Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Students
Series 19: STUDENTS
Margie Sturgill Student 1939-1940
Marjorie Sturgill (b. 1924)


Burkham Schoolhouse II. [burkh_018.jpg]

MARGIE STURGILL, Student, 1939 – 1940

TAGS: Margie Sturgill, Marjorie Sturgill, Hattie Faye Sturgill, James Sturgill, Pine Mountain Settlement School, students, boarding schools, Harlan County KY, Perry County KY, Sturgill family, student applications, farming, Riley Sturgill, Nora (Baker) Sturgill, teacher reports


As with all of the Student Application Blanks that were submitted to Pine Mountain Settlement School and stored in the School’s archives, the applications of the three Sturgill siblings who attended the School contain a wealth of information about their family and home life, as well as their aspirations. Margie Sturgill’s application, which she completed on April 7, 1939, tells her story as follows.

Margie was born the third child in a family of nine children in Slemp (Perry County), Kentucky, on January 1, 1924. The two oldest siblings were half-sisters: Oma (deceased; born in c. 1918) and Zola (age 26), who was married and living in Hazard. A third sister was Hattie (18), a boarding student at Pine Mountain from 1938 to 1943. Her brothers were James (13), Bernis (10), Merril (6), Roger (4) and Jackie Howard Sturgill (2).

The family lived in Delphia (Perry County), Kentucky, where her father, Riley Sturgill, (born c. 1891), worked on a rented farm of 800 acres (James Sturgill wrote “400 acres” on his application) as well as a coal loader and lumber company employee. Her mother, Nora (Baker) Sturgill (born c. 1906), kept house. About the farm, Margie wrote:

We raise beans, potatoes, cabbage, sweet potatoes, popcorn, watermelons, apples, peaches, cherries, ground peaches, muskmelons, 10 apple trees, 15 peach trees, 3 cherry trees, chickens, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, tomatoes.

The family lived in a 3-bedroom log house that was heated by a fireplace and lighted by kerosene lamps. They got their water from a well. Margie’s responsibilities at home were cleaning, cooking and caring for the children. Reading material at home were the magazines Southern Agriculturist and Progressive Farmer, The Cincinnati Post newspaper and the Bible. 

Margie had attended first and second grades in an Owens [?] (Perry County) school. Her third through eighth grades were spent in a Delphia school. Both she and her parents wished her to graduate high school and attend college. Although her parents envisioned her as a school teacher, Margie preferred a future career as an artist, store clerk or beautician.


Margie was one of three of the Riley Sturgill family to attend Pine Mountain Settlement School. The period of time that she spent at the School, 1939-1940, was short.

Margie struggled with the educational program at Pine Mountain and eventually left after one school year. Her leaving followed soon after she told the guidance counselor, Mr. Malcolm Arny, of difficulty with her current housemother and asked to change dormitories. She left the School abruptly after that meeting, feeling that her grievance was not heard. Glyn Morris, Director, wrote a letter on November 22, 1940 [image 020], to her parents explaining the situation as a misunderstanding and stating:

…We would be glad to have her return to Pine Mountain. Throughout her stay here, she has been a cooperative and interested student and we would regret having her leave at this time.

However, reports from Margie’s teachers during her year at the School told a mixed story. Several teachers, such as those of Health, Civics, English and Agriculture, wrote that her reading and writing was poor, she had trouble with comprehension and appeared to be a passive, disinterested worker and student.

But Margie’s reticence may have depended on the subjects of the classes that Margie was attending or type of work that she was assigned. She indicated in her application that among her interests were sewing, art, and becoming an artist and those and related subjects tended to be where she would shine at Pine Mountain. B.C. Callahan, the woodworking teacher, wrote that “her visual imagination and motor coordination were, on a whole, very good.” Her efforts and attitude were described as “good” in Music and Crafts (Leisure Time Training). In Science and Geography class, she made “clever, quick drawings and diagrams with a firm line….,” according to teacher Alice Joy Keith.

The Home Economics teacher, N. Ward, was equally impressed with her work:

She completed an evening dress, a blouse and two skirts in the same time that the other members of the class did one garment. The finished products were equal in quality with those of any other persons.

And when John A. Spelman III, resident artist and art teacher, heard that Margie was discontinuing her studies at Pine Mountain, he expressed,

…regret to lose Margie,…probably the most imaginative student [a] teacher ever had — possessed great initiative and skill with any & all mediums.

Two years later, in October 1942, Margie Sturgill re-submitted an application to Pine Mountain Settlement School, writing “I want to come to Pine Mountain …that I may continue [my] education.” However, by that time, the School decided to reject her request.


Margie Sturgill

Alt. Title

Marjorie Sturgill ; Margery Sturgill ;




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Margie Sturgill; Marjorie Sturgill ; Marjery Sturgill ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Hattie Fay Sturgill ; James Sturgill ; students ; boarding schools ; Sturgill family ; student applications ; farming ; Riley Sturgill ; Nora (Baker) Sturgill ; teacher reports ;

Subject LCSH

Sturgill, Margie (Marjorie), — 1924 – (?).
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2018-06-29 HW


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY


Randall Moon, nephew of James and Margie Sturgill; [File was copied and given Randall Moon 2015 (?)]  


Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 09: Biography – Students and Series 19: Students.




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Students and Series 19: Students.

Coverage Temporal

1891 – 1942

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Slemp, KY ; Delphia, KY ; Perry 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 Margie (Marjorie) Sturgill; clippings, photographs, books by or about Margie (Marjorie) Sturgill.




“[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

2202-09-20 aae ;



“Margie (Marjorie) Sturgill” – MARGIE STURGILL Correspondence ; GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOL STUDENTS – FULL LIST – 1929-1949. Series 09: Biography – Students and Series 19: Students. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 July 2018), Marjorie Sturgill in household of Riley Sturgill, Magisterial District 7, Perry, Kentucky, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 97-30, sheet 28A, line 16, family 396, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 1349. Internet resource.

See Also:
HATTIE STURGILL Student Biography

JAMES STURGILL Student Biography



Return To: