combs along for an escort. He added a hat but didn’t bother about shoes or stockings. Milton Moore met us on the way so he and Laura stalked off together. We sat with them and Milton swelling his chest observed, “I get to sit with the four prettiest girls in town!” I was honored to be included.
Nonnie Everidge shrilled a solo with Hilliard Smith accompanying on his fiddle and Jim Francis bursting over his cornet. The children gave several plays and Fairchild explained that they were meant to laugh just where they did, but he allowed people would think they just did it for meanness.
Inez has a bald headed beau from Hazard and they “sat up” until late last night and were at it again this morning. She brought him to Miss F’s table to dinner and unfortunately he ate with his knife. I could see the little devils nudging each other and whispering, “Bad manners,” then looking fixedly at me. I have trained them too well. His name is Combs and he has a bald spot and new gray trousers. It looks like a match.
Well, the children seemed to have quite a party this afternoon. Molly had 15 small girls and I the same number of boys. They hunted Easter eggs, pinned ears on rabbits and made enough noise to raise the dead. Also guzzled ice cream and cake with great gusto. Sammy got mad and bit his own nose by refusing to come in for refreshments.
We invited the Eastover boys to finish up the ice cream and most of the big ones came. My lover came too, but deserted me for Molly. But I caught her lover the other day.
Sunday April 23
Easter– usual procedure except that there were hard boiled eggs for breakfast, which the small boys pocketed instead of eating. Joe said he aimed to bust his against a tree but Fairchild was laying them up for future hunger.
S.S. — Practiced those unmentionable Children’s Day songs. Loathsome! How I hate Hilliard Smith!
Miss Van Meter, Bernice and I sang a trio at the Easter service in the chapel this P.M. and everyone was very nice about it. Br. Hamlin pumped my hand enthusiastically. Mr. Fisher (possibly Park W. Fisher) preached. Mrs. F. has added an apron to her ensemble which of course merely serves as an exclamation mark.
Molly is spending the evening with Wily and the children. If she is not back by 9, I am to send the Boy Scouts after her.
H. said Joe didn’t come to the party because we didn’t hide hens eggs.
Tuesday April 25A momentous ride — Miss Ann Cobb, Molly and I. We traveled up Calhoun branch and over the mountain, climbing several steep ridge path, from which we could see the entire length of Possum Trot, and miles away the faint blue line of the Pine Mountain. Most of the dogwood trees were in bloom and every bank was thick with violets. Coming home was the party. About a mile from town Miss C.’s horse (Molly) took it into her head to race home and away they went, poor old ’86 grabbing her hair with one hand and impotently jerking the bridle with her other. Molly’s feet never touched the ground. Brock caught the fever and dashed off with Molly, and of course Dan being the notoriously bad horse of the town began to travel under me. It took me nearly a half mile to get him under control, and when we had trotted a while I came upon Molly with her hair streaming over her face, digging in a sand bank for hairpins, but not a sign of Miss Cobb. Molly, her mouth full of hair, said that she had no idea where she was, but thought she had gotten Molly-horse quieted. I rode on and noticed that in every house people were still watching the road to town, craning their necks up Hen Moore’s hill. Presently I met a small boy and said,
“Did Miss Cobb go by here galloping?” He nodded affirmatively with a delighted grin. The next boy announced with glee,
“Miss Cobb got throwed off!” “Where?” I groaned.
“On the town bridge,” with triumph at giving me news.
A lugubrious woman next called out, “I guess she’s hurt bad.”
This was [un ?] pleasant news so I urged Dan along and saw a group outside the store. Hilliard Smith announced that she was inside, so in I went. She was lying in a chair with her head on Rich Duke’s shoulder, her hair streaming all over, and looking the picture of death. Rich relieved me by saying, “She isn’t hurt,” but she looked it, and couldn’t talk without the worst stammering, and she held continually onto the back of her neck. After a while she felt well enough to walk on, so they started home, supported by Rich and Molly. Miss. E. put her to bed and says a shock is the only thing the matter.
