Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY
Helen F. Little, Worker, 1925
Live Fork Settlement


“…on Line Fork.” Distant view of house, cornfield, against mountain. [nace_II_album_030.jpg]

TAGS: Helen F. Little, Helen F. Little Berry, Katherine Pettit, reports, correspondence, narratives, budgets, community residents, Line Fork Settlement, transcriptions


 Worker, Line Fork Settlement 1925

Helen F. Little was a worker at the Line Fork Settlement in 1925. Her stay at the Settlement was brief but the records representing her work are fairly extensive. They include letters to Miss Pettit about work at the settlement and several formal reports required by Miss Pettit from workers at the satellite extension. Her narratives reveal much about the activities during 1925 and also complement the reports of Miss Ruth Dennis, the Industrial Worker who came to Line Fork in 1920-1921 and then returned to work at the settlement in 1925 with Miss Little.

Of Miss Helen F. Little’s personal life, little is known. She was possibly born in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin and came to the Line Fork Settlement after working in several other settlements, particularly one in Mitchell County in North Carolina. She came to Line Fork directly from Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, where she was associated with the Pocono People’s College in Henryville, Pennsylvania, as an instructor, a job she reflected that tired her out.

Shortly after arriving at Line Fork she became ill and was treated for a “tumor” with radium and x-rays that left her weak and limited in her duties at the settlement. In her absence, Miss Catherine Hoague, another teacher, and the Industrial Worker, kept the community programs going. Despite her health issues, Miss Little never failed to take on the challenges of working with Miss Pettit and the daily challenges of life on Line Fork, in hand.


Helen F. Little was possibly born March 23, 1906, in Pennsylvania and possibly married and became Helen F. Little Berry. She may have had a sister Elizabeth Little White and possibly her father was Paul C. Little. This is, however, speculative information and would place her in her 20’s during the year at Line Fork. Her comments suggest she was far older.

Anyone having information on Helen F. Little, is invited to contact Pine Mountain Settlement School with information.


Line Fork Settlement
Thursday [n.d. 1925]

Dear Miss Pettit,

It will be impossible for me to get in any evening this week, as plans already made will prevent, and next week I can’t come in on school days, and have things planned for Thursday and Friday with folks that I don’t want to disappoint.

I may be able to get in on Sunday afternoon after dinner, although it is Miss Hoague’s last Sunday and we are going to have a singing here then, but I could miss it, and come in and start back very early the next morning, to get here for school. But I can’t tell until the day comes whether I had better leave or not.

I had to get a two months’ supply of feed or none at all, so it will come to about nineteen dollars or so. It hasn’t come in yet. I got enough oats to do until the feed gets in.

It wouldn’t be satisfactory for Janie to stay here and go to school, as she would leave so soon in the morning, and he never lets out until four o’clock and sometimes after. Also, I think it would not be just best, because she wanted to come and work for me all the time, and I told her she couldn’t come because she needed to get her education. And I feared she would come when she heard that Polly was leaving.

The report has come to me that she was disappointed because she could not be at Laurel House with Maude. I know you probably had good reasons for putting her where she was, and she and Charlie are restless, but I am sorry she had not sense enough to stay.

I have a most satisfactory arrangement about the work now. Hannah Sparkman, who can leave her family, as she has one grown girl at home, comes early, and is a fine worker, intelligent, neat and quick. She needs the work badly, and it is a great help to have her, for she can bead [?] and do anything well. She only can weave.

I went to see Mrs. Begley. She is far from well, and needs Mary Ann for at least two weeks more. I told Hannah I wanted her to stay until Mary Ann could come. If Mrs. Begley is still so poorly, Mary Ann should stay at home.

Hannah would be glad to come all the time, except for a day or two now and then. Her girl would be no use here, as she is troubled with such poor eyesight that she couldn’t do our work.

We primed the well again, but it was no use. The water came down that we put in and a little more which quickly stopped.

Miss Hoague has to go two days sooner than she expected, and I want to be with her as much as I can, for she is such a great help musically.


Helen Little


[c. 1925] [4 typewritten pages]

Dear Miss Pettit:

Enclosed in my report. Mr. Stapleton is a very fine man, and the folks liked him, after they got over laughing a little at his “quare” way of talking. I never heard a man give a talk more interesting and better suited to their interest than he did Saturday night at our meeting here, attended by forty (several men who have never come out here before were present), and his Sunday morning sermon was wonderful.

I think he would be most excellent person for a community center. He was so thoughtful, helped us so much, and we felt that we had been given a great treat, with both he and the Warrens.

Mr. Warren, too, gave a right good talk. We had just a fine week-end, so many folks out, and coming here.


Helen Little

[handwritten at bottom of letter]

Will Cornett, Mrs. Warren and I took pictures of the services outdoors at Coil [Coyle] Branch. Have primed [the] well several times — used 8 buckets last time, got a little water up, but it soon stopped.


HEAD WORKER’S REPORTS – MAY 8, 1925 TO MAY 31, 1925.


Calls made in community                                          31

Calls made at settlement

(a) Children                                                         26
(b) Adults                                                             26
1. From Community                                          13
2. From Outside                                                   9

TOTAL                            48

Sunday-school Attendance

Reopening May 24
Coil Branch                                                                6
Bear Branch                                                              2

     May 31
Coil Branch                                                                       7
Bear Branch                                                                 none

*Note on Sunday-schools
I feel from the very good reception given the new worker as a result of her being with Miss Dennis, and the interest shown by several children, that it will be possible to build up the Sunday-schools again, with a “singing-school” to follow. Some adults have talked about coming, and I intend to do some “follow-up” work along that line.

Coil [Branch]
Thru calling it was learned that the date of reopening Sunday-school had not been known. That, together with meetings at Stone Fork, and Sunday visiting, accounts for ?email? attendance, altho’ the book kept by previous worker did not show more than ten for Coil Branch. The attendance is slowing increasing, and there were several more at Coil Branch last Sunday, which will come in next month’s report.

Bear [Branch]
The book shows and the Smith children say they were the only ones at this school which was also corroborated by calling. There have been heavy thunderstorms the last two Sunday evenings, which may have kept away some who had promised to come.


Nurses Dept.
Money taken in from sale of infants’ garments .25

Household Dept.

The back bills incurred by Mrs. Peabody and Miss Hynes at Harp Bros. have been received again from Harp Bros. Checked up by Miss Dennis as far as was possible in the absence of more exact data, and I have paid them, also one back gill for work done by Mrs. The Begley. Therefore, so far as I now know, the accounts are up to date. A new account for the Settlement has been opened at the Cumberland State Bank, Poor Fork.

After reading the discussion relative to the amount turned in by workers for living, as given by Miss Metcalf, I was somewhat interested to see whether her statement, which was theoretically correct, still held good in the light of my previous experience with all sorts of budgets in various parts of the country, and especially in comparison with conditions in the Carolina mountains.

It is, of course, true, that up to a certain point, living expenses are as high for two people as for four or more, providing that there is no home garden. One never makes money in feeding people except in large numbers, and when there were four workers here, and $100 paid in, there was considerably more to cover the other expenses which do not always have to come under food.

After getting all the available data in regard to food, prices, coal, wood, work done about the place, etc., I think the small amount of money available when only two workers are here can be made to cover these expenses for garden, fuel, etc., but only by very careful planning and knowledge of balanced rations.

The greatest fault to be found with most limited dietaries is that the starch content is too large, but I have worked out a dietary based on both calorie, mineral and vitamin requirements, both for the growing girl’s requirements and those of adults leading an active life, and find that it is possible to have the proper proportion by using the whole wheat kernel, which is relatively more economical than the canned so-called wheat preparations, or the expensive package breakfast foods.

Brown rice, dried navy and lima beans, lentils, cheese and nut dishes, together with as large a proportion of greens, and fresh watery vegetables as possible will give both appetizing and wholesome foods. I am gradually getting away from the starch, and have been using the whole wheat, both for breakfast, with raisins, and in salads; have ordered brown rice, have been using the dried beans, lettuce from our own garden, onions, rhubarb, beet greens from our garden, radishes, etc. I brought back head lettuce cucumbers, tomatoes and cheese from Louisville.

As I very seldom eat meat, never when I can avoid it, this sort of food is what I have been accustomed to, but whether it is possible for all workers coming here to like it, is another question. I have specialized for years in teaching such combinations and have many recipes for nut, cheese, and other vegetarian dishes.

I have canned all the rhubarb which Mrs. Dick Smith kindly gave us, with the exception of a little which we used for sauce, so have several jars of the water-canned, and about a dozen little jars of rhubarb conserve.

This budget is necessarily one which overlaps, so it is a little hard to figure exactly the amount used for food, each month, but I am keeping very careful account of everything, and could give cost per capita any time if you desire, but see no particular advantage in running off such figures every month. Especially as I dislike statistics, but have had to keep such elaborate and detailed ones for so many years that I understand how to do it.

If you desire my book for inspection any time, shall be glad to bring it over, but understood from Miss [Bessie V.] Gaunt that it was not necessary to send in the expense account every month.

I also keep a diary of activities, dates, etc., which is just for my personal use, but to me is invaluable in settlement work.


