Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
Margaret Kraatz Wright, “Little School” teacher, 1931-1932

MARGARET KRAATZ WRIGHT Correspondence, 1930-1932

TAGS: Margaret Kraatz, Margaret Kraatz Wright Correspondence, Pine Mountain Settlement School, KY


The letters of Margaret Kraatz tell a love story. Romancing her future husband through correspondence Margaret takes a journey that is humorous, touching, incomprehensible, and often maddening, but a journey that eventually won her a lifetime partner. One of the larger collections of personal letters in the Pine Mountain staff holdings, Margaret’s correspondence covers only parts of two years. The letters languished for many years in the archive of the Pine Mountain Settlement School because Margaret’s handwriting resembles a foreign language and it takes considerable tenacity to decipher even the most common words.

Sharon Fahrer, a volunteer from Asheville, NC, came to Pine Mountain to work in the archive and tackled Margaret’s letters in the Spring of 2018. The fat folders in the Pine Mountain archive hold the letters of Margaret’s romantic adventure of winning a husband as well as the stretching of her teaching skills. The letters follow the early journey of the eager teacher and feisty Roaring Twenties lover, Margaret. If the reader is patient with the holographic idiosyncracies, the stories will charm and engage.



Margaret Kraatz Wright Correspondence:

Series 09 Margaret Kraatz Wright

List of folders

  1. Correspondence 1930 July-August
  2. Correspondence 1930 July-August
  3. Correspondence 1931 September
  4. Correspondence 1931 October
  5. Correspondence 1931 October-November
  6. Correspondence 1931 December
  7. Correspondence 1932 January
  8. Correspondence 1932 January-February
  9. Correspondence 1932 March
  10. Correspondence 1932 April
  11. Correspondence 1932 May
  12. Correspondence 1932 June
  13. Correspondence 1932 July-August
  14. Correspondence 1932 November
  15. Correspondence 2000 March

Series 09 Margaret Kraatz Wright Folder Contents

  1. Correspondence 1930 July-August

All correspondence in this folder are letters from Margaret in Jackson, Ohio, to Theodore Wright in Berea College, Berea Kentucky.

7/16/30 “If you are having any trouble reading my letters if so I shall type them.” She asks if he has a roommate. His letters “do not sound like you” and she is concerned about his weight. She tells him she loves him a lot.

7/23/31 She is having trouble with a girl in study hour. She talks about a party. She still hopes her aunt and uncle will come.

7/24/30 “My sweet skinny Teddy.” She wants to know his grades. She went to the “big” city and bought a new dress. She thinks other girls would be jealous when he tells of his Alabama girl. She doesn’t think he can handle the number of jealous women.

7/26/30 She asks about an Alabama girl and wants him to send a picture. Says her mother thinks that she is too fat and ends that she must go and do something useful.

7/29/30 She is upset because she has not gotten a letter from him. She compliments him on his grades. She is worried about her psychology grade, mosquitos and hot weather. She discusses his weight. She says there are 6 weeks left of vacation and wants to know what he is doing after vacation. She wants to sleep — her idea of a great vacation. She says he should visit Ohio. She asks why he has not told her about any girls yet.

8/2/30 She berates him for not writing to her, Apparently, he is on a trip. She says she is not the type to scold. She says he is stubborn and does not answer her questions. She can’t wait to see him. She says he should visit Jimmy and Ruby who has a good-looking sister.

8/4/30 She orders him to write and obsesses about getting fat and the both of them getting fat together. They had a bet on her losing weight which she says she will lose.

8/6/30 “My dear man, … I am not weeping over this but it is beginning to rain and I’m too lazy to go into the house.” She wants him to tell her about a red-headed woman and how fat she is. Apparently he has been telling her about his dates. She says it will be interesting to be a senior. She talks about clothes.

8/8/30 She says she wrote him an aweful [sic] letter which she is sending with this one because she is too tired to write a whole new one. She thinks they might break up, but she wants to do what he wants to do about it.

  1. Correspondence 1931 February, July-August. More letters between Theodore Wright and Margaret.

2/21/31 Valentine card with note to Theodore. He sent her a note.

7/20/31 Margaret writes there is nothing to write about but manages a long letter. She says if she does not get the job at Pine Mt. her mother will expect her to stay home.

7/17/31 Jackson, Ohio. She compliments him on his sermon. She talks about applying to Pine Mountain and jumping off a bridge if she doesn’t get the job.

