JAMES A. CAWOOD Consultant

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Volunteers, Consultants
Series 21: Guidance Institute
Dr. James A. Cawood (1905-1973)

JAMES A. CAWOOD Consultant

Harlan County Superintendent of Schools 1934-1972
Director of the Guidance Institute 1945-c.1963

TAGS: James A. Cawood, consultants, Harlan County, superintendent of schools, vocational education, educational programming, Rural Youth Guidance Institutes, Evarts (KY) School, school principals, students, Harlan County Planning Council, Kentucky Education Association, James A. Cawood Schools, Cawood family 

James A. Cawood Biography

Dr. James A. Cawood, c. 1942.


Dr. James A. Cawood was a driving force behind the Rural Youth Guidance Institute, an annual meeting of educators and youth leaders most often held at Pine Mountain Settlement School each spring. He was co-director with Glyn Morris during the 1930s and early 1940s. After Morris left in 1945, Cawood was the director of the organization at least until 1963 when the Institute held its 22nd annual meeting.

Cawood was also the Superintendent of the Harlan County School system from 1934 to 1972 and remains the longest-tenured of the 18 superintendents who have led the school district.

[Source of photograph: Historical Resume of Evarts. The Community Church, Black Mountain Academy, 1942. Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections.]


The first 10 years of meetings were known as the Rural Youth Guidance Institute, beginning in 1935 and lasting until approximately 1945. In its early years, the Institute’s focus was on increasing vocational opportunities for rural youth. Later, its activities provided county-wide vocational programming for rural youth. The week-long meetings included Harlan County teachers, parents, ministers and other youth leaders from across the country.

According to the 1940 Institute Findings, “As the Institute expanded its scope and engagement with like-minded programs and individuals, the need for outside assistance was sought to keep the momentum and ideas flowing. In 1940 James A. Cawood, Superintendent of Schools for Harlan County, became the co-director of the Institute with Glyn Morris and, after Morris’s departure from the area, he maintained the Institute for many years. The combined efforts of Morris and Cawood may still be felt in educational programming throughout Harlan County. The Institute launched one of the most successful guidance programs in the country for rural youth and garnered a large following.”

The renamed Rural Youth Guidance Institute in Harlan County continued after 1945 under the direction of Cawood. It was disbanded in approximately 1963.

In his 1942 Study and Recommendations IX concerning the Institute, Morris quotes a letter from Cawood, stating that “Through the leadership of Pine Mountain Settlement School, the County School program has made more progress in the past five years than in the preceding twenty-five.”

James A. Cawood: EVARTS SCHOOL

Glyn Morris left his position as director of Pine Mountain Settlement School and co-director of the Guidance Institute in 1942 to serve as Chaplain in the U.S. Army in World War II. In 1947, a few years after his return, he was enlisted by Cawood “to assume the role of Principal at Evarts School where he would manage 1600 students, grades 1-12…. The challenge of work with a familiar population was enticing and Morris returned to the area and continued for a time on an emergency instructional certificate.”

The two friends from the Guidance Institute days worked together to establish a model education program at Evarts, a town near Harlan, Kentucky. Arthur W. Dodd, a former PMSS principal and teacher, also joined them for a brief time before leaving for a position as Principal of the Navajo Mission School in Ganado, Arizona. Morris stayed at Evarts School until late 1950.

A 19-page booklet titled, Historical Resume of Evarts. The Community Church, Black Mountain Academy, 1942, includes several brief biographies of individuals involved in Evart’s history. A photo of James A. Cawood on page 18 is accompanied by the caption, “Always A Friend Of Evarts” and by a paragraph stating that his interest in Evarts began with the fact that Evarts was his mother’s home town and place of her early education. The narrative ended with the statement that, with Supt. James A. Cawood’s leadership, the school “has taken its place among leaders in vocational education.”


James A. Cawood also played active parts in other PMSS and community functions. He was a member of the Harlan County Planning Council in the late 1930s when Glyn Morris was the recording secretary. At that time, he also worked with Morris to prepare the community for World War II.

In 1942, Cawood was elected state president of the Kentucky Education Association, “because he had done such a constructive job in Harlan County.’

