Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Community, Guests and Visitors
Creech Family


TAGS: Columbus Creech; Pine Mountain Settlement; Henry C. Creech; Creech Family; Sally Dixon Creech; William Creech; Evelyn Wells; Rev. Lewis Lyttle; Ethel de Long Zande; Katherine Pettit; Luigi Zande; PMSS Advisory Board; Farmers’ Meetings; Marguerite Butler; maple sugar camp ; postmasters; Burton Rogers; Emily HIll Creech;

“Judge Lewis Lyttle, 1948” and “Columbus Creech.” [nace_II_album_075.jpg]

Columbus Creech’s name appears often, along with his brother’s, Henry C. Creech, in Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives. Both were supporters of the School beginning in its earliest planning stages and for the rest of their lives.

In fact, the entire Creech family was involved in the School at one time or another. Columbus’s parents, Sally Dixon Creech and William Creech Sr., were instrumental in bringing the idea of a mountain settlement school to fruition by their generous donation of land to the School in 1913 and were devoted to the School thereafter. Columbus and his seven siblings — Absalom D., Polly, William R., Nancy Ann, Henry Clay, Rhoda and Joseph G. — followed their parents’ examples. They and their spouses and in-laws often helped with special events, donations, fundraising, maintenance work on the campus, and consultation. According to Evelyn Wells‘ history, Henry Creech and Bennett F. Lewis, a son-in-law, raised pledges for money, labor, and timber from the community; William Creech joined in the building of the Chapel; the Creech brothers donated and sawed all the lumber for Big Log; and Columbus and Henry Creech provided lumber and gave land that ran from the School to the top of Pine Mountain.

COLUMBUS CREECH: Earliest Years with PMSS, 1911-1913

Columbus’s introduction to the idea of a settlement school in the Pine Mountain valley began at his family’s kitchen table around 1911. There, Columbus, his father William and brother Henry met with Rev. Lewis Lyttle. As they talked, Lyttle mentioned that there were several women, currently working at a school in Hindman, Kentucky, who were interested in starting a new school near Pine Mountain. William, who felt strongly that a better education for mountain children would improve their lives and that of the country, offered whatever help he could provide.

When co-founder Ethel de Long paid a visit to the Pine Mountain area to see what the site had to offer for a future settlement school, Columbus and his father took her to the top of Pine Mountain. De Long describes this trip through the woods in detail in her 1911 “Dear Friend” fundraising letter on page 8.

According to a letter dated January 1912 from Henry C. Creech to Katherine Pettit, the School’s co-founder, Columbus and Henry committed 25 or 30 acres to the building of the School.  A 1953 letter to Luigi Zande, Ethel de Long Zande’s husband, from Burton Rogers, the School’s director at that time, refers to this donation:

In 1917 Henry and Columbus Creech deeded to the School the present southeast corner in such a way that we have a straight line from the top of the mountain back to the beginning corner near the [Leon] Deschamps house, now the house of Jess Cornett. There is no question about this transaction.

Columbus, along with his brother Henry, was a member of the PMSS Advisory Board at its beginning in 1913 and continued to serve for many years.

COLUMBUS CREECH: Later Years with PMSS, 1914-1968

As the Pine Mountain Settlement School grew to fruition, Columbus became involved in a variety of its activities. The following are examples of the many ways in which he assisted the School as he carried on the work and spirit of his parents, William and Sally Creech.

In 1914 Columbus Creech was appointed President of the Farmers’ Meetings, working alongside Marguerite Butler, who was appointed Secretary. This was the approximate time that the Farmer’s Meetings inspired the creation of the annual Community Fair Day, a successful cooperation between school and community.

One of Marguerite Butler’s letters of Spring 1915 mentions that Columbus Creech “has been in [maple] sugar camp all this month and they have been stirring it off this week….” Narratives on the page titled “Maple Syrup and Sugar” indicate that

The Creech family who lived near the Settlement School had the skill of harvesting this natural sweetener and passed along their knowledge to Pine Mountain Settlement School staff…. [It is likely] that maple syrup was a gift to various workers and also graced the table for entertaining guests from the School…. 

