STAPLETON REPORT 1926 – August-November “Our First Four Months …”

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Personal Narratives (Written)
Series 10: Medical Settlements
Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton
Line Fork 1927 – 1947

STAPLETON REPORT 1926 – August-November “Our First Four Months …”

TAGS: STAPLETON REPORT 1926 – August-November “Our First Four Months …”; Line Fork Settlement; Huff House; Dr. M. L. Merrow; The Cabin; Miss Ratliff; Dr. Ida Stapleton; Rev. Robert Stapleton; Paris Smith; post office; horses; Hall Brothers; firewood; gardens; fruit trees; Sunday services; singing lessons; students; Community Christmas festival; donations;

Gallery: STAPLETON REPORT 1926 – August-November “Our First Four Months …”

TRANSCRIPTION: STAPLETON REPORT 1926 – August-November “Our First Four Months …”

Transcription courtesy of Gretchen Hasch, great-granddaughter of the Stapletons:

Our first four months at Line Fork Settlement.

Mr. and Mrs Stapleton.

We entered the Line Fork valley from Cumberland which was formerly known as Poor Fork. Arriving there on the night of August 30th [1926] we stayed at the Huff House right next to the depot. The next day we waited for Dr. M. L. Merrow who was leaving the work for she was to bring the horses down from the Cabin that would carry us back to what was to become our home THE CABIN. It was after dinner before she reached the town as she had made a call or two on some sick ones so it was rather late before we left Cumberland for the return trip over Pine Mountain to the valley beyond. Miss Ratliff a worker from Pine Mountain came down with Dr Merrow to show us the way back. On the way, they had arranged for an extra horse to meet us but because we were so late the horse had left for home and so the “man of the party” continued to foot the entire eleven miles yet felt no ill result from the walk. The last mile of the road was after sunset and being through the woods it was so dark we could not see the road at all. Miss Ratliff had left the horse she was riding at its home before we entered the woods and so she was on foot. We had to leave the guidance along this part of the road to the one horse which Mrs Stapleton rode. How to tell the place at which to get off became the question. Perhaps the horse will know the gate and turn in there. But somehow she went past the place. Miss Ratliff sensing the fact that we were somewhere near mentioned her thought. The “man of the party” was soon over the fence and clambering up the hill to the Cabin for he had visited there the year before so knew a little about how the land lay. Our trunks and grips had proceeded us, for Paris Smith had brought them in his waggon [sic] and had placed them on the front veranda. It was but the work of a minute to get the flashlight from the hand grip and so we had a light. Since that climb in the dark, as we have heard the people talk of rattlesnakes and copperheads running about, we wondered at our attempting the climb. All thru the woods, the watching carefully for the road, we could not but notice the phosphorescence of some of the fungi on the old trees and logs lying near the road.

It was not long before the newcomers were enjoying a good cup of tea for the which the two have some smart fondness. Nor did either need to be lulled to sleep that night. The next day came all too soon but we were ready for it and the “man of the party” started out with Miss Ratliff on her return to Pine Mountain, a matter of some seven miles. Known to have been an Englishman at one time it was understood he took kindly to walking. Yes it made him perspire but the Doctor at the Cabin said that was good for him. We were a little late for dinner but this fault was excused under the circumstances and both parties did justice to the bountiful repast set before us. After talking over affairs at the office which gave him a chance for a rest he started back for Line Fork Settlement again on foot as it was learned that the horse was needed at the other settlement where he belonged. Thus the first day of our work here passed with a well-earned supper that was soon upon the table after his return. On the road up to the Cabin the first day enough time was taken as we passed the post office to be introduced to those in charge there and since that day few days have passed that we have not visited the place. Sometime on horseback but very often on foot.

The first matter was to secure a horse. Two days later a man brought up a horse for us to look over. We took a liking for the creature from the first. He agreed to let us try it for a week. This was Friday afternoon and at three o’clock the next morning the Doctor had her first chance to test the horse. A shootin-up had taken place at a wedding supper the account of which she will relate (see “Some Experiences in the life of the Doctor“).

