Pine Mountain Settlement School
ABOUT: What’s New! ARCHIVE
WHAT’S NEW ARCHIVE
The WHAT’S NEW! ARCHIVE page is used to store previously selected announcements of historical material that had been added to the PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL COLLECTIONS website. These announcements originally appeared on “WHAT’S NEW!” on the ABOUT page.
WHAT’S NEW! highlights collections that were added to the COLLECTIONS website in the recent month. The listing may also include newly published books, articles, and news items related to Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Go To: WHAT’S NEW! for the most recent entry.
March was a month-long celebration of women associated with Pine Mountain Settlement School. 30 women are celebrated. One for each day of the month.
Women’s History Month: These are just a few of the women whose lives intersected with Pine Mountain Settlement School. Each of these women and many more left a remarkable legacy of accomplishment, adventure and inspiration at the School and beyond.
ALICE JOY KEITH – Teacher, scientist, inventor, environmentalist, Keith was always ahead of the curve. An inspiration to aspiring scientists at PMSS she went on to a successful career with the Navy Electronics Lab at Point Loma, CA. Her work and writing on sonar systems for the U.S. Navy were experimental and complex. Working for the Defense Technical Information Center she dealt with the travel-time of refracted rays of sound as they are found in underwater sound propagation, work that was often ground-breaking and critical to the later development of signal processing systems such as LORAD (Long-Range Air Defense) and related fields. An outspoken advocate for the environment. Keith fought to stop the Glen Canyon Dam and to save the “Roosevelt Tree” in San Jose, CA.
EVELYN K. WELLS (1917-1987) – Secretary, teacher, folklorist, author, Wells left rich records of the School from 1913-1928. Aloof and distant, but light as a feather when she danced, and passionate about those ideals she held dear. Her letters describe a young woman as she matures through tragedy, loss, and personal achievement, never letting go of her sense of self but rarely revealing the angst that followed her through life.
KATHERINE PETTIT I (1868-1936) – Co-founder of PMSS, Pettit was fascinated by mountain craft. In her search for the perfect “kiver” she found a world that resonated with her own. She was taught the hard lessons of listening and learning and heard the wisdom that lived in mountain folk. Often invited into the homes of neighbors she recorded the speech, lifestyle, beliefs and insight of women as they worked to understand their lives. “I just sat and had a piece of satisfaction,” said one. Another, “We’un’s what can’t read and write have to do a heap of thinking — that’s the reason we knows so much more than you’uns.” Her work with agricultural training in the steep mountains of eastern Kentucky was foundational.
EDITH COLD (1879-1980) – Teacher, dietitian, housemother, Cold was tiny in stature but a giant in courage. Before coming to the School she had stood off the butchering rampage of the Ottoman Turks to save orphaned children in Armenia. A quiet Quaker, Cold was always a force to be reckoned with and a champion of children though she had none of her own. She remained devoted to children and their welfare throughout her life.
ELIZABETH C. HENCH (1869?-1939) – A member of the Board of Trustees of Pine Mountain School, Hench was funny, witty, articulate and a lover of cows. She developed and supported a premiere herd of Ayrshire cows that kept the School supplied with milk. She also started Miss Elizabeth Hench’s Joy Stock Company and kept her stockholders laughing as they wrote their checks to maintain the herd.
MARY ROGERS (1914-1993) – Founder of the Environmental Education program at PMSS, and artist, naturalist, and librarian. Mary Rogers was profoundly committed to the community and to living life with purpose. Born in England, she worked in China and India, knew Gandhi’s work and understood the lessons of poverty and service. “Ah, no man knows through what wild centuries roves back the rose,” she once quoted. As she read to children, she encouraged them to search those “wild centuries” and to build on their dreams. Her contributions to the School from 1937-1993 are still pervasive in programming, aesthetics, culture and consciousness in the PMSS community.
ALFREDA WITHINGTON (1861-1951) – Physician, educator, intrepid traveler. Withington was the 1st woman student admitted to K. K. Allgemeines Krankenhaus teaching hospital in Vienna, Austria, the 1st woman to perform an autopsy; the 1st woman resident physician at the Czech National Obstetrical Hospital (c. 1889); 1st woman physician to practice in Prague ; 1st woman to open a medical and surgical practice in Pittsfield, MA (1891); played an important role in the creation of a Tuberculosis Society (c. 1907); during WWI, was chief physician of the American Red Cross, worked at the Franco-American Dispensary in Dreux, France (1917); THEN in 1924 at the age of 63 she answered an ad in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Wanted, a woman physician for settlement work in the remote Kentucky mountains; all calls to be made on horseback, no other licensed physician within twenty-five miles. In 1924, Withington took the job. At the age of 63 and for seven more years, she worked at Pine Mountain’s clinic at Big Laurel.
KATHERINE PETTIT II (1868-1936) – Co-Founder of PMSS, agronomist, educator, planner, ever the manager. An entry in Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary (p. 57) describes Miss Pettit as having a “strong face [that] revealed her personality; a firm planner and manager, yet outgoing, patient, and kind. She was beloved by children and overworked mothers for her suggestions and personal advice….” The list of K.P.’s friends is a long one from Jane Addams to the overworked mother, but the list of photographs of her is a short one… “scarce as hen’s teeth,” some have said. She rarely sought the limelight, preferring the margins where the more interesting living and thinking take place and where managing has its most profound impact. And, she had impact. In late 1932, she was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion by the University of Kentucky as an outstanding citizen of Kentucky. The institution she helped to create is now over 100 years old, testimony to the strength of her foundational ideas.
PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL GIRLS’ OCTET (1936-1937) – traces of the lives of 8 PMSS women students whose educations were enriched by their travel throughout the Northeast and Midwest. performing ballads and dances of Appalachia. Three Ayers sisters, three Christian sisters, Fern Hall, and Nan Milan, sang and danced at the White House for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; danced with Henry Ford; were recorded by Alan Lomax; and their songs can be found in the Library of Congress. PMSS wrote of their importance to the School: “From the beginning Pine Mountain has been conscious of the wealth of folk material in the locality. The school has been a center for an artistic revival of this innate culture and has fostered an appreciation of English forms, in song and dance, which are the background of this pioneer inheritance, Folk songs and folk dances are a natural and delightful part of the daily life, reaching their climax in the May Day Festival at the school. The children sing Bach but also the mountain ballads, and the traditional country dances are their popular recreation.” Enrichment has a way of spreading itself around and is rarely a one-way process.
ABBIE WINCH “(WINNIE”) CHRISTENSEN (1887-1969) came from a Quaker family of socially-conscious activists. Her mother, Abbie Holmes Christensen, was a suffragist and abolitionist and her father and brother were supporters of human rights, particularly those of African Americans. Abbie’s interests and experiences were varied. During World War I, she served with the Red Cross in France. She became a leading expert on English and American folk dance which she taught at PMSS, along with weaving and mechanical drawing. Her habit of “dancing” as she walked about the campus was a familiar sight during her 25 years at PMSS. As part of the WWII war effort, she produced elegant aeronautical engineering drawings which are now in the PMSS Collections. In addition, she studied botany, an interest that she continued later in life as a florist shop owner in her hometown of Beaufort, SC. [AAE]
MARGARET MOTTER (1883-1994) Principal, teacher, head of the English department, prolific writer, humanitarian, weaver, Motter said of her ten years at Pine Mountain that “There is always a peculiar joy in returning to a place where one has invested a part of oneself. …” When asked “Why Pine Mountain?” She replied, “The real reason for my going to Pine Mountain was that I wished to have a different type of teaching.” She soon found out how “different” a teaching experience at Pine Mountain Settlement School could be. In one of her talks, “A MOUNTAIN SCHOOL” she speaks of making dreams a reality. She quotes from a poem, “He only is a dreamer who makes his dream come true…” Gender aside, SHE and the women she taught were both dreamers and doers. Her sentiments often found a large audience and her talks and writing engaged many new friends for the School. She was not afraid to be sentimental, caustic, judgmental, empathetic, and funny and her fearless style was infectious. She helped build dreams that resonated with her students, her donors and her colleagues. Her contributions to the School are numerous. She was also effective.
GRACE M. ROOD (1897-1988) – Taking care of people was a lifetime occupation for Miss Rood. This was particularly true during her 26 years at the Pine Mountain Settlement School, where she was a nurse and then superintendent in charge of the Infirmary. It was also where not only the ill were tended to, but many a baby was born. In 1923 Rood received an R.N. degree from Johns Hopkins School for Nurses in Baltimore, MD and then left for 5 1/2 years in southern India where she was superintendent of nurses and principal of a nurses’ training school. This international work was followed next by 7 years work with the Visiting Nurses Association of New Haven (CT). In 1932 she arrived at Pine Mountain Settlement School where a 1938 Pine Cone article describes her as “responsible for the health of the school,” a job she excelled at as she taught classes in practical nursing, kept medical records, traveled with the doctor on house calls, gave inoculations in the district schools, rendered first aid and gave talks about staying healthy. All this and more were in addition to her Infirmary responsibilities and serving patients all over the back country in her trusty four-wheel-drive Jeep. She retired in 1962. At the age of 86 she returned for a PMSS Homecoming and crowds of people lined up to thank her for “the interest, love and guidance she gave to students” as well as the surrounding community. [AAE]
MARY ROCKWELL (HOOK) (1897-1978) – If there was a Mount Rushmore for Pine Mountain’s important historical figures, one of the sculptures would certainly be Mary Rockwell Hook. After graduating from Wellesley in 1900, she was the first woman to attend the Chicago Institute of Art’s architecture department. She later studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Although her family’s wealth enabled Miss Rockwell to exercise options not available to many women of her time, it did not protect her from gender bias that she encountered throughout her years of study and job applications. However, Miss Rockwell prevailed. While working as an architect in Kansas City, Missouri, Mary Rockwell was recruited by Ethel de Long in 1913 to design the campus and buildings for the new Pine Mountain Settlement School. Over one hundred years later, her buildings continue to be appreciated for their attention to place and their harmonious blending with their natural surroundings, an innovative approach for an architect of her era. [AAE]
ETHEL S. NORTON ( d. 1988) “… 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.” So wrote Ethel Norton when she came to Pine Mountain in 1927, the year she graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was one of many Antioch students who came to PMSS through an exchange program for teachers. At PMSS she taught the fifth and sixth grade classes — an activity recorded in her extensive Scrapbook and Photo Album. In her delightful “My Dear Everybody Back-Home Letter,” she writes in detail of her experiences teaching and traveling in the surrounding region. Her letter recounts the well-known story of Rebel Rock and the years of the Civil War. After departing Pine Mountain in 1928, Ethel served in several teaching positions including instructor of English at a high school in Amityville, Long Island. For a time she also served as Dean of Women at Albright College in Reading, PA, and in the war years as a director of YWCA programs for the USO (United States Organizations, Inc.). In 1943 Ethel married and settled in Oregon where she taught at the University of Oregon in Eugene until her retirement in the town of Gold Beach, Oregon.
