Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Student
Series 19: STUDENTS
Green Bailey Gross, Student, 1921-1927
Green Bailey Gross (1908-1978)

Angela Melville Album II - Part II

Angela Melville Album, II. Part Il. “Green Bailey [Gross] and William Gross…Cam…Nobie”

GREEN BAILEY GROSS Student, 1921-1927

At Pine Mountain Settlement School

The workers at Pine Mountain Settlement School were fond of all their students, but one in particular seemed to stand out. Marguerite Butler, a teacher, Evelyn K. Wells, a secretary and later acting director, and Katherine Pettit, the School’s co-founder and co-director, appeared to take delight in this little boy’s manner of expressing his thoughts. Each of these workers left behind these anecdotes:


Christmas eve supper was the very nicest of all. Again we had all candles and Clarkie’s little red chimneys at every place. In center of the dining room was a table set for 12, quite apart from all other tables. Twelve small children acted out “Here We Come Wassailing,” Green Bailey with white beard the man of the house, Linda in long skirts and shawl and cap the lady, J ____[Jeems?] and Luther the servants, Lillie and Bessie Mary the cooks in little white caps and aprons. …Green Bailey had the time of his life toasting the marshmallows which Clarkie had in the chimneys by candle flame. After supper while we were singing carols Santa’s bells were heard. The children immediately were all ready to run…. In came Santa (Mr. Callahan) with a pack on his back bringing his little boy, Willie, (Wilmen Stoere). Last year Santa told them he had a little boy Willie so William Gross, Green Bailey’s brother, wrote asking that Santa not bring him a thing but please bring his little boy Willie. They were so delighted they shrieked and clapped. Jeems threw his arms around Willie saying “God bless you, Willie Santa”


Green Bailey spelled “there” “thar” in his story in school. I asked him how he spelled it and wrote “there” on the board, to which he replied “l don’t want hit writ that way. Hit’s ‘thar.’” He’s the one at Xmas that called “Lookout, fellers, for your noses, thar’s Santa!”

EVELYN K. WELLS 1917 Excerpts from Letters Home

But the outside world is coming closer, with war [WWI] reports making us realize we must retrench. When the first news came in, Green Bailey, age nine, announced that “he aimed to fight for his country.” When we asked him what that country was, he answered, “Why, Wallins Creek, Kentucky.”


“I bin lyin’ here a-studyin’ how blue them clouds is a gittin’. I recon they’ll be a pure frost by morning.

“Why didn’t Arch go to get Nancy where they were going to get married?”  “I recon because he didn’t have enough brass in his face to go after her. 

[Marguerite Butler was a teacher, housemother, superintendent of Extension work, and fundraiser in the years 1914 to 1922. Evelyn K. Wells served as a longtime Secretary from 1916 to 1931 and as Acting Director in 1931. The Commonplace Book was a collection of colloquialisms gathered by Katherine Pettit during her time as co-founder and co-director of the Pine Mountain Settlement School, 1913-1930.]

Years later, his daughter-in-law, Nikki Cela-Gross of Richmond, Indiana, wrote in February 2019, that even in his adult years he was an engaging person: “I loved Green. He was such a sweet man, a really good father and wonderful father-in-law. He and I would play cards and he taught me how to cook. A great man.”


Green Bailey Gross was born on June 15, 1908, in Harlan, Kentucky, to John Gross, a coal miner, and Mary (Simpson) Gross. After he left school he met and married a woman named Syble. They had one son and then divorced. Later, he married Inidia Merritt, who was born in Harlan and was 15 years younger than Green Bailey. They had seven children, the first four of them born in Harlan. Their names were Norma Jean, Tracey Cecil, Green Bailey Jr, Billy John, Henry Jackson, Carolyn Sue, and Gary Wayne. Carolyn died in September 1986, Norma died in October 2017.

Bill Gross, who assisted with this biography of his father, served for 22 years in the Marine Corps, realizing Green Bailey Gross’s dream of serving his country. He and Nikki Cela-Gross have been married for 52 years.

The family eventually moved to Richmond, Indiana, where Green worked in a factory. 

Green Bailey Gross passed away on April 1, 1978. He is buried at Earlham Cemetery in Richmond, Indiana.


NOTE: PMSS school records for Green Bailey Gross have not yet been located in the PMSS archives. They may have been lost in the Burkham Schoolhouse fire of 1919, as his school dates coincide with the period of time that the first Schoolhouse was in existence.



Green Bailey Gross




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Green Bailey Gross ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; PMSS workers ; anecdotes ; Inidia Merritt Gross, ; Harlan, Kentucky ; Richmond, Indiana ; Burkham Schoolhouse I ; Marguerite Butler ; Evelyn K. Wells ; Katherine Pettit ; 

Subject LCSH

Gross, Green Bailey, — 1908-1978.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2019-02-16 aae


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY


Nikki Cela-Gross and Green Bailey Gross’s son, Bill Gross, Richmond, Indiana.


Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Students




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Students.

Coverage Temporal

1908 – 2019

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Richmond, Indiana ;


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 created by or addressed to Green Bailey Gross ; clippings, photographs, publications, illustrations by or about Green Bailey Gross.




“[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

2024-01-29 aae ;



1915 and 1917 MARGUERITE BUTLER LETTERS, EVELYN K. WELLS 1917 Excerpts From Letters Home, KATHERINE PETTIT – COMMONPLACE BOOK. Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Students. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

Email correspondence with Nikki Cela-Gross and Green Bailey Gross’s son, Bill Gross, Richmond, Indiana.

“Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2019), Green B Gross and Inidia Merritt, 24 Apr 1943; citing Wayne, Indiana, United States, Marriage Registration, Indiana Commission on Public Records, Indianapolis; FHL microfilm 007030283. Internet resource.

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