STAPLETON REPORT 1928 – October & November. “The greatest event of the month …”

Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton
Line Fork 1927 – 1947
“The great event of the month was the taking of Rosie’s boy Bethel to Louisville for the operation …
TRANSCRIPTION courtesy of Gretchen Rasch, great-granddaughter of the Stapletons:

THE CABIN                 LINE FORK SETTLEMENT.                 For OCTOBER – NOV [1928]

Dear friends:-

The great event of the month was the taking of Rosie’s boy Bethel to Louisville for the operation on his hare lip. Thanks to the L&N R.R. thru Miss Pettit, to St. Joseph Infirmary and the Surgeon Dr. Abell along with the kind care of the nurses for the twelve days, he returned with a face as pleasant as any boy. His grandpap brought him to Cumberland – twenty miles from his home at the head of Cutshin Branch. I persuaded him to give his roll of tobacco to “Pap” who got him a good supply of chewing gum which helped to bridge over the days until the operation Friday morning. We had started Monday night and at Dione – the station or step just opposite the Cabin – but too steep a trail for Swallow – little Myrtle Cornett was lifted to me on the train by her mother Neely. They had walked over the mountain and Neely had to go back alone as neither Finley nor his son Everett would come with her. It took considerable courage and determination on Neely’s part to let her go. Most mothers would not have given the child up even had they starved. At first, she did say she needed her to mind baby Clifton and the newcomer Dennis but after a while she was persuaded to let Myrtle “have a chance” as the stepsister had been at The Grace Nettleton Home in Harrogate Tenn for five years. Having recently been home on a short visit she was willing to have Myrtle as her little room-mate or Miss Jackson the superintendent of this home for forty children could not have taken her just now.

So reaching Harrogate at 9[:]30 we stayed the night with them and had breakfast with the children. Bethel was shown to a room and told to get between the sheets. But he evidently did not know how to turn the covers down so slept on top of the spread with the extra quilt for covering, as I had to wake him in the morning and saw it. As we had several changes to make en route Bethel began to be a little worried as to how he would ever get back alone and begged that the operation might be done that night so he could come back with me. About the only remarks he made all day was, “How much furder is it?” I explained how busy the surgeon was and how he must wait his turn and doubtless he was better prepared for the two days he had to wait before his turn came. Dr Abell the surgeon was extremely nice to me and I had the privilege of watching him do “modern miracles” for three successive mornings. I visited Bethel two days after his lip had been repaired and he was sitting by his bed eating his dinner with considerable satisfaction. His eyes filled with tears when I told him that I must return that night but he would have to remain for a week or so. I said I would send him a card each day which comforted him a little. When I got back to Cumberland I called on his aunt Polly who lives in some abandoned freight cars, as her husband works on the track, and told her the particulars about Bethel and when they could expect him back. She said his grandmaw was crying her eyes out about him and she herself had not gone to see him off because she would not discourage him by her tears.

Of course I enjoyed my first visit to Louisville especially as I had a chance to visit an old friend there and she took me to the Auxiliary meeting of her church where I had a chance to talk about Pine Mountain school and the work connected with it. Again on Sunday morning at the Sunday school I spoke. Even in Louisville I saw an item in the paper about Line Fork. The Outlaw here had paid the price. Two posses of officers had come in to look for him and to take him. Approaching his still from two directions they found him seated with his back against a tree, a pistol in each hand and his gun nearby. He was asleep. An order for surrender was given which he answered by firing off his pistols and then reached for his gun. The return fire caused his death. His body was taken home for burial. A grave was dug near to those of two of his children on land belonging to a relative, who upon discovering it, made them find another place for the burial. Now a daughter of the dead man is reported as saying “she herself will kill that uncle some time”. How hate begets hate! Other neighbors however were more kindly and attended the burying and gave what comfort such attention could.