8/12/31 She says it is freezing in Ohio. Someone is giving her vague advice and she is counting on someone else to send her things she has forgotten.

8/13/31 She writes to tell Theodore that she is coming in the Pontiac if it stays cold and rainy. She will see him Friday night or Saturday and has lots of things to do.

8/18/31. He must have told her to write 2 letters a week and she asks if he always gets what he wants? Later she says she does not write good letters.

Margaret Kraatz Wright Correspondence:

8/24/31 First letter from Pine Mountain. She is homesick, does not like Pine Mt and name a few faculty and the rest are old maids. She talks about her train trip to school. She talks of climbing over the mountain in the rain to get to the school. She doesn’t know what she will do on Sunday as they don’t have church and breakfast is at 7:30. She mentions members of the Creech family Else, Oma and Angela, the baby. They promised her peaches which she would like as there is no fresh fruit. She wants Theodore to come once a week and then she will like it better. They asked her to play, but she declined. She misses him.

8/25/31 She talks about letter writing and daily schedule.

8/26/31 Everyday is exciting at Pine Mountain. She talks about the food. She says she hasn’t told him about the school, but she will have plenty of time to do that.

8/27/31 She notes her schedule and wants to know the rules of volleyball. She went to the Creech’s. People at the school compare her to her sister Anna.

8/28/31 Pine Mountain, Ky. She talks about being at Pine Mountain, kicking the boys off the basketball court so the girls can play.

8/28/31 She feels old being a school teacher. She gets lonesome in the evenings. She went for a walk with the music teacher who she thought was on the verge of insanity. She decides that must be why she likes her. The kids are behind academically, but they? Want her to do more things with them like plays, but she thinks they need more schooling. She tells Theodore she would like to come to Bellevue, Kentucky for Thanksgiving, but can’t afford it and would not want to leave. She talks about a party and the lack of pepper.

8/29/31 Pine Mountain, Ky. She talks about being at Pine Mountain, kicking the boys off the basketball court so the girls can play. She does not enjoy Basketball? Because she knows so little about it. The students are all boarding students and the teachers eat what the students eat except for tea and coffee. They don’t pay any board, but the teachers are supposed to work for it. She talks about the director (Glynn Morris) and his wife. She mentions that he is a minister, but you would never know it. His wife is older than he is. She describes a meal at the home of the director. She says it is a great place to save her $20.00 per month pay. She figures she will have $80.00 by Christmas. She mentions Rosalie C (Creech), her sister Anna having been there and loves Teddy wishing they could be together.

8/31/31 The girls she works with are 14-16 years old and boy crazy which makes her sick, but she doesn’t tell them that. She describes a school dance and a man with an accent. She talks about playing tennis if they fix the court. She talks about Sunday activities including church and vespers.

  1. Correspondence 1931 September

9/1/31 She talks about the weather hoping it would rain so she would get out of some work. Her mother sent a care package. One of the house mothers invited her over. The director’s wife has Sunday teas for the workers. One of the students asked her if she was married. She told her she was engaged. Margaret says this will now get around campus as the story that the director’s wife is older than he is, and the principal wears a wig.

9/2/31 They had a fire drill at Pine Mountain. She went to a coffee and plays in a quartet. She mentions an Esther Epstein, music teacher. Margret wants Theodore to come and visit Pine Mt.  to see it.

9/3/31 Letter to Theodore Wright from Sherill Flanary at Berea. She is asking him to help her find a job for the next year.

9/3/31 She describes the Creech sisters. She describes how she conducts class and the seating arrangement. Mr. Kneller went to Chicago for a Danish conference. He lives in the Log house all alone. Quartet performed. She talks about a boy, Carl something who a sophomore at the Academy was, she cannot figure out why he came to Pine Mt and questions why she did. She dreads the winter. She wants to go to the arcade in Coney Island with him. Looking forward to Christmas.

9/4/31 She watched the swimming pool and went for a walk. She monitors study hall where she must be mean to keep the boys quiet. They don’t like her she thinks. She wants him to come to Pine Mountain. She says it is beautiful with the mist builds up on the mountain.

9/5/31 They showed a movie and stayed up late. They are going to ask her to coach the girls’ basketball team which plays using boys’ rules.

