Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
Jessica Price, Staff

Housemother, August – November 1927

TAGS: Jessica Price staff, applications for PMSS employment, Denison University, Big Log housemother, references, Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association, Henry Street Settlement, Polly Wilder, Rev. and Mrs. James Morse

Jessica Price Arrtwork, large image
“Mountain Journeying” a sepia print by Jessica Price, 1931. [price_jessica_022.jpg]

JESSICA PRICE Staff: Applying for Pine Mountain Work

On her application for employment at Pine Mountain Settlement School, dated May 18, 1927, Jessica Price assured Director Katherine Pettit that she would be able to handle a housemother position that involved caring for a group of young boarding students. She had recently graduated from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and her only paid work experience was as a waitress in the summer of 1926 at Westport Inn in Westport, New York. She wrote, “The conditions were hard but I managed to do my work faithfully and enjoy doing it so I am not afraid of work nor of unpleasant conditions, you see.”  

Jessica had other merits as well. She was the youngest of six children and stated that she learned much from her mother, who “was an excellent disciplinarian whose training had results.” One of her references characterized her as coming “from a long line of college-educated families on both sides and also from a long line of missionary families.” Also, Jessica’s family had “been in Morgan Park [Chicago] for very, very many years.” Just before college, Jessica was president of the Baptist Young Peoples’ Union (BYPU) and that year was “one of the best in the history of BYPU work. She has splendid executive ability, is a good planner, keeps her mind on her work…. Her manners are simple and plain, as is her dress, but refinement in the extreme.” 

Whether these were sufficient resources for Jessica to draw upon as a housemother was yet to be seen. In any case, she received a fair warning from Pettit, who described the position in her July 15, 1927, letter to Jessica:

“We think that housemothers are mighty important people at Pine Mountain: they have the oversight of the children out of school and work hours, the training of the children who do the housework for them, the general care of their health (though we have a trained nurse for sick children), their clothes, their manners and morals, and their recreation, somewhat. Every child has a free hour during the day which he spends at home, and he has to learn how to use his leisure, so whatever resources a housemother has are called into play at that time. You really do mother the children, in that you watch their relationship with the school as a whole, just as the mother of a family of children tries to have them grow in the right direction, in any community where she is bringing them up.”

Although Jessica applied for teaching or housemother positions at Pine Mountain, she was also a burgeoning artist. In addition to Morgan Park High School in Chicago and Denison University, she listed eight weeks of summer school in 1925 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago as another component of her education. One of her references mentions her artistic and literary interests. In answer to “Other Interests” on her application, she wrote “Anything along art lines – craftwork, etc. …”

“[A]nxious to find a position in the mountains,” Jessica and her friend, Miss Rachel Elmore, learned about Pine Mountain through their classmate Roberta White. Jessica was hoping that Miss Elmore or her cousin, Betty Price, would join her at Pine Mountain but in the end, they accepted employment elsewhere.

JESSICA PRICE Staff: At Pine Mountain

On August 22, 1927, Jessica arrived at Pine Mountain to assume the housemother position at $50 a month. She was assigned to Big Log, a home on the PMSS campus in which several of the boarding school students lived. Pettit’s letter of October 3, 1927, to Jessica’s mother, Mrs. E.J. Price, reported that her daughter was “well and seems to be happy and we are most happy in having her. … Our children care so much for her.” 

JESSICA PRICE Staff: After Pine Mountain

Apparently, Jessica’s time as a Pine Mountain housemother lasted only about three months. A letter dated December 10, 1927, was sent by Pettit to Jessica in Chicago with hopes that Jessica’s father’s health was better and an enclosure of literature about trachoma that Jessica had requested.

It was not until February 19, 1933, that Pine Mountain staff heard again from Jessica Price, writing on stationery from the Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association, New York, NY. She explained her previous work at Pine Mountain to then-director Glyn Morris and asked about summer employment: “It was too difficult a job for me then and I stayed only three months, but since then, I’ve naturally accumulated considerably more experience having been in teaching and settlement work (Henry Street & Lenox Hill) in New York for three years. The city has made me anxious to get back to the mountains for a season. I loved it the short while I was there and have often wanted to return.” She described her work at Lenox Hill as director of pottery and at Henry Street where she made a creche that Ruth Campbell sent to PMSS.

Alas, Jessica’s dream to recapture the spirit that she experienced at Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1927 was evidently not to be. She received a response from Pine Mountain that there were no summer openings, except for a volunteer position that had been filled, but that Price would be considered for the summer of 1934 if she wished.

JESSICA PRICE Staff: Postscript

No further correspondence for Jessica Price was found in the PMSS Collections except for an October 9, 1934, letter (unsigned, likely Morris) asking her to visit Polly Wilder who was to stay at the home of Rev. James Morse, pastor of the Congregational Church, in Hackensack, New Jersey. “Doubtless she will be terribly homesick, and to know that she has friends so close will make a great difference.” Rev. and Mrs. Morse were the same couple to whom Glyn Morris sent Susie Hall Angel in approximately 1935 to serve as a maid and to help care for their child. Susie also was “terribly homesick.”


Jessica S. Price was born on January 7, 1906, in Morgan Park, a part of Chicago, Illinois, to Enoch Jones Price (1864-1945) and Mary Louisa (Allen) Price (1863-1963). She had five older siblings whose names were Lillis, Allen L., Owen Newton, John Marshall, and Hugh Glynn. As of the 1910 U.S. Census, the father was a lawyer and the family was living in Calumet, Illinois. The 1920 and 1930 U.S. Censuses record that their place of residence was Chicago. Jessica died in July 1987 in Lakeland, Florida.

See Also: JESSICA PRICE Correspondence, 1927 – 1934


Jessica Price

Alt. Title

Jessica S. Price ; Miss Price ; 




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Jessica Price ; Jessica S. Price ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; applications for PMSS employment ; Denison University ; Big Log housemother ; references ; Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association ; Henry Street Settlement ; Polly Wilder ; Rev. James Morse ;

Subject LCSH

Price, Jessica, — 1906 – 1987.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2020-12-13 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 – Staff




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Staff.

Coverage Temporal

1863 – 1987

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Chicago, IL ; Morgan Park, IL ; Granville, OH ; Westport, NY ; New York, NY ; 


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 Jessica Price ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Jessica Price ;




“[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


Sources website. (accessed 13 December 2020). Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 December 2020), Jessica Price in household of E J Price, Calumet, Cook, Illinois, United States; (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982). Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 December 2020), Jessica S Price in household of Enoch J Price, Chicago Ward 32, Cook (Chicago), Illinois, United States; (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992). Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 December 2020), Jessica Price in household of Enoch J Price, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States; (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002). Internet resource.

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