STAPLETON REPORT 1930 – February “Seven Days on Line Fork … “

Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton
Line Fork 1927 – 1947
STAPLETON REPORT – February 1930
“Seven Days on Line Fork”

TRANSCRIPTION courtesy of Gretchen Rasch, great-granddaughter of the Stapletons: 

LINE FORK SETTLEMENT          Gilley P O, Kentucky

Seven days on Line Fork

Monday February 10, 1930

Monday seems an especially favourite day for a visit at the Cabin. First came Mary. One – Nancy – had visited her mother. “She is a busybody you know and tried to make Mama say something about you. When she said nothing but good things Nancy went away saying, ‘Her sun rises and sets in Mrs Stapleton.’” That’s not so bad. I was amused. She would see my “Log Cabin” quilt as she is making one to sell if possible and I am looking out for a buyer. Next came Loretta with a pail of water-ground corn meal in exchange for some cough drops as well as to return Mr Martin’s Magazine the first copy for Line Fork passed from house to house. A nice little talk with Loretta took place. She had been in Pine Mountain for two terms and shows it especially in her nice manners. She had scarcely left when Liza H and her little boy Carter came in. They had ridden ten miles on her father’s mule having started at daybreak and not stopping to wash hands or faces. The doctor was much surprised and chided Eliza gently for not attending to those matters when coming to see the doctor. Little Carter is four and has never been so far away from home before. His poor little over-alls are very much and very badly patched. The little coat had not been mended at all and just hung on with a safety pin. After warming a bit Carter was persuaded to go in the bathroom and have his hands washed. He submitted to that with good grace. But when it came to his face he howled and Eliza kept saying, “She won’t hurt you”. He was soon appeased with an apple and a toy bird with a whistle, while Mr S played the bird record on the victrola.

The doctor got the medicine and made some sandwiches for them to eat on their way back as it was still too early for dinner. Poor Eliza, her baby lived but an hour – lucky baby – and she had had to take up her burdens much too soon as “Arch was down again” and din’t we have some meal or couldn’t we help them in some way. No, I could only give the medicine and hope that Arch would be better soon and work for them. I hurried them off with a small gift for little Tiny and sister Oma who had stayed at home with Arch as I had planned a trip over on Stony Fork that would take all the afternoon.

Susan who had had her eyes [line missing] same symptoms, so would I send her for treatment. I had written the L & N RR Co for passes which had arrived. Susan has had a return of the trouble in one eye so she needed to go also and wanted to take Dovey the niece. Dovey I found had a baby girl of nine months but no husband. She had been wandering from one relative to another as her stepmother would not have her at her own father’s house and her grandmother couldn’t because Dovey would have the boys calling on her. It seemed a fitting case for the House of Mercy and it was proposed to her. Dovey said she would be glad to go anywhere just so as she could keep her baby. But when I went over to Susan’s with the passes she had gone back to Beech Fork where a married sister lived and Susan was uncertain as to whether she would come back or not. Susan’s husband thought that Dovey ought to be sent to a house of correction for two years but he didn’t reckon her father would have the grit to send her.

After some little conversation with some stories and songs for the four little ones there I left to go back in a few days to see whether Dovey returns to accept the kindness waiting for her.

I called at the next farm to console Mandy whose daughter “had been beaten enough not to do as her mother had done before her” but who was lucky enough to have a brother who insisted that the young man be married to her at once or take the law. He said that he had intended to be married to her – but at the same time it looked as tho he intended to leave the country. Why he did not marry her before is unexplained. He is kind to his little wife and they seem happy. The trouble is in the family ignorance and lack of self-control. Mandy had never even cared to try and send her children to school.

Back on Line Fork near Gilley post office I passed the pretty little place of Martha Lewis. Her two daughters were out in over-alls raking the yard, burning the leaves that had drifted in and making all tidy for the Spring planting. A big tree that had shaded the house had been cut down (as it shaded the garden also) – much to their sorrow – but garden acres in the hollows are precious.

A letter by post requested a visit six miles down Line Fork and a mile up a branch. It is the place from which we had bought Swallow. I hadn’t been there since we first came but this call to see Sofia the son’s wife could not be ignored. So a day was taken for it and I enjoyed making a new friend – yes, three of them for there are twin boys six years old. They had been brought up mostly by their “Maw” as they generally say for grand-mother. The mother has been in very poor health ever since their birth, so much that it is an old story and not much sympathy for her complaints. However these can be cured and if that can be brought about the happiness of the home will be assured. They live in a rude little cabin but some evidence of neatness and desire for culture is in evidence. The twins are named Otis and Oddus. On asking the latter if they went to school he answered promptly “Not yet”. He had a nice little whistle that he tried occasionally and illustrated how he called the dog or the mule. But Otis could not whistle at all although Oddus had been trying “to larn” him a long time. We had quite a nice little chat while Sofia was preparing a little dinner for me. Oddus sat down by the door while I was eating and continued to talk. Sofia chided him a bit and said “He don’t usually talk so much”. “No” said Oddus “No one comes that I want to talk to”.

Sofia was willing to go to the hospital if her husband would consent and find the twenty-five dollars that it would cost – all the rest would be sweet charity – and she even hoped she would later make a quilt and sell it. She showed me an interesting pattern called the pine tree in green and white that she had done very neatly. In the meantime I gave her advice &c and encouragement.

As I passed another house old Suzanna came out to show me her leg and what a bad sore there was on it that salves did not cure and it hurt her very much. “Wouldn’t I do something for hit?” At another gate there was more conversation and then a friendly call on a family where there had been much sickness. Such a neat pretty place – the house painted and the yard all picked up. The two young daughters who had been ill a long time were well again and at the moment taken up with some little brown puppies that one had brought from a neighbor’s. The mother rather objected to a “gang” of pups tho she did not mind one. The daughters assured her that it took three to make a gang and two were all they wanted.

