LEWIS LYTTLE Letters to Katherine Pettit 1911 

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 01: Planning for PMSS / Letters and Documents

LEWIS LYTTLE Letters to Katherine Pettit 1911

TAGS: Lewis Lyttle letters to Katherine Pettit 1911; Rev. Lewis Lyttle; Katherine Pettit; Hindman Settlement School; Slemp, KY; Maces Creek; smallpox; model school; Appalachian people; preachers: churches; land use, Henry Singleton, Maces Creek, Columbus Creech, Eli Hall, P.W. Hall, Carr Fork, Breedings Creek, Defeated Creek, May Stone, Andy Shepherd, Leatherwood

Lewis Lyttle (lft) and Columbus Creech (rt)1`948.
“Judge Lewis Lyttle, 1948,” and “Columbus Creech.[son of William Creech] ” [nace_II_album_075.jpg]

LEWIS LYTTLE Letters to Katherine Pettit 1911

In the early 1900s, Rev. Lewis Lyttle served as a liaison between Katherine Pettit and the community to find those who would donate suitable land on which to build a new settlement school. When Lyttle wrote the following letters, the idea of a school in the Pine Mountain Valley was just beginning to form in the minds of Lyttle and Pettit. The timing was fortuitous and both Lyttle and Pettit began to energetically work toward making the vision a reality.

Lyttle’s letters are in response to those drafted by Katherine Pettit which we do not hold in the collections at Pine Mountain. One of Lyttle’s letters was written at Pettit’s request, “setting forth why we ought to have this School.” When this and the other letters were combined into alternative versions, possibly by Katherine Pettit, certain portions were re-worded or omitted and some paragraphs re-arranged. These alternative versions were most likely to be used for promotional and fundraising purposes.

TRANSCRIPTIONS: Lewis Lyttle Letters to Katherine Pettit 1911

[NOTE: Text is slightly edited for clarity.]

1. May 1, 1911

Slemp, Ky. May 1st 1911
Miss Katherine Petitt,
Yours of Apr. 6th received. [I] was not able to write you any earlier. I am glad to say that myself and family have fully recovered from smallpox and we have thoroughly renovated our house with potash carbolic acid and sulphur.

In regard to your Pine Mountain School I am deeply interested in the enterprise. I am quite sure you can make a success. I have just been to Greasy Creek and have located a place which I think is the most important place in the mountains. It is at the mouth of Big Laurel on Greasy. The people are enthusiastic about it. It is near the Pine Mt. in Harlan County four miles from Letcher, three from Leslie line and three from Perry line. It is where Cut Shin, Greasy, Big Leatherwood and Line Fork all head up together and give a great field to draw from. The place which I have located has fine building grounds just upon a little rise just at the base. There is a fine level tract of about ten acres for a campus, and the people say they will give the land and all timber for building and will work and give all the money they can.

Now if there was ever a place that needs a school and Christian training it is that country. It is about 12 miles from the R.R., the wagon road, about six over the Pine Mt. by footpath. I can’t tell you all I would like about this place but if you will come I will go with you any time. I preach there the 4th Sunday in this month. If you could come and go with me then I would be glad. If you can’t come then let me know when you can come and I will let them know at that time so the people can all be there when you do come.

When you come [by] horseback, come to Mr. Hilton’s on Carr [Fork] at the mouth of Breedings Creek, then come up Defeated Creek that comes in at Mr. Hilton’s. You then come down the river about 2 miles to Leatherwood, then come up Leatherwood 5 miles to Henry Singleton’s. You then can call for me over the phone and I will give you further directions or you may come direct to my house. You can come from Hindman to Mr. Singleton’s in a day. Have Amos Bryant to come with you: he knows the way and he wants to come over here in [on?] some S.S. works.

I will also go to other points with you. If you mean to build this School I will help you all I can. I will help you get the place and anything else I can do. Remember me to Miss Stone.

I am yours for success
Lewis Lyttle

P.S. I am sending you a little memoranda book with the names of the people that are interested in the school who live in the neighborhood. There are about 125 pupil children who live close enough to attend this school from home.

2. MAY 9 1911 – Pages 1-2

[lyttle_pettit_1911-05-09_001.jpg], handwritten letter from Lyttle to Pettit, page 1 of 2.