During PMSS’s 1948-1949 school year, Superintendent Cawood met with the Board of Pine Mountain Settlement School to review the plan for Harlan County to consolidate five surrounding one-room schools and operate an elementary school in PMSS facilities with Burton Rogers as administrator.

Cawood’s exemplary work toward quality education for Harlan County was recognized in the naming of the James A. Cawood High School (constructed 1965) which existed until 2009 and the James A. Cawood Elementary School (constructed 1967) which continues in operation today.



James Cawood was born on May 6, 1905, in Harlan County, Kentucky. His parents were Green Berry Cawood (1878-1961), a farmer, and Nancy Lavina (Middleton) Cawood (1875-1907). He had three siblings: Ethel Cawood, Herbert Cawood, and half-sister Daisy Cawood Tabor. (Herbert was sheriff of Harlan County from 1937-1941. He caused some excitement in 1941 when, unable to run for re-election, he had his wife Laura Lee Cawood run in the primary.)

By the 1910 U.S. Census, Green B. Cawood was married to Cora Roop and they had a daughter, Daisy L. (1913-2010). In approximately 1928, he married Sudie Sandlin. 

James Cawood was married to Lillian (Greer) Cawood (1910-1995). They had two daughters, Jenny Lind Cawood Chenault (1940-2014) and Dr. Elizabeth Marion Cawood (1941-2019). Marion Cawood was a very talented vocalist. See: “ACU Remembers: Dr. Marion Cawood.” 

Dr. James Abram Cawood died on November 7, 1973, in Harlan County at the age of 68. He is buried alongside his wife at Resthaven Cemetery, Keith, Kentucky.

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See Also

Title James A. Cawood
Alt. Title Dr. James A. Cawood ; James Abram Cawood ; James Cawood ;
Identifier https://pinemountainsettlement.net/?page_id=72508
Creator Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY
Alt. Creator Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt
Subject Keyword James A. Cawood ; Harlan County ; superintendent
of schools ; vocational education ; educational
programming ; Rural Youth Guidance Institute
in Harlan County ; Evarts (KY) School ; school
principals ; students ; Harlan County Planning
Council, Kentucky Education Association ;
James A. Cawood Schools ; Cawood family ;  
Subject LCSH Cawood, James A., — 1905-1973.
Pine Mountain (Ky.) Settlement School — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Date 2019-12-15 aae
Publisher Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY
Contributor Dr. James Greene III
Type Collections ; text ; image ;
Format Original and copies of documents and correspondence in
file folders in filing cabinet.
Source Series 09: Biography – Volunteers,
Consultants ; Series 21: Guidance Institute
Language English
Relation Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School
Collections, Series 09: Biography – Volunteers,
Consultants and Series 21: Guidance Institute
Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Harlan, KY ;
Keith, KY ; Evarts, KY ;
Rights 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.
Donor n/a
Description Core documents, correspondence, writings and
administrative papers created by or addressed to
James A. Cawood; clippings, photographs, publications,
illustrations by or about James A. Cawood.
Acquisition n/d
Citation “[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 2020-09-20 hhw; 2022-03-19 aae ;
Sources “Elizabeth Marion Cawood” Obituary.
(Accessed 19-Dec-2019). Internet resource.

Historical Resume of Evarts. The Community
Church, Black Mountain Academy, 1942.
Booklet presented at the 50th Anniversary
Celebration. 19 pages. Internet resource.

“James Abram Cawood.” FindAGrave.com,
(Accessed 17-Dec-2019.) Internet resource.

“James A. Cawood,” Series 09: Biography –
Volunteers, Consultants and Series 21:
Guidance Institute. PMSS Institutional
Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School,
Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“Jenny Cawood Obituary.” Harlan Enterprise via
Legacy.com, Feb. 10 & 11, 2014.
(Accessed 19-Dec-2019). Internet resource.

“Portrait presented at school.” Harlan
Enterprise, September 9, 2018.
accessed 15-Dec-2019]. Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1910,” database
with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch
.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M2DW-QY2 : accessed
17 December 2019), Green B Cawood, Cranks
Creek, Harlan, Kentucky. Washington D.C.:
National Archives and Records Administration.
Internet resource.