STAPLETON REPORT 1927 December – 1928 January “Somehow my November …” & “I wish it were possible to tell you …”

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Staff/Personnel
Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton
Line Fork 1927 – 1947

STAPLETON REPORT 1927 December – 1928 January “Somehow my November …” & “I wish it were possible to tell you …”

TAGS: STAPLETON REPORT 1927 December – 1928 January “Somehow my November …” & “I wish it were possible to tell you …” ; Dr. Ida Stapleton ; Rev. Robert Stapleton ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Bear Branch school ; community dinners ; Thanksgiving ; Doxology ; scientific temperance teachers ; Kentucky W.C.T.U. ; Christmas ; Line Fork Settlement ; quilting ; Pine Mountain Fair ; the Cabin ; moonshining ; Cabin library ; Mrs. J.S. Locke ; Gilley, KY ; Line Fork, KY ;

“Somehow my November letter …”



Dear Friends: –

Somehow my November letter did not get written. There was so much going up and down the forks and the branches. My attempts at a women’s meeting down near Gilley resulted only in separate visits. Aunt Jane was preparing a belated dinner so I went up to daughter-in~law Alta’s just above and as Alta’s baby was quiet we had a nice little talk about Francis Willard. Alta brought what eggs she could find and wrapping each in paper packed them in an oat-meal box for me to bring home in my shoulder bag, while I held the baby. It is a nice fat thing but has the hives so I tried to tell the mother how to feed the child less so he would not be troubled.

Over across the gully is daughter Sarah in a pretty little green-painted house of four rooms. Sarah’s baby was not well; even seven year old Gladys could not quiet it but the four-in-be-tweens were ready to listen to stories so that half hour was devoted to them. Higher up the hill is daughter Mary-Ann with her six. Little Grace and Ethel, three and four years, so shy and pretty when they are clean, John and Henry, then Dessie (Odessa) who is so much her mother’s helper she is kept out of school two-thirds of the time. On the other side of Aunt Jane’s is daughter Delia with one baby. Three have died so Delia is trying to take better care of this “least one”. Aunt Sally lives farther up the branch to whom I take the Christian Herald about once a month. She is the only old woman who knows how to read and she says, “Thar sure is good readin’ in those books”. She lives alone with only chickens and a cat or two for company but her son lives only a mile down Line Fork and he looks after her “right smart”. She is Aunt Jane’s husband’s sister, while a quarter of a mile below Aunt Jane’s is Aunt Eliza, another sister-in-law, and across the Fork near the high road is another daughter-in-law of Aunt Jane’s. How is that for a family group? Enough for a real live Union if I can ever get them together.

Up Bear Branch I had two meetings with Ora Smith and Zion of the golden hair, but at the second [meeting] Ora and I had it alone with baby Bessie, as Zion preferred to help dig the “taters”. She had been sick a-bed for nearly a week before. But Ora is very eager and for her sake I shall continue and eventually others may come.

Ira Skaggs, the teacher at Bear Branch school, talked up the Community dinner for Thanksgiving. Mr. Stapleton helped get up the program. Nine families were represented by mothers and tiny babies but only two fathers came.

Boards were laid on saw-horses for a table and Sarah Jane brot [sic] a tablecloth. The children had helped the teacher decorate the room prettily with orange and green streamers while the platform had a spinning wheel, shock of corn and bundle of oats. All the food brought was placed on the table and after singing the Doxology, every one helped himself to chicken, turkey, roast pig, biscuits, cake and cookies, while the pumpkin pies and apples were passed to the school children in lovely paper napkins decorated with the long famed turkey gobbler. Plenty of white paper napkins served as plates as well as serviettes.

I had told Neely that I was going to take the roast pig. She reckoned she had better stay with Clifton, he was so “mean”, but she would send Mary and Myrtle. They came all bright from recent scrubbing and Mary told me eagerly that she had come for some of that hog. She and Myrtle sat on my lap as quiet as mice all thru the program – little Fran­ces Hall on one side and Boonie on the other. As the program lagged, Frances whispered to me, Let us go out and play. I had played with the tiny tots outside before the program began. It was the first dinner of the kind ever attempted at the head of Line Fork and we consider it a real gain in neighborliness.

