Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Students
Series 19: Students
James Herbert Hall Student

James Herbert Hall, Student 1942-1944

TAGS: James Herbert Hall, PMSS boarding students, teachers, student applications, student letters to parents, student evaluations by teachers, classes, Viper Kentucky, the Joe and Ida Hall Family

As a boarding student at Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1942 through 1944, James Herbert Hall adjusted well to those classes that interested him. His science, geography and biology instructor, Alice Joy Keith, noted that he had “a natural hunch for scientific principles. A very satisfactory record throughout the term….” She also wrote that he was “A natural observer, drawing clear-headed conclusions.Draws well…excellent written work on self-tests...Probably knows more biology by now than most of the class.” Roland F. Pinke, the auto mechanics instructor wrote, ”Herbert is a good student when he gets down to business….”

However, Herbert, as he was generally known, had a problem. He enjoyed “acting up” in class in order to amuse the other students. Some of his teachers felt that he was “capable of much better work” if he would focus and take responsibility for the work at hand.

In the letters that Herbert was required to write to his parents each semester, he acknowledged his problem, likely because it was pointed out to him often enough. He declined to blame his teachers for any of his poor grades and stated he would try to do better in the future, but each letter indicated that such a goal had not yet been reached.

Still, Herbert could list certain accomplishments. In scouting, “I am almost a second class scout now. Joining the scouts and living up to the oath and law is about the best event that I have done since I have been over here.” In home economics, he learned to cook and mend his own clothes by hand and machine. He kept the barn clean and cared for the cows, stating “I did my best to earn my board.” He appeared to enjoy the woodworking class, learning “many good jobs that I could do at home. I learned to use different kinds of tools and machines, some of them are some that I have never seen before.” He ends one letter with the news that “I won a prize at the book party and was next to the high man in the field day meet.

The co-op class also interested him, describing in a December 1943 letter to his parents that he clerked in the co-op store and did bookkeeping. He wrote that “Each week a Co-op student goes to Harlan to shop for the store. I have gone once and I sure did learn a lot. I made a deposit at the bank and did a lot of shopping for the workers and the store.

The PINE CONE issue for February 1943 reports that Herbert and his brother Corbett were among those who won prizes for the best costumes at the traditional Book Party in the Laurel House dining room at Pine Mountain.

Perhaps Herbert’s struggle to focus and need to attract attention with his amusing antics were due to the fact that he was the youngest in a family that included six sisters to dote on him and two older brothers to compete with. In Herbert’s 1942 application, the siblings were listed as:
Ruby, age 32
Delmar, 30
Sue [Susie], 28
Mabel, 26

June, 24
Cora Lee, 20

Those still in school:
Opal, age 18, at Pine Mt., Ky., grade 11
Corbett, age 17, at Pine Mt., Ky., grade 10

James Herbert, age 15, at Pine Mt., Ky.

Five of the older siblings had also attended Pine Mountain School and all were married as of 1942.

The Joe & Ida Hall Family, c. early 1940s. (Left to right) Opal, June, Ruby, Ida, Cora Lee, Mabel, James Herbert and Susie. (Missing: Delmar and Kenneth Corbett Hall.)

Herbert’s parents indicated in his application that he liked school, regarding it as first in importance among his activities, and hoped that he would attend college. They attributed his respect for education to “the influence his brother-in-law has made on him and because he sees his brother and sisters so much away at school.

Herbert and his family lived in a small unpainted frame house, “bare but clean,” in Viper, Kentucky, that was heated by open fireplaces, lighted by kerosene lamp and had no running water. The family had approximately 100 books and subscribed to several magazines, such as Grit, Reader’s Digest, and American Farmers Journal. Herbert’s favorite times were when the family gathered to tell stories and sing, accompanied by the violin, guitar, banjo, and harmonica. He also enjoyed parties, hikes, picnics, movies with his mother, and particularly visiting in the neighborhood.

Everyone worked hard in the Hall family. Herbert’s father, Joe Hall, earned a living as a farmer and stonemason. Herbert lists his mother’s “occupation since marriage (in addition to regular home chores)” as: “needlework, canning, baking, gardening, dairying, poultry raising, flower raising, sewing, fruit raising.” Even the smallest child, Herbert, was assigned duties, such as carrying water, plowing and cultivating fields, feeding stock, and washing dishes.

Like his father and all his siblings before him, James Herbert Hall was born in Viper, Kentucky. The date of Herbert’s birth was September 13, 1927. His mother, Ida Young Hall (c. 1889-1949), was born in Leatherwood, Kentucky. His father, Joe Hall, was born in 1887 and died c. 1967.

See Also:
SUSIE HALL ANGEL, Student and Staff

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James Herbert Hall

Alt. Title

Herbert Hall




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

James Herbert Hall ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; teachers ; student autobiographies ; student applications ; student letters to parents ; student evaluations by teachers ; classes ; Viper Kentucky ; Joe Hall ; Ida Young Hall ; the Joe and Ida Hall Family ;

Subject LCSH

Hall, James Herbert, –1927 – [?].
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2020-10-16 aae


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.




Collections ; text ; image ;


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


Series 09: Biography – Students
Series 19: Students




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Students and Series 19: Students.

Coverage Temporal

1927 – 1967

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Viper, KY ; Leatherwood, 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 James Herbert Hall ; clippings, photographs, books by or about James Herbert Hall ;




“[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




JAMES HERBERT HALL Correspondence,” Series 09: Biography – Students and Series 19: Students. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

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