9/6/31 She was getting dressed and heard a knock at her door. She told the person to come in. It was a boy soliciting money for the athletic association. The boy was embarrassed. He could hardly talk. She thought nothing of it. She has a dressing room and a bedroom. She likes the dressing room and spends most of her time there when at home. She talks about a person she finds interesting who lived in Labrador and tells him about a book she is reading. She went to church. Went to play in Wallins (a coal camp). They are starting a French Club.

9/8/31 She talks about sleeping and eating habits.  She describes a young, slightly crippled teacher she is eating with who comes from Richmond. She says some faculty are not getting paid anything, just maintenance. This week is the first meeting of the French Club. She describes a woman who is threatening to shoot any girls who come near her house. The woman married a man who is “no good”, has a sick child and Margaret surmises these things just got on her nerves. She still wants Theodore to come to Pine Mt.

9/9/31 She talks about writing him letters. She is playing at church at Pine Mt. to get out of going to Wallins. She doesn’t get paid on a regular basis. Miss Coeur is going to try and help her get her money. She says she is going to spend most of her pay for food as the board gets worse and worse. She says the kids get a lot of candy. The groceries come from Harlan and that is expensive. A lot of the staff cook in their rooms.  She talks about a friend and her sister Anna who must be so lonesome. People tell her she is so different from her sister. They liked the sister a lot. She discusses their weight. She ends telling him she is going to a dance for the workers and laugh at the old ladies dancing.

9/10/31 They had school on Labor Day. She blames bad food for her disposition. She mentions Margaret Lindley who is almost an “old maid” who is finally getting married and moving to Canada. She disapproves of living in Canada-too cold and far away. The tennis courts will be ready in a few days. She has a date to play, but no racket. She is going to Berea by bus at Christmas vacation. She mentions one of the workers fell off her horse. She says she will end her letter with “There is nothing else to say. Love” or would he prefer “Be a good girl”

9/11/31- Bunny stationary.  Margaret sent home a 5, 4 and 2-year-old home because the youngest was unclothed. She was embarrassed. She didn’t want to go to Walins (a coal camp) because it was too dirty. She ordered food from “Monkey-Ward “so she doesn’t have to get up for breakfast. The home economics teacher weighs 140 pounds and the tennis courts are progressing.

9/12/31 She talks about his family. She thinks of when they were together. She says she does not like her job and is happy when Friday night comes. The boys were playing with a snake. She made them wash their hands afterward, but they didn’t like that.  She drank coffee and ate cookies too close to bedtime and couldn’t sleep. She notes it is bad for her complexion, but that is not important at Pine Mt.  She is going to make hi drink coffee when they are married.

9/14/31 She played her own music for church. She must monitor the playground in the heat for 1 ½ hours which she doe not like. She is going to have breakfast with Miss Coeur every Sunday. She was involved in a discussion of psychology and delinquent children, but she got terribly sleepy.

9/15/31 She asks him if he likes his work. She complains about the bugs and almost stepped on a snake walking to supper. They had delicious soup and cornbread.

9/16/31 The children ask her what she is writing during study hour when she writes him a letter and the director teases her about getting a letter every day. She had to take someone with a stomach ache across campus to the infirmary.  It was dark. She was going to Harlan with other teachers, but then they changed the time and she couldn’t go with them. She talks about Jackson and Berea. She is anxious to leave for vacation which starts on the 23rd. Her reading teaching technique was criticized.

9/17/31 She talks about a Miss Ziegler. They are going to have a talent show by workers. She plays bridge. Some boys brought her sand for her sand table.  They got to play in it breaking up   habit to get into. She likens it to drinking too much coffee.  She was supposed to play music at assembly, but her accompanist was ill, her nerves. She got mad because Miss Epstein did not tell her beforehand. She also found out the woman’s mother was in an insane asylum. She will get another accompanist. She talks about her aunt and uncle and her sister Anna who is in Bulgaria. She says her roommate who was in her mid-20’s, was caught past curfew with a 16-year-old boy. She is slowly getting her room fixed up, but she can’t afford much. She does not expect to stay more than a year.

9/21/31 She talks about Margaret Lindsley They had the workers concert. Several people sang or what they thought was singing! After the children left they had a supper which did not get over until 11:00. She and two others had breakfast at 8:30. She describes her Sunday. She is trying to write upside down, but it is not working.

9/22/31 A student who lives 4 miles from school invited her to her home, but she said she was too lazy to go. She talks about someone who had an affair. She talks about coffee drinking.