I expect to have the first draft of the rules, suggestions, etc., found in the file, left by Miss Medcalf, and embodying other suggestions by Miss Dennis and myself, ready for your criticism, additions or subtractions by the first of next week. The fact that my trunk, containing my Corona, did not get here for three weeks, and also that I should not use my eyes too much, have kept me from getting this material in shape before. I thought it most important to get a typed copy of Maude’s work posted up for her so did that first.


It usually takes several months before anything can be accomplished of value in a new settlement location, as so much depends on personalities, both of workers and people to be served. At the settlement in Pennsylvania, which was primarily a recreation center for children and the eighteen to twenty-five “big boy” group, I found that it was from November until April before I felt that I was at all in touch with the situation. It had once been a well managed and efficient small settlement, under my cousin, Stella Monson, who is now head of the Lowell House, New Haven, and is recognized by those who know her work, as very fine personality. But it had run down under a poor head worker, until there were only about 800 persons a month coming to the house, and it the only center in a congested district of several miles area. When I left, the monthly attendance was 4000, due to the splendid workers who were with me as boys’ director, and assistant.

I only mention this to give you a little idea of my previous experience, as I sent in such a brief outline, and to emphasize the point that I have not yet been here long enough to get much in the way of tangible results.

However, I do feel that owing to Miss Dennis, the reading up on the whole local situation, and the history of the Kentucky mountains, and the understanding of the Pine Mountain School standards and aims, which I already appreciated, as they agreed with the results of what little I learned in two years in many different localities in N.C. and the reading of Dr. Campbell’s book, and conferences with persons who had been here — that I have somewhat of an intelligent sympathy with what could and should be done here.

Also, going about with Miss Dennis has been invaluable, as the folks have accepted me as her friend, especially as we are both from Chicago. I find that some of my friends there know her, etc.

Therefore I feel that in spite of surface difficulties, there is a very real need here for the right kind of recreational and emotional outlet for the older boys especially, and for the young married girls, and of course, always for children. If I can get in co-operation with these young men, who are going to teach the schools, and get basket-ball courts, which can be also used for volley-ball, both of which games I found most popular all over North Carolina, Georgia, and even in Texas, where in visiting my uncle, who has a ranch in the hills, I was called upon to go out all over the county, and address meetings of farmers in regard to consolidating their schools, as had been done in the district in Mitchell County, [N.C.] where I went to assist the very fine county superintendent raise the standards of his very poorly equipped teachers by teaching myself, giving teachers’ associations. I coached the big boys there in basket-ball, as drinking quite a bit as they had less time for it.

There are many things that can be done by a worker who will be permanent along the lines you have already suggested, as to changing methods of production, reviving weaving. I feel it can be done, in spite of the many apparent obstacles, but it will take time and much tact. That is where my Carolina experience will help me, for I find that my neighbors here are essentially the same as my dear friends in the Carolina mountains.

So, in spite of the fact that I was suffering most acutely, both from a cold, and overwork at Pocono College when I came down, and haven’t gotten around quite as much as I could have wished, I still feel encouraged about the work.

V. Suggestions as to Repairs and Permanent Improvements Needed in Near Future


1. The cabin should be properly chinked before winter, as both the cement, which was evidently not mixed in the right proportion, and the boards under it are falling out. It has been stuffed with paper in many places, but there are many large spaces. In my room, so much has fallen out on the outside wall at the end that the first rain, after I came, flooded the floor there, and I had to fill up the cracks with paper, which Mr. Zande has exact information.

2. The roof of the back porch leaks badly.

3. There should be a new fireproof mat under the kitchen stove as the one now there is badly worn.


A rat inconsiderately died of the rat poison Miss [Agnes] Hynes put out right in the middle of the second-hand baby-clothes, necessitating a thorough disinfecting and cleaning, which occupied Maude and myself for several days, and is not yet finished, owing to the fact that I want to catch as many mice as possible in traps before putting the things back into the cupboards, which have been scrubbed, etc.

All this led to a cleaning of the attic and as much of the house as we have time for, especially where the odor of decomposition was strongest.

1. Consequently, I discovered what you may already know that the woodwork, both the paneling on the walls, and the attic floor is badly worm-riddled. We use linseed oil at home to prevent that, but I presume you know what should be done. It seems a pity that such an attractive building should be so spoiled.

2. Where does the money come from for the rubber hose which is needed to carry water from the tap in the yard, if the bath-tub is to be used? Miss Dennis tells me that Mr. Zande said that the pipe should not be disturbed for another line, as there is too much labor involved if ever it didn’t work right, as the whole thing would have to be torn up.

3. Does the type of toilet in use here require lime or lye to be put in? Miss Dennis has hunted for a bulletin about it, as she says it is the South Carolina kind, but she hasn’t found it.




Each worker paid by the Pine Mountain School receives in addition to her salary, $25 a month for maintenance, which is turned into the family budget for living expenses. Any school teacher at either Bear Branch or Coil Branch, who lives at the Settlement pays her board, at the rate of $25 per month.

The general office at the School pays an amount of $30,00 each month to the worker in charge at Line Fork. This is for payment of salary of maid, $20.00, and $10.00 for living expenses of maid.

The family budget is supposed to cover all living expenses, including fuel, coal oil, and work done by children on gardens, and grounds. It does not include substantial repairs or improvement of grounds or buildings.

Such bills must be presented to Miss Pettit for her approval and checks will be drawn by the School office for the same. All checks will be drawn in favor of the worker in charge at Line Fork. [In handwriting: “No permanent improvements [?] without approval of Miss Pettit.”

Bills for feed for the horse should be sent to the School office.


All visitors to Line Fork are expected to pay twenty-five (.25) per meal and ten cents (.10) a night. When visitors do not so pay, a bill for such indebtedness should be sent in to the School office, preferably before the end of the month.

The Settlement must run on a cash basis. Pay cash or by check for everything bought at the local stores, and for all work done. Grocery accounts with outside stores may be settled by check each month.

Sell only Bibles, and Baby-Clothes. The Nurse only is to sell medicines.


Charge for Nurse ——————————————————-  .25 a mile
Big Laurel Doctor ——————————————————-  .50 a mile

Charge full price for medicines, tonics and all supplies, including bottles.

The Nurse’s fees go toward the upkeep of the horse.


Keep a list of everything received as gifts to the Settlement. Write notes of thanks, and send the names in to Miss Pettit. All money received should be turned into the School office, and disbursed from there.


A monthly report in narrative form should be sent in to Miss Pettit. Every six months a detailed report, covering finances and work should be sent in to Miss Pettit.

Careful accounts should be kept of the household expenses. The checking account is kept at the Cumberland State Bank, Poor Fork, Ky. It is advisable to keep at least ten dollars ($10.00) on hand in this account.


Get the men interested in better farming, fruit, and raising chickens.
Encourage the making of stools, brooms, tying lace, spinning, weaving.


Co-operate with the teachers at the two schools in every possible way.
Help with playground, games, basket-ball, volley-ball, dramatics, sewing-cooking classes. Teach adults to read and write.

Continue work started by nurse along health lines in the schools, such as playing the health game, examinations, measurements, classes in care of babies. Try Parent-Teacher Associations. Encourage hot lunches.

Promote singing-schools and organ lessons.


Carry on Sunday-schools at Coil Branch and Bear Branch school-houses.
Sell Bibles — .10, .15, .25 cents apiece.
Encourage attendance at preaching.


Use healthful foods, such as the whole wheat grain, water-ground cornmeal, brown rice, dried fruits, dates, nuts, lentils, dried lima and navy beans, green vegetables from Settlement garden and from Pine Mountain.

Order milk powder (Klim), condensed milk, creamery butter, whole wheat and Graham flour from outside. Buy sugar, salt, cornmeal, white flour, and dried peaches, apricots, prunes, and some canned goods from local stores.

Use fruit for desserts instead of pies and cakes; dates and fresh honey instead of candy.

The whole wheat grain can be obtained from the Lexington Roller Mills. Soak in water from breakfast-time until next morning on warm stove, cook slowly until grain has opened. Serve in water in which it has cooled, which should be absorbed. Add raisins and cream. Can be used cold in salads. [hand-written note: “F.H. Bennet Biscuit Co. New York City. Finest “Wheatsworth” flour — express to Chad. $2.95 – 28 lbs.]

The Colter Grocery Co. Cincinnati, Ohio. Groceries.
Geo. F. Hogg Market, Poor Fork, for butter.

Order groceries in small amounts by parcel post, as they can be carried from the post office and save expense of hauling large amounts over the mountain. Large orders should be sent by freight or express, prepaid to Chad.

Local stores — Manon Cornett, Henry Lewis, Joe Creech.
Vegetables can be bought in the neighborhood. Do not buy lettuce.
Raise lettuce, carrots, radishes, beets, peas, potatoes, greens in garden.


It is not advisable to leave the Settlement alone for any length of time. Neither is it advisable to leave a young girl alone in the house.

When going over the mountain to the railroad, one should always have a guide. Bert Smith can be depended upon. Workers should not walk in to the Pine Mt. School alone.

It is advisable to wear a riding-skirt, or a shell skirt and knickers or bloomers underneath, rather than riding-trousers or knickers alone.


