EVELYN K. WELLS Guide to Excerpts From Letters Home 1915-1923

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 01: HISTORIES
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Evelyn K. Wells
Guide to Excerpts From Letters Home

EVELYN K. WELLS Guide to Excerpts From Letters Home 1915-1923

Evelyn K. Wells with basket, on a mountain walk. [

TAGS: Evelyn K. Wells personal correspondence, secretaries, letters home, excerpts, transcriptions, Marguerite Butler, PMSS early history, Aunt Sal Creech, Uncle William Creech, Marion Pugh Read, Oscar Begley, Mallie Begley 


EVELYN K. WELLS Guide to Excerpts From Letters Home 1915-1923

Evelyn K. Wells was a longtime secretary from 1915 to 1931 and acting director in 1931, following Director Hubert Hadley and pending the arrival of Glyn Morris at Pine Mountain Settlement School. The following are links to pages that contain full transcriptions of excerpts from the letters Wells sent to her family and Angela Melville, describing her Pine Mountain experiences.

On May 22, 1965, Evelyn K. Wells wrote to Burton Rogers, Director at Pine Mountain Settlement School:

Dear Burton:

As you will see, I’m digging into my past, and into my storeroom. I send herewith some articles written at various times about Pine Mountain. I also enclose a list of the things I am keeping here, with of course directions that further disposition, when I am through with them, should be made by the School. Will you, however, sometime look over the list and see if there are any numbers of Notes, Pine Cone, annual letters [Letters to Friends of Pine Mountain School] which are not in your files. Dorothy [Nace] Tharpe, who went over this material with me lately, thought I might be able to fill your gaps and I’d be glad to do so. No hurry about your checking with your files. I know that these chores have to wait — as mine have.

I do think that the extracting I am now doing from my letters home will be useful and interesting in its future typed form for the school’s use. (The impression I seem to have wanted to give my family was one of delight in food sent in, pleasant tea and supper parties, making my own clothes, disciplining the small children but also delight in them, matters of health, — and LOTS of office work. It is not these matters that I am memorializing on my typewriter!)

You may be getting a letter from a girl named Margaret Magendantz Smith 1963, wanting to teach biology in a Southern Appalachian school. Now teaching at Univ. of New Hampshire. I referred her also to Bun McLain and the S. Mt. Council at Berea.

All good wishes to you. I have been reminded of Pine Mountain this spring since we are now having “dogwood winter.”

Evelyn Wells

[Postscript] “This may be a job for Mary [Rogers] the Archivist!”

Evelyn K. Wells Guide to Excerpts from Letters Home 1915-1923

[NOTE: Click on “…Excerpts…” link to go to full transcription of the letter.]

Evelyn K. Wells 1918 Excerpts from Letters Home
Horseback to Hindman


A detailed account written by Wells for her family of a journey by horseback taken by Wells and other Pine Mountain Staff to Hindman Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky.

Evelyn K. Wells 1915 Excerpts from Letters Home


1915 Fall.  First call on Aunt Sal [Creech]. She looks as if she’s come straight out of a fairy tale, with her wrinkles and spectacles and kerchief over head and her corn-cob pipe. …(p.00)

1915-16.  Monday Aunt Sal came down and she and Miss [Marion Pugh] Read [Housemother] dipped beeswax candles. … (p.1)

1915-16 End of October. I certainly am having experiences with the boys of the family. The little girls are very harmless, … (p.2-3)

1915-16 (From “The Tent”, written early in the fall, Probably Sept.) Yesterday Miss [Marguerite Butler, Miss [Marion Pugh] Read and I started out to a meetin’ and baptizin’ four miles away. … (p.4)

1915 Sunday Eve., Sept. 19.  Tonight we all had a picnic supper on Limestone Branch. (p.5)

1915 October.  After the children were in bed and apparently quiet, and I was settling down to cheese and dates and the Atlantic. … (p.5-6)

1915 November 8.  Monday afternoon, and here I sit in my room again writing home, after a hundred miles of horseback and an interesting visit. I’m so full of it that I can never get it all written! … (p.7-12a)

1915 November 22. More about Bobbie, who ran away recently because he had been punished for misdemeanors. … (p.12a-12b)

1915 October 2.  Oscar Begley, an awfully nice boy who works on the place, nice but hot-tempered — had to go to Harlan to have his case tried and doesn’t know when he’ll be back. His offense was shooting on the highway. … (p.12b)

1915 ? – 1916 undated. Yesterday Aunt Sal [Creech] taught me how to make tied lace, which is made over a knitting needle with bale cotton. (p.12b)