The weather was so very fine that Johnny Lewis came up to plow our garden and Mr S went to visit the schools. He found a traveller who was giving a chalk talk to the children and brought him to the Cabin for dinner. We were delighted to have such an interesting guest – as he is Supt of Presbyterian S S in several counties around here while he is living at Hyden in an adjoining county. A few callers at the Cabin.

An unexpected baby party took this day. The young mother had been trying to do her part in planting garden the day before and overlifting had brought on a premature confinement. The infant lived a few hours and passed on. It was perhaps the best thing that could have happened as the little mother was too young to be trusted with such a precious gift as a child.

Friday and Valentine Day
I had such a pleasant hour making sugar cookies in Valentine shape for the school children. Mr S distributed them and on asking what V-Day meant, one child replied “Sweet Hearts” and then he gave them some. All smiled at the joke and sent thanks to Mrs S. As Rosa Belle was here that day she did most of the work and after visiting my patient I was home in time for dinner and we had the pleasure of Miss Melville from Pine Mt to eat chicken and dumplings with us – a neighbor having sent a dressed chicken that morning. I had saved a few “Sweet Hearts” to send to Grandpap Hall whose birthday it was. We had had dinner with him on the two preceeding birthdays – but could not go this time. Lorry his daughter in law came to the Cabin with her niece Polly Jane to bring us some eggs and I sent the cookies back with her. “Grandpap was poorly but could eat right smart”.

Just one caller this morning- an interesting young man from near Cincinnati who had come into the mountains some three years ago and had married a mountain girl. They settled down in a tiny cabin near her father’s house some five miles distant from us here in a very rough place. He has been to the Cabin several times for medicines and once I went to their cabin. He finds it quite impossible to work the steep farm lands and has worked in the lumber camps. Now his wife is willing to move near one of the camps where a long time job will be possible. He says the mountains seem steeper every time he goes down Line Fork. He wishes he was back in the level country around Cincinnati. He said that his wife could not believe there was such a country, never having seen it but he aims to take her out sometimes and show it to her and then never come back. Very few around here would ever think they could live outside the mountains unless they had some education.

After dinner I visited my patient again – so much recovered she had been sitting on the porch nearly all day. Sara Jane, her mother in law had washed and scrubbed the house and was complaining bitterly about a pain in her shoulder as she started to lift the heavy quilts on an adjacent bed. A call to wait on someone at the store took her out so I made up the bed for her. She didn’t know how she could get supper but I replied “I won’t let Mary Belle do it”. She said “She would if I would let her” and doubtless she would have been helping with the washing if I had not been visiting her. So many Mt women have injured themselves for life by such indiscretions!

An urgent request had come to visit a very sick woman at the head of Big Leatherwood but it was so very cold I just couldn’t make it and waited until the weather should warm up a bit. No one came to the Cabin except a man from this same case. I told him I would surely go the next day and did so as there was a decided change in the temperature. When I go over there I make several calls and it would be interesting to tell something of each of the five places where I stopped but this is already getting too long. Dovey had not come back yet to Susan’s so her eyes are not being treated. I found a very patient sufferer from an internal growth. She had a forlorn hope that I might be able to help her. She had been to Cumberland to be under a doctor’s care for two months but had refused operative treatment so there was little that I could do. I was glad to find that she had a real faith in God’s goodness and said – “I do know that He helps me bear the pain and I have many good friends”. She had been a very active woman and had brought up three grandchildren unaided until four years ago when she was given a pension and since then she has had thirty dollars a month. A widowed daughter is now caring for her and has her house screened – even the porches. It is the first one I’ve seen with that grand comfort in a place where flies are especially bad. There were a lot of women calling – mostly relatives – so I stayed awhile and talked of causes of sickness, not germs altogether but habits of eating, etc.

This person urgently asked me to come again and have dinner with them. Crossing the ridge I came down on Line Fork riding down Long Branch – a lovely ride much of the way thru the forest and the Branch itself. I was home at dusky dark.

[signed] Sincerely Yours
Ida and Robert Stapleton

[Date of transcription: 2013-03-04]


STAPLETON REPORT 1930 – February

Alt. Title

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



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 ; Log Cabin quilts ; Mr. Martin’s Magazine ; victrolas ; Stony Fork ; L & N Railroad ; House of Mercy ; Beech Fork ; house of correction ; Martha Lewis ; hospitals ; Johnny Lewis ; chalk talks ; Presbyterian Sunday School ; Valentine cookies ; Angela Melville ; Grandpap Hall ; quilts ; Big Leatherwood ; screens ; Long Branch ;

Subject LCSH

Stapleton, Dr. Ida S., — 1871 – 1946.
Stapleton, Rev. Robert, — 1866 — 1945.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Line Fork Medical Settlement (Gilley, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural medicine — Kentucky — Letcher 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 21A: Personal Narratives (Written), Series 14: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement ; Series 09: Biography – Ruth Dennis, Katherine Pettit ;




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written) ; Series 14: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement ; Series 09: Biography – Ruth Dennis, Katherine Pettit ; 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

February 1930

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Line Fork, KY ; Gilley, KY ; Letcher 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 Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton ;




Line Fork Settlement School – Dr. Ida S. 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

2014-03-01 aae ; 2014-03-06 aae ;



Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 21A: Personal Narratives (Written), Series 14: Built Environment – Line Fork Settlement, and Series 09: Biography – Ruth Dennis, Katherine Pettit. Pine Mountain, KY. 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.