Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
Series 03: Histories
Series 16: Events
WELLS RECORD 20 PMSS Various Happenings 1913-1928
TAGS: Wells Record 20 PMSS Various Happenings 1913-1928 ; Evelyn K. Wells ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Harlan County, Kentucky ; various happenings ; events ; education ; economics ; Luigi Zande ; Katherine Pettit ; Ethel de Long Zande ; Zande House ; mining camps ; economic change ; accepting children from mining camps ; railroads ; convict labor ; Lura Parsons ; murders ; Dr. Winnes ; veterinary science ; politics ; trials ; juries ; race relations ; Jerry Reed ; racial profiling ; women’s rights ; violence against women ; rape ; fires ; student deaths ; standards of living ; Edith Scott ; Almon Huff ; WWI ; wars ; Intermountain Railway ; logging ; freight rates ; freight hauling ; privacy ; Uncle William Creech ; Aunt Sally Dixon Creech ; wedding ; celebrations ; death of Uncle William ; death of Aunt Sal ;
Evelyn K. Wells‘ Record #20 describes various events affecting Pine Mountain Settlement School from 1913 until 1928.
The life of the school has been affected materially by various events, such as —
The growth of the mining camps across Pine Mountain, along a railroad line only a few years old in 1913, introducing to our neighbors over a wide area, new values, new standards of living, more ready money, the cheap things that come in the first stages of an industrial civilization. The countryside was ill-prepared for the sudden economic change, and the emphasis of Pine Mountain’s work shifted from helping country children alone to giving equal consideration to the needs of mining town children.
The War [WWI] accounted partly for the quick growth of the mining camps, as the Harlan County coal fields were tremendously valuable to the government. Our support was gravely affected by the demands of the war. A third result was the widening of the horizon for our neighbors, the opening up of our mountain section to both good and bad influences.
THE SCHOOLHOUSE FIRE
The Schoolhouse [Mary Sinclair Burkham Memorial School House] fire, which occurred at three o’clock in the morning of January 24, 1919. This was our first real disaster, wiping out in forty-five minutes five lives, and a building which housed the classrooms , the offices, a family of fourteen boys and tree workers, a store-room for clothing, the workshop, which contained almost every tool on the place (the axes and all had been taken there to be sharpened the night before the fire), and a large playroom.
Three boys were burned in their beds, and one worker, Miss Edith Scott. They were probably never conscious of what happened. Almon Huff, another boy, went back to rescue Miss Scott, and lost his life also.
The School picked up its life again, holding classes that very day, making plans for new buildings which were shaped up within a week, with fine spirit, but its morale was deeply shaken, and its physical losses not made good for two years or more.
THE MURDER OF MISS LURA PARSONS
The murder of Miss Lura Parsons, a worker from the school, on Pine Mountain, in September 1920. Miss Parsons was crossing the mountain alone and on foot, returning from a vacation to her work here, and had not let the School know just when she might be expected. The arrival of her handbag by mail the next day was our first indication that she had started. A search party, starting out for her, soon found her body near the foot of the mountain on the other side [South side].
For the next few months, and in fact until the case was dismissed, the following April, Mrs. Ethel de Long Zande gave most of her time to the attempt to convict the murderer. One Dr. Winnes, the state veterinary, who had ridden in on the day of Miss Parsons’ murder to give our cows the tuberculin test, was arrested and tried, and the jury, out ninety-six hours, was hung by the vote of one man who held that Winnes was guilty.
Feeling at the School was strongly against him, but the county officers in an almost unbroken body fought for him. It was almost an issue between the School and county politics, and would have swamped and enterprise less established than Pine Mountain. Winnes was to be tried again in another county in the spring, but the case was dismissed in April 1921 and has never been tried since, for the lack of new evidence. Meanwhile, a negro, Jerry Reed, who was implicated in the Winnes trial, because he was a convict working on the Pine Mountain road at the time of the murder and could not give a satisfactory alibi, was tried in Richmond for another offence, at which trial Winnes was called as a witness, which technicality now protects him from being tried again himself. And there the matter rests, an example of the toils that politics cast about the administering of justice.
THE INTERMOUNTAIN RAILROAD
This road ran through our grounds for three years 1921-24, and brought the school, which had been so blessed with privacy and independent living into closer contact with the outside world. Camp men were constantly passing through the grounds and our world was suddenly full of strangers. We felt the greatest relief when the tracks came up and the Pine Mountain grounds were no longer a thoroughfare for strangers. On the other hand freight which till 1921 we had hauled by wagon from Chad or Rosspoint with infinite difficulty, at $1.50 a hundred, now came promptly and safely to our very doors at $0.40 a hundred, on the railroad.
MORE PERSONAL HAPPENINGS
Happenings in the community, of a more personal nature. The generation that remembers Uncle William and Aunt Sal Creech counts itself fortunate. The school family in the summer of 1916 helped them celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary, at which Aunt Sal wore her wedding gown, carrying a bunch of flowers from the school garden and there was a cake with fifty candles, and fireworks. A picture of Uncle William and Aunt Sal taken on this occasion was enlarged for us by Mr. Martin and now hangs in the Library.
Uncle William’s death in 1918 and his burial here are described in the letter sent out by Mrs. Zande to friends of the school, and there is an account of Aunt Sal’s last days in the Notes for April 1925.
In 1918 Luigi Zande married Ethel de Long, and they built what was to be a real home in the school, both continuing to direct their own department in the school, still entirely its servants. Their son Alberto was born in March 1919, their daughter Elena was adopted in 1923.
EVELYN K. WELLS GUIDE TO ADMINISTRATIVE CORRESPONDENCE
RECORD OF PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL 1913-1928 [INDEX] (Early in-depth history of Pine Mountain Settlement School)
3. Year by Year [Construction, Workers, Gifts, Children, Events, etc.]
12. Extension Work
18. Religious Life
19. The Road
22. List of Workers
[22 sections of Pine Mountain Settlement School History gathered by Evelyn K. Wells from 1913 to 1928]
EVELYN K. WELLS PUBLICATIONS
Wells, Evelyn K. The Ballad Tree: A Study of British and American Ballads, Their Folklore, Verse and Music, Together with Sixty Traditional Ballads and Their Tunes. New York: Ronald Press, 1950. Print.
EVELYN K. WELLS “A Little True Blue American,” Over Sea and Land: Our Southern Mountains, November 1920, p. 140.
EVELYN K. WELLS TALKS
EVELYN K. WELLS PMSS Harvard University talk, on Folk Music. July 21, 1955