Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY
Series 19: STUDENTS
& Kitchen Assistant & Housemother, 1921-1934
Emily Hill Creech (1894-1975)


Emily Hill (left) and Harriet Crutchfield (right). [X_100_workers_2550_mod.jpg]

TAGS: Emily Hill, staff, students, Emily HIll Creech, Mrs. Columbus Creech, workers, housemothers, Cecil Sharp, folk music and dance, running of sets, James Columbus Creech, Community Fair Day, Schoolhouse I, Evelyn K. Wells, Ethel de Long Zande, teacher training, nursing, Katherine Pettit, Helen Hastie Dingman, Dingman scholarships, Ruth B. Gaines, Glyn Morris, Outsiders’ Christmas Party


PMSS Graduate, 1919
Kitchen Assistant & Housemother, 1921-1934

Emily Hill was a mountain girl with a kind heart and a great deal of spunk. She came from Jeff in Perry County, Kentucky, a coal town about 25 miles north of the School to work as an assistant in the kitchen in 1921-1923, 1925-1928, and the summers of 1933 and 1934. She was a housemother for the school year 1931 to 1932.

She had also been a student at Pine Mountain. A November 1920 issue of Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School indicates that she graduated in 1919 from PMSS’s “academy course.”

Emily Hill was also known as Emma Jane (or Jean) Hill.


Emily Hill’s name appears in the PMSS Archive as early as August 1917 when Cecil Sharp and his assistant, Maud Karpeles, visited PMSS to study folk music and dance. “Emily Hill Creech” is listed as among the students who joined in the running of sets for the two folklife researchers one evening on the stone terrace of Far House. She would have been approximately 24 years of age. Evidently, she had married James Columbus Creech by this time, who was the oldest child of William and Sally Creech, donors of the land on which the Pine Mountain School was built.

In 1919 she exhibited her canned beets, blackberries and cucumber pickles at the School’s Community Fair DayOn January 24 of that same year, the first Schoolhouse at Pine Mountain was destroyed by a tragic fire. Evelyn K. Wells, a PMSS secretary at the time, wrote about escaping the burning building and also about Emily: “Poor Emily, — she was great, and was with Mrs. [Ethel de Long] Zande while the building burned, and I’m glad Mrs. Z. had her to comfort.”

Further correspondence and narratives in the Archive through the years often indicate that Emily Hill was a deeply caring person, giving assistance and comfort where needed.

Emily Hill’s intellectual capabilities were also recognized by the School. According to the Notes 1920 article, she was one of five student graduates who engaged in first-year high school teacher training, taking woodworking course at a school in Mount Vernon, New York. As explained at a later date by Mrs. Zande:

[Emily Hill] has had more than the equivalent of one year’s high school work, although she took it before we had organized our work as a high school, and were giving academy courses. It was our original purpose not to comply with the high school requirements, but to give academy and normal school work. We were obliged to modify this plan by the new [State law] requirements for teachers certifications. Miss Hill did advanced work which is more than the equivalent of one year’s high school.

Mrs. Zande had written this in a reference letter (image 001) for Miss Hill to the Superintendent of Nurses, City Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky, in 1923. The letter mentions that Miss Hill was applying to study nursing, although nothing was found in the Archives indicates that she was able to follow through with those plans.

Katherine Pettit reported to Miss Helen Hastie Dingman in a letter dated January 4, 1927, that Emily Hill was sent to Berea College on a Dingman scholarship set up by Miss Dingman. (Miss Dingman, from Smith College, was a field worker from Berea College who oversaw the work of Berea student teachers in an assigned section of district schools in the area. The overall supervision of the eleven district schools was performed by Mrs. Zande.)

Beginning in 1921, Emily Hill worked full-time in the School kitchen for the next decade, assisting Ruth B. Gaines, the dietitian in charge of cooking, canning and gardening. In 1929, Miss Pettit increased her salary from $50 to $60 a month (image 003). In February 1932, she finally decided to quit her position with the School on June 1st (image 004). By that time, Glyn Morris was the director of the Pine Mountain Settlement School. 


True to her propensity to care for others, Emily Hill wrote to Glyn Morris in November 1932 (image 005), asking if he would be able to accept her two nieces into the Pine Mountain School. She stated that “I know of no other school that I would rather have them than Pine Mt. Of course, I feel it is the best place in the world and shall always feel so…I would do all I could to pay their way…”

Morris had to decline at the time, as the nieces, Audrey McIntire, 13 years old, and Peggy McIntire, 12 years old, were too young to qualify. Emily tried again the following spring (image 009), explaining that she was taking care of the family. The nieces’ father had been sent to prison for 21 years, leaving three small children and a mother in poor health. She wrote, “I have done all I could for them and have kept them together….” Emily then offered to do summer work at the School to pay for the girls’ schooling. This time Emily’s application was a success and the girls began their schooling in 1933. (The 1940 U.S. Census lists Peggy and Buster McIntyre (15 years old) as living with Emily and Columbus Creech in Pine Mountain, Harlan County, Kentucky.)