Children paid for jobs .05 or .10 an hour according to quality of work done when working on place.

Men for ordinary work get $2.50 a day.
Frank Hall for carpentry $3,50 a day.

For getting wood, Hiram Hall and Joe Smith are the best workers.

Coal — Dave Lewis’ mine, Henry Lewis will do the work.

Prices — .07 at bank, 15 or 18 c a bushel. [re: coal]
$6.00 a day — two loads. Get it in October.

Hauling — Parts SMITH and Denver Cornett.

Washing — Bert Smith can and will do the weekly washing at .20 an hour.
Ironing — Nancy Sparkman Lewis is capable of doing good ironing — .20 an hour.
Weaving — Mrs. Dick Smith

Horses — when hired, $1.00 a day and feed has been standard price, unless horse was taken for a long journey.


She should be shod regularly every five weeks by Henry Creech, Pine Mountain.

Feed — Two parts oats to one part corn.
Morning — Gallon of grain and water.
Noon — One-half gallon grain and water.
Evening — One gallon grain and water. About eight pounds of hay.

Give salt, handful or more on salt box, twice a week.

Give a handful of powdered sulphur when constipated. Give with feed.
Water well three times a day.


12 bushel of oats                                                  About two months supply.
4 bushels of corn                                                  Manon Cornett or Henry Lewis will bring
4 bales of hay                                                        it from Poor Fork. Send bill to Miss Pettit.


Manure should be taken out of barn every day, and put in hole. Barn should be cleaned thoroughly every day. Manure used for garden in spring.


The Little House should be scrubbed twice a week, and a bucket of dirt put into it every day.

No tin cans should be thrown over fence or upon the ground. They should be pounded flat, to prevent mosquito breeding, and put in hole dug for the purpose.

Garbage should be put into basket daily, emptied into hole, covered with leaves. This can be used for compost for garden. Bucket should be scalded with boiling water daily. [Hand-written note: “covered with leaves”.]

Creolin solution should be used around barn in spring to prevent flies. It can be ordered through the School office. [This sentence has been crossed out.] Spraying the barn and manure with Fly-o-San will also help keep down gnats. [Hand-written note: “Burn Pyrethrum powders for fleas, etc. Spray with carbolic.”]

Rubbing screens with coal-oil will help keep flies and gnats away, as well as prevent rust.

Use the water in well near the house for washing. [Hand-written note: Fill [?] up yard top at night.


Frank Hall ————————–Stools ————————————-$2.50 up
Mrs. Hall —————————-Carved Brooms ———————————-$1.25
Plain ————————————–$ .75

Bennet Hall makes boxes.

Bert Smith makes candlesticks —————————————– $1.25 a piece
Bert Smith makes corn-husk mats ————————————-$2.50 up

Fat pine bundles —— twenty sticks for —————————– $ .10 Mrs. Finley Cornett


Equipment in loft of Health House is for hot lunches in the schools.
Cot in loft of Health House belongs to Frank Hall.
Tools at cabin and in loft of Health House should be oiled to prevent rust.
Newspapers should be saved to be given out for papering houses.
Magazines should be given out to those who like to read.
Doll and toys in box in living-room kept for children to play with.

[Hand-written note: “Spinning-wheel to Miss Medcalf.”]



Some mountain people [Dr. Duke, for instance] deplore the selling of old clothes. They say mountain people have always managed to get their own clothing, why not let them continue. “Why cripple them?” says Dr. Duke.

It gives a false idea of values.

Dealers in old clothes undersell local store keepers which means antagonism instead of co-operation.

Brings out worse qualities in mountain people who naturally are traders.

Increases shiftliness, untidiness, greed. Study of group clothed out of “mission barrel” proof of this; ill fitting, inappropriate clothes.

Destroys their independence and self-respect.

Relieves an immediate lack which could be better supplied by people themselves.

Can there be anything constructive in custom which brings out the poorest qualities in people and undermines their independence.

If there are actually some who cannot clothe themselves, then it is the duty of the local community to function — get community co-operation.

From Southern Highlander Page 192. “The practice is commendable enough on the grounds of making use of remnants or misfits, but as a theory of rural reconstruction in any form it is fallacious and mischievous.”


[Handwritten Note, n.d., 1925]

Paying Line Fork folks who do work.
Send or bring statements to Miss P. who will mail check. Worker pay men. No work paid for at Cabin by Miss Pettit, if not ordered.
Order this. Miss Pettit.


Line Fork Settlement
Gilley, Letcher County
October 29, 1925

Dear Miss Pettit:

I was sorry not to have more time to talk with you the other day, but the weather was so bad we wished to start for home, and I did not like to leave Mary alone only longer than necessary.

I think in regard to her that I ought to give her another chance and see how she gets on. I have talked to her, and she promises to do better in regard to taking things. If I do not leave her alone and put temptation in her way, she may be all right. I know that for a girl accustomed to so little, even the few things we have seem luxuries. She does the work very well, and is learning to cook very nicely.

Yesterday I had a card from Miss Skidmore [Mrs. Mary Skidmore ?], on which she asked me to tell you how she was. She says, “I couldn’t write until I was able to grasp the inevitable. Since I wrote last, I’ve developed rheumatism in my left arm. That led to a thorough examination which a revealed a heart lesion, nothing serious, perhaps, but certainly a handicap. I’m not to over-exert myself. Can’t go up and down stairs or climb hills. That means I’m compelled to stay away from Line Fork for the time being. Am feeling well now with the exception of a little ear-ache I’ve had for the last few days. That frightens me a little, but I think it will be well soon.”

That doesn’t sound as if she could come back here to work very soon, does it?

Her address is “xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Bluefield, W. Va.”

I haven’t received your letter, yet.

Sincerely yours,

Miss Hoague [Catherine Hoague]



During the last month there have been a great number of our neighbors coming to the settlement for advice and help along various lines. Some have wanted dress patterns cut out, other advice about baby-clothes, other come to see the weaving. Altogether, the total number of visits we have received from our neighbors has been 242, and I have made 37 calls at homes.

Owing to bad weather there have only been a few children here for games, ten on one afternoon. There has been much rain, and a heavy snow, and “tide” in the creek, which has made traveling bad.

The sewing classes in the schools have finished their sewing bags, and are now making bloomers for their own wear.

Singing has been started in the Bear Branch School. I go up there two mornings a week and spend half an hour teaching singing. The teacher at the Coil Branch School does not believe in such new-fangled things as singing in the schools, so I have not been able to start it there.

The weaving has been the chief interest this month. We have completed five rag rugs, which all our neighbors admire very much. The men are especially interested in them, so much so that one man is “aiming” to make a loom for his wife, so she can “kiver the floor with carpet.” I have bought some wool, and a neighbor is now carding and spinning it. I hope then to set up a blue-pot, for which I have bought the ingredients, and we shall make our own dyes and start weaving blankets and cloth.

Three women accompanied me to a meeting of the Big Laurel W.C.T.U. at Pine Mountain, and they are hoping to form a union of their own before long. One of them, however, told me she doubted whether they would sign the pledge for she said there was not a woman along the creek who didn’t take liquor.

The families who make black walnut articles have been very busy this month, and one new man has been added to the list.

The orders sent off this month include six walnut chairs, twelve walnut hearth brooms, two split hickory brooms, five walnut stools.

The last activity of the month was a Halloween party for the children, held at the “Health House” on the afternoon of October 31st, which “several” attended in spite of the bad weather.

Helen F. Little


Oct. 4, 1925


The work at Line Fork is of so varied a nature as to defy classification.


Dear Miss Pettlt,

I am writing this letter at Miss Little’s request, so as to save her the trouble. This morning I went with Bert Smith to Poor Fork, riding on Dock, and I was able to straighten out the matter about the organ, freight and storage. It appears that the organ was billed “collect”, and so the FOB had to pay the freight charge, but Mr. Bless­ing, the man In charge of the office at Poor-Fork says that he will write to the Kstey Organ Company and straighten out the matter, for we are entitled to the $5.00, as the Organ was sup­posed to be sent pre-paid. Ton need not bother to write to Brattleboro [Vermont], for I feel sure Mr. Blessing will fix this up for us.

On the way home I was able to call on Cindy Lou Sparkmans mother, and to find out about the lace that was tied for Miss Richards. I enclose the Information I was able to get. You can write to them, at the address I have put down,

I had a request for a large gauze pad, or else the gause [sic] to make such a pad for child-birth, and also we are In need of little shirts with sleeves, bonnets and blankets,

I am enjoying it immensely here and you will be Interested to know that I started my first sewing class at Bear Branch, yesterday, with an attendance of 11 girls.

Miss Little Is Improving, but she needs to relax more to really get the benefit of her hospital treatment, I think. I am hoping very much that she will soon be her normal self again.


Catherine Hoague


Sunday A.M. [August 9 ?, 1925]

Dear Miss Pettit,

As I was down at Manon Cornett‘s last night, helping, I did not get your letter read until late.

Mr. Larsen must have gotten an erroneous impression. Maude never has been “a serious problem.” She has been a great help, most thoughtful and receptive to suggestions, and her training with Miss Gaines has established habits that were influencing the other girls.

