Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Students
Series 19: STUDENTS
Fred Baker Student 1947-1950

005 Co-Op Class 1949. Fred Baker, first row, 2nd from right. [097_students_singles_005]


TAGS: Fred Baker, PMSS boarding students, students’ self-evaluation letters to parents or guardians, Pine Cone, Pine Mountain cave, students’ self-evaluation letters, Brit Wilder

Fred Baker attended boarding school at Pine Mountain Settlement School (PMSS) from 1947 until 1949 when the boarding school program was closed. He had completed the 10th grade at the time and went elsewhere to continue his schooling.


In his last year at the boarding school, Fred Baker wrote an article for the October 1948 Pine Cone, a PMSS student publication. In “The Best Time I Had This Summer,” he describes pranks he and his fellow students played on each other:

One day Ray and Jack came to see me. We all wanted to go to the big cave on the top of Pine Mt., so we got our lunch and started. After a few miles of walking, we came to the cave and ate our lunch. After lunch we went into the cave by a rope, hand-walking it. We went all through the cave and came back to the rope. Ray and Jack went up first. Ray said, “Jack, pull up the rope before Fred gets to it.” So Jack did. Ray called and said that they would be back in a short time.

I went back hunting for more rooms. I found one big room. I had a good time finding things. After a short while Ray called me. I told them to come down: I had found a big room. So they did. We went all over the room. Then I told them to stand still, because I knew where some rooms were. So they did, but I got to the rope and went up it. After a long time, they came to the rope and I let them up. They said that they had a good time in the cave, and so did I — on the outside.
Fred Baker, Co-op

FRED BAKER Student: Letters to his Parents

In 1935, a large-scale change was made in the formal academic program, including the decision to dispense with traditional report cards. Instead, teachers and students sent letters to the students’ parents or guardians at the end of each semester, reporting on the students’ progress. The students’ letters were self-evaluations in which they wrote of their successes and favorite activities, as well as their shortcomings and plans for improvement.

These subjects are covered by Fred in his handwritten self-evaluation letters that he sent to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Baker, images and contents of which can be found here. (The salutations in his letters are directed to “Aunt Bess,” possibly his mother, as “Bessie” is listed as Ted Baker’s wife in the 1940 U.S. Census. However, it has not yet been confirmed whether this “Ted Baker” is Fred’s father.)

Fred Baker’s letters provide a glimpse of a young boy’s life as a PMSS student. He describes the courses he took and how they benefited him, his work assignments, and his leisure and evening activities. In his December 18, 1947, letter, he wrote:

We have a little but good community. We can make it better by helping the people that need help and by taking responsibility… I like to play ball and run about in the mountains. In my leisure time, I’m on the playground most of the time. In the evening we have to study for two hours. We have [a] free hour after we study…. My conduct in the house is all right sometimes. I get wild sometimes and have a good time. We wrestle a lot in the house and have broken a thing or two.

He writes of his enjoyment working under the direction of the PMSS maintenance man, Brit Wilder, on such jobs as hauling coal and working on furnaces and the truck. He also seemed to appreciate belonging to the Co-op (co-operative) Group and working in the Co-op store on campus, which taught him “how the co-ops help people. I learned how to buy things better than I did.” 

He makes this statement in the last letter in his file, dated May 19, 1949:

As the end of the year draws near, it is a time of happiness & sorrow as there will not be high school here next year…. We are all like brothers & sisters here so we must think of others as well as ourselves. I help them when I can & they help me, just like one big family.”

He ends his letter with this wish for his future: “I hope to finish high school after I leave here, & to learn enough to be able to make a good living.”


Fred Baker’s biography will be updated as additional information is found.


003a – Fred Baker, 2nd row, 3rd from left
005 – Fred Baker, first row, 2nd from right

Title  Fred Baker
Alt. Title  
Creator Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Alt. Creator Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;
Subject Keyword Fred Baker, PMSS boarding students, 
Subject LCSH Baker, Fred.
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 2022-08-14 aae 
Publisher Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Contributor n/a
Type Collections ; text ; image ;
Format Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet.
Source Series 09: BIOGRAPHY
Series 19: STUDENTS
Language English
Relation Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: BIOGRAPHY and Series 19: STUDENTS.
Coverage Temporal 1947-1949
Coverage Spatial Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Hazard, KY ; Perry County ; 
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
Description Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Fred Baker ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Fed Baker ;
Acquisition n/d
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 Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;
Last Updated  
Sources “Fred Baker.” Series 09: BIOGRAPHY 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 14 August 2022), Fred Guyn Baker in household of Fred Baker, Magisterial District 1, Bell, Kentucky, United States; Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 1279. Internet resource.

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See Also:
FRED BAKER Correspondence 1947-1949