Well, it seems that Hilliard Smith, a well-meaning boob, saw the horse running and jumped out into the road with upraised arms, which caused her to swerve violently and of course throw Miss C. over her head. Oh, Hilliard! One more star in your crown. And the horse only about 50 yards from her stable.
There’s a fine piece of humor in the affair, however — They say that as Miss C. dashed through the town she was heard repeating politely to her mount,
“Won’t you please stop? Oh, won’t you please stop?”
No bones broken, thank heaven.
Saturday April 29A trip over to Bristol Taylor’s yesterday. Molly and I with Lois on behind me, and bulging saddle bags behind Molly. Bristol Taylor lives on the top of a ridge which he owns for three miles around, so he won’t have to have “sorry neighbors” as he says. It is a lovely ride there — 9 miles straight to the old Carr meeting house, and then up Burgey’s branch and Big Doubles until you get to Daniel’s Gap. There you begin the two mile climb to Bristol’s. We ate our supper on top of Daniel’s Gap, where we could see the sun setting over Black Mountain, miles and miles away on the Virginia line. Bristol has made a wonderful road from the gap up to his house, through white oak forests, and on top of everything, so that one feels as though one were overlooking the world. Poor little Lois did not enjoy the uphill part, as my saddle slipped so that she was continually sitting in the horse’s tail. We came upon the barn and hand mill, first — those are in Knott County but Bristol’s house is in Letcher. The line is right on his ridge.
He himself was grinding corn so he came out to meet us. He offered to help us dismount, but as we slid off he murmured, “Little girls — Little girls.” Bristol is quite the best looking and most fascinating man we have seen in the mountains. He never hurries and his wife says he never gets anywhere as he continually stops to chat on the way. The minute that we got there he asked us if we knew an H.A. Schonen, a ginseng dealer in New York, who had just telegraphed offering to buy $4,000 of Bristol’s ginseng for immediate shipment. He talked ginseng all the way to the house and continued inside. Mrs. Taylor, Aunt Serena, had a sick headache and looked like a corpse.Their house is made of two one roomed cabins joined together, one very large, for the last occupants had a family of 12. The larger room had two layers of ginseng drying on screens which formed a ceiling. We could look up and see hundreds of little roots, each one tied separately, all the $4,000 worth, for it brings $5.50 a pound now. While Aunt Serena lay on the bed, Bristol ushered us to the wash stand on the porch and watched us perform our ablutions, continually talking about everything in the world, asking the most inquisitive questions but in a way that no one would ever mind. Aunt Serena sick as she was got us a delicious supper and Bristol entertained us as we ate. He is so good looking and an utterly engaging person. No wonder Lois and Raleigh are crazy over him. It was very amusing when we came to go to bed. There were two double beds and we expected to take Lois in with us, but Bristol said that he aimed to sleep in the kitchen. “I bet you girls never slept in a room with a man, now honest, did you?” We felt badly at turning him out but he would go. He was awfully funny about doin’ the milking. He said,”You know milking isn’t man’s work in the mountains. We make the women do it. Just make slaves of our wives, we mountaineers,” with a glance at Serena. She said that sometimes when she had had a headache Bristol had held her up on the milking stool — at which he looked very sheepish and said, “Sereny, Sereny!”
We had just gotten into bed when Bristol came tearing back to get his cot and his toothbrush. He was awfully funny stumbling around in the firelight trying to find his things. We went to sleep still hearing whispered “Sereny!”
It was half past four when I awakened and Bristol was back again fixing the fire. As it grew lighter Aunt Serena urged us to put on coats and go up the hill to see the sun ball rise from Virginia over Black Mountain. We put on wrappers and went out into the loveliest morning. The coves and hollers were full of fog but we were so far above them that it looked like lakes. Unfortunately the sun ball had risen, but we could see range after range all so beautifully green in the morning light. Just as we were returning to the house up came Bristol hurrying along the path. Silhouetted against the sunrise in transparent garments we must have been pretty sights, but Bristol is not the type of man to make one feel at all conscious. So kimono clad we went on a walk with our host without the slightest feeling of embarrassment.