I consider that in getting the young people coming here, teaching them rook, getting Janey [?] and Rosie [Sparkman] to want to go to Pine Mountain and in persuading two Line Fork boys to enter Coil Branch School, she has been a valuable asset.

Therefore I wanted her to be here at least three days with the new girl, as the influence of one girl on another is psychologically more potent than an older person’s influence.

If Maude were not so young, (really not in love with any boy, but just fond of being admired) and didn’t need to keep on with her training at Pine Mt., I should very much like her to stay on, because I understand her little ways. She is very creative with her hands, artistic, etc. and takes to cooking and sanitary housekeeping readily. Should think she could learn weaving, anything requiring manual dexterity.

I have made arrangements with the Sparkman girl (Ira’s daughter at Hurricane Gap -[Rosie Sparkman]) , who will let me know tomorrow whether she will come next Wednesday, if Lissie York doesn’t come, and Maude will stay till Monday, August 10th. She wants to help the new girl.

Rosie Sparkman‘s mother felt she might not be able to spare her. Rosie is a good girl, but not overly gifted mentally. If her mother will let her go, I will give her work here enough to earn the money, as there is plenty of work. I have engagements for classes, etc. for almost every day, and it will be much easier for me to do my community work if Maude is here to run the house which she does very nicely with my supervision. I will come in on “Doc” Friday, if nothing happens. Miss H. [Catherine Hoague] and Maude ride every day. I conduct burying to-day at Manon Cornett‘s.

Helen Little


Thursday A.M. [August 13 ?, 1925]

Dear Miss Pettit: –

I may not have made myself clear about Rose [Rosie ?] coming down. I did not mean to suggest that she stay here after her two months volunteer work was over. I think she could then go elsewhere as a rural recreation worker. I, or the folks at Pocono could get her in a city settlement, as girl’s workers are very hard to get. I tried four months last year to get one to help me at Wilkes-Barre.

But she wants rural work. If you needed someone to help as industrial and recreations worker at your centers on Cutshin or Leatherwood, she could do that after 2 months here, I think. Or I could get something started at Cutshin or Leatherwood, and she could take my place here temporarily. So far, I feel I should like to stay here, but I would be glad to help get other centers started.

You may not believe it, but I really know something about building, as I taught house-planning five years in High School, and bossed the Wisconsin farmers who built my beautiful big stone fireplace, which draws perfectly, holds a four-foot log, and has a crane cemented into it. And, when I get all well, I can do much work. People say I am a good organizer, and that compensates for my lack of skill in sewing, weaving, etc., but I am going to learn to weave, even if I am clumsy.

I do hope we can get our loom set up soon, as I can get orders, I know. I want to have blankets – coverlets, for every bed, here. I have a Canadian homespun on my own, which Mrs. D. Smith wants to try to copy. It is very warm and light, and she studied it a long time and wants to make another for me on this loom. What do you think about this? I am back in bed, as I did too much yesterday. So many neighbors came to see me, as they heard I was back. We (Miss Hoague) start sewing class at Bear Branch to-day.

I want a community picnic the third week in August up here or would the school be better? Miss H. [Catherine Hoague] & I can get our singing-school to give music, and maybe Dr. Estabrook would talk? Several folks told me they would be proud to come. Please tell me if you approve?


Helen Little


[Line Fork Settlement]
[n.d., c. ? 1925]

Dear Miss Pettit:

There were fifty or more out at church this morning. The children didn’t come for games yesterday because they all hoed corn, but think they will come later.

Several are coming next Saturday.

Essie Begley isn’t able to spin now. Store-keepers are buying wool, they tell me. I should be very glad to get special rates for the operations. I think I can one day go to take a radium treatment, come back for six weeks, then go for the operation. Haven’t heard from Dr. Pickett yet how long I should rest, but it is a small tumor, and I haven’t any money to rest on!

Can tell you more about it next Saturday.


Helen Little


Line Fork
Wednesday Night
July 1925

My dear Miss Pettit:-

As I am still a little shaky, I can’t write as much as I should like. I think I stood the trip across the mountain rather well, as I took plenty of time to come over. Dr. Keith was very fine about everything , and said I should be very well, and able to do almost anything in reason inside of a month or two. I may have to get out once in awhile to have osteopathic treatments for my back, but the other trouble which caused the most inconvenience, will be all over in a month or so.

I am very sorry to have missed your visit, but didn’t feel well enough to come before.

About the trees. Before Miss Dennis left, she suggested that I get Hi Hall and Jim Smith, who Miss Medcalf left as the best workers for the wood. Miss Dennis said I had better get them inside of two weeks, but I thought it was necessary until they had their crops in, and before they started on fodder, as we Just had about enough wood to do us until August. She pointed out the fact which I could see, because I have had experience in caring for two forties of land in Wisconsin so as best to preserve the trees for future generations, that there were several trees that were rotten and were a danger to both the water pipe up on the hill where it sticks out of the ground, and to our cabin, as they were apt to fall at any time. So I had them taken out just as soon as I was sure that I had money to pay for it, and also had some trees taken out for firewood, as it seemed best to use wood on our land, rather than have to pay other people for their timber.

The trees that were taken down were robbing other trees, and the good trees will not grow so well when there is so much underbrush, and so many trees close together, except where it is virgin forest, and the ground is clear.

Also the cabin tends to be damp, and needed a little more sun­light. I knew Miss Dennis was a person of good suggestions and I took her suggestions and thought of many things myself that seemed to me to be almost imperative if the place were to be kept up well.

I am sorry if I have done anything which I should not have done. I am never hurt by being told of my mistakes, as I believe with the person who said, “The only person who never makes mistakes is the person who never does anything!”

I have been doing some writing to my Mother, and she has had many well to do folks up at Innisfree lately, and is sending me many orders for things which Bert Smith, and the Halls can make. I got several orders at the hospital. I also learned new ballads from two girls, one from near Hindman, on Troublesome, Maude Dyer, and another from another county, which I can’t recall now.

I think I may get some of Mother’s friends to help me with money for folk classes, etc. I have found four or five older boys and some married girls who want me to teach them, so I still hope to start a little Line Fork Folk-School. What would be a good name for it?

I think I had better get it started first, however! But I have the students, who will start when I get ready for them.

I hope to get over to see you soon, and can’t write much longer, as it tires me.

About weeds. Miss Dennis put In three days pulling them, I have put in many hours myself, and have had four children at different times but you know there are many things to do here, and one can’t do every­thing. I don’t believe I have wasted many hours since coming out here, but one has to do the most important things, and I just haven’t been able to do everything.

Many people are coming here every day, now. We need more baby clothes badly. There are many calls for dresses, and petticots [sic] for two year old children. I have also have had severaI requests for more of those flannel blankets, and we are about out of cotton baby dresses, pads, safety-pins, etc. It seems as if all Line Fork were about to increase the population this summer or fall.

I did not expect you to pay for the table and rustic seats, as I will be able to do that out of the living. I paid Hi Hall and Jim Smith in full before I left for Louisville. I did not know Frank Hall would go in with a penciled statement. I asked him to make out a bill, and bring it to me to sign.

I shall be very glad to put those things In the rules, and will them make a new copy of the rules, and send to you.

About the hose, I understood you to say that I was to ask Mr. Zande about it, and he asked me to let him know when it came, and whether it was long enough. I think the Idea about the spring is better, but why didn’t he mention it when I was in there?

About prices paid for work, I understood from Miss Dennis that I was to follow Miss Medcalf‘s notes, which she left here, but I shall be very glad to pay whatever you think Is right.

Miss Hoague is going over to Poor Fork with Bert Smith tomorrow, and find out about the charge on the organ, and after that, I can let you know, and send in all the bill of lading, etc. Henry Lewis was over to-day, and said he paid it, as otherwise the agent wouldn’t let Paris Smith take the organ out, and he would have had the trip for nothing, and so the money should be sent to him.

Thank you very much for writing to the girl on Cutshin. I heard from Mrs. Eli Sparkman to-day that I could probably get one of her nieces from down on Hurricane Gap, Gordon P.O. to come if the other girl didn’t appear.

I want so much to hear about your trip. I was sorry the house was arranged quite as I have it, but Miss Hoague did just the best she could, but she didn’t know where all the things went. She is a great help.

Miss Pettlt, I have a young friend, who was at the Pocono College last winter, who wants to come down, and work with me as a volunteer recreation and industrial worker, and after two or three months, she would like a position with a salary. She was considered by all the fine lecturers who came there as the most promising girl of all the students for community dramatics, singing, and games. She is a natural game leader, and also can do things with her hands better than I can. Basketry, etc. She is very fond of me, and wants to get experience with me, and would be a great asset. She is up in the Adirondacks now, and will be thru that work about the first of September. Miss [Christine] Hoague will leave about the tenth, and If no worse comes, I certainly would need help as so many people are coming out and I have so many plans for the young people and the young married people.

I don’ t want to write Rose about It until I know whether you would consider having her. She has no means, but thinks she could pay her way down here, if there is a prospect of netting some salary after working two or three months.

She can give references from Soren [sic] Mathiasen [ Sorn A. Mathiasen] and other people at Pocono College. She is about twenty-two, I believe, a Roman Catholic girl, but wants to do Sunday-school work, and she found out at Pocono that she didn’t know as much about the Bible as she wanted, but we had some very good courses there on the Bible and biblical times, etc.

