SUSIE HALL ANGEL

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 14: Students
Series 09: Staff/Personnel

SUSIE HALL ANGEL

Student 1930-1934
Teacher & Housemother 1934-1937, 1940-1942

TAGS: Susie Hall Angel ; folk music ; ballads ; boarding schools ; mountain villages ; Appalachian traditions ; Viper, KY ; Appalachian mountains ; Eula Fern Hall ; housemothers ; Practice House ; Glyn Morris ; H.M.S. Pinafore ; operettas ; The Mikado ; nannies ; Arthur Dodd ; August Angel ; Practice House ;  Jubilee House ; Old Log ;


Susie Hall Angel on PMSS campus road, 1935. Schoolhouse I in background.

Susie Hall Angel on PMSS campus road, 1935. Schoolhouse I in background. [pmss_susie_on-road.jpg]

The story of Susie Hall Angel is similar to many of those who attended Pine Mountain Settlement School during its boarding school years. Susie came to the School from a remote mountain village to learn the ways of the more advanced outside world, but, encouraged by the School’s mission to preserve and nurture Appalachian traditions, never forgot the music, crafts, foods, and tales of her heritage.

Susie Hall was born November 12, 1913, in the town of Viper, Perry County, located in the Appalachian mountains and coalfields of southeastern Kentucky. She was the fourth of nine children of Joe Hall, a farmer, blacksmith, carpenter, and stonemason, and Ida (Young) Hall. She spent her childhood playing in the creek and woods with her siblings, helping her mother hoe the garden and care for the younger children, and attending first through eighth grade in a two-room schoolhouse in Viper. The extent of her experiences during this time was of the hardscrabble farm life and coal-mining employment of her family, kinfolk, and neighbors who lived along Mason’s (aka Macie’s) Creek. Her memories of her childhood were mostly positive, describing her family as “poor, but we didn’t know it.”

Susie was the first cousin of Eula Fern Hall, who also lived in Viper and was a student, member of the Octet singing group, and secretary at Pine Mountain Settlement School. The two had the same paternal grandparents, Eli Hall and Susan (Combs) Hall. Both Fern and Susie were second cousins of Jean Ritchie, a well-known ballad singer, songwriter, and Appalachia dulcimer player from Viper and a descendant of John Henry Hall, one of Eli Hall’s brothers.

Since there were no high schools in the immediate area of Viper and no viable transportation to any that existed elsewhere, Susie attended grades 9 through 12 at Pine Mountain Settlement School, beginning in 1930 and graduating in May 1934. To pay off her school debt, she worked as housemother and taught girls to cook and keep house at Practice House during this time. Five of her brothers and sisters also attended the school: Mabel Hall 1931-1933; June Hall 1936-1939; Opal June Hall 1940-1944; Corbett Kenneth Hall 1941-1943; (James) Herbert Hall 1942-1944.

Transportation to and from Pine Mountain School was usually on foot for many of the students. Susie often told of the approximately 20-mile hikes home during holiday and semester breaks, remembering them as an adventure rather than a hardship. Boys and girls who lived in the same general direction would start out together, then one by one, they would leave the group, turning onto paths or creek branches to their homes. Glyn Morris, then director of the School, hiked the trail himself in admiration of the students’ determination to attend the School despite the distance. In his book, Less Travelled Roads, he described the pleasures of the walk that Susie and her friends must have experienced as well:

Glyn Morris and his friend began at Greasy Creek, the “main thoroughfare as creeks go,” and turned onto Rockhouse Creek where “Hen” Turner’s blacksmith shop was located. Morris described the sense of “quietude” as they walked, having left behind the noise of logging trucks. Pure solitude seemed to envelope the first house they encountered with its rows of drying shucky beans hanging on the porch, except for the sounds of a family hoeing in the cornfield and the plaintive dinging of a cowbell.

They proceeded over the “crest of the ridge where the creek heads up” and where Noah Spark’s house could be seen in the hollow below. They picked up Cutshin Creek, which gathered waters from many of the other branches. “In the summer, flowing leisurely, it pauses in places where the winter torrents have worn holes beside large rocks on sharp bends, making a cool, deep pool of green water where bass loll.”

They next turned off onto the right-hand fork, passing an old mill, “the logs hand-hewn and silvered in the sun. Inside the mill and below us was the patterned wheel worn smooth by rushing waters. ….” [Winding] through hollows following the drying creek bed to its head…[they] could hear only the hum of the insects and the occasional call of a bird…until they came upon a house in a clearing where children [were] playing in the yard of a one-room schoolhouse.” They soon realized that the teacher of the 30-plus children was “Alice,” a PMSS graduate.

Along the way, Morris was struck by the “gracious quality” of the few strangers they came across. He

…thought of others who walked the trail to Pine Mountain and of their accomplishments. They came seeking to overcome disadvantages so overpowering that many have not yet had the vision or the will to break away from them.