9/23/31She talks about how much coffee she drank. They are deciding what to do in winter evenings. She is going to knit. She talks about things she needs. She is craving an iced drink, but there is no ice at Pine Mountain except in the winter. Also they do not wear make-up or sit on the bed. A girl spilled ink on the floor and wiped it up which surprised Margaret because often the children do not do what she tells them. She is a table hostess and has a boy at the table nick named “Bushel Britches” which is almost as good as “Droopy Drawers” She is dancing with the workers after study hour, but dreads going home stepping over snakes.

9/24/31 She was reading a story about Reddy Fox, but saying Teddy Fox which made the children ask who Teddy was. She went dancing and played bridge afterward. They are going swimming in the nude when the pool is done filling up if it is not too light. She has a girl who sneaks out of class every 15 minutes. She likes having tea with the older teachers.

9/26/31 They had a love spat. She says she has no time to think about it she must teach geometry and study hall. The children are still sneaking out. They like to study with their shoes off which is against the rules. One of her students is leaving. She is looking for another job. It is Fair Day and she is making sandwiches. She talks about the fair and Berea.

9/28/31 She talks about Fair Day. The next day she went to church and had a conference about teaching geometry. She had 8 cups of coffee.

9/28/31 She talks about study hour at Far house. She says she does not like Sundays except she does not have to teach. She lost more students. They must walk 3 miles to school. She taught her math class for the first time and enjoyed it. The students are very bright. She likes it better than teaching grades She talks about substituting for a house mother. She tells of some letters she received. She complains about the cold. They go to bed around 8 and get up at 5:30.

9/31/31 She received a round robin of family news and tells him the latest. Much of it is about her sister Anna abroad.

  1. Correspondence 1931 October Margaret writes from Pine Mountain to Theodore in Bellevue Ky. Margaret continues her courting letters teasing him about other women and telling of the men she knows. Always she loves him. Coffee consumption and weight come up frequently in the letters.

10/2/31 She is taking over English classes for another teacher. She talks about food she ate. She has gotten tougher and the children are now quiet during study hour. Two boys were fighting so she kept one after school to give the other time to get part way home. Tomorrow she will keep the other after for the same reason. She has a violin student. She wants him to visit her Uncle and Aunt. She chastises him for suggestions she give children ice cream to keep them quiet. She wouldn’t trust him around children!

10/5/31 She talks about her day. My Dane is mentioned. She is looking for a civil service job for next year unless they marry. She does like teaching.

10/6/31 Her mother sent her fruit. She is spending all she is making on food.

10/7/31 SHE IS TEACHING THE WORST KIDS IN THE SCHOOL. She uses sarcasm with them. They ate having a dance but is debating whether to go as she is tired. She thinks the old maids will miss her. She talks about her students. They swear a lot.

10/8/31 She likes teaching geometry, but not English. Their dance lasted until 9:30 which is late for Pine Mt.  She talks about one of his female students. She must get up for breakfast because she has no food.

10/9/31 The new Antioch man arrived today, and Johnson left. All were sorry to see him go. She had to discipline a student and felt very mean. She likes her geometry class and feels they are better students. She forgot her flashlight so the “Dane” took her to the infirmary. It is very hard to get around without a flashlight. The “Dane” was going to take a bath but lost his towel. She helped him find it. She tries to make Theodore jealous with her story about the “Dane”. She talks about them getting jobs together in Hawaii or the Philippines.

10/10/31 She talks about her English class not learning much English, but still favors her math class. They are walking over the mountain to Harlan and back which will take most of the day. They are eating lunch in Harlan where she can get meat! She must be back in the evening to chaperone a party at her house. The new Antioch man is causing a flutter amongst the girls.  She talks about vacation plans for Christmas.

10/12/31 They started over the mountain and met a bull in the road. One of them went back to get a boy to chase it away. It was a big adventure. They saw Oscar and Ona in their car on the other side of the mountain. She met other friends that day. She misses him and weighs 122 pounds.

10/13/31 She talks about her coffee pot. She talks about her salary. It’s getting cold and she is getting expert at building fires. She goes on about a red head.

10/14/31 She wants to go shopping with Theodore and help pick out his clothes. She talks about her clothes also. She says she doesn’t want to leave Pine Mt. except for more money. The rest of the letter is about vacation plans over Thanksgiving.

10/15/31 She catches up on gossip. Her parents are busy with apple picking. She wants him to take voice lessons.

10/16/31 She will no longer be teaching English. She has lost interest in the “Dane”. She is hoping he comes to visit.