She is very attractive, and radiates good spirits, and runs the greatest drawing-card at our big Saturday night parties. She can take a large crowd and get them playing, also can do some of the country dances, as they were done up there.

I am eager to give her a chance to get some experience, as she is very amenable to criticism, and wants to do community recreation, etc.

She is used to hard work, having been a worker at home, and In her parish. She organized fifty or more young people into a community club before she came to college, and while she was working in one of the large cafeterias and delicatessen stores in Wilkes-Barre, when I was in charge of a settlement last year.

She had two years of High School, then had to go to work, and later was graduated from Nigh High School. Then she had the Pocono Course, which was very strong on singing, community organization, and game work. We had some of the finest men and women in this country and England lecturing and sharing the life there and everyone noticed Rose.

Please excuse mistakes, as the light isn’t good.

You don’t know how happy I was to get back to Line Fork. The nurse told me I talked about Line Fork for two hours while getting over the gas and radium!

I appreciate so much all your kindness to me, and hope to repay it by really doing something out here. My typewriter sticks tonight, and skips some letters.

Is Miss Gaines going to be able to stop at Pocono College? They write that they have some fine students and lecturers there now.

I won a prize from the Louisville Courier-Journal, writing a letter about making coffee. It is a leather case, with three pairs of good sharp scissors, which will come In very handy out here!

Sincerely yours,

Helen F. Little

Maude sends her love, and will stay till I get the other girl.


Line Fork Settlement,
Gilley, Ky.
Aug. 3, 1925

Dear Miss Pettit: –

When I got back, I found that Dr. Estabrook had been here, and left his horse until his return from the East, which will be about the middle of this month.

Doc [horse] has now consumed all the feed which I had bought for Queen [horse] just before you sent for her, with the exception of some corn. The oats are all gone, but there is a little hay.

Shall I order the usual amount of feed, which Queen requires, and let Doc eat it until Queen comes back? I need to order it at once, if so. We have Doc out in the pasture, and eating the grass in the yard. Both Miss Hoague and Maude ride every day, and I ex­pect to begin in a day or two. He gave Miss Hoague riding lessons, and she is getting along very well.

The check for her living has not yet come.

I have written many letters to friends and it is possible that I may be able to get some money for here, although so far I have gotten just orders. I have enough thru Mother’s rich playmates to keep the Halls and Bert Smith busy for some little time. If we could get the weaving started, I could get many more orders.

Several women at the funeral yesterday said they aimed to come up to the cabin to weave as soon as we got It started. I met every Cornett on this earth, I do believe.

You should have seen me. I don t claim to sew, but I made a shroud. They asked me to be sort of master of ceremonies, say a prayer, read the Bible, and get my singing-school, who came down after Bear Branch Sunday-school, to sing at the house. Then they asked me to arrange all the folks, for three pictures, with the coffin in the center. The men who had been making the boxes and their tools were at one side, then the coffin, and the nearest kin, all draped artis­tically around, then the singers with their books open, then all the rest. This was all according to what Manon and his wife suggested.

Then we sang all the way up to the [burial] ground, and it took them about two hours more to dig some more in the grave, and Miss Hoague did nod [?], I being about all in by that time, and Mrs. Manon in hysterics.

Miss Hoague, Maude, the Davidson girls, Henry Lewis, Charlie Lewis, Charlie Cornet and Creed Turner from Pine Mt. sung for about two hours. Then Miss Hoague said some prayers as the body was lowered, and we sang again. It was quite a day, and I met many people, but I was so tired last night that I slept from eight o’clock until four this morning without ever waking up, which Is the longest sleep I have had for some time.

People coming in swarms here all day long. Great demand for thin baby-dresses. We are about sold out of some things you sent by Miss White.

Rosie Sparkman wants to go in when Maude does, so badly that her Mother may relent at the last moment. She has been helping with the washing to-day. Our well is dry, so we are packing water.

Will be in if nothing happens on Friday.

Hastily, Helen Little                   (over)

P.S. A man I refused to marry on the way down here [from Louisville ?], which added to my general tiredness, just sent me ten dollars to use any way I want to in my work. Wasn’t that nice of him? MORAL: The worse you treat them, the nicer they are!


Line Fork Settlement, Gilley, Ky.
August 13, 1925

[Handwritten at the top of the page: ” The stove mat is 3 1/2 ft. x 3 1/2 ft. Creed Turner had a party for Miss White last Saturday, so was not here.” [and indecipherable] “play sr. at school Am [?]

Dear Miss Pettit: –

Manon Cornett now has six pounds of wool, which he will sell to you for .60 cents a pound, if you will let him know at once.

I went down to the Mat Fields’ yesterday and had a very pleasant time there. They will send the wheel to Frank Helton‘s store just as soon as Kelly Isom goes with his wagon. Do I pay for it out of our living expenses, or do you pay for it as permanent equipment for this settlement? They will try to have the little chair on the same wagon, the one which Enoch Whittaker will make.

He is working on a house now, but will make it as soon as he is done with the house.

I met Grant Cornett and his father. The latter asked me to tell you that he didn’t want for Grant to have an operation unless it was necessary, and was waiting a little while to see how he got along, and if he thought that he ought to have the operation, he would let you know.

I collected lace from three people, and have it all properly labeled, and will send it in at the first opportunity. If any one comes out from Pine Mountain this Sunday, will send it by them.

Hannah Sparkman worked here two days, and Janey Smith came to-day and will stay until she goes into Pine Mountain.

I have four more organ pupils. My adult school starts Monday morning with three pupils.

[Hand-written note at end: “Later: Have received your two notes. You doubtless know what I learned twenty years ago when I was first teaching school, not to believe all the news carried to me by High School girls and boys about other teachers; or even the talk of older people. So many things have happened in the past in this country that folks anticipate trouble before it happens, and exaggerate greatly small affairs. (over)

As you rightly surmise, there was no serious trouble, or Miss Hoague would have mintimed [?]

Mrs. Mary Smith and Hannah Sparkman came to see the children play and staid [sic] until I sent them home at nine o’clock. Creed Turner was not there. A boy named Harrison Cornett, son of P. Cornett, who had never been here before, met Charlie Cornett, from Pine Mt. at the store, and came with him. Everything was lovely until we went into the Health House to sing, and then I noticed two or three boys missing. I found them telling Harrison Cornett to clear out. There was no shooting. They told him to get out because he had said something they didn’t like. He went home.

Charlie Cornett wanted to make more of it, so staid [sic] behind & tried to tell me Harrison might be hurt. I knew he wasn’t, as I was right there and knew what happened. No boys have lain around drunk. That is a lie, pure and simple.

No boys have slept here but Charlie Cornett or Creed Turner who came to see Maude. You told me Damon Lewis could sleep at the Health House, that it was used for transient guests, so when they told me they had no place to sleep, I would have considered myself rather inhospitable had I not asked them to stay.

It is a pity there is no telephone here, so I could call you up and find out just what unwritten law I was violating! There is no way of getting word to all those singing-schools not to come Saturday, but if they do come, I will send back all who don’t belong to the singing-class and send the others home by daylight. I agree with you that it is best not to have night parties, but I have been much pleased with the way the majority have behaved and there has been no trouble that need alarm. [page cropped]


Line Fork Settlement, Gilley, Ky.
August 28, 1925

Dear Miss Pettit:-

In a recent letter you say “What you make in the course of time, from sales of brooms, stools, etc. could go for equipment.”

These things I have been selling at the same price asked by Frank, Bennett, and Hiram HallWill Cornett, and Bert Smith. Miss Dennis bought some and had some sent away, and as she did not Increase the price, I have not done so. I had not known that we could make any profit on them. So will you please give me the prices at which you sell them, or at which they should be sold, or Just the margin of profit at which you handle them, and I can then figure the prices accordingly.

Every letter from Mother brings more orders, to change the prices as soon as possible, so that she can quote them correctly.

Will you also quote me prices for woven goods? Not only for our own future use, but I have had inquires about the things made at Pine Mountain.

I wish to be sure that my memorandum in regard to the weaving here Is correct. Only one woman is to do the weaving, and she is to do it from her own wool, and get a profit after I have sold the finished pro­duct. Here again I should like to know whether I charge a commission for handling it for her which comes out of the market price?

I have no money with which to pay anyone for weaving the rug which is to be the first finished article. You spoke, if I remember correctly, about my raising some money with which to start the weaving, and I would need money for materials for a dye-pot. But I have not yet been able to do so, and it may be some time before I get any cash which I could use for that purpose.

How are the women who do not understand weaving to learn if they do not use this loom? Your answer may be that seeing the work here might awaken the desire to get a new loom, or get out an old one, and start at their own homes. I have found In other lines of industrial work that a woman may not get sufficiently interested to start her own weaving, or whatever the work may be, until she has actually had the experience of doing the creative work herself enough to know that she can do it, and likes It. Your experience here, of course, is greater than mine.

I could try to sell this first rug produced, but that is one thing I am positive I would not be able to sell, for the people to whom I would have to write are the ones who are buying Mother’s rugs, and are not as liable to be interested In rag rugs as in the more unique walnut articles.

I am sending Polly in, as there is opportunity for her to come. I can get Hannah Sparkman to come by the day until Mary Ann Begley is free to come and try how she gets along. Hannah Sparkman Is a very good worker, needs the money, and is able to leave her home daytimes.

My school is going better than I imagined would be possible, as far as spirit of students and their work is concerned. Two more coming next week.

Sincerely, Helen Little



August 1925

The following graphs will show the actual status of the work at the Settlement better than words.

Religious — Sunday Schools and Church Services.


The total number of neighbors, both adults and children coming to the Settlement during August, was five hundred and two, an increase over July of one hundred and forty-four.

The two outstanding features of this month’s work have been the opening of our “Folk School,” the second full term People’s School to be started in the United States, the first being the Pocono Peoples’ College, at Henryville, Pennsylvania**, with which we are affiliated. [Affiliation was possibly through the Russell Sage Foundation which was strong supporter of the short-lived college.]

There have been two experiments along this line in Kentucky, one consisting of a six weeks’ course at Berea last spring, with one of the instructors a student-teacher from the Pocono College. The second experiment was a series of night lectures given at the center at Wooton. Neither, however, so nearly approaches the typical Peoples’ College** as will the one at the Settlement.

In Denmark these schools have begun with a teacher who lived in a rural district taking sometimes one, sometimes two students, who came in the daytime, and paid for their tuition by farm work. Often it would be two or three years before as many as six or more had come.

For the fundamental principle underlying the folk school is not numbers, nor stereotyped education, but a small group in close contact with teachers studying the things they most want, and which are given in language that as Quintilian once said, “not only may be understood, but must be understood.” There was no attempt to advertise the school. Students came because they found out about it from others.

There is a great need for cultural and practical education along Line Fork, but the problem to be solved was to present the idea in such a way that those needing it would come of their own accord, not from being coaxed or persuaded to do something which they really had no craving for.

It seemed that it might be a year at least before actual classes could be in operation, but the thing hoped for has come about much sooner than anticipated. Two weeks ago our school began its first session. Two young men, one twenty-two, the other twenty-three, came to me with the plan they had worked out. That they ‘lowed they could give three full mornings the first of the week to schooling, as the end of the week was the busiest. I could not really believe they would come until the day came, and at eight o’clock, came the two, dinner-buckets packed, and pencils and tablets under their arms.

They have come ever since at seven o’clock, for we have a study hour, then, and begin classes at eight. After their noon lunch, they do, on one day of the week, some constructive piece of work about the place. It is hoped that these projects may also be of value.

They are thoroly [sic] in earnest, and altho’ I had taught twelve or more boys from sixteen to twenty-five in the Carolina mountains, I never have seen such attention to work and interest as these two show. After lunch, I often find them back at their books until the middle of the afternoon.

The course of study includes the grammar subjects, taken in regard to the need of the student, and with emphasis on the most practical topics: elementary science and agriculture, biographies of Great Men and Women, Physiology, Hygiene and Rural Sanitation, Civics, and Human Relations. The latter includes community organization, co-operatives, etc.

There are four other young men who are aiming to come as soon as they finish some work they are now doing. Also, a man of thirty-five wants to come every day of the week, and our carpenter is studying how he could get time to take just some more arithmetic, which he needs so badly in his work.

The second line of effort seeming to be successful is the establishing of several families in the business of making carved wooden arti­cles, corn-husk mats, etc. There were three men who were doing this when I came. I have gotten more orders for them, and also have started one woman on some different articles along this line, and designed two chairs to be made by still another man, for whom I will find cus­tomers. A man and wife came up the other day to see if I would start them up in business also. They have not done this work heretofore, but heard of the others, and want to try it.

There have been shipped away to fill my orders this month, 34 pairs of candlesticks, one corn-husk rug, 5 walnut stools, 8 hearth brooms, 14 dozen laurel hooks, 22 bundles of fat pine.

Each order brings more. Every letter from my Mother encloses checks and orders, and I have not yet begun to write to all the places where I may get more orders. As the crops are about ruined by the worst dry spell In years, this business may help out many families.

Another cause for encouragement is the work with the young people. A singing-school, averaging eighteen members, meets at the Coil Branch School every Sunday after Sunday-school, assisted by the musical gifts of Miss Catherine Hoague, of Boston. Instruction In time, reading notes, breathing, etc., had been given so simply that it is being ab­sorbed, and the singing is noticeably Improved,

This class has organised Itself, with a secretary and a librarian to take care of the music, and in addition to the period Sunday morn­ing, many of Its members come up to the cabin on Sunday evenings for a whole afternoon of singing.

Also Saturday evening, from four to dark, is set aside for a picnic supper on the hill for the singing-school, followed by games. As they found that some boys who did not belong to the class were attending, it was decided that the attendance at this gathering was limited to the members alone, except when some special occasion arose for a party with guests. A small tax covers the cost of the cocoa, and marshmallows or other things cooked, and the group brings anything else desired, as roasting-ears [roasted corn].

The first Saturday evening after this rule had been passed, a boy from outside the group came. As boys often do, especially when there are girls in the group, he boasted that he could run the home boys off. The way this Incident ended is a good illustration of the change which has taken place in this country, due to the Influence of the Pine Mountain School, Berea, and also of the new generation of young people, who are not always following the ways of their fathers. The boy was told by the others of this rule and asked to leave, as we had decided we would do in case anyone came who did not belong. Without any violence, any loud talk, any fighting, and trouble whatever, he left and went home,

A visiting sociologist stated that twenty-five years ago there would have been a battle over such an incident, and further added that in his opinion there was unusual self-control exhibited, and it was an indication that the old days are passing. The thing happened so quietly that only one or two knew about it at the time.

On the same night the mothers of two of the girls came to enjoy the sight of the games, and they seemed to have as good a time as though they were playing them, too, as they had done in childhood.

On the whole, the behavior of the boys and girls at these gatherings is surprisingly good. In very many such parties elsewhere, it is difficult to get the whole group doing things together. There are always boys and girls wandering off to secluded nooks to be alone, and the task of a High School chaperone these days is a most strenuous one. And I regret to say that the majority of such parties which I have been chaperoning for the last fifteen years would not stand com­parison with those of our boys and girls.

For two reasons, our groups are much better mannered and spontaneous. They all play and all want to play, and not yet have I seen one couple stray off, or act in an indecorous manner. I would be ashamed to have them see the average group of boys and girls of their age elsewhere. Our boys and girls know how to play all together, and have traditions of plays and songs which were always done in a group of the whole.

There has not one single thing happened which I have cause to re­gret, and our gatherings have been so spontaneous, so happy, and so free from trouble that we enjoy them almost as much as the children.

One, in particular, will long linger in the memory of those who were present. On account of the death of one of the neighbors, we did not play games, but after our picnic supper cooked over the outdoor fire, we sat about this fire built up bigger for a camp fire, and sang songs and told stories.

Miss White [Miss ?] from Pine Mountain School, was our guest that evening, and proved to be a wonderful story-teller, especially of ghost stories. There were about fifteen boys and young men, and no girls but the three at the Settlement, and I thought that they would not enjoy such a quiet time. But I have never seen keener appre­ciation of singing, and they listened with the closest attention to the stories. Then someone played the banjo, and as we watched the moon coming up over the Pine Mountain thru the trees, and the glow of the camp fire, and listened to the ballads accompanied by the banjo, and beheld this group of boys, quiet, happy, and taking part as well as listening, we felt that they were getting the beauty of the scene as well as we did, and perhaps a deepening interest in the joys of living outdoors.

Helen F. Little, Head Worker

[** Pocono Peoples’ College, at Henryville, Pennsylvania, was a short-lived liberal arts college that was founded on the model of the International People’s College of Elsinore in Denmark. Dr. Sorn A. Mathiasen had taught at the Denmark school and brought “Folk School” ideas from Denmark to the school in Henryville. The college began classes in January of 1924, supported by funding from the Russell Sage Foundation. The promotional literature of the college declared it to be a “Folk School for Men and Women Seeking Knowledge and Spiritual Growth,” but the curriculum was essentially a liberal arts program with supplemental industrial education programs. It was the entrance requirement that was unique. Anyone qualifying for college through the “recommendations of responsible citizens,” could be admitted. There were no exams at the college and following the completion of a first course, the students were given a psychological examination. The demands on the faculty were substantial, requiring that they work tirelessly with each other and that they become familiar with all the enrolled students. The cost of attendance was $239 for a three-month session. Additional funding was sought and in 1925 the Carnegie Foundation was a supporter of the college. Growth continued and expansion was planned but failed, due to the uncertainty of the economic times in 1929. By the end of that year, 1929, the economic recession caught up with the school and just short of the Great Depression, the school closed its doors. The school, though short-lived was an influence on many people including Helen F. Little, who taught there in its formative years, but also on educators such as W.B DuBois who was interested in the college and wrote requesting additional information from the school just after its closure. See: http://www.monroehistorical.org/articles/files/2013_08-henryville-site-of-pocono-peoples-college.html, Monroe County Historical Association. ]



This month has been characterized by outdoor activities. Instead of parties, we have had picnics for the young people, starting about one-thirty and cooking an early supper upon some cliff near a spring, and returning before dark.