DR. IDA STAPLETON (1871-1946) Her story is not for the faint of heart. As we battle over our personal medical benefits, it is well to remember those we must battle for. There is no question that Dr. Ida Stapleton knew those selfless battles and met them head-on, or horse-on. Traveling to remote villages in Turkey and the hollows of Eastern Kentucky on horseback to wait for and deliver babies, to patch up gun-shot wounds, to mend broken bones, to gentle savage psyches, and to always educate, was part of Dr. Ida Stapleton’s week. But, then, she had already encountered far more profound human suffering. As a worker for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Turkey in the 1920s, she and her husband had seen the cruelest of human actions. Starvation, torture, massacre, deception, — evil at its most extreme. The Storm of Life: A Missionary Marriage from Armenia to Appalachia, (2016) by Gretchen Rasch, granddaughter of Ida and Robert, captures the full sweep of Ida’s work at Erzerum, Turkey and her last years during the Great Depression spent at Line Fork settlement in Letcher County, a satellite of Pine Mountain Settlement. Her personal sacrifice and complete dedication to the welfare of her fellow travelers on this earth will make most of our lives seem shallow. As we argue over health care in our country, we would do well to think what matters most. How much we ask for ourselves and how we care for those who cannot ask or care for themselves.
AUNT SAL CREECH (1866-1925) Miss Sally Dixon, later well-known and well-loved as Aunt Sal Creech, wife of William Creech, helped her husband argue for the founding of a school in the Pine Mountain valley — Pine Mountain Settlement School. “Aunt” Sal [“Aunt” was a familiar form of address for the elders in the Pine Mountain valley] was the daughter of William and Mary (Gilliam) Dixon. Her parents were among those bold and rugged pioneers who carved homes out of the Kentucky wilderness, survived many hardships, and created a life and culture that became a colorful and important part of the nation’s history. She was the mother of nine children: Absolom, Polly, William R., Nancy Ann, Henry C., Columbus, Rhoda, Martha (who died in infancy), and Joe. But, Aunt Sal was mother to a far larger family, the early staff at the settlement school. Remembered for her wise and witty sayings, her love of nature, and her kitchen, where “Everyone was welcome to share the fire, to eat, to stay all night….Her hands were never too full to set a meal of victuals out of hours, and table-full might follow table-full in her kitchen…The children played all over the yard, and chased the chickens and turkeys…the grown folks helped with the work or sat quiet as they chose….For every chunk of a boy or girl she had a special apple or a large piece of sweet-bread.” Her wisdom often got right to the heart of the matter: “ “Well, we ‘uns that cain’t read or write, we have a heap o’ time to think, and that’s the reason we know more than you all!” And she did know a heap that we miss in our information saturated world.
LUCRETIA GARFIELD (1894-1968) Lucretia Garfield was born January 18, 1894, in Ohio. The daughter of Harry “Hal” Augustus Garfield and Belle Hartford Garfield, Lucretia came from a remarkable legacy. Harry, her father, was President of Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the son of President of the United States, James Garfield and First Lady Lucretia, or “Crete” Garfield. It was one year following the death of her grandmother on March 14, 1918, that 25-year-old Lucretia came to Pine Mountain as a summer worker. She had served for a brief time in the War Relief Service but had little work experience beyond that. She was charged to establish and run a Girl Scout program for the School. It was, apparently, one of her first experiences in a hired position and from all reports, she was a lively, competent and engaged worker at the School — well liked by her colleagues. Lucretia Garfield stayed in touch with Pine Mountain for many years sending pictures of her children after her marriage to John Preston Comer, Assistant Professor of Government at Williams College.
BIRDENA BISHOP (1899-1989) Counselor, house mother, teacher, community organizer, a talented speaker and motivator who was often asked to talk before large and small groups. Most often her talks were about Pine Mountain Settlement School and her passion for education, for industrial training and for life in Appalachia. Several of her talks were more philosophical. Her inspirational short talk, “A Philosophy of Freedom,” for the 1942 commencement at Pine Mountain Settlement perhaps captures best her personal drive and heartfelt convictions regarding her work and life and what she hoped for in the students at Pine Mountain. Her talk beautifully captures the sense of place at the school but it also captures the kind of educational direction and sense of community that Birdena and her colleagues helped to build within the students. As Birdena noted in her 1942 “A Philosophy of Freedom, ”short talk: “Had our liberal education not set us free we would be bound by ignorance (which means simply lack of knowledge). We might also be bound by other negative, unbeautiful traits — intolerance, fears, hate, envy, jealousy, suspicion, superstition, prejudice — all of them more dreadful, more fatal to our freedom of soul and spirit, than clinking chains of iron. We might have been our own jailers.”
ALICE COBB (1917-1995) Came to work at the School in the late 1930s and continued to come as a visitor, sometimes fundraiser, and consultant to the campus until her death in 1995. Pine Mountain, no doubt, made important contributions to the interests and talents of Alice Cobb, as well. The influences of Pine Mountain can be seen and felt throughout her life’s work. She was an accomplished writer and a prolific writer. Not always published, her observations are extensive, amusing, intense and engaging reading. Her narrative reports and analysis of work at Pine Mountain was probably her most valuable contribution, though, for some readers the reports are also problematic. She filtered through her own perspective and often this perspective was not in line with the current opinion or could be read as overly critical. But, critique she did, and today her keen observations are refreshing and candid and possibly the most honest observations we have of life at Pine Mountain Settlement School and related surrounding communities in the late 1930s and 1940s. She was well-known in the Pine Mountain community and her blunt style was a remarkably good fit with the direct and honest observations of many valley families.
