Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff
Esther Roettinger Staff at Model Home, Summer 1927
[Published 2021-02-27 aae]

ESTHER ROETTINGER Staff, Summer 1927

TAGS: Esther Roettinger Staff, Esther Talley Roettinger, teacher, Katherine Pettit, Ethel de Long Zande, Philip Roettinger, Elisabeth Roettinger, PMSS trustees, Big Laurel school, Model Home (Country Cottage), donations

Esther Roettinger was introduced to the staff at Pine Mountain Settlement School by her uncle in a 1925 letter to the School’s secretary, Evelyn K. Wells. Philip Roettinger (1853-1935) wrote that Esther was graduating from Rockford College in Illinois that spring, where she had been studying sociology, and he was recommending her for a position with the School. 

It was an auspicious recommendation, not only because Mr. Roettinger was a longtime PMSS Board Member who had given much assistance to the School, but also possibly due to his description of his niece: “Esther is one of the most brilliant & charming girls I have ever known & has a lot of common sense.” 

Ethel de Long Zande, PMSS co-director, was pleased that Mr. Roettinger wished to place his niece at PMSS and suggested that she could work at the Big Laurel school to “help with the little children in day school and have sort of continuation school for the young people who are getting restless but who cannot very well be taken in up her until they have had a little more work.”

ESTHER ROETTINGER: Applying for a PMSS Position

In her letter of application to Mrs. Zande, dated April 23, 1925, Esther questioned whether she should teach grade school a year before applying to PMSS. Mrs. Zande agreed to that arrangement, writing “You will have standards of comparison which will be most helpful to you and will be bringing a good deal more to your work here.” 

Although at first Mr. Roettinger felt that Esther was ready for work at PMSS, he changed his mind after discussing the issue with his daughter, Elisabeth. She had worked at PMSS in the summers of 1914 and 1915 and visited often with her father. She advised that Esther should have a year’s experience teaching elsewhere first, fearing that Esther would become homesick at Big Laurel, which was “entirely too remote for a young girl just coming out of college.”  

Two years later, in June 1927, Esther wrote from her hometown of Detroit that she was following up on her uncle’s encouragement to work at PMSS that summer. Although she stated that she had “very little actual experience in social work,” she “did case work in connection with one [college] course for a year, did volunteer work in Detroit at a small settlement school for a year, …mainly entertainment work,” served as a substitute teacher, and was currently teaching high school English. “Ienjoy it but my ambition is to get to Pine Mountain.” She would be free to leave for PMSS on July 1, 1927.

Mrs. Zande welcomed her to PMSS and described a vacancy in which she might fit well. It was a position at the “model home, a cottage up on the hill by our infirmary…. We want it to be, not simply a place where the girls get experience in keeping house…, as they will later on in their own homes, but one where the neighbors love to drop in. I have been very anxious to find somebody this summer, who would live there, canning the garden stuff…, see the neighbors, and have a tea-party for them occasionally….” Additional activities may be filling in when the Far House housemother takes a day off, help in the office, and possibly some tutoring. (The Model Home was also called “Country Cottage” and later, “Practice House.”)

Country Cottage (Practice House, Model Home). Facade from below. [II_7_practice_house_310.jpg]

Finally, Esther’s dream to work at PMSS was taking shape, as she wrote to Mrs. Zande that “It all sounds perfect to me and I can hardly wait to get there. … I’m so anxious to do something so very worthwhile as this kind of work is and only hope I’m qualified to do my part.” 

ESTHER ROETTINGER: After Pine Mountain

Neither correspondence nor records have been found in the PMSS Archives covering her summer at Model Home. It was likely a successful summer, though, as Mrs. Zande indicated in a September 1927 letter to Esther. Mrs. Zande had heard from Esther’s uncle that Esther was “enthusiastic” about her time at Pine Mountain. Mrs. Zande also reported that Mr. Roettinger sent $50 for the addition of two rooms to the Model Home. Esther then sent $50, as well, to complete the amount of the $100 that she had planned to raise for the Model Home.

Meanwhile, as Esther wrote in the last letter in her file, dated December 12, 1927, she was “busy with school, primarily, the direction of two plays, playing the lead in another and much social gaiety…. It must be lovely at Pine Mountain at Christmas time. How I wish I could be there, not only then, but so many times. …”

According to the Michigan Death Index, Esther Talley Roettinger was born on December 9, 1904, and died on November 24, 1976, at Grosse Point Farms, Michigan.

See Also:
, Staff – Biography
Board Member – Biography



Esther Roettinger

Alt. Title

Esther Talley Roettinger ; Esther T. Roettinger ; Miss Roettinger ; 




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Esther Roettinger ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Esther Talley Roettinger ; 

Subject LCSH

Roettinger, Esther, — 1904 – 1976.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2021-02-27 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

1853 – 1976

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Detroit, MI ; Rockford, IL ; Grosse Point Farms, MI ;


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 Esther Roettinger ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Esther Roettinger ;




“[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




ESTHER ROETTINGER CORRESPONDENCE.” Series 09: Biography – Staff. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“Michigan Death Index, 1971-1996,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2021-02-27), Esther T Roettinger, 24 Nov 1976; from “Michigan, Deaths, 1971-1996,” database, Ancestry ( : 1998). Internet resource.

PHILIP ROETTINGER.” Series 09: Biography – Staff. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

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