Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel, Friend of PMSS
ALICE TRUMBULL (SCOVILLE) BARRY, Community School Supervisor 1944-1947
TAGS: Alice Trumbull (Scoville) Barry; Stuyvesant “Peter” Barry; Kathy Barry; Frank Barry; David Barry; Roxana Barry; Bethany Barry; dogs; “Pluto”; Pine Mountain Settlement School; Vassar College; settlement schools; rural education; Old Log house; American Friends Service; Quakers; Quaker Work Camps; rural schools; Wanda Collier; H.R.S. Benjamin; Dorothy Nace; Burton Rogers; Mary Rogers;
Alice Trumbull (Scoville) Barry, the wife of Stuyvesant “Peter” Barry, was born in Rosemont, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1911. She was the only daughter of a family of five and her father, the writer and lawyer Samuel Scoville Jr. and her mother, Katharine (Gallaudet) Trumbull cherished her, as described by her father who noted in his Yale biographical sketch ” … a little girl who is worth the world and all to us.”
Like many of the workers at Pine Mountain, the roots of both the Scoville and Barry families were deep in the first families of the North East. Alice’s family shifted between two residences. The family home in Cornwall in the Berkshires of Connecticut and the other near her father’s law practice in Philadelphia. The valley of the Housatonic River was early a quiet farming community. Today its proximity to northeastern urban centers has transformed it into a destination for weekenders and local craftspersons. It was in this picturesque natural setting that Samuel Scoville, Jr., Alices’ father found inspiration for his naturalist writing and where Alice developed a strong love for the natural environment.
Alice attended Vassar College and, following graduation, married Stuyvesant “Peter” Barry in 1935. Theirs was an adventure in cultural shift, beginning with their adoption of the Quaker faith soon after marriage. Their adopted religion continued to be a motivating force in their lives until their retirement. The family settled first in Pennsylvania, then Vermont. Their summers were regularly spent in Quaker Summer Work Camps and several other summer camps. One of the Quaker Work Camps was at Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Alice Trumbull (Scoville) Barry: At Pine Mountain 1944-1947
At Pine Mountain, the family was assigned to live in one of the oldest buildings on campus, the Old Log cabin, situated at the entrance to the grounds of the School.
Alice worked with the community educational programs at the School. Often she would accompany Pine Mountain students to the many rural one-room schools. She supervised PMSS upper-level students who worked with programs initiated by Pine Mountain Settlement such as literacy tutoring and building maintenance assistance. [See: PMSS Community Service in the Curriculum]
She was well trained in a range of skills through her long association with the Quaker Work Camps and brought many of those skills to the challenges at Pine Mountain and its community. She made deep friendships with community families, particularly “Aunt Dealy” [Delia Creech] and Henry Creech, and developed a love for the many crafts and craftsmanship found in the community. She was an avid gardner and kept a close eye on her garden at the School. This care is expressed in a letter to Dorothy Nace, secretary at the School, when she asked for a report on the health of her garden following her departure from the School.
If Mrs. Benjamin has time, do ask her to take a look at the planting — specially the dahlias — to see they’re not utterly choked out before the Rogers arrive to take care of our elaborate garden!
Mrs. Benjamin was the wife of the Director H.R.S. Benjamin, who hired Peter. The Rogers were Burton Rogers, the new Director and his wife, Mary, a close friend of Alice while she was at the School. Juggling her assignment to work with the rural educational service programs with her family needs was not easy, especially with a new baby. Following a review of domestic support at the School, the Board of Trustees suggested that Alice be assigned a student who would serve as an assistant to the family in caring for the children and that the assignment be integrated into the many facets of industrial training that students were charged with. This gesture allowed Alice more time to work with community service projects and gave her some respite from the family demands. It seemed to be a good balance for the three years at the School.
Alice Trumbull (Scoville) Barry: Her Varied Pursuits
Alice and Peter’s large family of five children seemed to energize Alice but never seemed to limit her. An avid traveler, she often traveled alone and her adventures were documented in her lively and descriptive writing. Her travels were rarely of the common tourist variety. They were often journeys of purpose and conscience, such as travel to Poland following WWII to follow up on her work with CARE. It was there that she reportedly met Lech Walesa before he won the won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and later peacefully won election as the President of Poland (1990-1995). Following Pine Mountain, she and Peter also together journeyed to Europe many times and to the Galapagos, to Thailand, to Africa, and to India.