DR. GRACE HUSE (1884-1971) A gentle contrarian, Dr. Huse knew how to herd cats (See her photograph to figure that one out!) Her experiences at the rural Medical Settlement at Big Laurel from 1919 to 1924 were a far cry from those of her genteel medical school in Philadelphia, PA, and teaching position at the Women’s College in Greensboro, NC. Even so, she quickly got up to speed as she established the Pine Mountain’s medical extension with her nurse and rural mentor, Harriet Butler. Her academic preparation in the medical sciences and her commitment to education were valuable assets in her position at Pine Mountain. The early experiences and models provided by Dr. Huse, Harriet Butler and other women who worked in the extension centers are only part of the rich medical legacy in Appalachia inherited from the rural settlement movement. [AAE]
MILLY MAHONEY (d. 2015) If you had the invincible Mildred Mahoney as a teacher you no doubt received a gift that keeps on giving. One of the most accomplished teachers at Pine Mountain during the Community School years and founder of “Little School,” Mahoney’s wise educational counsel was nationally recognized as foundational to the creation of Head Start. The creation of the pre-school program in the deeply rural area of Eastern Kentucky and her careful assessment of the early childhood education program trained a core of superb teachers and inspired the founders of Head Start as they created guidelines for the national program. Her early work set the bar for “Little Schools” across the country. Through Head Start, the lives millions of children were changed and they were given the skills and confidence to enter the educational process and families were guided as they moved forward with their children. Her contributions to the life experience of children, their families and to the total community will be forever honored and remembered by those she served.
MARY ANGELA MELVILLE (1886-1977) – Following Ethel de Long Zande’s death in 1928, the PMSS Board turned to Mary Angela Melville to assume Mrs. Zande’s duties as an interim associate director of the School. She was hesitant, fearing that Katherine Pettit, the longtime co-director and co-founder, might consider her a young, interfering “whippersnapper.” Nonetheless, Melville’s excellent negotiating skills brought about a workable relationship for the two years that she served. Those skills most likely came from her previous experiences as a field representative for the Credit Union National Extension Bureau (CUNEB) when she organized credit unions in mostly rural Southern communities. Miss Melville was not a stranger to the School. From 1916 to 1920, she worked in the office and, as an effective speaker, raised funds for the School. She had an innovative approach to education, as reflected in her writings, that was barely recognized at the time. It is only now in a review of her work at the School that her contributions are being seen in their true light as ahead of her time and formative for the years that followed. [AAE]
GLADYS HILL (1906-1952) – Teacher, Counselor, Secretary, Interim Director, Hill’s service to Pine Mountain School was longer than any other staff, including the founders. She started under the supervision of Katherine Pettit and remained at the School until the administration of Burton Rogers. When she died suddenly of a heart attack in 1952 she left a gap in leadership, inspiration, and institutional memory. Her colleagues said of her that she “was born to teach. She had a personal, compassionate interest in all children [that] brought from them the best they were capable of.” She established the Cooperative Education program at the School which received national praise from the editor of Consumers’ Cooperation, the official publication of the Consumers’ Cooperative Movement in the U. S. A.. An excellent film produced by the Harmon Foundation on the Cooperative Movement at Pine Mountain was captured for national distribution in 1941 by the award-winning film team of Ray and Virginia Garner. Colleague Fred Burkhard noted that “Pine Mountain was her home. She gave it everything she had, and it was more than most people knew. She never entered into campus politics, no matter who came or went. She had a job to do, and politics was not a part of it. She got along with all the students who were bright and who were poor and who could not learn fast…. She knew the whereabouts and the doings of all former students and workings of the people of the community. She worked through several administrations and got along with all of them. She was quite a woman.” The tributes to her fill two folders in the archive, but the hole she left in the hearts of many at the School could not be easily filled.
BECKY MAY HUFF (b. 1906) – Student, Teacher, Weaver, Dancer, Dyer, Becky was one of the first students to come to Pine Mountain Settlement School. Her name appears frequently in the records of the School and often in association with her skills at weaving. Under Katherine Pettit’s instruction, Becky became a master weaver. Pettit, long an admirer of weaving skills followed Becky as she left the School to attend Berea College and later as she taught at various locations including Aiken Hall in Olive Hill, KY. Becky also studied vegetable dyeing of wool with former PMSS staff member, Wilmer Stone Viner, in Saluda, NC. In 1930 Pettit wrote to Becky inviting her back to Pine Mountain saying that, “I am especially anxious to have you because I think you have a real understanding of our desire to do the old things and not just make mercerized…things and that you will help to hold up the standards upon which this department [weaving] was started. Becky replied that she could “hardly wait to get back to Pine Mountain again. I feel like I’m really going home again.” Before she arrived, Evelyn Wells at Pine Mountain arranged to send Becky to Amherst where she would be further trained in folk-dance so she might also instruct in that area when she came to PMSS. The weaving program only lasted two more years and at the end of 1932 Becky May left to marry Ova Sexton and the School moved into the Glyn Morris boarding school years, where weaving did not hold the same level of interest to the new Director.