He entertained us with many stories during breakfast, told in an inimitable way. He is a perfect mimic, among other things. Afterwards we sat around the fire while he played on his dulcimer and sang all sorts of ballads — The Turkish Lady, The Swapping Song, Sourwood Mountain and lots of others. That was the first time I had heard the renowned Sourwood Mountain.
Oh , my gal she lives in Letcher.
She won’t come and I won’t fetch her.
Oh, my love she’s a blue eyed daisy.
If I don’t get her I’ll go crazy.
Bristol in his abrupt way departed for Whitesburg very soon after and we were very sorry to see him go.
He said that next time we came we could ride up his hill in automobiles as he expected to make $100,000 out of his ginseng in the next six years.
The rest of the morning was perfect. We took the horses out and rode them bareback over the fields and let them graze. We were certainly sorry to leave. I don’t know when I’ve had such a thoroughly enjoyable time.
Sunday April 30
That terrible Children’s Day service this morning.
We slept eleven hours last night except when a fight started up on the street and the shooting and cursing got a little too loud for perfect slumber. Denver Amburgey and his drunken followers fought George Calhoun and his and things were pretty lively. Poor Miss G. said she was so near the firing line that she expected a bullet through her window any moment.
Cassie left precipitously for an all night session with Mrs. Duke but nothing has happened yet. —3 a.m.
Cassie came back and slept all afternoon. She bounced up at seven when Garland came in with a cut finger, thinking it was John Wes, but I fixed him and let her get dressed. C. says it is frightful at the Duke’s. Poor Mrs. D. has been having a terrific time ever since Friday night and not a whiff of chloroform will they give her.
Monday May 1
Ushered in by a breakfast party for Miss Stone at the Kindergarten House — very good and nicely served.
Awful Primers but Molly gave my phys. class a lecture on evolution. Denver was drunk and rather disagreeable.
Mrs. Duke’s baby was born dead yesterday afternoon. Dr. Raynor went over from the government hospital finally, and put her out of her misery for the time being with a dose of chloroform.
Tuesday May 2
John Wes called out from the porch of the hotel and brought Dr. McMullen, head of all the government trachoma work up. Dr. McM. was so nice about my Survey article [?]— that is the best criticism I’ve had.
THE ASHEVILLE TRIP
Off we went after school on Thursday the 5th. I was glad not to have to make a lot of farewells for it was really awfully hard to leave. Maudie Stevens and Laura burst into tears. We were surprised that the children seemed to feel so badly about our going. All the faculty came down to the stable yard to see us off and there were a few little boys to put us on our nags. I rode dear Molly horse, M. was on her favorite Brock, while Buddy rode Curtis Smith’s horse. For a change we took the road to Wayland, down Caney Creek, where they are a degenerate lot. One noticed the difference immediately in the people. Those we passed seemed hostile and surly. Caney was longer than we thought and by sunset we were still 4 miles to Wayland. Just as dark set in we passed three men on horseback who turned out to be drummers bound for Lackey too. This made a beau apiece and they were very attentive, insisting upon our having their raincoats when the rain began to fall. Molly got the freshest one, and the others continually apologized for him. He asked Molly if she knew Nanny Jones in Hindman, and said, “Gee! she’s a pretty girl,” and then coyly added, “There’s lots of pretty girls in Hindman.” He would not believe that we did not live in Lackey and said, “Ah g’wan,” when we mentioned New York. They were staying at Doc Prater’s too so we supped cozily together. There was a Syrian peddler there who came from Jerusalem.
Think of his getting to Lackey! — and with him our friends had the most wonderful conversation. They first inquired whether he had a wife — “Yes, in Jerusalem.” — “Well, what good did that do? Why not marry over here? — She would never know anything about it.”
They could not shake his moral principles in this respect, but he confessed that he cared more for his children than for her.