Alice’s documentation of her journeys was often shared in newspaper articles, such as those for a column in the New Hope, PA, newspaper. Fragments of her jaunty style may also be seen in her letters such as those exchanged with Pine Mountain staff for over a decade. The bulk of the Barry files at Pine Mountain is comprised of Alice’s letters. [See Stuyvesant “Peter” Barry Family Correspondence Guide]. The urge to write, no doubt inherited from her father, was passed along to her children, who all became writers or wordsmiths to a greater or lesser degree. In the Barry family, words mattered.
Alice was also a researcher. She pursued a mysterious bundle of 17th-century Spanish documents found in the family attic and was able to repatriate the stolen documents to the State Archive of New Mexico where they had gone missing nearly 100 years earlier. She also published her exploration of the suppression by Lincoln of The Journal of Congress and deeply researched the history of her great-great-grandfather, the Congregationalist preacher, social activist, abolitionist and rhetorician, Henry Ward Beecher.
Alice Trumbull (Scoville) Barry: Return Visit to PMSS 1948
In 1948 Alice returned to Pine Mountain for a visit and brought her father, Samuel Scoville Jr., with her. He had never been to the School and she wanted to share with him her experiences there. The visit is recounted in the school newsletter of November 1948, in which students share a classroom exercise to record Mr. Scoville’s presentation to the students. Her father was quite a hit.
Pine Cone Nov. 1948, Pages 5-7
“Mr. Scoville” [Mrs. Alice Barry, a former worker, and her father, Mr. Scoville, visit campus, gives nature talk; the students write as follows]:
“I. Mr. Scoville’s Hunting Trip” – Shirley Boggs
“II. Mr. Scoville’s Talk” – Jean Carol Warren
“III. Mr. Scoville” – Bess Taylor [About Mr. and Mrs. Barry, former P.M. workers, and Mr. Scoville]
“Mrs. Barry’s Visit” – Geraldine Boggs
Recently there came to the Pine Mountain campus a former worker, Mrs. Alice Barry, and her father, Mr. Scoville. On the Sunday night during their stay, Mr. Scoville delighted the audience of student and staff by relating some of his numerous experiences as a nature-lover. The following themes were written by representatives of three of the four classes who heard him. They help to indicate what campus-wide enthusiasm there was for this most entertaining guest. Perhaps he will give us the pleasure of hearing him again.
I. MR. SCOVILLE’S HUNTING TRIP
Mr. Scoville, with two of his friends, went on a trip to the Palisades, in New York to hunt duck hawk eggs. When they got there, the two men started complaining. One said his wife wouldn’t let him climb around in dangerous places. The other said he had a sore back and just didn’t think he could go down that day. So Mr. Scoville very modestly agreed to go. They lowered him down with two ropes tied around him. As he passed the sharp ledges, he didn’t think he would ever see his family again. He had seen the nest so he struggled from place to place and finally got the eggs. When he signaled for them to bring him back up, they let down instead. All at once the big other duck hawk came swooping straight toward him, and there he was, with this enormous bird coming at him, and he, dangling in mid-air, with no way of protection against the giant bird. He finally yelled very loud and scared it away.
They let the rope slip again and this time he thought it was broken. He said for one time in his life he thought what he really was. The words he thought were, “I’m the biggest fool in the world.” At last, they started him up and he said to himself, “Bless my soul! If I live to be one hundred years old, I’ll never again do this.” They got him to the top of the palisades after a long while, and said, “You did wonderfully old boy. We’ll let go down again some day,” But he replied, “Oh, no. I’ll never go on another expedition like that any more.” And he hasn’t hunted any more birds’ eggs of that sort since. [Shirley Boggs, Freshman]
II. MR. SCOVILLE’S TALK
“Do you think you could ever pick up a snake, alive, not knowing whether you will get hold of it right? Well, neither did I, until I picked up my first one. Mind you, I was scared, too. I just knew I was going to let my hand slip on its cold, slick and squirming body, and it would gobble me up all in one swallow.”