When Uncle William divided his land, he asked his two sons, Henry and Columbus, who were to share the grove of sugar maple trees, not to log the site. He liked the idea that part of the mountain would remain untouched. And so it was not logged until after Henry’s and Columbus’ times.

In a letter to her family dated June 23, 1918, Evelyn K. Wells mentions that Columbus Creech, as the current postmaster, assisted with the mailing of 4,500 letters appealing for contributions to a memorial to his father.

In February 1919, Wells updates her family on the progress of the school’s new buildings, writing that Columbus is “getting timber out of the woods as fast as he can. Plans for the Office, the first building to go up, are made, and the site chosen and staked off…”

Columbus was often called upon to use his carpentry skills. Marguerite Butler, in her September and November 1921 letters, describes Columbus’s involvement in such projects

Sept 18, 1921

Columbus was here working at O.H. [Open House, the home of PMSS architect Mary Rockwell Hook] all day yesterday and Henry is coming to­morrow. It looks a little more livable now….

Nov 13, 1921

Tomorrow I start for Line Fork. Columbus is going with me for a couple days to build a long cupboard in kitchen on either side of sink to serve as drain board, table and cupboard. He has built them here and knows exactly how….

Columbus had a store of historical information about the School’s early days. As late as 1963, Columbus accompanied PMSS Director, Burton Rogers, on a tour of his parents’ log cabin in which he was raised. He provided many details of having lived there as recorded in the document on this page.

Throughout their lifetimes, Columbus and the rest of the Creech family shared their skills and historical knowledge with the School whenever and wherever they were needed, Descendants in the Creech family have continued their associations with Pine Mountain Settlement School through the years up to the present time. The School has much to appreciate concerning their services, all given in the spirit of William and Sally Creech’s dream of an education for mountain children.

James Columbus Creech was born October 8, 1881, in Kentucky. He was the third oldest child and third son of William and Sally Creech. He married Emily Hill from Jeff in Perry County, Kentucky. She was a worker at PMSS as a housemother and kitchen assistant, 1921 to 1934. A letter from Katherine Pettit to Miss Dingman, dated January 4, 1927, mentions that Miss Emily Hill was sent to Berea College on the Dingman Scholarship.

Columbus died on May 30, 1968, in Harlan, Kentucky at the age of 86. He was buried in the Creech Cemetery at Pine Mountain, Harlan County, Kentucky.

See Also EMILY HILL Biography




Columbus Creech

Alt. Title

James Columbus Creech ; James C. Creech ;



Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Columbus Creech ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; James Columbus Creech ; James C. Creech ; Henry C. Creech; Creech Family ; Sally Dixon Creech; William Creech Sr. ; Evelyn Wells ; Rev. Lewis Lyttle ; Ethel de Long Zande ; Katherine Pettit ; Luigi Zande ; PMSS Advisory Board; Farmers’ Meetings ; Marguerite Butler ; maple sugar camp  ; maple syrup ; postmasters ; Burton Rogers ; Emily HIll Creech ;

Subject LCSH

Creech, Columbus, — October 8, 1881 – May 30, 1968.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 09: Biography




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography.

Coverage Temporal

1881 – 1968

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, 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 Columbus Creech ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Columbus Creech ;




“[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

2017-11-20 aae ; 2018-08-30 aae ;



“Columbus Creech,” Series 09: Biography. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“Kentucky, Vital Record Indexes, 1911-1999,” database, FamilySearch ( : 24 November 2017), James C Creech, 30 May 1968; citing Death, Harlan, Kentucky, United States, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort. Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 November 2017), William Creech, Magisterial Districts 3-4, Upper Poor Fork, Lower Poor Fork, Harlan, Kentucky, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 51, sheet 12B, family , NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,525. Internet resource.

Return to BIOGRAPHY – A-Z

See Also:

EMILY HILL Biography
VI 37 FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS – Creech Family Photographs