Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Staff/Personnel
Line Fork 1919 Summer Worker


Isabel McLennan (McMeekin) portrait. 1919 (?) X_099_workers_2490_mod.jpg

Isabel McLennan (McMeekin) portrait. 1919 (?) X_099_workers_2490_mod.jpg

Isabel [Isabella] McLennan was a worker at the Line Fork Settlement School in the Summer of 1919.  She worked with Martha Van Meter, who was also hired as a summer worker in 1919.  Both women wrote excellent accounts of their stay at the extension settlement at Line Fork and turned those narratives over to Pine Mountain as part of the Line Fork Album.

The separate accounts are important as they describe life at the settlement through two different view-points and give an opportunity to compare the experience for summer workers. When Isabel came to Pine Mountain in 1919, the world was just recovering from WWI and a new mood was growing in the country. It was one that had a decidedly anti-radical and anti-alien, anti-Bolshovik sentiment.  The government, as well as organizations such as American Legion Posts, were centers of invigorated patriotism. In Louisville, KY, the city was just awakening to what they perceived to be a threat to the country in the form of immigrants. The Commander of Post #15 of the Louisville American Legion was charged to ferret out anarchists and draft-evaders and any one who showed an unusual pro-German sentiment. The Commander of Louisville Post #15 was Samuel H. McMeekin.

Reconciling the settlement movement’s empathy with the immigrant populations and the work that many settlement houses in cities such as Boston, Chicago and New York were engaging, was complex. It is interesting that rural settlements like Pine Mountain, far from the centers of Hoover’s “cleansing”, were also caught up in a fervent patriotism. Immigrants, however played only a small role in the life of rural settlements such as Pine Mountain. The social and political radicalism often associated with the urban settlement movement seemed to have little impact on the work that was being conducted for health and literacy in the country’s Appalachian mountains, though the roots of the rural settlement movement came out of the earlier radical and dissident milieu. Unrest was to follow in the form of union organizing and dissent surrounding workers rights.  The “Coal Wars”, for example, would be waged for years.

Unlike many of the short-term workers at the school, for whom very little information is found on their background or lives after they left Pine Mountain, Isabel McLennan has left a substantial paper trail. She became a much-lauded writer and was one worker who carried her experiences at Pine Mountain into her literature. She had a long and prolific writing career as an author of fiction and non-fiction, a playwright, a poet, a biographer, and a historian. Her career clearly shows the profound effect of her short contact with Pine Mountain Settlement and the satellite settlement at Line Fork.

Isabel was the daughter of Alexander and Rosa Harbison McLennan. and was educated at Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut and at the University of Chicago. After Isabel left Pine Mountain she married Samuel H. McMeekin, who was the Commander of American Legion Post #15 in Louisville. Commander McMeekin declared to the Louisville Courier Journal, that, “… the post would not tolerate anarchism,” and that “draft evaders and pro-Germanism will be uncovered by the American Legion in this city.”  He also later served as a Racing Executive at Churchill Downs. The couple had many interests in common but the greatest of these was service to the community.  The couple had three children: Isabel, Rosalind and Paxton.

She apparently kept in touch with the School in later years, as a small photograph album of unknown origin contains two photographs of Isabel and her first baby, also named Isabel.

Anon. Album. "Isabella [?] McLennan McMeekin. Age 10 [?] days." With mother, Isabel McLennan McMeekin.

Anon. Album. “Isabella and Isabel McLennan McMeekin. Age 10 [?] days.” Mother, Isabel McLennan McMeekin.

The other photograph in the album shows her husband, Mr. McMeekin and the new 10 [?] day old baby, Isabel born in 1921.

Anon. Album. "Isabella McLennan McMeekin. Age 10 [?] days." With father McMeekin.

Anon. Album. “Isabel McLennan McMeekin,  daughter. Age 10 [?] days.” With father Samuel H. McMeekin.

Isabella McLennan was born November 19, 1895 in Louisville, Kentucky, and would have been twenty-four, by all accounts, when she came to Pine mountain in 1919.  One of her delights in working at the Settlement School Extension at Line Fork was her chance to work with children.  She started her literary career as a winner of several Junior League prizes for her contributions to poetry and plays. In 1942 she was awarded the Julia Ellsworth Ford Foundation award for her book Journey Cake, in which echoes of her Pine Mountain experiences may be found.  The novel Journey Cake was followed by Juba’s New Moon.  Her novel Show Me a Land was made into a motion picture. However, she also delighted in the horses used by the medical staff to travel on horseback to the community homes and back and forth to Pine Mountain School.  Horses were an interest that she never abandoned and many of her literary works, particularly those written for children, center on horses and ponies. Her interest in horses was strongly supported by her husband Sam H. McMeekin who was a racing executive at Churchill Downs. One very curious work mixes fiction with non-fiction in a tale about the Kentucky race-horse, Aristides, winner of the first Kentucky Derby.  Like many of her books, this is a moral tale meant to inspire adolescents.

Her oeuvre was not just literature for the young, she wrote for all ages, young and old and produced plays, fiction, and non-fiction.  She was also a poet and a biographer of note who always maintained a deep interest in history. In later life she served as a Director of the Filson Club of Louisville, one of the most respected historical societies in the state.  Like so many of the women staff at Pine Mountain, she was a member of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America and her ancestry in Kentucky goes back to the beginnings of the country. A great-great grandfather was Jonathon Taylor who was commissioned an ensign by George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

One of her most notable books was LOUISVILLE: The Gateway City, illustrated by Orville Carroll. It was distinguished by being included in the series, “Cities of America Biography.” This special limited edition copy was given to Pine Mountain by Alice Lloyd College to be added to the growing collection of McMeekin’s work.

