AILEENE LEWIS NESBITT Correspondence 1923-1925

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Series 14: MEDICAL
Aileene Lewis Nesbitt, Worker, 1923-1925
Medical Settlement at Big Laurel
Aileene Lewis Nesbitt Correspondence, 1923-1925


Medical Settlement, Big Laurel. Aileene Lewis seated on hillside. [nesb_037_mod.jpg]

TAGS: Aileene Lewis Nesbitt, Ethel Zande, Katherine Pettit, missionary work, Medical Settlement at Big Laurel, Extension Center, Play House, Louisville Conference,  Epworth League, Eva Rhodus, clothing, hairstyles, salary arrangements, Agnes Hynes

AILEEN LEWIS NESBITT Correspondence 1923-1925


[lewis_aileene_001.jpg] through [lewis_aileene_022.jpg]

Letters from PMSS staff are typewritten carbon copies and unsigned, as they are meant for the office files. Initials at the bottom left of most letters indicate the writer (and the secretary), such as “EZ” for Ethel Zande. Letters from Aileene Lewis (Nesbitt) are handwritten unless indicated otherwise.


001x September 7, 1923. To Miss Aileene Lewis in Louisville, KY, from EZ (Ethel de Long Zande), who writes that Miss Eva Rhodus [housemother & teacher] recommended Lewis to EZ and asks Lewis to consider “work in the mountains.” Although Lewis’s life was dedicated to missionary work, EZ assures her that work at Big Laurel is in that spirit, if not literally. 

EZ then describes the Big Laurel extension center, which has a doctor, a visiting nurse and a head resident. The center needs “someone who can be a general worker…who can teach the first and second grades in the district school” to help out the overloaded teacher there and take children to the playground. “This often means big boys and me who are really starved for play.” Also, someone is needed to help with Sunday School, to substitute for the Home Economics teacher when needed and “twice a week in our playhouse, a splendidly equipped little building that we arranged for all sorts of community enterprises.”

Miss Agnes Hynes is currently working at Big Laurel temporarily. EZ encloses an application blank and a copy of travel directions.

002, 002a September 10, 1923. Two-page letter to Mrs. Zande from Aileene Lewis on a letterhead for “Louisville Conference Epworth League” which lists Aileene Lewis of Louisville as a “Life Work Secretary.” “ My dear Mrs. Zande:- Your letter has filled my heart with a desire to serve there in your Mountain School.” Lewis offers to come as a volunteer worker “if she did not need further preparation and training for so great a work.” She mentions a salary of about fifty dollars.

003, 003a September 11, 1923. Application Blank with entries handwritten by Aileene Lewis.
003 Age: 25. Health: Good. 
Education: 3 years high school and “three summer terms in English and Bible at George Peabody College, Nashville, Tenn.”
Experience: “…only practical everyday life in Religious work.”
References: Lewis provides 3 names and addresses.

003a (Reverse side of Application Blank with Lewis’s answer to a question about salary.) “In considering the work or rather the field and my plans for the winter term — $50.00 seemed to me to be reasonable. If not satisfactory, what is your offer? My plan for this year was to go to school and work. You realized I need more training. …”

004 September 11, 1923. To Lewis in Louisville, KY, from EZ. She and Miss Rhodus are pleased that Lewis is interested in Big Laurel work. EZ asks Lewis to come as soon as possible because the teacher she is to replace is in ill health. 

005 September 13, 1923. To Lewis from EZ, who again asks Lewis to come earlier than Lewis had requested, due to her work for the Epsworth League. She also asks if $35.00 a month for living expenses is an adequate salary and explains the reason for this amount.

EZ then describes the type of clothing that would be appropriate. “We try to wear here what will be suitable for our neighbors to adopt if they should be so disposed. This means that we leave out silks, velvets and very expensive fabrics. … Of course pads in the hair are another thing that are not suitable here. We are still in the stage where the first thing we can do for our girls is to teach them to keep bugs out of their hair and to shampoo properly. ….”

006, 006a September 19, 1923. A two-page typewritten letter to Mrs. Zande from Lewis on a “Second Presbyterian Church, Louisville, KY,” letterhead. 006 Miss Lewis responds that she cannot leave her former position earlier, stating “… [T]here is a duty for me to perform and a task to complete.”

Lewis gives her understanding of the salary arrangements and asks if she is correct. She is writing Mr. Wilson Lewis in Nolansburg to meet her at Laden as suggested and describes her travel plans and asks if they are correct.

007 September 21, 1923. To Lewis from EZ, who regrets that Lewis cannot arrive at an earlier date. She explains that the School does not pay travel expenses, except a one-way payment when someone is asked to come to PMSS on trial and does not stay. She asks Lewis to let her know if $35 a month with expenses is not adequate. She explains the School’s reasoning concerning how much workers are paid. EZ then makes corrections to the travel directions that Lewis described. 