Election Day went off very quietly. We started down to Trace Branch school five miles distant rather early as Mr S was walking and I riding. Already there had been many there before us. We met two groups of five men and women on mules returning. One auto with a load of six overtook us. A big wagon with three men on the seat (spring) with two women on chairs – one taking her baby – were enroute. A dozen or more men were standing about the school house waiting their turn to vote. Nearly all are Republicans in this region only two having declared for Governor Smith. One woman when asked for who she voted said, “I just put my stamp under the rooster as I always was fond of fried chicken”. As I had a visit to make up Trace Branch near the school house I went up there and met two more groups of people on their mules and some walking. There did not seem to be any drinking. Thanks be! There was no shooting either, tho’ I did see two men packing their gun as it was squirrel hunting season.

We had some fun taking a Halloween party to each school going down or up for the afternoon recess. I put some hobgoblin decorations of crepe paper up on the black board and “ghosts” to guess tied up in spooky napkins. The children sang several of their songs led by Mr S and I could see or hear a sensible improvement in spite of the irregular attendance he has to contend with. On two strings across the platform were suspended doughnuts for the least and the greatest. One group laughed at the other as they made grotesque attempts at getting the first bite. Then we let them laugh at us and the teachers. Mr S sang them the poem of Orphan Annie. I read several appropriate selections as well as the story of “Millions of Cats.” At least the doughnuts were a success and I was making the same three successive mornings as Mr S wanted to take some for a similar stunt to the Laurel schools where he has been helping with the singing this Fall.

We had long been planning a visit to Hindman some fifty miles from Pine Mt where Miss Pettit first started building a mountain school some thirty years ago. This is in another county. Some of the workers there had been over recently and Miss [May] Stone, head of that school, was visiting Pine Mt school two weeks before. I had the pleasure of an evening with her and Miss Pettit along with Mrs. Teasel who had been working at Hindman but is now house mother at the Boys’ House. The reminiscences of the work over there were extremely interesting to me. Miss Daniels, the weaving teacher, along with Miss Emerson the Practice teacher at the Country Cottage arranged to be away for five days. I joined them as they reached the Cabin on Friday about noon. We had fifteen miles to go that afternoon to our first stopping place – an unusually nice house and progressive family. Mrs C being the first to be graduated from Hindman H S showed me with pride the Children’s Classic from which her twelve year old girl read to the younger children, five in number who listened with close attention. The twelve year old was reading the seventh reader. They were all clean, a rather unheard of thing in these parts. The dining table was set with a cloth. The living room was scantily furnished but there were no beds in it and beside the phonograph there was a piano that the mother plays. I saw also a hymn book and a religious paper. I was asked to say grace at the table. It was a delight to me to have a bed with two sheets and fresh smelling covers – all too rare a find.

In the morning Mrs C called us at five and built a fire in our fire place. We had our breakfast at six and got off soon after seven altho it was raining some – a smart shower. One horse slipped her bridle while tied to the palings and caused some little scouting around in the rain before she would allow herself to be caught. It continued to drizzle all day and tho’ well protected by our rain coats we did get chilled thru so that by noon we were more than ready to stop for a rest and lunch which we had with us as well as grain for the horses.

Our directions told us that we were near Carcassonne or Gander, an extension school from Caney Creek, so we enquired [sic] for that place and soon were thawing out by the fire in their dining room and were cordially invited to dinner while a boy took charge of the horses. Most of the children were away for the weekend as they nearly all live within walking distance.

Later we stopped about as long at Caney Creek a more pretentious place and really serving two hundred pupils in H S and as many or more in the grades. Also, they have advanced to a department accredited as a Junior College with thirty-eight students. A Mrs. [Alice] Lloyd I believe for the school. A community house and science building are in process of construction. I saw a man rolling square blocks of stone down the mountain side. The girls in both these schools wore a uniform of black skirts with white middy blouses

From there we went over a ridge and down a very rough but beautiful trail named Defeated which brought us to Car Creek. By 4.30 we came to Car Center, a school perched high up on the side of the mountain. As Hindman was eight or ten miles farther on we were very glad to be invited to stay here. Miss Hume who is the director having once been associated with Miss Pettit at Pine Mt. She was away but several other workers were most hospitable. The evening was spent at the girls’ house the young people entertaining us in the dining room. Their chief delight is in a sort of dance game called Kentucky Running Sets. They clap and stamp to keep time and one calls off the changes of figures. In this case a boy played an accompaniment on a banjo. As a variation he gave a hoe-down and another picked the banjo; after that he played and sang a recent “ballet” he had composed on the subject of a negro of the neighborhood who had shot and killed his wife and is paying the penalty in the State prison at Frankfort. A gruesome topic but quite after the style of some old mountain ballads. They sang one together called The Swapping Song, which is simply humorous and funny and amusing.