On Stoney Fork of Leatherwood second growth timber – now doomed as the logging trucks reach up the winding valley below – -gives indication of what once was everywhere …. Great oaks, maples, and poplars spread their shade over the steep, rocky trail.

When the two reached the place where Macie’s [aka Mason’s] Creek empties into the North Fork of the Kentucky River at Viper, they stayed overnight with the “Hall family.” The next day they returned to Pine Mountain “via another route up Line Fork, through a magnificent growth of virgin poplar trees.”

During Susie’s last year at PMSS High School, August Angel, a science and printing teacher at the School, became enamored with her, seeing her as “more beautiful to me than any girl I had known.” He demonstrated his interest in Susie by accompanying her home on these treks across the mountain and getting to know her family, against the wishes of Glyn Morris who had someone else in mind for August.

Susie was always proud of her role in Pine Mountain’s 1933 production of H.M.S. Pinafore, a comic opera by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan in which she was part of the 12-member Women’s Chorus. She often sang the songs from this operetta and the School’s performance of The Mikado (also by Gilbert and Sullivan) to her children, as well as mountain ballads that had been passed down to her from her mother. 


Program for presentation of "H.M.S. Pinafore" at Pine Mountain Settlement School, 1933.

Program for presentation of “H.M.S. Pinafore” at Pine Mountain Settlement School, 1933. [pmss_susie_pinafore_program_19331.jpg]


Susie continued her interest in music throughout her life, taking piano and violin lessons and encouraging her children to do the same. In her fifties, she taught music in the Hazard (KY) Elementary School, as well as in a Wurlitzer electronic piano “laboratory,” set up in an A-frame building that she and August owned in Viper. In the last two decades of her life, she gave private lessons to 5 to 10 students. Besides piano, she could also play the guitar and dulcimer.

Glyn Morris often placed girls from the School in homes of his contacts to serve as nannies. In turn, he felt that they would gain experience in the proper ways of running households and socializing with others. As one of these girls, Susie described her sudden uprooting and relocation to the home of Morris’ school friend, Rev. James K. Morse, and his wife, Amelia G. in Hackensack, New Jersey, as a lonely and homesick time, during which she worked hard as a maid in addition to caring for the couple’s baby.

After graduating from PMSS, Susie attended Miami University (Oxford, OH), August’s alma mater, for two semesters at the urging of August. She was then transferred to Berea (KY) College by Glyn Morris and she remained there for only a short spell. According to her accounts of those times, she felt ill-prepared and “out of place,” therefore unhappy in these relatively more sophisticated settings. In 1935, during a vacation break at Berea, she and August were married by a county judge in Harlan, Kentucky, but they kept the news from the School’s students and workers, particularly Glyn Morris.

A year later, after Morris became aware of their marriage, he arranged for the couple to be married again, this time by Morris himself (who was a minister) in the School’s Chapel with the School staff and students in attendance. Fern Hall was maid of honor and Arthur Dodd, a PMSS teacher, was best man. Susie and August moved into Practice House where Susie taught housekeeping and cooking to live-in girl students, while August taught classes in printing, biology, and mechanical drawing.

Susie Hall Angel and daughter, Ann, in front of their home on PMSS campus, Jubilee House, 1943.

Susie Hall Angel and daughter, Ann, in front of their home on PMSS campus, Jubilee House, 1943. [pmss_susie__ann_jubilee_house_1940.jpg]

August and Susie left Pine Mountain in 1937 to live in Dayton, Ohio, where August taught in a high school. While there, Susie studied cosmetology and received a license to practice in Ohio. After over three years and the birth of their first of three children, they were homesick for the peace and verdancy of Pine Mountain and returned for another year. During this time August taught several courses and Susie relieved the housemothers once a week. They lived in Jubilee House until a new doctor was hired, then moved to Old Log.

Their idyllic Pine Mountain life ended when August left for two years overseas in World War II. Meanwhile, Susie traveled with her two small children first to Cincinnati, Ohio, and later to western Pennsylvania to live with her father-in-law. The Angel family remained in Pennsylvania for some 20 years, until Susie and August, who had always longed for the hills that they had left behind, returned to Viper in the early 1960s. August set up and ran a successful printing business and provided printing services to Pine Mountain Settlement School.

When August retired in 1983, he and Susie moved to London, Kentucky, to live near their younger son, Patrick Angel, and his family on “Angel Acres.” They spent the rest of their years there, enjoying the tranquility and beauty of their natural surroundings. Susie passed away in 2006 at the age of 93, ten years after August’s death.