Characterized by her fellow workers as a fun-loving team player and a collaborative spirit she seems to have carried her free spirit into her literary work.  Many of her books are collaborations with other writers and are most often, uplifting stories.  For example, her collaboration with  Dorothy Park Clark, a writer born in Iowa in 1899,  produced a large group of composite novels under the pseudonym of Clark McMeekin. She also wrote many books with other individuals. For example she wrote Flowers to Grow and Gather with Marion W. Flexner in 1936 and went on to co-author many other works with the author.  She also wrote with Nicholas Panesis in 1944 and with Marguerite Scott in 1950. A bibliography of her work is found in the table below.

She died in 1973 at the age of 78 in Louisville, Kentucky.




Alt. Title

Isabel McLennan McMeekin




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Isabel McLennan McMeekin ; authors ; teachers ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Line Fork Settlement School ; medicine ; horses ; ponies ; children’s books ; poetry ; writers ; Industrial workers ;

Subject LCSH

McMeekin, Isabel McLennan — 1895-1973.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.

Date digital



Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original writing and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet related to Isabel McLennan.


Series 09: Biography/Personnel




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography/Personnel ;

Coverage Temporal


Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;


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 Isabel McLennan McMeekin ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Isabel McLennan McMeekin




Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2014-02-05 hhw ; 2016-02-10 hhw ; 2017-08-14 hhw



Authors Correspondence (mss 358). TopSCHOLAR®, 2011. Internet resource.

[isabel Mclennan McMeekin of Louisville, Kentucky, 1932] (portrait of Isabel McLennan (Mrs. Samuel H.) McMeekin of Louisville, Kentucky, Wearing Her Hair Short and Wavy. the Photograph Has Been Marked with a Few Discolorations and Blemishes. Handwritten on Back of Image: Louisville Author. Stamped on Back: June 11, 1936.). University of Louisville, 1936. Internet resource.

[isabel Mclennan McMeekin of Louisville, Kentucky, 1932] (portrait of Right Profile of Isabel Mclennan (Mrs. Samuel H.) McMeekin of Louisville, Kentucky, Wearing a Cloche Hat and Holding a Clutch in Her Lap. the Photograph Has Been Painted On, Torn in Half and Marked with Discolorations. Handwritten on Back of Image: Louisville Author & Wife of Louisville Race Track Judge. Stamped on Back: February 6, 1932.). University of Louisville, 1932. Internet resource.

[isabel Mclennan Mcmeekin of Louisville, Kentucky, with Marion Flexner, 1936] (portrait of Isabel McLennan (Mrs. Samuel H.) McMeekin of Louisville, Kentucky Looking at a Book with Marion Flexner. the Book Is Probably “Flowers to Grow and Gather,” Co-Written by McMeekin and Flexner. the Photograph Has Been Painted On, Warped and Fading from Age. Stamped on Back: June 11, 1936.). University of Louisville, 1936. Internet resource.

[Isabel Mclennan McMeekin of Louisville, Kentucky] (portrait of Isabel Mclennan (mrs. Samuel H.) McMeekin of Louisville, Kentucky, Wearing a Cloche Hat and Pearls Around Her Neck. Crop Marks Outline Her Image, and the Photograph Is Marred with Discolorations. Handwritten on Back of Image: Louisville Author. Stamped on Back: Credit, Griswold Studio (louisville).). University of Louisville, 1925. Internet resource.

Fine, Irving, Peggy Bacon, Isabel M. L. McMeekin, David T. W. McCord, and Jake Falstaff. The Choral New Yorker: Four Choral Patterns with Piano Obbligato : Based on Texts Originally Published in “the New Yorker”. New York: C. Fischer, 1976. Musical score.

Flexner, Marion W, and Isabel M. L. McMeekin. Food for Children and How to Cook It. New York: H. Holt and company, 1929. Print.

Flexner, Marion W, and Isabel M. L. McMeekin. Flowers to Grow and Gather. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc, 1936. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. The Fairbrothers: A Novel. New York: Putnam, 1961. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Red Raskall. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co, 1943. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Welcome Soldier!New York: D. Appleton-Century Co, 1942. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Reckon with the River. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co, 1941. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Room at the Inn. New York: Putnam, 1953. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Gaudy’s Ladies. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Black Moon. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co, 1945. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. The October Fox. New York: Putnam, 1956. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Tyrone of Kentucky. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1954. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Old Kentucky Country. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1957. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. City of the Flags. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1950. Print.

McMeekin, Clark. Show Me a Land. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co, 1940. Print.

McMeekin, Isabel M. L. Melodies and Mountaineers. Boston, Mass: The Stratford co, 1921. Print.

McMeekin, Isabel M. L, and Nicholas Panesis. Juba’s New Moon. New York: J. Messner, Inc, 1944. Print.

McMeekin, Isabel M. L, and Nicholas Panesis. Journey Cake. New York: Messner, Inc, 1942. Print.

McMeekin, Isabel M. L, and Corinne B. Dillon. Ban-joe and Grey Eagle. New York: F. Watts, 1951. Print.

McMeekin, Isabel M. L. Kentucky Derby Winner. Philadelphia: D. McKay Co, 1949. Print.

McMeekin, Isabella M. L. Robert E. Lee: Knight of the South. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1950. Print.

McMeekin, Isabel M. L, and Pers Crowell. The First Book of Horses. New York: Franklin Watts, 1949. Print.

McMeekin, Isabel. The Postman’s Pony. Illustrations by Chet Kalm.  New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1960. Print. [rare edition]

 Lee, Jacob F. Filson Historical Society Newsmagazine, “Volume 6, No. 1.  accessed February 10,2016.