1915 November 21. Columbus Creech came down with smallpox. Questions of quarantine, post office, etc., vaccination. (p.13)

1915 Thanksgiving Day. A beautiful day. We started out with a nice breakfast party for the visitors from HIndman, at the Pole House. … (p.14)

1915 December 7.  Smallpox, Ch. II. Last night, just as I was dropping off to sleep, I heard Dr. Howard of Harlan, outside the house, calling Miss [Katherine] Pettit. … (p.15)

1915 November, sometime.  Miss [Ethel] de Long arrived late last night from Harlan Town and we all sat up to listen to her tale of how she almost missed getting the $5,000 appropriation from the fiscal court for the Road and all the news of the people she picked up along the way. …. (p.16-17)

1915 Christmas.  All this week we have been sitting up half the night opening the packages that came in — a mixed bag! — and filling Tarleton stockings with candy by the hundred (575 in all) … (p.18-19)

Evelyn K. Wells 1916 Excerpts from Letters Home


1916 January 18. We’ve had a cold snap here, three bitter cold days, but only once did it go down below zero. … (p.1)

1916 Winter. Helen Strong [Teacher 1916-18] and I had a lovely trip recently. We started Saturday morning, in the snow, the weather having changed in the night, walking by turns the first three miles down Greasy. … (p.1-2)

1916 January 22. We move into Laurel House Thursday and it really is a beautiful building for any place, to say nothing of Pine Mountain. (p.2)

1916 March 26. Last night Miss Pettit and I took supper at Henry Creechs. The hospitality of a mountain home is really delightful. … (p.3)

1916 [?] August 12. Calls down Greasy on a Sunday afternoon. … (p.3a-3b)

1916 October. We are all moved into Laurel House, and it is really lovely. … (p.4)

1916 October 15. Another week of work, broken on Wednesday by the Cornerstone exercises of the Mary Sinclair Burkham Schoolhouse. … (p.4)

1916 November 20.  Saturday Miss [Angela] Melville, Miss Melcher and I rode to Harlan Town on a bat [?]. We started at noon, and got into town at six o’clock. … (p.5)

1916 December 29.  Gifts to E.K.W[ells]. Big bunches of Hollies and Mistletoes; a hand-tied broom; a little willow basket made by Bill Causey’s youngest girl, Bessie Margit, return present from me to her. … (p.5-7)

Evelyn K. Wells 1917 Excerpts from Letters Home


1917 Winter. Twenty sacks of mail today. They took five horses to fetch it — what a picture, crossing the snowy mountain! (p.1)

1917 January 6.  (Thanks to a friend for money) We invested it in our greatest need, blankets. (p.1)

1917 March 21.  This road campaign is absorbing us. I am writing to a picked list asking them for $500 or $100 or how many feet they can afford to build at $1.89 a foot. (p.2)

1917 May 4.  (From a report to the Women’s Alliance and the Cheerful Letter Society of the Unitarian Church). Last month we had our fourth birthday, and we feel that at last we are emerging from the chrysalis stage. (p.3)

1917 August 5. The country can settle down now, since ‘Lection Day’ is over. … (p.4)

1917 August 10. And really cool now. I sleep under two blankets at night and wear a sweater to breakfast and in the evening. (p.5)

1917 August 12. Sewing class tea on Laurel House porch, with exhibition of their work, truly remarkable when you think how hard it has been for most of them even to manage a needle. … (p.5-6)

1917 August 20. Report on the Harlan campaign. A tremendous lot of money is being made, hand over fist, in coal, and campaigning was easy, since you meet everyone on the street at least half a dozen times a day. (p.6)

1917 September 30. Gorgeous cold weather today, after an equinoctial storm this week. (p.7-8)

1917 November 16.  In view of the war, our continued help from outside is encouraging. We can’t expect it to last for long, but we haven’t yet begun to suffer from the falling off of contributions. (p.8)

1917 October 7. Mountain picnic, the whole school family, Mr. [Luigi] Zande and Mr. Drosky, starting about nine with the smallest children on Bobby. … (p.9)

1917 November 13. The shadow of the war is over us. We are glad of such diversions as teaching the children a new song-ballet — tonight “The Raggle-Taggle Gypsies.” … (p.9)

1917 November 22.  We are simply having to make time to keep up with the news these days, and try to keep up with all that is going on. … (p.10)

1917 December 19.  We are in the thick of Christmas joys and moving into the School-house. On Monday the offices were moved, and for half a day we felt torn up by the roots. … (p.10)

1917 December 2. On Thanksgiving Day, in spite of showers, people began arriving early, and we had 300 here, including the school family. (p.10-11)