MARGUERITE BUTLER (BIDSTRUP) (1892-1982) – When Marguerite Butler arrived at Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1914 from Vassar College in New York, the newly established School had many challenges ahead for her, from living in a rustic environment to teaching and caring for the mountain children. However, she was well-equipped to deal with both the good and the difficult times during her eight years at the School. The many letters she wrote to her family from 1914 to 1923 (available on this site) describe in detail her teaching experiences. By 1920 Miss Butler was appointed the superintendent of all of the School’s extension projects. In her last years at Pine Mountain, she was the supervisor of eleven one-room schools that had then been assigned to the Harlan County Superintendent of Schools, a position which included visiting the schools on horseback. Also in 1920, Miss Butler spoke before the fiscal court to procure money for the proposed Laden Trail road. A year later she was sent on a speaking tour to various Ohio cities and Chicago to raise money for the road and the School. In 1924, she was recruited by Mrs. Campbell to assist in the founding of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, based on the Danish model that the two had learned about in their travels together. It was there that Marguerite met her future husband, Georg Bidstrup. Miss Butler’s effectiveness at PMSS was due to her leadership abilities, congeniality and appreciation for the good in life, and her attributes and accomplishments continue to be admired over 100 years later. [AAE]
MAY BELLE RITCHIE (DESCHAMPS) (b. 1896) was among the many PMSS students who not only flourished at Pine Mountain Settlement School but brought with them talents of their own. She was the oldest of fourteen children in a Viper, Kentucky, family that was celebrated as the “Singing Family of the Cumberlands.” In 1917 Cecil Sharp, the well-known ballad and folksong collector from Great Britain, so admired them that he documented songs performed by May and her sister Una Ritchie for his collection. Five of the Ritchie children attended Pine Mountain School throughout the 1920s, including May Ritchie from 1921 to 1924. (Others in the family attended nearby Hindman Settlement School.) May married Leon Frantz Deschamps, who worked as the School’s forester, and the couple often attended or hosted social gatherings that included their co-workers. May Ritchie’s contributions to the School included her knowledge of traditional Appalachian folk songs and foodways, as well as her skills as a craftsperson, evidenced by her cornhusk doll collection at the Mountain Heritage Center, Western Carolina University. After over a decade at PMSS, Leon moved the family, now including their three children, to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. The couple brought with them the skills they had honed at PMSS. [AAE]
MAYA SUDO (d. 1924) – A nurse at Pine Mountain who traveled by horseback to deliver babies, minister to the sick and who introduced a new cultural awareness to a sheltered community. An immigrant from Japan, whose personal journey was fascinating and heart-wrenching, and all too short, Maya found joy in the world through service to others. Her photograph album captures her years at the School and beyond.
ETHEL DE LONG ZANDE (1879-1928) – Co-founder of the School, loving and very literate, de Long educated and shaped the lives of many in the short years of her own life. Strict, caring, fair and fast in her friendships, she was a model for many. “Gee, I like my new teacher. She’s as ill as a hornet!” one might say. I think we all understand this perceptive and admiring mountain metaphor — or perhaps, not. Zande expected the best from all those around her and she extracted it through love and respect.
OMA CREECH (FISKE) (1909-1986?) came a long way from the shy little girl in the photograph wearing boots and a floppy hat and holding a hoe. The second of Delia and Henry C. Creech’s eight children and Uncle William and Aunt Sal Creech‘s grandchild, she showed great promise and lived up to it. By 1943, after PMSS graduation and medical training, she was a practicing physician in Kentucky. She was soon sent overseas in WWII as a major in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), an international relief agency. All the while, she kept in close contact with PMSS where her training and aspirations began. After two years with UNRRA, Oma returned to her home state to continue working as a doctor and health supervisor and to realize her hopes for a healthier Kentucky. [AAE]
All during July  I felt quite sure that I could begin this letter by saying that the new sawmill was on the ground sawing up the great piles of logs that the people here have cut and given to the School, Today finds us with part of it on our lumber yard, part at Incline, and part at Ross Point. Fitzhugh [Fitzhugh Lane] has gone today to take care of the engine as it comes across Pine Mountain on the Incline [rail] road. The effort to get it here is a difficult one. The men who brought the boiler in with eight oxen said to me “This is a safe and easy way compared to that risky Incline road across Pine Mountain. Some places the small steel rails are broken or slipped apart at the end and a piece of wood is supplied for a rail. Many places the cross ties are rotten under the little rails. Everybody was careful and came so slowly that we had only one wreck.” The well on top of Pine Mountain which furnishes the water to run this road [Incline] is often dry and they have to wait between trips for the water to run in. Mr. McSwain [Horace McSwain], our farmer went down and suggested that they clean the mud out of the well which helped some.
It was a picturesque sight to see the eight yoke of oxen coming up the narrow, rough, short-curved road to the school grounds with the boiler. The two drivers managed it well. Three other men were behind to hold the boom pole to keep it from turning over the banks. “
The collected correspondence and photographs of two early staff members of Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Evelyn Wells describes her “Extracts from a Pine Mountain Worker’s Family Letters 1915-1927:
These are in no sense a “history” of the School since they are by their nature fragmentary, and sometimes not dated — hence arranged from internal evidence or comparison with the School’s literature.
They may, however, aid in giving some idea of one worker’s reactions to life at the School during its formative years, and they may add bits of local color and information to the School’s existing records. Evelyn K. Wells
For example: “At Big Log Lindy, age five, laid up with an infected leg, sits on the porch and shells cowpeas , and usually has some ridiculous remark for passers-by. She’s the one who when caught in the dining room after dinner said she wasn’t eating anything but the crumbs in her teeth. She has absolutely no front teeth.”
2016 WHAT’S NEW! ARCHIVE
ALICE COBB – WAR’S UNCONQUERED CHILDREN SPEAK (1953)
A book by Pine Mountain staff member, Alice Cobb, is as timely today as it was in 1953, following WWII. Recently re-published by Cobb’s long-time friend and publisher, Mary Catharine Nelson, War’s Unconquered Children Speak, chronicles a four-month journey made by Cobb in the Middle East and Europe where she met and interviewed children of war. In this new edition of the original 1953 book by Beacon Press, now out of print and rare, Nelson has added a preface by a displaced Syrian teenager. Hiba’s [a pseudonym] account of her ordeal in the Syrian city of Aleppo, including the loss of both parents and a sister, only underscores the terrible toll war takes on children and their families as recorded earlier by Cobb. Sophia Fahs, who wrote the introduction to the first 1953 edition asks us all to consider the plight of children in war. This book is for anyone “… willing to listen when the children of war themselves speak.”