Helen Bayhuff, the scientific temperance teacher sent by the Kentucky W.C.T.U. who has been visiting all the schools within reach of Pine Mt., made her last visits here last week and approximately one half of the children of seven schools signed the pledge. In one school all but two signed but in another not five miles distant, not one signed altho’ they had had the same teaching. We are thankful tho’ for all who seriously signed. In order to foster the neighborliness I’ve asked twelve of the girls of fifteen and sixteen to help Santa Claus prepare for the trees to be at both schools by making little dresses and suits for the twelve two-year-olds. Mrs. Santa cuts them and the girls are sewing them by hand at home. Santa will distribute them. Of course they may go to their own nephews or nieces, sisters or brothers but I am so pleased with their willingness to help. The teachers and children are getting the trees and the teacher will play the Santa Claus parts and we shall carry the gifts that have come from friends for the school children. The special treat will be the oranges, apples and Sun-Maid raisin[s]. Mr. Stapleton is teaching the most be­loved of the Christmas carols and the teachers have some nice dialogues, so we are looking forward with real happiness to the Merry Christmas Time.

A couple of weeks ago Neely came up to the Cabin saying Finley had run her off telling her she could take Mary while he would keep Myrtle and boy Clifton. He had had some drink of corn liquor from his pals and came home in a quarrelsome humor as he often does. She stayed a half hour or so while Mary played with Polly-Jane, the Cabin doll, then returned home to be whacked twice on the head hard enough to make a wound. There were words and more words until Neely said to Finley, “I’ll bet you five dollars you would not dare go to the Cabin”. To her surprise he took the dare and lighting his carbide torch, he said, “Come along then”. Leav­ing Mary and Myrtle, they came, Neely carrying Clifton and looking very disheveled with bloody welts on each side of her head. Finley was not so drunk but that he could understand some very plain speaking and when after an hour of that, he lit his torch and offered to carry Clifton and light the way home. Clifton had recently been weaned and needed milk but Finley insisted that he could eat corn bread and taters like the other children. He got a sore mouth and Finley bought a bottle of Castoria which Neely tried to use as she did not wish to waste it since it had cost forty cents. But he only seemed to get worse so she brought him to the doctor, who, after again explaining the treatment and giving directions, urged Neely to bring the child to the Cabin the next morning before the father had a chance to give him corn bread. Finley reconed [sic], “Nobody knew how to care for the baby but Neely and that doctor woman”. But she brought the child, and the doctor woman cared for him while Neely washed and at noon fed him a little orange juice and milk, then gave her a pint of milk for his supper and breakfast. Neely found she could get a quart of milk a day at a neighbors but Finley absolutely refused to pay forty cents a gallon for milk, an unheard of thing, so Neely set to work to prepare some fatty pine by borrowing the hand saw and cutting the sawed off portions into splinters. The price of twelve bundles will about keep Clifton in milk for two weeks and now she is scouring the woods for more fatty pine.

Pretty little Martha, whose husband is in prison for thirty three days, came in with a few eggs to sell. She had come six miles on her mule carrying her lovely baby wrapped in a square of patchwork and trying to protect him from the rain by a badly broken umbrella.

Some months ago the doctor had been at her cabin when she was half crazed by the baby’s crying day and night. She had not stripped (bathed) the baby because he would not be still long enough and he was very uncomfortable. So the doctor insisted on a basin of warm water and soon in spite of howling baby was clean in dry clothing and his feet were being warmed while he was being fed a bit of soda water. He still screamed but after an hour of quiet holding he went to sleep and was put on the bed that Martha had put in order. I said I was going to stay four hours to see that she did not nurse the baby again before that time. I could not stay quite so long, but she promised and really carried out instructions so well that the child is the wonder baby of all the new babies this year.

[signed] Sincerely yours
Ida S. Stapleton

GALLERY: SECOND STAPLETON REPORT – December 1927 – January 1928
“I wish it were possible … (Combined report)


December & January.

Dear friends: –

I wish it were possible to tell you in the words of Bert Smith what a quiet Christmas there was at the head of LINE FORK & at COYLE BRANCH. For the first time there was a Xmas tree and program at each school house and two old women of seventy came who had never “seed” one before. Santa Claus had the privilege of distributing the treat and gifts from the hands of Mr. Stapleton to that of the child whose name was on the school register. Then there were toys for the little two and four year olds, who had come with their mammies with all of whom the doctor has personal acquaintance.