Those were some of the remarks made at our Vesper service, Sunday, October 17th, by Mr. Scoville.
He told us of all those amazing, breath-taking stunts he did, such as being lowered off a cliff with a rope to a ledge to get four eggs from some big birds’ nest. All while he was sitting in mid air this big bird kept flying around his head, and he said he just knew that any time it was going to take his head off and leave the rest of his body swinging around in the air, “Talk about being scared! I was!” Yes, to hear him tell it, one would think that he was nearly ready to say, “Goodbye, cruel world.” I guess for one time he was glad his head was stuck on good and tight.
He told us that when he had picked up his first snake, the second wasn’t hard to pick up at all. (And these were rattlesnakes, by the way, which he was becoming able to handle with such ease and confidence.)
Mr. Scoville ended his talk by suggesting that we form some kind of nature club to keep us busy in our leisure time. “Did you say it wouldn’t be any fun?”, he asked one of the boys. “Why, of course, it will. You come and see me tomorrow and I will tell you a tale that will make your hair stand on end. No fun! Ha!”
I don’t know whether the boy went to see him, but I do know that that night I was dangling off a cliff, with a rope holding me, to get some bird eggs. I woke up, thank goodness, to find myself dreaming. [Jean Carol Warren, Junior]
III. MR. SCOVILLE
Recently we have had the pleasure of entertaining and being entertained by Mr. Scoville, the father of Mrs. Barry, a former staff member.
We all know the Barrys, if not personally, then from what the older students have said of them. Mr. Barry, who taught English and Sociology and who kept alive the enthusiasm for Field Day as well as that for putting on plays, is missed very much. Then there were the four little Barrys — “Bears,” as they had been fondly christened — and what a remarkable brood they were! Frankie could eat more corn than anyone in school; Kathy was just a dear little girl; Davie was the possessor of a vivid imagination and thought that Pluto, the dog, should be able to dig a hole, jump into the hole, and then pull the hole in after him. Last of all, there was Roxana, still in her cradle when the family left Pine Mountain.
So now you can see why Mr. Scoville was such a delightful person. (By the way, he boasts of having eleven grandchildren, more than any of his Yale classmates in this part of the country, where people sometimes have twenty grandchildren or more, this isn’t so much to boast about, though.)
Being a great naturalist, he gave us a talk in Vespers, telling us about some of his exploits, all of which were very interesting.
Born in Philadelphia, graduating from Yale where he studied law, he is still practicing his profession in Philadelphia. He remarked dryly that he was anointed with a farm in New York, has married a Philadelphian girl and so found himself back at his birthplace. (Never underestimate the powers of a woman.)
Mr. Scoville has written a series of books for boys, which have been translated into several different languages, and he also writes a column for a Philadelphia newspaper. As the author of this column, he is known to his readers as The Philadelphia Lawyer.
As a final word, I cannot neglect to say that Mr. Scoville believed Pine Mountain School to be one of the best of the many boarding schools he has visited. [Bess Taylor, Senior]
Alice wrote to thank the School for hosting their visit and added the following note:
P.S Father certainly enjoyed his visit, too. He found it even better than he’d heard it would be. On our way home, we stopped at a snake farm & he had a cosy time visiting with all the poisonous snakes —“
Samuel Scoville Jr., lawyer, naturalist, story-teller, and Alice Barry’s father, died in 1950, three years after the Pine Mountain visit and in his 78th year.
Alice Barry died in Ithica, New York at the age of 101 years of age. Throughout her active and engaged life, she is described in her obituary as taking “… a vast pleasure in laughter … ” and as a woman who was “…gallant, funny, loving and indefatigable, with an extraordinary generosity of soul.”
Pine Mountain was enriched by her three-year stay at the School and the nearly three-decade-long support of the School and its mission by the Barry family and by her remarkable father — teachers, all.
GALLERY: Alice Trumbull (Scoville) Barry
ALICE TRUMBULL (SCOVILLE) BARRY