Susie and August’s three children continued their family ties to the School. Patrick Angel and Ann Angel Eberhardt have each served on the PMSS Board of Trustees. Ann has done volunteer work for many years with Helen Hayes Wykle (daughter of Fern Hall and Bill Hayes), archiving and digitizing the PMSS historical collection of papers, photographs, and objects. Michael Angel, who was born in the PMSS Infirmary in 1942, has donated several pieces of his handcrafted furniture to the School and acted as consultant during the building of Far House II as a residence for the School’s new director.

Susie was known for her resilience, patience, sense of humor, hard work, and gentle nature. Loved and appreciated by all who knew her, she was always ready to help anyone in need and to pass on her knowledge of mountain traditions. Many of her recipes, a mix of southern Kentucky meals and Romanian dishes that she learned from her immigrant mother-in-law, continue to be prepared by her children and grandchildren. The items she crocheted, sewed, weaved, painted, quilted, and knitted – skills passed on to her by her ancestors and enhanced by her Pine Mountain experience — adorn her descendants’ homes as treasured keepsakes.


Title

Susie Hall Angel

Alt. Title

Susie Hall

Identifier

SUSIE HALL ANGEL

Creator

Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Helen Hayes ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Subject Keyword

Susie Hall Angel ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; education ; folklore ; folk music ; ballads ; Berea College ; boarding schools ; mountain villages ; Appalachian traditions ; Viper, KY ; Perry County, KY ; Appalachian mountains ; coalfields ; southeastern Kentucky ; Joe Hall ; Ida Young Hall ; two-room schoolhouses ; Mason’s (Macie’s) Creek ; Eula Fern Hall ; Octet ; Eli Hall ; Susan Combs Hall ; Jean Ritchie ; John Henry Hall ; housemothers ; Practice House ; Mabel Hall ; June Hall ; Opal Hall ; Corbett Kenneth Hall ; James Herbert Hall ; Glyn Morris ; Greasy Creek ; Rockhouse Creek; Hen Turner ; Noah Spark ; Cutshin Creek ; Stoney Fork ; Leatherwood ; Mason’s (Macie’s) Creek ; North Fork ; Kentucky River ; Hall family ; Line Fork ; James K. Morse ; Amelia G. Morse ; H.M.S. Pinafore ; W.S. Gilbert ; Arthur S. Sullivan ; operettas ; The Mikado ; Hazard Elementary School ; Wurlitzer ; electronic pianos ; nannies ; Michael Angel ; handcrafted furniture ; PMSS Archives ; Hackensack, NJ ; Miami University ; Berea College ; Harlan, KY ; August Angel ; Chapel ; Arthur Dodd ; Practice House ; printing ; biology ; mechanical drawing ; Dayton, OH ; cosmetology ; Jubilee House ; Old Log ; World War II ; Cincinnati, OH ; Pennsylvania ; Patrick Angel ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ; Bill Hayes ;

Subject LCSH

Angel, Susie Hall, — 12 November 1913 – 20 November 2006.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.

Date

2010-02-19

Publisher

Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Contributor

The Family of August and Susie Angel

Type

Collections ; text ; image ;

Format

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

Source

Series 19 Students [Boarding 1913 – 1946] ; Series 9: Staff/Personnel ;

Language

English

Relation

Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 19 Students [Boarding 1913 – 1946] and Series 9: Staff/Personnel

Coverage Temporal

1913 – 2006

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;

Rights

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.

Donor

n/a

Coverage Temporal

Viper, KY ; Perry County, KY ; Mason’s (Macie’s) Creek, KY ; Greasy Creek, KY ; Rockhouse Creek, KY ; Cutshin Creek, KY ; Stoney Fork, KY ; Leatherwood, KY ; North Fork, KY ; Line Fork, KY ; Hazard, KY ; Hackensack, NJ ; Oxford, OH ; Berea, KY ; Harlan, KY ; Dayton, OH ; Cincinnati, OH ; Pennsylvania ;

Description

Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Susie Hall Angel ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Susie Hall Angel ;

Acquisition

n/d ; 1930s and early 1940s

Citation

“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By

Ann Angel Eberhardt

Last Updated

2013-12-29 aae ; 2015-08-21 aae ;

Bibliography

Sources

Angel, August D. Trivia & Me: An Octogenarian Mirrors His Twentieth Century: a Tale of Decades of Capricious and Impulsive Acts That Produced Neither Polish nor Wealth but Ending in a Contented Lifestyle. London, KY: August David Angel, 2007. Print.

Morris, Glyn. Less Travelled Roads. New York: Vantage Press, 1977. Print.

PMSS Archives, Series 09: Staff/Personnel. Pine Mountain Settlement School Pine Mountain, KY. Archival material.

PMSS Staff Database. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Computer file.

“United States Census, 1940.” Index and images, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-27893-6545-51?cc=2000219&wc=M9Q8-SKZ:1665172393 (accessed 29 Dec 2013); citing NARA digital publication of T627. Internet resource.


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See also: AUGUST ANGEL Biography