The book is available on demand from Ideas Into Books at Westview Press or Amazon. <https://www.amazon.com/dp/1628800992/ref=olp_product_details?_encoding=UTF8&me=>
HELEN LOUISE MADON HEATH (1920-2016) – STUDENT – When Helen Louise Madon Heath came to Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1935, she, like so many of her fellow classmates, knew they were given a special gift in the immersive and experimental education of the unique school. Helen Heath used her gifts to give back to her many communities.
1938-39 BULLETIN OF POST GRADUATE WORK AT PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL – In 1938-39 Pine Mountain offered a unique and unusually rich vocational training program to their graduates who did not elect to go on to college after graduation from high school. As described by the School, it aimed to “place the emphasis upon learning to live a full and satisfying life [where] individual responsibility and initiative are stressed,” and where “the intelligent use of knowledge is emphasized, rather than the collection of non-usuable facts.” The entrance fee was $10 and the tuition per month was $10. Board and room were paid for by two hours of labor each day at the School.
CHRISTMAS AT PINE MOUNTAIN – In 1914 an anonymous author wrote about Christmas at the School:
“‘Pears like I’m bound to run look at that picter of Santy Claus. I jus’ cain’t hardly git my work done. You’d ought not put hit up, if you want me to do my jobs.”
Ten year old M — expressed a universal difficulty in the week before Christmas, for certainly we grown-ups wanted to fly from our jobs, when the post rider brought in Christmas bundles of every shape and neighbor boys came in with arms full of holly, the likes of which no city market holds, and when from “clean across the Cumberland” they fetched us such great bunches of mistletoe as most of you have never dreamed of.”
The stories about Christmas at Pine Mountain are many and varied. They range from early accounts of celebrations interrupted by guns and liquor to the pastoral lines of the shepherds in the Christmas Nativity Play which continues today. With the many stories comes hope. It is a hope that we hold for all of us in this Christmas season and beyond.
MARGARET MOTTER, a former principal of the early school at Pine Mountain shared her vision for the future:
Those of us who are deeply interested in the welfare of the mountain folk hope that through the right sort of educational program carried on in community centers and in good schools, the fine, innate characteristics of these people will not be lost but rather adapted somewhat to changing conditions, so that life for these dwellers of the hills will be broader and richer in the future.
True to the original training she received at Pine Mountain Settlement School, Ruth Shuler Dieter reacted to praise for all the good work she has done by stating, “That’s what life is, it seems to me…to feel like you’ve given something to someone else.” To explore her life and be inspired read about Ruth and her 90 year journey.
MARIAN KINGMAN PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM [Full pages, Parts I – IV]
A large and early photograph album has been processed which includes photographs of students, staff members (Marian Kingman, Harriet Crutchfield, Margaret Motter and others), buildings, events and visitors. It captures life at the School during the “Roaring Twenties.” Also included are photographs of Comunity Fair Day, milling sorghum , processing maple syrup and other community activities. The photographs are well preserved and have many images of local families, particularly “Fiddler” John and Louise, the Sol Day family, the Frona [Lewis ?] Cooper family, and others.
OUT OF THE ASHES. The Mary Sinclair Burkham School House I at Pine Mountain Settlement School was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day 1917. It served many functions in its approximate fourteen months’ existence and honored the wishes of the donor, Caroline Burkham of New York, who gave the money for the building in honor of her sister, Mary Sinclair Burkham. The estimated worth of the building was given as $18,000 at the time of its destruction by fire in January of 1919. Unfortunately, the insurance only covered $10,000 of that value. Construction of a new building would cost far more but would also re-site the structure so it would not endanger any other building if it also caught on fire. Out of the ashes of that early tragedy came a new school house, Mary Sinclair Burkham School House II and a renewed determination to build an educational program that would serve the Community and stand the tests of time. Mary Sinclair Burkham School House II was also consumed by fire in 1984. Out of the ashes and the double tragedy, Pine Mountain Settlement School in its 103rd year continues to move forward. Today we give thanks for the resilience of people, for a continued belief in community, and an institution that is dedicated to service, to successful educational programming, and to the power of shared good ideas.
DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH – XII – FOREST AND FIRES On November 28, 1922, the mountains around Pine Mountain Settlement School caught fire and threatened the entire community. As reported in the Pineville (Ky.) Sun the terrible fire created a serious re-assessment of the forests and the threat of fire to part of the School’s important resources. 10 students at Pine Mountain, led by Leon Deschamps, the school forester and also the leader of the local Boy Scout troupe put forward a petition which they hoped to forward to Kentucky’s Governor Morrow. The petition was also signed by 19 girls, members of the local Girl Scouts and supplemented by a letter from their Scout Captain, Miss Lucretia Garfield, grand-daughter of President Garfield, who was on the staff of the School as a teacher and Scout leader from 1919 to 1922. The petitioners asked that the Governor establish a forestry service and a state forester to be appointed to Harlan County. As part of the petition each of the boys who fought the fire, for an estimated 30 hours each, wrote of their personal experience fighting the fire in individual letters attached to the petition. See also: DESCHAMP’S ‘PERFECT ACRE.’
A large photograph album (334 images) assembled by PMSS staff member, Angela Melville. Images are duplicated in order to capture the original damaged item and its modification. The Album includes many images from the earliest years of the School.
ANGELA MELVILLE ALBUM II – PART I
ANGELA MELVILLE ALBUM II – PART II
ANGELA MELVILLE ALBUM II – PART III
ANGELA MELVILLE ALBUM II – Part IV
ANGELA MELVILLE ALBUM II – PART VI
ANGELA MELVILLE ALBUM II – PART VII
CECIL SHARP AND MAUDE KARPELE’S VISIT TO PINE MOUNTAIN This year marks the 100th anniversary of Cecil Sharp and Maude Karpele’s visits to the Southern Appalachians to collect folk songs and dances of the region. Pine Mountain played a significant role in Sharp and Karpeles collecting, but the most important find was a new dance form, the so-called “Kentucky Running Set.” The recollections of the important visit have been reviewed by many noted scholars of Appalachia for the work of Sharp and Karpeles stands as a unique window into the interplay of cultures and the growing number of stereotypes and myths at work in the region. The story of the Sharp-Karpeles visit is a close view into the history of the School in 1917 and the shaping of a legacy that has accompanied the history of the School until today.
** We are especially grateful for the close scrutiny given our commentary by David Millstone, Norwich, Vermont, dance historian and author of the blog DAVID MILLSTONE DANCE and currently President of the Country Dance and Song Society of America. His dedication and that of others to the art of folk dance, keeps this art form joyfully engaged with many communities across the country.
See also: PETER ROGERS’ ACCOUNT OF THE SHARP-KARPELES VISIT TO PINE MOUNTAIN
Pine Mountain will celebrate this important visit in activities at the School in 2017. See the School Schedule and stay tuned!
LITTLE SHEPHERD TRAIL When Marguerite Butler took her hike to Jacks Gap on August 14, 1914, an ascension of some 2,800 feet up the north face of one of Kentucky’s most unique and rugged mountains, she did not complain. John Fox Jr. didn’t complain either. He memorialized the journey in his The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come about a young man’s coming of age as he traveled from Big Black Mountain across Pine Mountian, down the Kentucky River and into the Civil War. Today many visit the overlooks of Harlan and Letcher counties from atop Pine Mountain by driving along the Little Shepherd Trail. Originally a forester’s trail for quick access to hard to reach forest areas, the trail was upgraded by the CCC in 1933-37 and in 1961-62 an additional 21 miles were added by the Kentucky Division of Forestry staff at Putney, Kentucky. The troubled history of this rustic but noble trail is explored in a description of its past, present and future.
THE GUIDE TO COMMUNITY FAIR DAYS at Pine Mountain Settlement School explores through photographs, programs, and narratives of the nearly 95-year-old tradition held in the Fall at the School. Come join in the FAIR DAY celebration on Saturday, August 27, 2016.
ANTIOCH COLLEGE CO-OP AT PMSS describes a program that supplied a steady stream of practice teachers for Pine Mountain Settlement School in the 1920s and 1930s. The page portrays this partnership using excerpts from letters and narratives written at the time and which are now part of the PMSS Collection. Also featured is a list of the names of many of the work/study students and hired teachers who came from Antioch to teach at PMSS.
The Co-op program began at Antioch College over 90 years ago and continues to be a signature part of the college’s curriculum today. At the time, it was an innovative program that was a good fit for both Antioch College and PMSS.
VII 52 LIFE WORK CHILDREN AND CLASSES [Part I – 85 images] Includes students in 1960s. David Saylor ; Tony Ely ; Vickie Hoskins ; Celest Lehigh ; Norma Lewis ; Glenda Callahan ; Flora Johnson ; Evelyn Wilder ; Anita Baker ; Evelyn Wilder ; Delora Turner ; Danny Boggs ; Dwight Baker ; Eddie Hoskins ; Ray Cox ; Ernie Huff ; Sue Cox ; Sue Gross ; Myria Watkins ; Steve Wilder ; Rodney Huff ; Billie June Lewis ; Vicky McCoy ; Hollis Boggs ; Debbie Turner ; Bobby Bo Callahan ; Glenda Callahan ; Brenda Lewis ; Clyde Wilder ; Connie Cornett ; Mark Workman ; Lorene Lewis ; Doris Merrill ; Jerry Day ; Don Wilder ; Norma Callahan ; Debbie Middleton ; Connie Cornett ; Audry Shepherd ; Pattie Whitaker ; Suzie Whitaker ; Don Boggs ; Kathy Wilson ; Bonnie Lewis ; Anita Baker ; Artie Merrill ; Barbara Callahan ; Kathy Brown ; Jerry Caldwell ; Judy Hoskins ; Julian Turner ; Titus Boggs ; Mina Jane Huff ; Chloe Middleton ; Rickey Turner ; Kitty LeHigh ; Judy Turner ; and others.
VII 52 LIFE WORK CHILDREN AND CLASSES [Part II – 55 images] Continues VII 52 Life Work – Children & Classes Part I and covers students in the classes of Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Whitaker, Mrs. Wilson and others. Photographs were largely taken in 1965.
VII 63 LIFE WORK MAINTENANCE, FARM, GROUNDS [123 images] Maintenance and work at the Pine Mountain Settlement School Campus. Multiple pages. Automobile mechanics ; auto repair ; gasoline ; gas station ; gasoline pump ; planting garden ; tractors ; sorghum ; gardening ; maintenance ; farm ; farming ; rock work ; roofing ; stone walls ; Boyd Harris ; Brit Wilder ; Hobart Wilder ; Jess Patterson ; Omer Lewis ; Lonnie Lewis ; Julian Lewis ; Burton Rogers ; Gib Lewis ; Fred Lewis ; Asrel Browning ; Burkham School House ; Farm House ; bee keeping ; apiaries ; composting ; sowing ; painting ; ditch digging ; butchering beef ; seeding ;
VII 64 LIFE WORK MAINTENANCE, FARM, GROUNDS [66 images] Maintenance and work at the Pine Mountain Settlement School Campus. Tags: William Hayes ; Hobart Wilder ; chickens ; Ayrshires ; cows ; farms ; farming ; barns ; silos ; pastures ; model farms ; sheep ; chicken houses ; tractors ; hay baling ; corn ; fodder ; stock ponds ; Jesse Patterson ; sugar cane ; sorghum ; syrup ; mills ; cane ; sorghum pans ;
VERTICAL FILES The vertical files at Pine Mountain Settlement School contain a varied collection of materials that relate to the School, to Harlan County and to the broader Appalachian region. The material is rich in Harlan County newspaper information and collected material for the Settlement Schools of the Southern Appalachians (SIA) and related institutions. Largely comprised of newspaper clippings and publications, the collections also contain some primary source material. The VERTICAL FILES online are currently available only as a list. No online access to full text is available at this time.