In the meantime, Morris asked Emily if she would take charge of the annual Outsiders’ Christmas Party in December (image 007). She agreed to do so (image 008), stating “It will be good to see everyone and I shall always be glad to help you any time I can.” She continued assisting at the Christmas Parties and with kitchen work for the School when requested by the School in 1933 (images 011 & 013). She left her Pine Mountain position soon after.


Emily (Emma) Hill was born c. 1894, the daughter of David Jesse Hill (1855-1900) and Polly (Hall) Hill (1863-1921). A page for “Polly Hall Walker” on findagrave.com provides the following information:

“According to the Hall Family Book by J.C. McIntosh, Polly Hall was the daughter of Phillip W. Hall and Elizabeth Branson. Polly’s death certificate states her parents were P.W. Hall and Peggy Stacy.”

Emily’s siblings as of the 1900 U.S. Census were William (age 18), Peter (18), Susan (12), Clint (9) Troy P. (7), Howard (5), Dewey Herman (2), and Mary (3 months). The oldest of the children, Melissa, was not listed at this residence. The family was living on Mason’s Creek, Perry County, Kentucky. The father, David Hill, died in 1900.

Two years later, Perry County Court records indicate that, on November 9, 1902, Polly Hill married her second husband, Jack (Jackson) Walker (1853-1935). Jack had five children from a previous marriage to Sally Cornett Combs (1820-1893). Jack and Polly had three children: Bruce, Karr (Carr), and Elbert. As of 1910, the Census lists Emily as the stepdaughter of Polly and Jack Walker.

The 1920 Census records the family’s residence as in Hamdin, Perry County. The children still living at home at that time were Emily (age 23 and working in a “boarding school”), Dewey, Bruce, and Karr Hill.


A page on the Find A Grave website indicates that “Emily H. Creech” was born on January 29, 1894, and died on February 12, 1975, at the age of 81. She was buried at Bill Hill Cemetery in Jeff, Perry County.

Emily Hill Creech’s husband, James Columbus Creech, was born on October 8, 1881, in Kentucky. He 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.


(19 items) 

See Also:
RUTH B. GAINES Biography
JAMES COLUMBUS CREECH Family Collections Guide



Emily Hill Creech

Alt. Title

Emily Hill ; Emily Creech ; Mrs. Columbus Creech ; Emma Jane Hill ; Emmie ; Emma J. Hill ; Emma Jean Hill ; 




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Emily Hill ; Emily Hill Creech ; Emily Creech ; Mrs. Columbus Creech ; Emma Jane Hill ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; workers ; housemothers ; students ; Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Cecil Sharp ; Maud Karpeles ; folk music and dance ; running of sets ; James Columbus Creech ; William and Sally Creech ; Community Fair Day ; Schoolhouse I ; Evelyn K. Wells ; Ethel de Long Zande ; teacher training ; nursing ; Katherine Pettit ; Helen Hastie Dingman ; Dingman scholarships ; Ruth B. Gaines ; Glyn Morris ; McIntyre Family ; Outsiders’ Christmas Party ; Creech Cemetery ;

Subject LCSH

Hill, Emily, — 1894-1975.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2018-03-17 ; 2018-04-23 (Published) ;


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 – Staff, Students




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff, Students

Coverage Temporal

1881 – 1934

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Jeff, KY ; Perry Co., KY ; Mount Vernon, NY ; Harlan, 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 Emily Hill ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Emily Hill;




“[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

2021-10-03 aae ; 2023-11-26 aae ;



EMILY CREECH, EVELYN K. WELLS 1919 EXCERPTS FROM LETTERS HOME, COLUMBUS CREECH, KATHERINE PETTIT CORRESPONDENCE 1927, WELLS RECORD 12 PMSS 1913-1928, NOTES – 1920, PETER ROGERS ACCOUNT OF CECIL SHARP AND MAUD KARPELES VISIT TO PMSS, RUTH B. GAINES. Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff, Students. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“Emily H. Creech.” Find A Grave. (Accessed 29 August 2021.) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/94472923/emily-h-creech
Internet resource.

“Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-G1GL-9QJZ?cc=1804888&wc=QD3Q-WDR%3A1589734496 : accessed 29 August 2021). Internet resource.

“Polly Hall Walker,” Find A Grave. (Accessed 29 August 2021.) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/94443440/polly-walker
Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1920”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHP4-RYQ : accessed 29 August 2021), Polly Hill in entry for Jackson Hill, 1920. Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K7T4-S35 : accessed 29 August 2021Bop), Emily Creech in household of Columbus Creech, Magisterial District 4, Harlan, Kentucky, United States; Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. Internet resource.

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