Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Lilliath Robbins Bates Correspondence
Draft 11/01/2020 hw; Published 03/27/2021 aae

LILLIATH ROBBINS BATES Correspondence, 1928, 1929, 1941

TAGS: Lilliath Robbins Bates, correspondence, Mrs. Searle Bates, University of Nanking, Katherine Pettit, Glyn Morris, Nativity Play

CONTENTS: Lilliath Robbins Bates Correspondence

[Note: Letters from PMSS staff in the PMSS Collections are carbon copies, typewritten, unsigned, and meant for the Office files. The original signed copies were sent to the correspondents. The initials at the bottom left of most PMSS letters indicate the writer (along with initials of the secretary). For example, “KP” refers to Katherine Pettit.]


[001] January 12, 1928. To Lilliath Robbins Bates from [truncated letter], who is glad to have Lilliath’s letters. Will send Lilliath duplicate photos “to take the place of the ones you lost. You have all the buildings now that you were especially anxious for.” Miss Jenkins is delivering late-arriving Christmas packages to the community; mentions Miss Price; Aunt Rachel who has moved back to Lige Lewis’s. Describes PMSS’s Christmas; mentions the Stapletons (Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton, Bert Smith. Appreciates the Chinese pictures Lilliath sent. Mentions the death of Marguerite Butler’s mother; Miss Dingman’s opportunity school at Berea and her plans to go to Denmark to study folk schools. Has heard from former students: Verdie, the Hoggs, Elsie…. [The rest of page is truncated.]


[002], [002a] October 17, 1929. Two-page letter to Lilliath (Mrs. Searle Bates, University of Nanking, Nanking, China) from KP (Katherine Pettit), [002] who is sending Lilliath books and pictures, after receiving advice on how to mail packages to China from Mrs. [Edith] Canterbury, her sister, then Mr. Lehman (“now superintendent of the Red Bird School who was in the Hunan province for 13 years….”)

Mentions Polly Wilder’s job to train new girls to follow Lilliath’s rules concerning the china closet; pictures of Lilliath’s babies. Pettit tells of her and her sister’s visit to Hindman (Settlement School) and Uncle Bill Stacy’s funeral. [002a] Pettit remarks on changes through the years; describes Fair Day. Mentions Delia [Creech]’s busy life with her children; the Brownings (William and Louise Browning).


[003], [003a] November 16, 1941. Two-page handwritten letter to Glyn Morris from Lilliath R. Bates in New York, NY. [003] “As Lilliath Robbins I worked at Pine Mountain from 1917 to 1920 and lived at Big Log with Miss Pettit. Since 1920 I’ve lived in China, and now I’m spending a furlough…in New York City. 

 In one of my courses(?) some of us are gathering material on Nativity Plays and I should like to use the simple play we adapted for use on Christmas Day at the House in the Woods. I’m wondering if you have the play in typewritten form and whether you have any descriptive literature and pictures referring to it. Do you still give the same play? It was a thrilling(?) experience in those days, before the road was built, to see the mountain [003a] folk ride in from distant hollows to ‘take Christmas’ at Pine Mountain. 

Do you have any snapshots of the play or of the guests at the school at Christmas or snow scene of the school? I’m enclosing five dollars…. I should be glad to have you use [the money] for Pine Mountain in any way you please.

In all these years the pressing needs of the Chinese, my nearby neighbors, have seemed to demand most of our gifts, but warm (?) my heart is the memory of Pine Mountain.
[Signed] Lilliath R. Bates (Mrs. M.S. Bates)

[004] November 20, 1941. To Mrs. M.S. (Lilliath) Bates from [unsigned, likely Morris], who appreciates her letter and gift. “Perhaps you would be glad to know that our own boys and girls raised money for China last year and the year before, a part of which they obtained by eating a meal of corn bread and milk on the Sunday before Christmas.” Morris is sending, under separate cover, a copy of the Nativity Play. “We delight in giving it here and find it one of the outstanding experiences of the year, if not the most outstanding.” 

[005] through [005c] December 2, 1941. Four-page handwritten letter to Morris from Lilliath R. Bates, [005] thanking him for “the copies of the Nativity Play, so neatly typed. … “When my home was looted in China I lost my entire collection of Pine Mountain pictures. Now I am very anxious for some snapshots that would illustrate a description of the Nativity [005a], [005b] play given in its lovely P.M. setting.” Lilliath lists four types of photographs she would like and the number needed (20-40). “I fear that there is no-one at Pine Mountain [005c] School who will know me except Henry and Delia Creech. Please remember me to them.

[006] December 6, 1941. To Mrs. Searl (Lilliath) Bates from [unsigned, apparently Morris], regretting that he cannot send the pictures she requested. “At one time we did have the type of pictures you mention but we have had so many requests for them that we no longer have any on hand.”