Next he was quizzed on his religion — “Did he believe in a crucified Christ?”
“No, if Christ was the son of God he couldn’t be crucified.”
“Well now, do you believe if Christ was a walking along the road and someone shot a bullet into his heart he would still go walking on?”
Next his side in the war was questioned —”Was he an ally?”
“Why not? Doesn’t England still own Jerusalem?”
We sat in the parlor overhearing this conversation and we were thrilled to death. We were sorry when Buddy’s beau brought us some spearmint gum and the party was broken up.
We slept in the Prater’s best room, but it was a perfect rat’s nest. Fortunately, no bedbugs, however. We had a delicious breakfast and Mrs. P. gave us some biscuits for lunch. From Lackey to Beaver Creek we sat on the steps of the train, as it did not move fast enough to interfere. Occasionally we jumped off to gather flowers or turtles and got on again. At Beaver Creek we got some milk at the hotel, and made connections with the Elkhorn City [Kentucky] train very comfortably. On this train who should we meet but Miss Amerman, on her way to Hindman via Jenkins. At Elkhorn City we got some ice cream cones for lunch. E.C. is a fearful place but the ladies have style all the while. The ride from here to Johnson City [Tennessee] is beautiful, especially along the breaks of the Sandy, where the river cuts a high ridge in two. We had a car to ourselves most of the way except for some railroad men and lawyers — nice looking men, evidently fotched-on, but such were the trammels of approaching civilization, we couldn’t speak to them. Carrie Summers met us in J.C. and gave us a beautiful time except that some men came in who stayed until very late and Molly went to sleep.
From Johnson City to Altapass [North Carolina] was a long ride and so hot with crowds of messy people in the car. At Altapass we were ushered to the Blue Ridge Inn which
“Though good looking without,
you must smother your pride.
You are fearfully funny
and old, inside.”
Our room was tiny and had one window which opened only a crack so we made the proprietor remove another bodily. A B.3. dined on me as usual. Our train left at 5:23 a.m., in the cold and chilly dawn, but we were glad to escape that wretched place. Altapass really is beautiful — on the top of the Blue Ridge — and we had one delightful walk. It was very interesting seeing Miss Holman’s hospital there. She does the most wonderful medical work there. Her system is to train girls to nurse properly and then send them back home. The hard cases they import to the hospital, but mostly they work in the homes. They had one young woman there with a week old baby, and had had a surgeon from Asheville [North Carolina] to operate on her.
From Altapass to Marion [North Carolina] there was divine scenery, and we stood upon the back platform of the train munching the life saving zwieback and reveling in the most beautiful mountains we had seen. At Marion junction we hailed a Ford, forerunner of the haunts of men, and in it were transported to the city itself, where we breakfasted at the Hotel Marianna and were almost presented with the entire hostelry. From Marion to Asheville there was a very hot, dusty train and too much would be civilization. Asheville we found a very warm and flourishing city. We left for the Battery Park Hotel, which was a very swank looking hostelry. So much so that we couldn’t resist staying there, and immediately settled down in its most expensive suite. Lunch in a real dining salon with real waiters almost unnerved us, but we tried to bear up under the strain. In the afternoon we rested for a while and then sallied out to see the city. There is a Presbyterian school, which we visited and found very very civilized — I couldn’t have stood working there.
Asheville to me meant mostly “sleep and eat” both in the lap of luxury, though before leaving we drove through the Vanderbilt estate, which is wonderfully attractive, cultivated, yet with an air of mountain wildness.
Someday I want to go back and see it all! Like all good things it came to a close —– on a dusty musty train —
Farewell to the mountains!
Dorothy H. Stiles
Dorothy Hancock Stiles ; “Dode” Stiles ; Mrs.
Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY
Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;
Dorothy H. Stiles ; Dorothy Hancock Stiles ; “Dode” Stiles ; Kentucky 1915 ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Wellesley College ; Hindman Settlement School ; Smith College ; travelogues ; Olive Dame Campbell ; John C. Campbell ; Russell Sage Foundation ; student volunteers ; housemother ; Eastover dormitory ; teachers ; May Stone ; urban settlement houses ; typhoid fever ; Dorothy “Mollie” Gostenhofer ; horseback ; Jess Stoddard ; school children ; The Depression ; World War II ; Laurence Wellington ; Bristol Taylor ; Lucy Wellington ; Peter Rogers ; Burton Rogers ; Cassie Ehrenfeld ; calomel ; Listerine ; Ferris Hayes ; Miss Gutman ; Jim Francis ; Evelyn Du Pont Irving ; Mrs. Childers ; weavers ; Hall generation ; Liza Hall ; Auxier Hall ; shiveree ; Pushback ; moonshine ; Fred Amburgey ; Curtis Smith ; Spencer Combs ; Chicken Inspector badge ; logging truck road ; Widow Cornett ; Big Laurel ; hookworm ; dentists ; Polly Ann Cornett ; Old House ; Laurel Mountain ; Widow Griffith ; Frank Browning ; Bish Boggs ; Laurel House ; Pole House ; Evelyn Wells ; Margaret Lincoln ; Katherine Pettit ; ballads ; William Creech ; will Lemis ; Jordan’s Trestle ; hospital girls ; Ishmael Amburgey ; John Wes ; Bro. McGowan ; barn boys ; Hgen Smith ; Bad Tal Hall ; swelling viper ; The Drunkard’s Hell ; Letter Than Never Came ; Sammy Combs ; Milton Moore ; Nonnie Everidge ; Hilliard Smith ; Easter ; Miss Van Meter ; Mr. Fisher ; Miss Cobb ; Miss Amerman ; Carrie Summers ; Miss Holman ; hospitals ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Mt. Vernon, NY ; Wellesley, MA ; Hindman, KY ; Eastern Kentucky ; New York, NY ; London, England ; Amherst, MA ; Florida ; Framington, MA ; Cornettsville, KY ; Line Fork, KY ; Kingdom Come, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Perry County, KY ; Letcher County, KY ; Knott County, KY ; Elkhorn City, KY ; Johnson City, TN ; Altapass, NC ; Asheville, NC ; Marion, NC ;
Stiles, Dorothy H., — 1893 – 1979.
Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY
Bill Wellington (Transcription)
Text ; image ;
Typed transcription of original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet.
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Visitors
Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Visitors and Series 18: PUBLICATIONS RELATED
1893 – 2013
Pine Mountain, KY ; Mt. Vernon, NY ; Wellesley, MA ; Hindman, KY ; Eastern Kentucky ; New York, NY ; London, England ; Amherst, MA ; Florida ; Framington, MA ; Cornettsville, KY ; Line Fork, KY ; Kingdom Come, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Perry County, KY ; Letcher County, KY ; Knott County, KY ; Elkhorn City, KY ; Johnson City, TN ; Altapass, NC ; Asheville, NC ; Marion, NC ;
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.
Bill Wellington and the Dorothy Stiles family
A transcription of the original travelogue of Dorothy (“Dode”) Stiles by Bill Wellington, grandson of Dorothy Hancock Stiles was given to Pine Mountain for use on the Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections web site. Correspondence with Bill Wellington and Peter Rogers included in the file. Photographs accompanying the transcribed travelogue are photocopies of images that show emulsion color shift.
“Kentucky, 1915. Dorothy Hancock Stiles,” [Transcription copy] Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections. [Original held by Hindman Settlement School, Hindman, KY]
Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt
2013-11-13 hhw ; 2013-11-15 aae ; 2013-11-24 hhw ; 2013-11-27 hw ; 2018-10-14 aae ; 2023-07-28 aae ;
Stiles, Dorothy H. “Kentucky 1915.” Typescript diary. Hindman (KY) Settlement School archives. Archival material.
Stoddart, Jess. Challenge and Change in Appalachia: The Story of Hindman Settlement School. University Press of Kentucky, 2009. Print.