10/17/31 She talks about the woman who was murdered going over the mountain to Laden by herself. This was brought up because current road work is using convicts. The murder was supposedly tied to a convict. She gets dizzy just coming over the mountain, so she can’t stand up. She had a letter from her sister who could finance her stay if she can get the fare to come.  She would like to go and thinks her Aunt would pay her fare. She is going to visit another settlement (Lyne Fork). She compares the 2 Antioch teachers telling how good looking they are.

10/19/31 She has a wart on her finger. Her roommate is away, and she has enjoyed having the room to herself.  The board is bad so being away is a relief. She is subbing for a house mother who has taken her students chestnut hunting. They have a Franklin stove which they use to cook. She talks about going to Berea.

10/20/31 She is very cold in the morning before she gets dressed. She went to a waffle supper at the infirmary. She wants him to visit. This is the longest they have been apart since summer before last.

10/21/31 Her Aunt and Uncle were coming to visit, but it is the weekend the Board of Directors meet and there will not be any bed available.  She wants to make a telephone call but must go off campus to do it. No one can call them back.  There was a leak the boys are fixing. The reservoir is low. She played at Vespers for the Board of Directors. She has a student who wants to take violin lessons.

10/22/31 She is trying to get in touch with her aunt to make sure they don’t visit the next weekend. Her roommate has a cold and takes cod liver oil and an onion afterwards. They are still trying to fix the leak in the reservoir.

10/23/31 She is having trouble with a girl in study hour. She rang the lunch bell, but only the girls came.  She Talks about parties. When she asked what happened to the boys she learned a cow had just had a calf and they were watching with another of their teachers. She describes her violin student.

10/24/31 She describes a party and the food they had. IT IS HER TURN TO SUPERINTEND THE CLEANING OF THE SCHOOL HOUSE. She was born in Berea in 1909. She says they failed to pass the 18th amendment and discusses. The rest is part of her love letter.

10/26/31 She missed church because she overslept recovering from a party at her house. She gets board with having nothing but women around talking about other women. She remarks her violin student is dumb and goes on for a bit more. The directors are still around. They have concluded their business and she thinks they will be visiting classes.

10/28/31 She tells him if he came to visit he would meet someone he likes.  She says she is often alone because the school is so spread out they don’t get together. She was visited by the president and vice president of the Board of Directors after assembly. How old does a woman have to be before she ceases being a girl she asks. The Antioch student comes and plays with her sand table occasionally. She thinks he is nice. She and another oversee the Halloween party. She talks about a Mr. Morris She doesn’t let late comers to lunch in if they are not on time. SHE TALKS ABOUT HER UNCLE AND AUNT’S VISIT.

10/29/31 She gets confirmation her aunt is coming with several other women, but not her uncle. She is excited and talks of the plans she has for the visit.

10/30/31 hey had a surprise at their dance.  She is going over the mountain with a Mrs. Capp who knows about mules, so she won’t be scared. They are having a Halloween party and her father is sending a bushel of apples. She is trying to plan the Halloween party. She talks about wedding plans.

10/31/31 Her aunt is coming with some other women and they don’t want to ride mules. Margaret thinks they will change their mind when they see the mountain! She wants to see Theodore teaching and says she will surprise him one day. She talks about not keeping students after school because she does not want to stay herself. She feels they are hopelessly dishonest. They know about his letters and spread rumors. She talks about her students being married young and some divorced. She refers to some of her students as animals.

5.Correspondence 1931 October-November

  1. Correspondence 1931 December
  2. Correspondence 1932 January
  3. Correspondence 1932 January-February
  4. Correspondence 1932 March
  5. Correspondence 1932 April
  6. Correspondence 1932 May
  7. Correspondence 1932 June
  8. Correspondence 1932 July-August
  9. Correspondence 1932 November
  10. Correspondence 2000 March
  1. Correspondence 1931 September
  2. Correspondence 1931 October

5. Correspondence 1931 October-November

  1. Correspondence 1931 December
  2. Correspondence 1932 January
  3. Correspondence 1932 January-February
  4. Correspondence 1932 March
  5. Correspondence 1932 April
  6. Correspondence 1932 May
  7. Correspondence 1932 June
  8. Correspondence 1932 July-August
  9. Correspondence 1932 November
  10. Correspondence 2000 March


Margaret Kraatz Wright Correspondence

Margaret Kraatz Wright Correspondence: