Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 07: DIRECTORS
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY (Staff)
Series 19: STUDENTS (Boarding)
Alvin Boggs, Student (1930s), Teacher (1950-60s),
Director (1973-1983), Dir. of Development (1980s)
Rev. L. Alvin Boggs (1924-1989)


Alvin Boggs, teaching two students in class, 1950s. [086_VII_life_work_040.jpg]


PMSS Boarding School Student, c. 1930s
Teacher, Vocational Subjects 1955 – (?)
Leader, Recreational Community Projects 1955 – (?)
Director 1973-1983
Associate Director of Development, 1983 – (?)

TAGS: Alvin Boggs, Rev. L. Alvin Boggs, vocational subjects, recreation, students, social workers, World War II, Mary Rogers, Burton Rogers, ministers, teachers, woodworking, singing, dramatics, playground, Council of the Southern Mountains, Black Mountain, coal camps, James Urquhart, Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School, land stewardship, Boy Scouts of America, Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital, Harlan County Committee on Aging, Wesley Evangelical Church of North America, Living Waters Christian School, Craig Evan Royce

In the fall of 1955, the Pine Mountain Settlement School community was pleased to hear that one of two staff positions for vocational subjects and recreation had been filled. A Notes issue of April 1956 recorded high expectations for their new staff member, stating that “He has a strong desire to serve in this valley and is equipped for such service in various ways.” Rev. L. Alvin Boggs was indeed well-qualified. He grew up in the area and was a former PMSS student, a college graduate, and an ordained minister.

ALVIN BOGGS: Before Pine Mountain

Alvin Boggs began his schooling at Big Laurel, Kentucky, continued at Pine Mountain Settlement School, and then at Mt. Carmel High School in Vancleve, Kentucky. Craig Evan Royce, in his book Country Miles are Longer than City Miles: 30th Anniversary Edition (AuthorHouse, 2007), describes Boggs’ early life:

During his intermediate years, his parents followed the logging industry, living along the railroad tracks in shanties that were transported from place to place aboard a train.

Boggs is quoted by Royce about growing up in a poor family:

You have to make do with less than other people in society. We had to eat anything we could grow; and if we couldn’t grow it, we couldn’t eat it. … There was a time when we would only go the twenty-three miles to Harlan twice a year, in the spring to buy the seeds and fall to buy shoes We walked twelve miles to the train to ride eleven miles on it, then carried the groceries back. I can remember when a head of lettuce was better than a candy bar.

Boggs subsequently studied at Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute in Jackson, Huntington College in Ashland, and Asbury College, a Christian liberal arts school located in Wilmore, Kentucky. 

During the 1940s, Boggs served overseas in the U.S. Army during World War II. According to Royce:

During World War II, he befriended many German prisoners, who still correspond with him. He learned to speak German by reading the most elementary books available, and the German prisoners told him he talked like a baby. His humanity moved many of the prisoners and he recalls their bringing him his rifle when he forgot it. During the Christmas season, he would shun the GI parties and go instead to the prison camps to sing with and for the Germans. His war experiences taught him that all human beings are precious.

According to an obituary for Rev. Boggs, written by Mary and Burton Rogers:

At an early age, Alvin knew his call to the Christian ministry among his own people, and through the years has served as pastor to many congregations on both sides of Pine Mt and ministered personally to countless men and women and children.

In 1954, Rev. Boggs returned to PMSS to work as a vocational teacher and leader of recreational community projects. The 1956 Notes article described his activities:

He started woodwork for the older boys and opens the shop to adults two nights a week. He has singing with the younger children and various projects in dramatics, as well as playground supervision.

As a Harlan County native, he must have had a strong desire to help those in his part of Kentucky, a feeling he expressed in his 1961 description to the Council of the Southern Mountains of the area around Black Mountain:

I can believe anything after seeing this area. I cannot describe it…I wish I could do something for this string of coal camp communities. Wish I could talk to you and wish some responsible, able agency could turn some wheels favorably in this place…It is under my skin, and deeper.

ALVIN BOGGS: At Pine Mountain

When Burton Rogers‘ directorship ended at Pine Mountain Settlement School, Rev. Boggs became the acting director, beginning on April 1, 1973. He continued to serve as director for the next ten years and was succeeded by James Urquhart.

Notice of Alvin’s appointment was made in the local Harlan Daily Enterprise: “He has been on the staff at Pine Mountain Settlement School for 18 years … Boggs succeeds Burton Rogers, who will remain on the Pine Mountain staff as assistant director with special duties of maintaining contacts with the School’s many friends …”  Burton also noted in a memo of March 24, 1973, that “It is truly the most rewarding possible climax to my administrative opportunity here to see as my immediate successor a birthright citizen of our own community who is strong and able in every respect.”


Burton Rogers’ announcement of the appointment of Alvin Boggs Acting Director of Pine Mountain Settlement, March 24, 1973, while stepping down to Assistant Director position. [rogers_b_corr_1974_03_24_001.jpg]

In the fall of 1983, Rev. Boggs was pictured in Notes with a description of his new role at PMSS as Associate Director of Development:

[He] is actively working to build up the school funding base in order that we might continue to teach all that we can and more to instill environmental concepts of land stewardship and other values inherent in our rich mountain heritage.

Craig Evan Royce noted that “Reverend Alvin Boggs was the first director to come from the community, a community nestled on the north side of three-thousand-foot mountains, often called the back side because of its remoteness.”

ALVIN BOGGS: Community Service

True to his nature as a self-sacrificing and diligent worker, dedicated to the needs of others, Rev. Boggs “gave much time to his membership on many boards, agencies, and committees in Harlan Co[unty] and further beyond.” His activities with Boy Scouting at Pine Mountain and in the Duffield District earned him the Silver Beaver award, a distinguished service medal of the Boy Scouts of America. At one point in his career, he was a chaplain at Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital and, in his later years, he was active on the Harlan County Committee on Aging. As a Wesley Evangelical Church of North America minister, he had been the pastor of several Eastern Kentucky churches.

In addition, Rev. Boggs was a founder and the administrator of Living Waters Christian School at Pine Mountain, a private Christian elementary school. Of this, Mary and Burton Rogers wrote:

Mr. Boggs’ major dedication of the last 6 years [1983 – 1989] has been the bringing into being of the Living Waters Christian School, serving many children in his Northside community, for which he has been founder and administrator with his utmost zeal and devotion.


Alvin Boggs was born in Big Laurel, Kentucky, on April 15, 1924, to Ava Turner Boggs and Virgil Boggs. He died on November 1, 1989, at age 65, in Lexington, Kentucky, apparently of a heart ailment. At the time, he was a minister at Wesley Evangelical Church in Baxter, Kentucky.

Rev. Boggs was survived by his wife, Ruth Smith Boggs. Their son, Titus Boggs of Big Laurel is deceased. Two daughters, Connie R. Boggs and Sharon Smith. both are in the Pine Mountain area. At the time of his death his father, Virgil Boggs and two brothers: Rev. C. Eldon Boggs, Mount Sterling, Ohio, and Rev. C. Ran Boggs, Vancleve, Kentucky, were living. He had three grandchildren.

Mary and Roger Burton remembered Rev. Boggs with these words:

 Through all his years, Mr. Boggs has been a loving, upright friend of all, serving his fellow men both in earnest concern and in ready good humor and cheer. No matter was too small nor too large to enlist his help, whether personal problems or regional causes. No one will ever know the extent of his loving acts of service and his gift of friendship for all. Everything he did derived from his commitment to follow his Master. ….


Alvin Boggs

Alt. Title

L. Alvin Boggs ; Rev. Alvin Boggs ; Rev. L. Alvin Boggs




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Rev. L. Alvin Boggs ; Alvin Boggs ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; vocational subjects ; recreation ; students ; social workers ; Mt. Carmel High School ; Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute ; Huntington College ; Asbury College ; U.S. Army ; World War II ; Mary Rogers ; Burton Rogers ; pastors ; ministers ; teachers ; woodwork ; singing ; dramatics ; playground ; Council of the Southern Mountains ; Black Mountain ; coal camps ; directors ; acting directors ; James Urquhart ; Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Associate Director of Development ; land stewardship ; Boy Scouts of America ; Silver Beaver award ; chaplains ; Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital ; Harlan County Committee on Aging ; Wesley Evangelical Church of North America ; Living Waters Christian School ; Ava Turner Boggs ; Virgil Boggs ; Ruth Smith Boggs ;Titus Boggs ; Connie R. Boggs ; Sharon Smith ; Rev. C. Eldon Boggs ; Rev. C. Ran Boggs ; Harlan County, KY ; Big Laurel, KY ; Vancleve, KY ; Jackson, KY ; Ashland, KY ; Wilmore, KY ; Duffield District, KY ; Big Laurel, KY ; Mount Sterling, OH ; Craig Evan Royce ; Country Miles Are Longer Than City Miles ;

Subject LCSH

Boggs, Rev. L. Alvin, — April 15, 1924 – November 1, 1989.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Social reformers — Appalachian Region.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 07: Director’s Files ; Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel ; Series 19: Students ;




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 07: Director’s Files, Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel, and Series 14: Students

Coverage Temporal

1924 – 1989

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Big Laurel, KY ; Vancleve, KY ; Jackson, KY ; Ashland, KY ; Wilmore, KY ; Duffield District, KY ; Big Laurel, KY ; Mount Sterling, OH ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Rev. Alvin Boggs ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Rev. Alvin Boggs ;




“[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

2014-01-26 aae ; 2015-05-24 hhw ; 2016-10-17 hhw ; 2018-08-25 aae ;



Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School. (April 1956): 1. Series 17: PMSS Publications. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain,  KY. Internet resource.

Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School. (Fall 1983): 2. Series 17: PMSS Publications. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain,  KY. Internet resource.

Roger, Burton and Mary. Obituary for Alvin Boggs. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain,  KY. Archival material.

Royce, Craig E. Country Miles Are Longer Than City Miles: 30th Anniversary Edition. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2007. Print. PENDING PERMISSION.

Rev. Boggs’ name also appears in the following publications and collection:

Boggs, Alvin, Debra Bays, Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Oral History Commission, and Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. Alvin Boggs Interview, January 3, 1983. Sound recording.

One of several interviews conducted by Southeast Community College (SECC – now called Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College) students as part of their coursework.

Boggs, Alvin. “Old Fox.” Mountain Life & Work. 34.2 (1958): 27-30.

[byline information] This appealing story of ‘Old Fox’, the cow who worked like a mule, is recounted by a teacher-minister of the Pine Mountain region in Kentucky, who is now teaching and preaching in his home valley.

In this article, Rev. Boggs reminisces about his family’s farming days during his boyhood.

Caudill, Rebecca. My Appalachia: A Reminiscence. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966. Print.

Kiffmeyer, Thomas. Reformers to Radicals: The Appalachian Volunteers and the War on Poverty. Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky, 2008. Internet resource.

Page 17 – A quote from Alvin Boggs introduces the article “On the Brink of War: The Council of the Southern Mountains and the Origins of the War on Poverty in Appalachia.”

I can believe anything after seeing this area. I cannot describe it….I wish I could do something for this string of coal camp communities. Wish I could talk to you and wish some responsible, able agency could turn some wheels favorably in this place….It is under my skin, and deeper. –Alvin Boggs, Pine Mountain Settlement School, to the Council of the Southern Mountains, describing the area around Black Mountain, Kentucky, 1961.

Obermiller, Phillip J, Thomas E. Wagner, and Edward B. Tucker. Appalachian Odyssey: Historical Perspectives on the Great Migration. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2000. Print.

Orleck, Annelise, and Lisa G. Hazirjian. The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History, 1964-1980. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011. Internet resource.

Pine Mountain Settlement School. Board of Trustees Papers. KYSX275-A, 1913-1983. Special Collections, Berea College, Berea, KY. Archival material.

This series contains the most comprehensive record of the administrations of Directors Burton Rogers (1949 – 1973) and Alvin Boggs (1973 – 1983) whose office files were lost in a 1983 fire [destruction of Burkham School House II].

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