Leaving Car Center about nine AM Sunday we hoped to reach Hindman by noon but in spite of close attention to our directions and repeated askings we missed Betty’s Troublesome as we went up Car Creek and took Smith Fork which brought us to the head of Troublesome, down which we went to Tracy Branch having gone at least three miles farther than we needed, so it was one o’clock when we arrived and dinner was over. But we were kindly welcomed, eager boys carrying our bags and taking the horses to the barn. Miss Stone was away but Miss Cobb and Miss Watts did the honors and showed us around all the buildings. The oldest house of all, built in Miss Pettit’s time, is the home of sixteen of the younger boys and a Miss Wilson (who was my first teacher in the H S in Lapeer) is House Mother to them since five years. I had heard of her being there but had not seen her since H S days. The kindergarten is of much importance here and is continued during the Summer. The school is only a few minutes from the village and cooperates in all its school work. The Sunday evening service was very homelike. A picnic-like supper of sandwiches, apples and plain cake was arranged on flat baskets on a center table, the children and teachers sitting two long rows on either side facing each other. Cups were passed first filled with water, and then with milk. Paper napkins were used. The boys and girls helped in the serving of sandwiches so that quickly and deftly all were supplied. At this meal the children had the privilege of sitting in chosen groups so several family groups of three were pointed out. When all were satisfied, the cups and napkins gathered up, little programs printed at the school were passed for the evening services of scripture reading in response and two hymns were sung, two of my favourites, Now the Day is Over being the last. After a little chat the others went to the M E church in the village with some of the older pupils while I remained at a Junior Endeavor meeting in Hillside House. It was pleasing to hear them take part quite easily in short prayers that they had evidently used often for their souls’ good. They were much interested in my little story of Home Customs in Turkey.

Monday morning we started promptly after breakfast and about nine o’clock left Troublesome to go up Caney Creek to the school mentioned earlier. We came up to a woman carrying a suitcase and a baby with a little three year old boy trailing behind here. Miss Daniels offered to carry the baby, I took the little brother on behind me and Miss Emerson chose to walk loaning her horse to the woman and the suitcase. We must have had them about three miles before we came to their home. The mother was so grateful she offered to share what dinner she might have with us. But with thanks we hurried on and spent only a very short time at Caney Creek Settlement retracing our way back to Car Center where we stopped for our lunch at a house connected with the school. Mrs Frances very cordially supplied grain for our nags and made coffee for us then pressed us to sample her apple jelly. She was so genuinely cordial remembering Miss Pettit with gratitude and refusing pay even for the grain. We had asked at half a dozen houses but none had any to sell or give.

At the head of Defeated Miss Daniels discovered that we were near enough to Blackey to make it that night so we eagerly started on a new road to us and at “Gooddark” [?] reached the mouth of Elk Creek where it flows into the North Fork of the Kentucky River up which we went on a paved road to Blackey, half a mile beyond which is the Stewart Robinson school under the Presbyterian Home Missionary Society. Automobiles passed us and a yard engine was going up and down which caused us to fear for our horses’ tranquility but they behaved very well so that finally a boy showing us the gate we entered into the spacious grounds of the school, with its commodious brick buildings.

Here I was pleased to find an aunt of Alice & Helen Caldwell, both Oberlin students at one time, the latter now being secretary at Pine Mt at the present writing. Miss Caldwell had also been a missionary in Egypt as well as in Turkey. At breakfast the next morning we met several of the teachers and saw the boarding department of the school in the cheery dining room.