009 September 25, 1923. To Lewis from EZ who writes that she will expect Miss Lewis on October 8 and is glad that they have agreed on the salary.

010 November 1 and December 1, 1923. To Miss Lewis, two bills from PMSS, each for “Hauling trunk, $1.72”.


011 April 14, 1924. To Lewis from [unsigned, likely EZ], who was upset by her April 10th note about not returning to PMSS next year in order to pursue further training. EZ wrote that she had consulted with Miss [Harriet] Butler about Lewis’s work, and “we both agreed that you were the most valuable person we could get there at the present time…. That friendliness and the right sort of ideals are the best sort of thing to contribute to Big Laurel just now…. “ She assures Lewis that her informal assistance with cooking, sewing and playground work is preferred to a formal, more qualified teacher. “We are both most happy that people at Big Laurel like to be with you as they do…. [Also,] it would be a great misfortune to have a complete turnover of workers.”

012, 012a, 012b, 012c, 012d May 22, 1924. A five-page letter to Zande from Lewis in Louisville, KY. [012b is page 2 and 012a is page 3.]

012 (Page 1) “Just these two weeks at home have almost made me ready to return with Dr. [Alfreda] Withington. It was a surprise, indeed, to have her call me so soon after my return. Now, I am beginning to wonder when 

012b (Page 2) you are coming. Since my return, I have made a number of talks about our work and the school. In June at the Epworth League Conference I am to teach the new book — just off the press — “The Land of Saddle-Bags” by [James Watt] Raine. Of course, it’s centered around Berea and a splendid book on Mountain Life.”

012a (Page 3) Miss Lewis asks for two things: the School’s latest pamphlets and facts about Pine Mountain Settlement for distribution, at least enough for a class of fifty pupils. She would also like to send material, through Zande, to Granny Creech who “is to make a little wool comfort for me.”

012c (Page 4) Lewis is anxious to have the “comfort” soon because her sister is having a baby. 012d Closing words.

013 June 6, 1924. To Lewis in Louisville, KY, from EZ, who will be seeing Lewis next week and asks if she would watch Berto during her dental appointments. Mentions attending Manila(?) Boggs’s wedding.

014 August 18, 1924. To Lewis from [unsigned]. Returning a check that needed to be changed in order for the School to cash it.

015 November 25, 1924. To Lewis at Big Laurel, Ky., from KP (Katherine Pettit), who asks if Lewis plans to have Aunt Louise and Uncle [Fiddler] John [Lewis]s house papered and that the neighbors may like to do it. “We ought to give them the privilege of doing missionary work just as much as possible.”

016 November 29, 1924. To Lewis at Big Laurel, Ky., from KP, reporting the news that Aunt Louise won her lawsuit and will receive at least $25.00 a month. She suggests that maybe Aunt Louise would hire Martha Spradlin and her neighbor to clean her home and make it warm for winter. “It will be a shame now for those old people to have this money and yet not be made more comfortable….”

017 December 4, 1924. A typewritten note to Mrs. Zande from Lewis on PMSS letterhead, who asks for a second key for the Play House, since Miss [Iva] Holladay currently has the only key.

018 December 5, 1924. To Lewis from [unsigned, likely Zande], who tells Lewis to order a key to the Play House from “Belknap.” She asks when Mr.[Charles] Nesbitt will preach next.


019, 019a February 3, 1925. A typewritten two-page letter to Mrs. Zande from Lewis on PMSS letterhead. 019 It has been Lewis’s plan to leave the Play House work when Big Laurel school closed, which it did today. “Mr. Nesbitt will write you of the incidents of the past weeks and of his resignation,” which occurred after consulting with Mr. Jones in Harlan.

019a (Page 2) “…I regret to leave the work and tho’ I am leaving, as long as I am in Louisville I would like to serve the Mountain people when they are in that city, if you would so desire. … This is merely a note to tell you that we are planning to leave the Mountains on Friday of this week. I realize, Mrs. Zande, that this makes my term short but it cannot be helped.”

020 February 5, 1925. To Lewis at Big Laurel from EZ, who would like a report of the work at the Play House. “I am ever so glad to know that you want to do all you can for the mountain children when they have to go to Louisville.” She asks Lewis to see Mrs. Jasper Day (Nancy Shepherd) at St. Joseph’s and to bring her little boy, Josiah, to see her.

021 March 2, 1925. To Mrs. Zande from Lewis at St. Matthews, Ky. on letterhead for “Louisville Conference Epworth League.” Lewis encloses a letter that was forwarded to her. “Please accept my sincere wishes for the interests of the school and with a hope that you will call upon me from time to time.”

022 March 5, 1925. To Lewis in St. Matthews, Ky., from EZ, who is “at sea about the letter you sent me, and the check.” She asks Lewis to explain. Mentions Mr. Ziegler, pastor of the Union Church at Berea, who is visiting. Also, Cilles(?) and Otis Turner came to church.

See Also:
CHARLES F. NESBITT Staff – Biography