The community itself has had a number of “funeralizings,” which are both family reunions and community get-togethers. As these are held on Sundays, the attendance at our Sunday-schools has been very light.

The advent of the nurse [Miss Mary Skidmore ?] has been received with much interest as the community has greatly felt the absence of Miss Medcalf [Ann Ruth Medcalf].

There have been 145 callers at the Settlement, and 45 visits made to the homes by residents. Twenty children have come for games. Since the schools started, the girls usually have much work to do at home on Saturdays. The family washing is left for them to do, so it is hard for them to come out for games.

Sewing classes at the schools have been carried on with some difficulty, as the teachers dismiss school so late that the girls cannot stay for work after school. One of the teachers has consented to allow a little of the school time to be given to sewing, but the other refuses to do this.

Two walnut stools, four hearth brooms, ten bundles of fat pine, and a dozen laurel hooks have been sent away this month.

One of the chief activities has been long horseback trips into the adjoining country for the purpose of getting acquainted with our neighbors. Two such two and three day trips have been greatly enjoyed, and friendly relations established with the folks down the creek.

A canning demonstration was given on Stoney Fork. The husband of one of the women over there, on seeing some canned beans in our cellar, had asked me to come over and show his wife how. She had been the first one in their section to try canning beans, but they had all spoiled. I found that she had not sterilized the cans, or cold packed them, so we made an outdoor furnace, packed water from a spring and canned the beans in the more thorough method.

We took in twenty-five children, grown-ups to the Pine Mountain Fair.

Helen F. Little


Saturday A.M.
n.d. 1925

Dear Miss Pettit:-

I am sure all the pieces of the loom which arrived here are here now, for I counted them so that I could know how many there were in a loom, and the number tallied the other day, as I have not moved them except for sweeping.

Frank Hall did not mend the roof of either porch and it comes in worst right above the loom. Shall I get him again to do that?

Will be very glad to see Mr. Zande. Hope he gets here before 9:30, when we go to church. Dr. Estabrook may return tonight with two friends, so there would not be room for the children to stay if they come back to-day.

I had a chance to get feed as Paris Smith was going to Poor Fork, so ordered it to be here when Queen [horse] comes back, and visiting horses often come without feed. He will send bill to you. There is about $9.00 on-hand from sales of baby-clothes, which will cover part of feed bill. Have you an extra copy of “Little Men” — Alcott, and the “Uncle Remus Stories” :


Helen Little


n.d. 1925

Dear Miss Pettit:-

Miss Hoague went up and got back all but one lb. of the eight pounds of wool we let Mrs. Begley have. From your letters of to-night, I infer that you wish us to give back 6 lbs. of it to Mrs. Begley in three lb. lots, which I will do.

You did not enclose check for the other two pounds. What do you wish done with that?

I enclose letter I started this a.m. about Polly. She has been dizzy and far from well all day since I wrote.

It is Miss Hoague’s own idea to stay here, and I can manage her expenses.


Helen F. Little


n.d. 1925

[Enclosed with Friday, n.d. 1925 letter to Miss Pettit.]

I am concerned about Polly’s health. I asked her to see Miss Heney [Eva Heney, nurse] about her cough, which is a persistent and continuous one. She tells me that she was troubled with it last winter, was in the hospital at Buckhom for awhile: that her grandparents died with T.B., also an uncle: that she lived with, and cared for her grandmother, who has all broken out with bad sores: that she tires very easily, and does not always sleep well; that she has lost 23 lbs. in weight this summer. You may know all of this, and be considering it, as she told me that you said she could come in there, if she were not well enough to stay here. She told me herself that she thought she might have t.b.

Whatever is the matter with her, she is not at present strong enough to do the work here without getting too tired, and as much as I should like to have her here, unless she gets better, it would not be the best thing for her, nor for us.

Miss Heney gave her some medicine, and I am seeing that she gets milk every day, but I don’t like to ask her to do very much when she is not well.

Our two wells have both been dry for over three weeks, and it is very expensive to have the water carried. It would seem that both of them should have been dug deeper. I have been told that the well on the hill only goes down to the first water that was struck, and that if it was dug deeper, there would be a constant flow of water. Miss Medcalf also had to have water carried In the dry season. In a model home of this kind, the well ought to be dug deep enough to ensure a good water supply, as the spring from which we get our water is used by animals, although we have tried to built it up with rocks. Also, wells belonging to neighbors are still giving water, and a model home ought to have a better, not an inferior, water-supply to the other homes in the neighborhood.

In addition to the expense, we cannot always get children, as they do not like to pack water. Miss Hoague has dislocated her shoulder carrying heavy pails, and I have insisted that she do so no more. She got her shoulder back all right, but it is still sore. Nealy Cornett packs for us, but she is not to be depended on, and we are often very short of water.

Now, when the wells are dry would be a good time to have them, or at least the one on the hill dug deeper. There is no spring near enough to the Health House to furnish water there. The one outside the fence is on the other side of the reservation, and, it would require a gasoline en­gine to get water from it to the Health House, even if it would furnish enough water, which It would not, as it is dry now. The only way to get water there would be to have another well dug above it.

Sincerely yours,

Helen Little


[Note scrap]
[n.d. 1925]

In regard to the people doing up their own packages; I have made it a rule for them to do them up at their homes, and take them to the post-office themselves. They have been doing that ever since I came out here, as I feel exactly as you do on the subject of mountain schools crippling the people. I have gotten many orders for Bert Smith, and she wraps them up and ships them off herself, as does Mr. Hall.

Last Saturday, however, I had purposely asked him to bring up for my inspection two stools which were to be made especially nice, and a little different from his others, so I could see how he had carried out some suggestions I had given him, also another way of carving candle sticks. These were to go to a very particular friend of Mother’s, and I wanted to see them before he sent them off. He brought gunny-sacks, thread and everything with which to do them up along with him, as this is his way, to the post office. While I was playing with the children, Miss Hoague offered to take the packages, as she had the horse.

[Helen Little]


Oct. 4, 1925

Activities at Line Fork Settlement School

The work at Line Fork is of so varied a nature as to defy classifi­cation. No one day is like unto another, and one can never tell before­hand just what the response will be to any effort.

There are, however, a few definite and regular activities. These in­clude the Sunday-schools and singing-schools held every Sunday at the nearby rural schoolhouses; classes in sewing held also at the school houses; Saturday afternoon games for the children at the Settlement, and a small folks school for those young people over eighteen and preferably not over twenty-five who feel the need of more “larning.”

The Sunday-schools are really community gatherings. Sunday is the one day in the week when after the “Saturday night bath” ritual, the folks are free to go visiting or to rest at home. Formerly the great diversion for the boys and young men were shooting-matches, always accompanied by much drinking. Now most of the young men come to Sunday-school, join in the singing-school, and play games afterwards outdoors. Often they come again to the Settlement in the afternoon to sing. Several times some of the fathers and mothers have come.

Part of the summer we had a preacher every other Sunday, and the folks showed their genuine desire for such services by turning out in large numbers. One week-end two preachers were with us, and we had a good Sat­urday night meeting at the settlement, and a big preaching outdoors at one of the schools Sunday morning. Our neighbors. greatly appreciate good preaching and will go long distances to hear it.

The Folkschool is an experiment. For some time it seemed as though there were no great desire for education along the creek, but after several of the young men had been told about the Folkschool in Denmark, they, without being asked, came to me and said that they figured that if I would teach them, they could give three mornings a week to such a school. I could hardly believe my ears, and waited, fully prepared for disappointment for the next Holiday morning. But two appeared, and no more earnest students have I ever had. The next morning they came at seven, instead of eight, the appointed time, and explained that they wanted to study. For five weeks they came regularly, often remaining after lunch to study some more. One afternoon of the week they did some work about the place to pay for their tuition, and also brought vegetables.

Just now they have to stay out to pull fodder, but are eager to come back as soon as the fall work is finished, and say that others are coming. One young married woman is planning to come, as soon as she has weaned her baby so that it can be left with its grandmother.

Canning demonstrations have been given in several homes. These have come about in a rather interesting way. Some men working about the place, noticed some jars of canned beans and were so taken with their appear­ance that they told me they would pay me to come over and show their wives how to do it. So later in the summer, I received word to come on a certain day. The wife had tried canning beans, but they had all spoiled and her neighbors had laughed at her for trying such new-fangled ways.

On investigation it developed that she had simply cooked the beans a few minutes and sealed them up in jars, which had just been washed out in hot water. So we built an outdoor furnace, packed water from some dis­tance, put on a wash-boiler, sterilized our jars, boiled more water to put in the jars, and did as thorough, and incidentally as back-breaking, a job of canning as was ever done.

On another occasion when I got to the home where the beans were to be canned I found them all carefully cut in small pieces, and reposing on the floor on a paper, where they had been for two days, waiting my coming. By this time, they were, of course, about dried up.

We have many callers at the settlement, coming on all manner of errands. Yesterday, a typical day followed this pattern.

