Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Personnel/Staff
Ruth Elizabeth Dennis
Teacher, Coyle (Coil) Branch School 1920-21
Line Fork Settlement, Summers and Part-Time
1920, 1923, 1927 – 1928
Advisory Board

“Roy Banks – Coyle Branch School – 1948.” Children at desks with teacher. [nace_II_album_028.jpg]

TAGS: Ruth Elizabeth Dennis, Mrs. John Clifford Langtry, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Line Fork Settlement, teachers, Coil (Coyle) Branch school, industrial worker, Bible School, sewing classes, cooking, social activism, Advisory Board


Ruth Dennis worked at the Line Fork Settlement as a teacher at the Coil [Coyle] Branch school where she taught Bible School, sewing, cooking, and playground work from Fall 1920 to Fall 1921. She was also hired as an Industrial Worker at the Settlement.

According to “Impressions at Line Fork,” a narrative by Mary Ellen Davies, Miss Dennis did “social upbuilding of the community.” Other PMSS historical papers indicate that she worked summers or part-time in the years 1920, 1923, and 1927-1928. Miss Dennis was also listed as Mrs. John Clifford Langtry, and her last known address was recorded as Oakland, California.

Burton Rogers forwarded this note to Mary Rogers on December 22, 1966:

Mrs. John Clifford Langtry [Ruth Dennis] writes with her contribution [to PMSS], “Last year you wrote in answer to my saying that I had worked on Line Fork, if I was in the first or second cabin.

I helped build the first one, living in a native one for six weeks, cooking over a fireplace, moved into the new cabin without stove or window in my bedroom in a snowstorm. I am the Miss Dennis perhaps you have ‘heard tell of.’ That was 1920. I was back for several times, but not for over 30 years.

Best wishes,
Ruth Langtry

The Stapleton’s, later directors of the Line Fork Settlement, also described Miss Dennis’ early years at Line Fork in a letter of August 25th, 1928.

“… Miss Dennis who came down for the Summer had been here even before the Cabin was built and lived in Neely’s house while it [the Cabin] was being built and taught the Bear Branch school. The first Winter she even lived in the Cabin with no window glass in her bed-room windows and with the other teacher, cooked all their food in the fire place as the kitchen was not yet finished. As there was no fence around the place the cattle used to come up to the Cabin and shelter in the excavation underneath that was latter [sic] walled up for a cellar under her direction. More than once she had a gun pointed at her by half-drunken young men who came to the school or the Cabin. “

Ruth was from Chicago, Illinois, and had deep roots in the social activism of the city. In particular, she was involved with the Chicago Commons Settlement House, whose founder Graham Taylor was an advocate for industrial justice and fair practice. He had a particular interest in the rights of miners following a mine disaster in Illinois, another mining state. In 1917 Ruth Dennis is listed as a delegate for the Chicago Commons at the National Housing Association 1917 conference which suggests that she had a strong association with the Commons and likely continued her work with the Commons after returning to Chicago in 1921.

Her training as a teacher at the Chicago Commons, which had an active teacher training program called the Pestalozzi-Froebel Kindergarten and Training School, was a model program for its day. The model established at the Chicago Commons was later adopted by many schools in and around Chicago.

It is not surprising that Miss Dennis was interested in the Line Fork appointment and that she caught the attention of Miss Pettit, co-founder and co-director of the School. It was also not surprising that Miss Dennis found her stays in a rural setting an adjustment but one that was not overly daunting. The problems problems found in her urban experiences in Chicago shared some of the same elements as those found at Pine Mountain. Both environments, urban and rural, shared the pain associated with deprivation and with some of life’s most shattered social fabrics. Adjust she did to the hardships of the early years at Line Fork and her affection for Pine Mountain Settlement School never disappeared, nor did her financial support of the school. Evidenced by the generous letter to Burton Rogers some 30 years after her work in Kentucky.

Ruth Elizabeth Dennis was born on November 16, 1898, in Illinois and died on November 25, 1982 [Burial date was December 10, 1982, in Mountain View Cemetery], near Alameda, California. Her husband John Clifford Langtry was interred in the same cemetery on October 16, 1981,


Ruth Dennis

Alt. Title

Ruth Elizabeth Dennis ; Mrs. John Clifford Langtry ; Ruth Elizabeth Langtry ; Ruth Langtry ;




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Ruth Dennis ; Mrs. John Clifford Langtry ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Line Fork Settlement ; teachers ; Coil (Coyle) Branch school ; industrial worker ; Bible School ; sewing ; cooking ; playground ; social activism ; Chicago Commons ; Graham Taylor ; industrial justice ; air practice ; miners’ rights ; National Housing Association ; teacher training ; Pestalozzi-Froebel Kindergarten and Training School ; Katherine Pettit ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Letcher County, KY ; Chicago, IL ; Oakland, CA ; Alameda, CA ;

Subject LCSH

Dennis, Ruth, — 16 November 1885 – 25 November 1982.
Organizations — social service — Line Fork Settlement.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Letcher County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.

Date digital



Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet within the Pine Mountain Settlement School institutional archive


Series 9: Staff/Personnel ; Series 14B: Medical – Line Fork Settlement ;




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 9: Staff/Personnel ; Series 14B: Medical – Line Fork Settlement ;

Coverage Temporal

1885 – 1982

 Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Letcher County, KY ; Chicago, IL ; Oakland, CA ; Alameda, CA ;


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, clippings, photographs, or books containing information on Ruth Dennis, a teacher at the Coil [Coyle] Branch School near Line Fork Settlement.




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2013-12-04 hhw ; 2013-12-26 aae ; 2015-03-20 hhw ; 2023-04-17 hhw



“California, Death Index, 1940-1997,” index, FamilySearch. (accessed 27 Dec 2013). Ruth Elizabeth Langtry, 1982. Internet resource.

Chicago Commons: A Monthly Record of Social Settlement Life and Work. Chicago: Chicago Commons, 1896. Print.

Housing Problems in America: Proceedings of the National Conference on Housing, Chicago, October 16 and 17, 1917. New York City: National Housing Association, 1917. Print.

Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Pine Mountain, KY. 1.5 (November 1920): 3. Internet resource.

“Ruth Dennis.” Series 09: Staff/Personnel. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.  Internet resource.

Vanmeter, Martha. Information found in personal narrative of Martha Vanmeter. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional records. Pine Mountain, KY. Archival material.

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