THE ROAD – LADEN TRAIL From Katherin Pettit regarding progress on the Laden Trail, c. 1920 –
You’d be interested in the preliminary report Mr. Obenchain [State Engineer] has just gotten out. On this side of Pine Mountain, there is a rise of one foot in every 1.34 feet (less than 45 ‘degrees). The distance through the mountain is 1-7/8 miles, but we shall need almost 12 miles of road at $6,000 a mile, with an ascent of five feet in every hundred feet. Some undertaking!
Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections Website Launches
on H-Net Commons and H-Kentucky, June 1, 2016
Thank you, Dr. Randolph Hollingsworth , Assistant Provost, University of Kentucky; President, H-Net:Humanities & Social Sciences On-Line, for your nudge to get Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections connected to this national network of scholars. Thank you, as well, for the recent visit to the Settlement School and your encouraging support of our community-centered programming.
Dr. Hollingsworth, currently editor of H-Kentucky, noted that the goal of H-Kentucky is to
… create an online collaborative environment to facilitate communication and the exchange or scholarly and pedagogical ideas among teachers, researchers, scholars, advanced students, and related professionals (e.g. local historians, librarians, archivists, genealogists), all in an open, democratic, respectful and non-partisan manner. H-Kentucky especially welcomes those who are interested in Kentucky, as well as those in any history/humanities field who live and/or work in Kentucky.
For instructions on subscribing to H-Kentucky go to: http://networks.h-net.org/node/905/pages/965/subscribing-network
A new book by New Zealander, Gretchen Rasch, explores the lives of two workers at the Line Fork Settlement extension of Pine Mountain Settlement School. Her well-researched book, The Storm of Life covers the lives of Dr. Ida Stapleton and her husband the Reverend Robert Stapleton from their earliest work in Turkey to their work in Eastern Kentucky during the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century.
Witness to the deportation of Armenians from Erzerum and the subsequent battle for the city between Turkish and Russian forces during World War I, the Stapletons were well seasoned to address the severe medical, social and religious needs of the Line Fork area during 1926-37.
The Stapleton Reports and Letters at Pine Mountain Settlement School form the foundation of Rasch’s research for the Stapletons’ Kentucky years and provide graphic descriptions of life in the small community of Line Fork in Letcher County, Kentucky. [Rasch, Gretchen. The Storm of Life: A Missionary Marriage from Armenia to Appalachia, Gomidas Institute, 2016. [ : 9781909382237]
Author Gretchen Rasch’s interests are a nice fit with PMSS. With a background in threatened species protection, she worked with the US Forest Service, NZ Forest Service and the Department of Conservation. Her work in aquaculture permitting at the Ministry of Fisheries, where she “trained staff in report writing and the use of plain English,” certainly prepared her for this excellent book on her great-grandparents. A great read!
JOHN A. SPELMAN III, an artist and member of the Pine Mountain staff, produced AT HOME IN THE HILLS, an illustrated book that is an exquisite reminder of the beauty of vernacular architecture in the Appalachian mountains.
Spelman’s linoleum block prints, drawings and watercolors capture the early architecture of the region and the surrounding landscapes and may be explored in JOHN A. SPELMAN III; BLOCKS, DRAWINGS & PAINTINGS and in JOHN A. SPELMAN III BLOCK IMPRINTS.
The John A. Spelman Correspondence is a window into the struggle of an artistic spirit in a demanding work environment as well as the negotiation surrounding his illustration of the book, THE KENTUCKY, by Thomas D. Clark. One of the most outstanding contributions to the “Rivers of America” series, THE KENTUCKY captures the course of the important Kentucky river from its origin near Pine Mountain Settlement School until it leaves the State.
The DOROTHY NACE PHOTOGRAPH ALBUMS I, II, and III provide a visual slice of life at Pine Mountain Settlement School during the 1930s and 1940s. Focused on staff and students at the School, scenes of the campus and its architecture, and illustrations of activity in the School programs, it is a rich collection that documents an important era of the School’s history.
CALENDARS INDEX – GUIDE TO PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL CALENDARS many of them illustrated by John A. Spelman, artist-in-residence at PMSS in the late 1930s.
MARY ROGERS DRAWINGS – Illustrations and small sketches of life on the Pine Mountain Settlement School campus and in the surrounding community from 1942 – 1980.
CAMPUS LIFE – Photographs of various recreation activities at Pine Mountain Settlement School throughout its early history.
SECOND GENERATION PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM – A small album of images, gathered by an unknown individual, depicting early staff and families at Pine Mountain Settlement School. Many of the photographs are of the second generation of Pine Mountain staff and students.
ROCKWORK AT PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL – A visual exploration of rockwork at the School from the earliest days to the workshops offered in dry-stack rockwork in the 2000s.
2015 – WHAT’S NEW! ARCHIVE
FERN HALL HAYES Biography and Correspondence – A student and staff member at Pine Mountain Settlement School from 1933 to 1953.