It was a real satisfaction to have visited five schools. I felt that if other sections are as well supplied as this the American conscience is pretty well awakened as to the needs of our mountain neighbors.

It was a delightful day to make our return journey. Down the river to Cornettsville then up Leatherwood to Stony Fork and over the ridge to the Cabin. Home again with Mr S halfway down the woods with a lantern to welcome us tho’ we had our flashlights with us.

Supper over, it was a joy to get to our beds. My courageous companions were up next morning and off by five AM to get back for their various duties at seven. Such an unusual trip even for us who live here. I am sure you would have enjoyed it as well as we did.

[signed] Sincerely yours
Ida S Stapleton

[Date of Transcription: 2014-02-24]


STAPLETON REPORT 1928 – October & November

Alt. Title

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


STAPLETON REPORT 1928 – October & November. “The greatest event of the month …”


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 ; Line Fork ; Letcher County, KY ; Cabin ; Line Fork Settlement ; hare-lip ; L&N Railroad ; Miss Pettit ; St. Joseph Infirmary ; surgeons ; Dr. Abell ; nurses ; Cutshin Branch ; Dione Station ; horses ; Myrtle Cornett ; race Nettleton Home ; Auxiliary meeting ; Sunday school ; The Outlaw ; posses ; stills ; Election Day ; Trace Branch school ; mules ; autos ; Republicans ; Governor Smith ; Halloween parties ; decorations ; Orphan Annie ; Millions of Cats ; Laurel schools ; Miss May Stone ; Mrs. Teasel ; housemothers ; Boys’ House ; Miss Daniels ; weaving ; teachers ; Miss Emerson ; Practice ; Country Cottage ; Hindman High School ; Children’s Classic ; phonographs ; pianos ; furnishings ; Junior College ; Mrs. Alice Lloyd ; community houses ; science buildings ; school uniforms ; Defeated Trail ; Car Creek ; Car Center ; Miss Hume ; Kentucky Running Sets ; banjos ; hoe-downs ; The Swapping Song ; Troublesome ; Smith Fork ; Tracy Branch ; Miss Cobb ; Miss Watts ; Miss Wilson ; Lapeer High School ; kindergartens ; meals ; scripture readings ; hymns ; M E church ; Junior Endeavor ; Hillside House ; prayers ; Caney Creek Settlement ; Mrs Frances ; Miss Daniels ; Elk Creek; North Fork ; Kentucky River ; Stewart Robinson school ; Presbyterian Home Missionary Society ; Alice & Helen Caldwell ; Oberlin College ; missionaries ; Stony Fork ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Letcher County, KY ; Gilley, KY ; Carcassone, KY ; Gander, KY ; Caney Creek, KY ; Harrogate TN ; Carr Creek, KY ; Troublesome Creek, KY ; Cornettsville, KY ; Louisville, KY ; Cumberland, KY ; Hindman, KY ; Blackey, KY ; Leatherwood, KY ;

Subject LCSH

Stapleton, Dr. Ida S., — 1871 – 1946.
Stapleton, Rev. Robert, — 1866 – 1945.
Line Fork Medical Settlement (Gilley, KY) — History.
Letcher County (Ky.) — History.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Hindman Settlement School (Hindman, Ky,) — History.
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


Gretchen Rasch


Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written) ; Series 14: Medical – Line Fork ; Series 10: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement ; Series 9: Staff/Personnel ;




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written) ; Series 14: Medical – Line Fork ; Series 10: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement ; Series 9: Staff/Personnel ; 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

October 1928 ; November 1928 ;

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Letcher County, KY ; Gilley, KY ; Carcassone, KY ; Gander, KY ; Caney Creek, KY ; Harrogate TN ; Carr Creek, KY ; Troublesome Creek, KY ; Cornettsville, KY ; Louisville, KY ; Cumberland, KY ; Hindman, KY ; Blackey, KY ; Leatherwood, 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

2014-01-06 hhw ; 2014-01-10 aae ; 2014-03-05 aae ;



Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written), Series 14: Medical – Line Fork, Series 10: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement, and Series 9: Staff/Personnel. 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.