It was some two to three weeks before our boxes came to and without which we could not quite feel at home as we do now with the little “nic-nacs” not to mention the Turkish rugs and pictures, all of which add a great deal in making the Cabin as cosy a place as one could wish under the conditions here. There was much work to be done around the Cabin as well as preparing for the winter in the matter of fuel — firewood for the fireplace in the sitting room as well as stove wood for the cook stove. The Hall brothers came to our aid and before the last of December we had a good supply of all kinds of fuel including coal for the cook stove. We have learned not a little about the values of the different wood as to being used for fuel. Much to our chagrin we learned that a hemlock unless very dry will need as much kindling as the worst of woods. Sure and we hoped to have a good supply of kindling from the log we had John M pack down here for us. Well it gave him some work and removed the log from the side of the road along which we passed every time we went to Bear Branch school or up to Manon Cornett’s store.

Next we began to look round the premises to see wherein improvements could be made as to appearance and then looking forward to the coming year in respect to gardens, both vegetable and flower. Several stumps and rocks were in the way of our plans and these we set at work to be removed. Sure we can tell a little more about how to handle a rock or stump by this time for one soon learns that there are knacks about the work which help a great deal. In addition to the plans for the vegetables we have planned for some fruit trees and vines and have them already in the ground. Three cherry trees, two apple, two pear and three peach trees, a dozen raspberry bushes, three grape vines, besides rhubarb and asparagus roots.

In the matter of cleaning up, the boys from the Bear Branch district have been eager to come here on Saturdays to work. Yet here has been so much rainy and bad weather that often our plans for that day have fallen thru. In the woods around the Cabin we are having the limb wood picked up and sawn up for firewood and kindling. At times they must think this a queer thing to do since for their own home use they are particular what wood they get. But at last, they begin to see that it is a clean-up job they are after also.

From the first we have tried to have a Sunday service in the two schools and with two exceptions went to each school every Sunday during the four months. Here again the bad and stormy Sundays of which we have had more than fine days have worked against the success of this effort. For the time being that at the Koyle Branch school has been given up and for the afternoons on Sunday we will try and visit the homes in both districts and so get in closer touch with the people. In both schools during the week singing lessons have been given. These are enjoyed by the scholars. We have come to realize how discouraging the work here must be for the teachers at the poor attendance at school. Any kind of work at home will keep both girls and boys away from school; to say nothing of the smallest excuse about having to go to the post or down the Fork to another store than the one nearby. It is few it seems to me who can show an attendance of half the time. First comes hoeing the corn and then foddering to be followed by pulling the corn and packing it from the field to the barn, the killing of hogs or the hunting for these hogs in the woods where they roam at pleasure in search for food.

The first thing attempted in the school was the Thanksgiving day service in both schools. The Doctor joined in this and was present at the morning service at Bear Branch school but before we had dinner a call came for her from Pine Mountain and so the afternoon service at the Koyle Branch school was directed by the MAN of the Settlement.

The one big success of the season was the Community tree and the festival in which both schools took part. Each school had learned songs suitable for the day and had also prepared recitations which were given with a good spirit. The tree was planted in front of the Health house having been transplanted from the woods outside and this was done with the hopes that it might take root and live there and thus become a living Christmas tree. With the aid of many friends from outside we were able to prepare a package for each family of the two school districts and as far as possible each member of the family was remembered with a suitable present. Copies of the National Geographic came in handy and each family received one copy with the suggestion that they might exchange as they finished with their own copy. These were well received in many homes and much enjoyed. The mothers of one district received work-bags furnished with needles and thread, buttons and scissors while the women of the other districts received quilt pieces. The turn out was good and we were fortunate in the day chosen for it was Thursday morning the 23rd. To each scholar of the two schools was given a box of candy and an orange. This was extra for each had a share in the family package. Some seven dozen oranges were needed perhaps to include some of the children too young for school but who were present at the tree. Mothers brought their babies in arms. A good fire in the health house had been prepared for them where it was thought they might sit and be near enough to the singing and speaking to enjoy both. But one mother thwarted this plan since she was there and it was rumoured that her baby had been exposed to the whooping cough. So the rest of the mothers flocked into the sitting room of the Cabin which had been Santa’s work-shop and was hardly ready for visitors. It was to be regretted that such a circumstance took place for the mothers here could hear but little of the programme.