We are indebted to several friends for sewing bags and p[ie]ces for patch work for all the women and at least one said she aimed to make a quilt top to exhibit at Pine Mountain Fair next October.

The teachers were able to interest the boys in procuring a tree, their choice being a bushy cedar, while the girls helped to trim it in tin­sel and candles which were lit making a very pretty sight even in the day time. The rooms were also decorated with holly.

The Christmas festivities cannot take all the credit for the quiet Xmas. I wish they might. But the Federal officers had made a raid on the biggest still ever known here just the week before and destroyed it. There was a large amount of liquor so the drinkers just naturally had to stay dry. Even Finley was at Bear Branch school sitting clothed and in his right mind beside Neely and the baby. He had to celebrate a little by shooting off his gun into the four corners of his cabin and in a day or two he was off hunting up something to drink, coming home in such a quarrelsome humor he drove Neely out of the house. The oldest child, awakened by the noise, cried and ran after her so she came to the Cabin where we made them comfortable for the night. Neely said she often hung round in the woods all night as she did not dare to return to the house, however she is worried and concerned about him and often goes to search for him in the middle of the night for fear something has happened to him while he is drunk. As I was returning from our near neighbors at one thirty A.M. recently, I met her in the road with a shot-gun. She had left the children asleep early in the evening and with a fatty-pine torch had crossed over Pine Mountain in search of Finley at a certain cabin. She said she aimed to shoot him if she had found him with those women one of whom had told her to her face that Finley could make love to her if he wished. Later she confessed that she really feared that he had been injured and she meant to help him if she could. I have tried to make her see that her first duty is to attend to the children. But she just gets a crazy spell and cannot stay at home. One time when she returned she found the baby asleep on the floor not six inches from the fire.

Last week Ora, Zion and I prayed for their near relatives who are so addicted to corn liquor. Little D. has quite recently killed his neighbor in a drunken quarrel. He says he did it in self defence [sic] but both homes are ruined: Alonzo’s young wife and two babies and Little D’s wife and five children. His young brother is the one who shot off his gun into the play-ground and now he aims to shoot Little D. Last week, he and a drunken pal were rolling down a muddy hill while his mother was in a similar condition of drunkenness.

Near by lives a neighbor who defied the Federal officers by drawing his gun on them when they tried to arrest him. Tho’ having eluded the officers several times in the last few months he at last ran into them upon the road and escape was impossible. The warr[a]nt for the moon­shining was served on him and tho’ some one bailed him out on that charge. When he came to court to answer it, the Federal officer took him and he is now in prison in lieu of a $5000.00 bond to answer the charge of resisting with force the Federal officer. He is liable to a sentence of from four to five years.

Something more pleasant to write about is the new baby which arrived Xmas night at our nearest neighbor. As it was normal and swift in arriving, there was no one at the party but the grandmother and the doctor tho’ an aunt came In time to get breakfast. The patient suggested that she should kill a chicken but her mother said that the ham would be enough. The patient was shivering before the fire and refused to go to bed. When the doctor had asked her what she had done during her other two confinements she replied “Carter Nussed me”. I supposed she meant that her husband had supported her on the chair. However, here, her mother was on the side of the doctor and helped get her to bed. In place of any thing else available the mother searched for a stone in the yard that might serve as a hot water bottle when heated in the grate.

All went well however and three days later the new little mother was so bored with staying in bed that I could hardly persuade her to remain there. I threatened to remain all the time if she did get up so won a reluctant promise to lie quietly till the eighth day when she said she was obliged to get up as it was so cold she could not keep warm in bed.

Baby started off quite al­right but by the end of the second week he was so much over fed and over nussed that he cried the clock around. The doctor was in great demand day and night. Finally we got him relieved and now I reckon that Nancy will try to feed him according to Hoyle after having had no rest for several days and nights. But there are so many precedents of this one, and that having lived thru so, and so, I despair of any permanent results or progress in this generation.

The little girls Isabella and Mandy are so interested in the new little brother! Mandy, the little two year old says so sweetly as gently she touches it, “God bless it”, her mammy’s favorite expression when it cries and she cannot pacify it.