Slemp, Ky May 9th 1911
Miss Katherine Pettit
Hindman, Ky.
Your letter just received and greatly appreciated. If you come in a spring wagon the best way is to come down Carr and up the river to Maces Creek then up Maces Creek across to the river again just below Leatherwood. That way you will only be on the R.R. line for about three miles and I don’t think they are blasting any along there.

The point is with me at present: how we are to drive from my house to Greasy. It can be done but it is a rough way. If you would not care to walk a few miles we could go from my house without much riding. If you ride astride it would not hurt a horse to ride from here over there and I could get Mrs. Singleton’s horse for you. We will manage it some way. I hardly think you can drive from Hindman to Mr. Singletons in a day. It is 12 miles from the mouth of Carr to Singleton’s but there [are] lots of good places to stay. If you could get…

[lyttle_pettit_1911-05-09_002.jpg], page 2 of 2.

…up as far as the mouth of Leatherwood, Marion Cornett’s or Arch Cornett’s is a fine place to stay or P.W. Hall’s on Maces Creek [seen below]..

P.W Hall’s house on Maces Creek. [Later home of Eli Hall, PW’s son and the father of Enoch Hall. Enoch’s children, Enoch C. Hall II, Eula Fern Hall and Flora Patsy Hall, lived in Viper, Ky. All went to Pine Mountain Settlement School.] [brashear_fam_022.jpg]

I live five miles above Singletons. You need not be a bit uneasy about smallpox. They are all died out and besides you don’t come into the country where they have been. There has not been a case down Leatherwood. They are from my house up on the head of Leatherwood.

Yes, you can reach me from Hindman by phone. Call the exchange at Jeff and have them ring Andy Shepherd’s.

I think you will find a very kind and responsive people here but they are not cultured. They will not do you a wrong by any means. They will be as kind as they know how to be.

I am satisfied you will like the field and it is the very place to make a model School for you have the material to begin with. You take them from the very bottom. So I will try to comply with your request and write a letter for you setting forth why we ought to have this School. We are all well.
Faithfully yours, Lewis Lyttle

Typewritten transcription of above letter, page 1 of 1.

3. MAY 9, 1911 – Pages 1-6

[lyttle_pettit_1911_001.jpg] Handwritten letter from Lyttle to Pettit, page 1 of 6.

Slemp, Ky., May the 9th 1911
Miss Katherine Pettit
Dear Miss Pettit: Having been connected some with your work at [penciled notation: lived at] Hindman and knowing the vast amount of good you have accomplished at that place, I make this appeal to you in behal[f] of a people that I have been laboring with one year at this date.

The people of this remote place have been neglected. The country in which they live is so rough that they hardly ever saw a preacher except some old country fogie that thinks a person must not be spoken to about religion until they are forty years old and then they require some great dream as an experience which begins on some man or church and ends on same. They are opposed to education and improvement. They have the same old log school houses with the same old benches, holes bored in a puncheon.

I taught last year in a log house and the trustee gave a speech on the first day and pointed to a bench that was made from a puncheon and said, “What little larning (sic)

[lyttle_pettit_1911_002.jpg], page 2 of 6.

…I got was on that bench 30 years ago.” The bench is here yet to serve future generations unless they have someone come to their rescue. When I first came here they did not know what a missionary was. They would tell all kinds of things on me. They say that I won’t baptize anyone unless I get $5.00. But these people are waking up. They see a better day ahead and are anxious for an opportunity.

Just a short time ago the mother of 5 boys and 3 girls from the neighborhood where we want this School got on a mule astride, put two jugs in a sack, some bottles in a pair of saddle bags and a 45 pistol in the other side, rode to a moonshine still, had her jugs filled, got drunk and started off, pulled out the pistol and emptied the contents along the highway. And the husband of this woman will give $100.00 to the School.

I was at meeting the other day and a young lady, 18 years old, was complaining. I asked the cause and someone said she had been on a drunk. After all these people can be redeemed. They are the easiest people reached you evry (sic) saw. They…

[lyttle_pettit_1911_003.jpg], page 3 of 6.

…have never been taught any better.