1917 December, Christmas Preparations. The rehearsal for the play in Sunday School, listening to Santa’s bells on the mountain in the evening, decorating, decorating. … (p.11)

Evelyn K. Wells 1918 Excerpts from Letters Home


1918 March 31, Easter Sunday. A perfect Easter to remember here, if a very grave one in the outside world! (p.1)

1918 April 13. A torn-up week, with Uncle William [Creech]’s illness growing more critical daily. Miss [Margaret] Walker has been in constant attendance. Consultation with a Harlan doctor about getting a surgeon here to operate was of course without results … (This was the week of Miss [Ethel] de Long’s marriage to Mr. [Luigi] Zande in Connecticut.) (p.1)

1918 April undated. The operation was yesterday, and most successful. Dr. Frank allowed Miss [Margaret] Walker to be with him all the time, and we were allowed to see him afterwards. … (p.1)

1918 May 24. Arrangements for his [Uncle William’s] return: Uncle Lewis Creech and Aunt Nance Dixon from across the mountain, his brother and sister, came over to Pine Mountain for the first time in years. … (p.1)

1918 May 4. The great excitement these days is the shooting on Abner’s Branch. Old Id Napier was a mean old character; couldn’t read or write, but kept a big store and by trade there and lumber and land deals made much money. … (p.2)

1918 May 24. Uncle William did not survive the second operation, and died in Louisville. They brought him back across the mountain, a great company of men on hand to help…Mrs. Zande, returning from her wedding, got there the day before he died. … (p.2)

1918 Saturday Evening. Evelyn K. Wells to Angela Melville. “Angela darling — Just a line to let you know that the funeral is on and it’s the greatest pity in the world you aren’t here. I went up for the mail tonight just to find out how many people are at Uncle Wm’s. — 291. (Personal letter order is not noted.)

1918 June 2. Today the whole school, except the babies, went down to Big Laurel to meeting, Mr. Lewis Lyttle being the attraction. We couldn’t do much visiting along the way because of the prevalence of whooping cough. … (p.3)

1918 June 23.  Principal events of the week: the breaking of the three weeks’ drought, the killing of the enemy hog yesterday morning, the arrival of the new nurse from Kansas, the mailing of 4500 letters (Memorial to Uncle William). (p.3-4)

1918 July. This week we were down to our last cent and really wondering how to go for another day. And Mrs. Scott Fitz of Boston sent us $150.00 — for a moving picture machine! (p.4)

1918 July 4.  Waiting for the mail at the Office. On Monday our mail carrier struck, having gotten himself badly into debt, lost thirteen horses and having had to sell his milk cows. … (p.4)

1918 July 11.  Spinning goes on on Far House Porch, and the wool piles up. It’s a good job for Aunt Leah Smith, and she’s done about forty hanks… (p.5)

1918 July 18.  James Madison Callahan is about to take the mail out to Dillon. After three weeks of riding to Rosspoint to carry and fetch the regular mail, we are now going to let people fetch their own, and simply collect the school mail. … (p.5)

1918 August 9.  This week we moved all the little boys from Far House to Old Log, all the big boys to the Schoolhouse, all the Old Log children up to Far House so that house has only girls. …(p.6)

1918 December 19.  Christmas revels have begun. Tonight when the family entered the dining room, it was lighted only by a roaring fire, and candles on the balcony. … (p.6)

Evelyn K. Wells 1919 Excerpts from Letters Home


1919 January 13.  One can now get a hot tub at Pine Mountain. Laurel House is most hospitable to us all. (p. 1)

1919 January 24. Evelyn Wells to Angela Melville. “Dear Angela: Not a sheet of paper or inch of space is to be wasted but I must tell you that the schoolhouse burned down at two-thirty this morning. The boys and Miss Parkinson jumped for their lives, literally, and are burned, broken and sprained, … (p.2)

1919 February (after the Schoohouse burned, Jan 24). The boys are all established at Far House again, (they’d been housed in the Schoolhouse.) It seems strangely natural, for they are the ones that used to live here. … (p.1)

1919 Easter Sunday.  The usual carols early this morning, the usual egg-hunt after breakfast, and a very unusual play ….

1919 March 14.  The Old-Fashioned Dinner. …specially for old ladies of the neighborhood who came and “ate dinner” with us at the Old Log House. (4 pages)

1919 May 30.  Here is Uncle John Fiddler‘s latest about his new fiddle. “She’s a beauty, I tell ye! I aim to bring her up to the school an’ play for ye. I want you to get her a case to shade her from the air ….