Before night the rain began again and continued thru our own Christmas Day which we spent in the Cabin. It was the first one spent alone by the Stapletons for many years. The schools had but one day for vacation and so on Monday the lessons began again and singing was taken up with the idea for closing exercises in February. New Year’s Day was a winterly one and a regular blizzard was the weather program. Thru out the day only one caller came to the Cabin and he was our neighbor who brought us the milk.

During the four months we have tried to keep in touch with friends sending papers and magazines for the Settlement work. Mrs J. S. Lock of Barbourville Ky keeps us supplied with Sunday School literature. Mr Paul M. Atkins of Chicago has repeatedly sent copies of the Geographic. The Sunday school and clubs of the First Presbyterian Church of Bessemer Alabama are trying to help with magazines. The Baptist Church of Iola Kansas where Dr Merrow’s brother-in-law is pastor sent us help for Christmas as well as Sunday School papers. Miss Mae Brown of Detroit in memory of a cup of tea she had here four or five years ago remembered the workers by a box that went to make a fine tea or in fact many such teas as her friends added to the box a fruit cake and candies as well as jams. Miss Abercrombie of Malden, Mass[achusetts], did much to make the Christmas festival a success by the money and presents she sent, much the work of the old ladies in the Home where she lives.

During the four months we have had visitors to stay overnight just four times. The Rev French from Harlan was the first while the others were from Pine Mountain. Come again and often if you enjoyed the first trip.

[signed] Robert Stapleton

Return to Dr. IDA STAPLETON & Rev. ROBERT STAPLETON Guide to Reports


STAPLETON REPORT 1926 – August-November “Our First Four Months …”

Alt. Title

Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton
Line Fork 1927 – 1947


STAPLETON REPORT 1926 – August-November “Our First Four Months …”


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Dr. Ida Stapleton ; Rev. Robert Stapleton ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Line Fork Settlement ; Line Fork Valley ; Cumberland ; Poor Fork ; Huff House ; Dr. M. L. Merrow ; horses ; Cabin ; Miss Ratliff ; Paris Smith ; rattlesnakes ; copperheads ; fungi phosphorescence ; doctors ; shootin-up ; Turkish rugs ; Hall brothers ; hemlock ; Bear Branch school ; Manon Cornett’s store ; gardens ; vegetables ; fruit ; foddering ; Bear Branch district ; kindling ; firewood ; Sunday services ; Koyle Branch school ; singing lessons ; school attendance ; hogs ; whooping cough ; Thanksgiving Day services ; Community Christmas tree ; festival ; Health house ; National Geographic ; work-bags ; quilt pieces ; oranges ; Christmas Day ; New Year’s Day ; Mrs J. S. Lock ; Sunday School literature ; Paul M. Atkins ; First Presbyterian church ; magazines ; Baptist Church ; Miss Mae Brown ; Miss Abercrombie ; Rev French ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Line Fork, KY ; Gilley, KY ; Letcher County, KY ; Barbourville, KY ; Chicago, IL ; Bessamer, AL ; Iola, KS ; Detroit, MI ; Malden, Ms ; Harlan, KY ;

Subject LCSH

Stapleton, Dr. Ida S., — 1871 – 1946.
Stapleton, Rev. Robert, — 1866 – 1945.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Rural health services — Appalachian Region — History.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY


Gretchen Rasch


Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 09: Biography – Personal Narratives (Written)
Series 10: Medical Settlements




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written) ; Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) ; Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) Library, Ida Stapleton Letters to Friends SC 462 ; Morris, Glyn. Less Traveled Roads, New York: Vantage Press, 1977.

Coverage Temporal

August-November 1926

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Line Fork, KY ; Gilley, KY ; Letcher County, KY ; Barbourville, KY ; Chicago, IL ; Bessamer, AL ; Iola, KS ; Detroit, MI ; Malden, Ms ; Harlan, 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 Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton ;




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

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated



Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written). Archival material.

Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) (accessed 2014-01-06). Internet resource.

Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) Library, Ida Stapleton Letters to Friends SC 462 (accessed 2014-01-06). Internet resource.

Morris, Glyn. Less Traveled Roads, New York: Vantage Press, 1977. Print.