Six o’clock a.m. as we were eating breakfast, a neighbor came with a sick baby, who had the common complaint of diarrhea. She was shortly followed by two children on their way to school, who brought some apples for us to buy. Another woman came in to see if we had any quilt pieces, and still another came for magazines and newspapers with which to paper her old log house.

The woman who had promised to come to weave for us on our new loom, came with a badly burned arm, which had gotten infected. A man and wife came with split hickory brooms, which they wished me to sell for them, and another young man brought two walnut stools for the same purpose. The latter had never made any before and while they were as well made as possible, he was shown his mistakes and encouraged to try some more, for he had never before been known to work at anything but making liquor, and had recently been arrested. If he can make money some other way, maybe the temptation of stilling will not be so great.

After the noon meal, one worker rode off to pay a call on a new baby and mother, stopping several times on the way. When she returned, the other left for a sewing class at the school. After school, two children came to see if there was any work for them to do, and a neigh­bor called to have a dress cut out for her little girl.

So the days pass, filled with work. The new activities, of starting folks to making walnut articles, and the setting up of our loom, bring many neighbors to the house, and we hope that some of our women will bring out their old looms and spinning wheels and ply again the arts of their mothers.

Music plays a large part in our lives. Almost always the women who come to see us ask to have me play on our new organ, the generous gift of a friend, and I have found that “play” means sing as well, and I have often sung by the hour for our friends the old ballads they used to do, and which they delight to hear. They want their daughters to take organ lessons, and ask if I can teach “by notes or by chords.” The daughters, alas, have very little time for organ lessons when school is in session.

The schools let out so late that it is almost dark when they get home so they cannot come after school, nor would they have time for a lesson were I to go to their homes. On Saturday, they do the family washing, so the organ instruction is intermittent.

One of the things which our neighbors enjoy most is to come to “take a day” with us, and taste the strange things we have to eat. Not long ago when one of our friends was with us, we had cheese and omelet. “I never did taste cheese, and never did think I wanted to,” she said, “but this is the doggone tastiest eating I’ve et.” She had never “seed eggs cooked up thataway before,” but liked them very much, also the corn fritters, which appealed to her as a good way to use up leftover corn.

Likewise one of our great joys is going visiting. It is in the intimacy of hours spent at a home that revelations of life’s sorrows and joys are made, advice asked and given, and friendships formed. Such visits are treasured for years. Every little detail of visits made by other strange women, sometimes years before, are given, and especially high is the praise bestowed upon those who “come right in and set down and et with us just as common as you’re doing,” and who helped with the work afterwards.

On some of these trips glimpses are gained of lives of heroism, which make one marvel at the endurance, patience, and long-suffering courage of our mountain women. The amount of work accomplished by women who are often very sick in body, the ingenuity shown in overcoming ob­stacles and in devising efficient methods of working under great diffi­culties call for one’s greatest admiration, and make one feel that we decadent daughters of a city generation are indeed puny creatures.

Helen Little



Alt. Title

Helen Little ; Helen F. Little Berry [?] ;


Permalink: https://pinemountainsettlement.net/?page_id=6224


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Helen Little ; Helen F. Little ; Helen F. Little Berry ; Katherine Pettit ; reports ; letters ; extension centers ; narratives ; Ruth Dennis ; industrial workers ; Pocono People’s College ; teachers ; radium ; x-rays ; Catherine Hoague ; community programs ; Elizabeth Little White ; Paul C. Little ; Polly ; Maude ; Hannah Sparkman ; weaving ; Mrs. Begley ; Mr. Stapleton ; sermons ; Mr. & Mrs. Warren ; Will Cornett ; head workers ; statistics ; Sunday-schools ; singing-schools ; Smith children ; financial reports ; nurses ; Mrs. Peabody ;Miss Hynes ; Harp Bros. ; Cumberland State Bank ; Corona ; budgets ; dietary ; whole wheat grain ; vegetarian dishes ; Mrs. Dick Smith ; canning ; rhubarb ; Miss Bessie V. Gaunt ; expense accounts ; rules ; Stella Monson ; Lowel House ; Dr. Campbell ; basketball ; volleyball ; cabin ; Mr. Zande ; Health House ; rat poison ; Miss Agnes Hynes ; toilets ; salaries ; maids ; horses ; visitors fees ; doctors ; gifts ; checking accounts ; industrial activities ; educational activities ; playground ; parent-teacher associations ; singing-schools ; organ lessons ; Bibles ; preaching ; gardens ; Klim milk powder ; canned goods ; fruit ; Lexington Roller Mills ; F.H. Bennet Biscuit Co. ; Wheatsworth flour ; Colter Grocery Co. ; groceries ; dairy foods ; Geo. F. Hogg Market ; post offices ; Chad ; Manon Cornett ; Henry Lewis ; Joe Creech ; safety ; railroad ; guides ; Bert Smith ; riding-skirt ; shell skirt ; knickers ; bloomers ; riding-trousers ; child workers ; Frank Hall ; carpentry ; Hiram Hall ; Joe Smith ; coal ; Dave Lewis ; Denver Cornett ; Nancy Sparkman Lewis ; washing ; ironing ; Queen (horse) ; Henry Creech ; salt ; powdered sulphur ; manure ; barn ; Little House ; tin cans ; mosquitoes ; garbage ; compost ; creolin ; flies ; Fly-o-San ; gnats ; pyrethrum powders ; carbolic acid ; coal-oil ; stools ; carved brooms ; candlesticks ; corn-husk mats ; Bennet Hall ; fat pine bundles ; Mrs. Finley Cornett ; papering ; magazines ; toys ; spinning wheels ; Dr. Duke ; used clothing ; mission barrels ; Southern Highlander ; Mary ; Miss Skidmore ; dress patterns ; baby clothes ; sewing classes ; Bear Branch School ; Coil Branch School ; rag rugs ; wool ; blue-pots ; dyes ; Big Laurel W.C.T.U. ; black walnut articles ; Halloween parties ; Doc (horse) ; Mr. Blessing ; Kstey Organ Company ; Cindy Lou Sparkman ; Miss Richards ; gauze pads ; Mr. Larsen ; Miss Gaines ; Janey Smith ; Rosie Sparkman ; Ira Sparkman ; Lissie York ; volunteer work ; recreational workers ; communitiy picnic ; Dr. Estabrook ; Essie Begley ; Dr. Pickett ; Dr. Keith ; osteopathic treatments ; Jim Smith ; forest preservation ; Paris Smith ; Gordon P.O. ; ballads ; Maude Dyer ; folk classes ; Mrs. Eli Sparkman ; Christine Hoague ; Sorn A. Mathiasen ; Nigh High School ; typewriters ; Louisville Courier-Journal ; funerals ; the Davidson girls ; Charlie Lewis; Charlie Cornett ; Creed Turner ; Mat Fields ; Frank Helton ; Kelly Isom ; Enoch Whittaker ; Grant Cornett ; lace ; adult school ; Mary Smith ; Harrison Cornett ; P. Cornett ; Damon Lewis ; telephones ; Mary Ann Begley ; graphs ; Russell Sage Foundation ; Berea College ; school subjects ; laurel hooks ; sociologists ; banjo ; People’s College of Elsinore ; Carnegie Foundation ; W.B DuBois ; funeralizings ; Mary Skidmore ; Ann Ruth Medcalf ; horseback trips ; caning ; Pine Mountain Fair ; Little Men ; Alcott ; Uncle Remus Stories ; Eva Heney ; tuberculosis ; Nealy Cornett ; post offices ; diarrhea ; stilling ; music ; weather ; foodways ; alcoholism ; care of horses ; well water ;

Subject LCSH

Little, Helen F.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Medical — Practice — Kentucky.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.

Date digital

Date original




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet under Line Fork Settlement


Series 09: BIOGRAPHY




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: BIOGRAPHY ; Ruth Dennis ; Katherine Pettit ; Medical Settlement, Big Laurel ;

Coverage Temporal


Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Pennsylvania ; Wisconsin ; Mitchel County, NC ; Wilkes Barre, PA ; Henryville, PA ; Line Fork Settlement ; Coil (Coyle) Branch ; Bear Branch ; Stone Fork ; Poor Fork ; Louisville, KY ; New Haven, CT ; Chicago, IL ; Georgia ; Texas ; Big Laurel ; Lexington, KY ; New York, NY ; Cincinnati, OH ; Gilley (Letcher County) KY ; Bluefield, WV ; Brattleboro, VT ; Hurricane Gap ; Cutshin ; Leatherwood ; Innisfree ; Hindman, KY ; Adirondacks ; Berea, KY ; Wooton ; Denmark ; Stoney Fork ; Buckhom ;


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. Publication requires permission of Pine Mountain Settlement School.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Helen F. Little, Nurse at the Line Fork Settlement, 1925.




Helen F. Little Papers, Series: 14. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2014-01-18 hw ; 2014-01-24 hw ; 2023-10-10 aae ;


Helen F. Little Papers, Series: 14. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY (Original correspondence of Helen F. Little.) Archival material.

Monroe County Historical Association. http://www.monroehistorical.org/articles/files/2013_08-henryville-site-of-pocono-peoples-college.html (accessed 2014-01-24). Internet resource.

Return To:
LINE FORK Settlement
LINE FORK Settlement Reports Publications Guide 1920-1941