1919 July 29. Sunday morning the convicts (men working on the little lumber railroad) came to visit us, twenty strong, with two guards. What a circus! Some of them were Negroes, with guitars, who gave us a real vaudeville show ….

1919 August 3.  We are rounding up road subscriptions in Harlan, which means thirty form letters for me today, and beginning to make appointments for Angela Melville, who will make a trip for the School ….

1919 August 10. The two dentists have been busy every minute, Dr. Grant examining, and then turning patients over to his assistant for treatment. Lots of people ….

1919 September 14. The other night we were all startled about 9:30 by the sound of galloping hoofs and calls from two men on horseback. We heard the next day that they were from ….

1919 October 19. This morning after two hours in the Office (Sunday) I went to Chapel, and then we sang ballads for the visiting Board members (Mr. [Charles] N. Manning and Mr. Atkins), and the children gave a beautiful Robin Hood play. They had such a good time. …

1919 November 13.  On Tuesday we all did our civic duty and voted for the reform candidate for magistrate — an important office around here where whisky and roads are vital and recurring questions. …

1919 November 16. Everyone has gone to Big Laurel, where Preacher Lyttle is making the dedicatory sermon for the Medical Settlement. …

Evelyn K. Wells 1920 Excerpts from Letters Home


1920 n.d.  The “model home” was started this week (later “Country Cottage“). It’s a tiny plank cottage to be papered with newspapers, etc., and furnished as simply as a mountain home, where the domestic science teacher will live ….

1920 May 16.  Yesterday we had a perfect torrent of rain, — swollen streams, all the bridges on the school grounds under water, cellars flooded, garden ruined, — and all the children and workers ….

Evelyn K. Wells 1921 Excerpts from Letters Home


1921 (undated). Crossing the mountain at 5:30 a.m., joining Lucretia Garfield and K. [Katherine] Wright on the early train from Lynch, where they had been Girl-Scouting all week. At Haran took another train, rode six miles and connected with what had been described as a “motor car”, which turned out to be a little truck that ran by gasoline engine on the railroad tracks six miles further, to the head of Lick Branch …

1921 Spring.  We’ve been Girl Scouting busily. Mrs. James J. Storrow of Boston, and Margaret Coolidge of Milton, arrived for the doings. (Mrs. Storrow heads all the country dancing activities, and practically financed Cecil Sharp on his mountain expeditions.)

1921 March 13.  A delicious spring morning duly described. Off for a walk down Greasy …”Ladies from the School” may leave the grounds for a walk, but may not visit in any houses on account of measles in the neighborhood. Children are confined to school grounds ….

1921 August 6.  School opens tomorrow and the place is awhirl — sixty children arriving today and tomorrow, and of course many parents. A great diversity of children, from Kitty Ritchie just back from Scout camp in Massachusetts, to the new raw little ones from back-country ….

1921 August 14. I took a fourteen-mile walk yesterday, seven miles to the Line Fork Settlement and back again,  — with three other workers. Beautiful day, and not a soul abroad; it might have been a deserted country, except for Sunday School going on in two different schoolhouses.

1921 Autumn. Abstract from long letter, quotations to describe how one traveled, what one saw, in a five-day visit to some other schools. Bull Creek to Caney Creek Community Center, to Smith’s Branch, to Troublesome, to Betty’s Troublesome, to Viper, to Cutshin, to Roan, up Greasy, etc., etc.

1921 November 9.  Our last clinic was in the summer, when flies were bad and water was low and we had no district nurses in the field to organize things ….

1921 Christmas.  Last night the revels of the week culminated in confetti and balloons, noisy toys and favors, and Santa Claus with pack and bells, dancing with the little ones ….

Evelyn K. Wells 1922 Excerpts from Letters Home


1922 March 12.  This week the Brownies gave their play — the story of the Brownies who went and helped the poor old basket woman in her cottage and had lots of fun doing it. …

1922 April 8.  The Country Dancing Ladies arrived yesterday — Dorothy Bolles and Polly Cunningham, who plays for her. …

1922 Early 20’s. (1922).  For the last twenty-four hours, we have been deluged with visitors — school teachers from outlying districts, two or three children with their parents. …

1922 August.  On Friday we had a beautiful Christening service. Dr. Roberts were over here for his monthly visit, and Carol Deschamps, age 18 months, was baptized. That big room in the Schoolhouse was beautiful — flooded with sunlight, everything clean and orderly, a lovely basket of flowers, and the family as handsome as ever. …

Evelyn K. Wells 1923 Excerpts from Letters Home


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EVELYN K. WELLS 1918 EXCERPTS Horseback to Hindman


See Also:
EVELYN K. WELLS Staff Interim Director – Biography