Those young ladies have the best voices to sing you ever heard. I was at church the other day and sang, “There is not a friend like the lonely Jesus.” A girl, 17 years old, no doubt but what it was the first time the girl had ever been to church in her life, went home and told her ma that the preacher sung (sic) the prettiest song she ever heard. Her mother asked her what it was. She said it was something about a “long-eyed Jesus.”

These people are not ignorant but illiterate. There are people here grown who were never in a Sunday School in their life. I was running a boarding house in Hazard last winter a year ago and had some young men boarding with me. A number of them were Christians. Some were not. There was a revival going on in town and a young man, 14 years old, was convicted of sin. I was interested in him and often brought him to the family room and my wife and I would pray with him. One night he was converted and as we started to church he came to us and said that he was going…

[lyttle_pettit_1911_004.jpg], page 4 of 6.

…to join the church that night and he seemed so happy. We went on to church and he went by the post office. He came and sat close to me. I saw a change had come over him. He looked sad and when the sermon closed the invitation [was] given for the reception of members. Some went but he never moved but completely broke down. When church closed we went home and he came directly to my room and I asked him if he was doubting his conversion. He said no and produced a letter that he had received from his father. The letter stated: “Dear boy, I understand you are about to jine (sic) the church now. You are just a boy and not fifteen to jine the church. wait till you are fifteen and then jine the regular Baptist for they haint no good in money preachers. I have been fixin up for you to have a good time when you come home. There is going to be some big frolics and you will want to get on a spree and a feller can’t get on a spree and belong to the church. Besides, we have some rough…

[lyttle_pettit_1911_005.jpg], page 5 of 6.

…land to tend and you will have to plow old Frank and you will have to cuss a good deal. So remember what your father has said to you and don’t git into that lodge for God [sake?].”

But thank the Lord, the arrow of conviction was so deep that the boy held out, overcame all temptation and in one year joined the Missionary Baptist Church and is now an active Christian.

I would shrink from asking anyone but you to undertake to start a School in such conditions as we will have to meet but I know you understand them. 8 [change to “ten” in transcription] years ago when I met you with Mrs. Dechamp and Miss Stone and you told me you bought Clarks School [penciled notation: had decided to have a school at Hindman,] I thought to myself , “A failure. What can those women do at Hindman with 8 stills…

[lyttle_pettit_1911_006.jpg], page 6 of 6.

…in a circle of 5 miles of Hindman.” In 5 years you could not get whiskey in Hindman for anything and no violence were (sic) used. People saw something better and took advantage of it.

I think there is a good place here where Greasy, Middle Fork, Line Fork, Straight Creek, Leatherwood, Cutshin, all head in against the Pine Mountain. Pure air, pure water and plenty of children to enjoy it. Invest something in the character of these boys and girls and someday you will reap a good harvest, if not in this world it will be in heaven where there is (sic) now many stars in your crown for what you have already done.

Yours for Christ and the uplift of these people.
Rev. Lewis Lyttle
Slemp, Ky.

[lyttle_pettit_1911_007. jpg]
Typewritten alternate version of letter dated May 9, 1911, from Lyttle to Pettit [truncated at end].

Typewritten alternate version of letter dated May 9, 1911, from Lyttle to Pettit [truncated at end].

Typewritten alternate version of partial letter dated May 9, 1911, from Lyttle to Pettit [truncated at top].

[lyttle_pettit_1911_cpy_001.jpg] through [lyttle_pettit_1911_cpy_004.jpg]
Complete typewritten alternate version of Lewis Lyttle’s handwritten letter dated May 9, 1911, with minor edits penciled in.

In these letters by PMSS’s co-founder, the seeds of PMSS were
planted and planning for a school began.

KATHERINE PETTIT CORRESPONDENCE 1911 My Dear Friend Letter May 27, 1911
This fundraising letter of May 27, 1911, describes a visit by Miss Pettit,
Rev. Lewis Lyttle, Miss Harriet Butler and Stephen Guilford to the proposed PMSS land.

See Also:
POST: A BRAVE AND IMAGINATIVE PLAN TAKES SHAPE: Lewis Lyttle – A Key Player in the Founding of PMSS
LEWIS LYTTLE Letters to Pettit and Nolan 1912
LEWIS LYTTLE Rev. Biography

GALLERY: Lewis Lyttle Letters to Katherine Pettit 1911