During the Xmas vacation of the Pine Mountain School we had one of the little girls Alma Bird, a half orphan who could not go home, with us. Margaret was very happy in having a companion. I read all the Uncle Remus stories to them while they sewed on their dolls’ clothes. Evenings we played dominoes or flags or a Bible game. Alma said she had a family of four to dress, while Margaret has only one doll but she thought it the best thing that Santa brought her this year. Altho’ the little work basket with fittings was a close se­cond. Alma read Heidi and the Dim Red Dawn by her self. Margaret has just finished the first book of a series entitled the Six Little Bunkers. She is finishing the Fourth Grade work at Bear Branch school at the end of February and will then enter Fifth Grade at Pine Mountain having made two[?] grades since coming here in August.

Three children have the Young Crusader and several get books from the Cabin library. They are always grateful to those who send suitable books and for the Sunday School cards and papers sent regularly by Mrs. J. S. Locke of Barbourville, Ky.

The Sunday school at Bear Branch school is keeping up finely this year and the teacher of the school has taken a great interest in it. Many times last year there were but two scholars present. This number has increased and we have at times fifteen there.

[Signed] Sincerely yours
Ida S. Stapleton


STAPLETON REPORT 1927 December – 1928 January “Somehow my November …” & “I wish it were possible to tell you …”

Alt. Title

Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton
Line Fork 1927 – 1947


STAPLETON REPORT 1927 December – 1928 January. “Somehow my November …” & “I wish it were possible to tell you …”


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Dr. Ida Stapleton ; Rev. Robert Stapleton ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Aunt Jane ; Alta ; Francis Willard ; hives ; Sarah Jane ; Gladys ; Mary-Ann ; Grace ; Ethel ; John ; Henry ; Dessie (Odessa) ; Delia ; Aunt Sally ; Christian Herald ; Aunt Eliza ; Ora Smith ; Zion ; Bessie ; Ira Skaggs ; Bear Branch school ; community dinners ; Thanksgiving ; Doxology ; Neely ; Clifton ; Mary ; Myrtle ; Frances Hall ; Boonie ; Helen Bayhuff ; scientific temperance teachers ; Kentucky W.C.T.U. ; Santa Claus ; Christmas ; carols ; Finley ; corn liquor ; Polly-Jane ; cabin dolls ; Castoria ; fatty pine ; Martha ; mules ; Line Fork Settlement ; quilting ; Pine Mountain Fair ; Federal officers ; raid ; still ; the Cabin ; Little D ; Alonzo ; moonshining ; Nancy ; Isabella ; Mandy ; Alma Bird ; Margaret ; Heidi ; Dim Red Dawn ; Six Little Bunkers ; Young Crusader ; Cabin library ; Mrs. J.S. Locke ; Gilley, KY ; Line Fork, KY ; Coyle Branch, KY ; Barbourville, KY ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;

Subject LCSH

Stapleton, Dr. Ira, — 1871 – 1946.
Stapleton, Rev. Robert, — 1866 – 1945.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Line Fork Settlement (Gilley, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Rural medicine — Kentucky — Letcher County.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Rural health services — Appalachian Region. — History.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written) ; Series 14: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement ; Series 09: Staff/Personnel – Ruth Dennis, Katherine Pettit ;




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written) ; Series 14: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement ; Series 09: Biography – Ruth Dennis, Katherine Pettit ; Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) ; Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) Library, Ida Stapleton Letters to Friends SC 462 ; Morris, Glyn. Less Traveled Roads. New York: Vantage Press, 1977.

Coverage Temporal

1927 – 1928

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Gilley, KY ; Line Fork, KY ; Coyle Branch, KY ; Barbourville, KY ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton ;




Line Fork Settlement School – Dr. Ida S. Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2013-12-03 hhw ; 2014-01-08 aae ; 2014-03-08 aae ;



Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written), Series 14: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement, Series 09: Staff/Personnel  – Ruth Dennis, Katherine Pettit. Archival material.


Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) (accessed 2014-01-06). Internet resource.

Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) Library, Ida Stapleton Letters to Friends SC 462 (accessed 2014-01-06). Internet resource.

Morris, Glyn. Less Traveled Roads. New York: Vantage Press, 1977. Print.