Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Community
Jess and Sallie Cornett Correspondence
Published 2021-09-04 hw/aae

JESS AND SALLIE CORNETT Correspondence, 1940, 1942, 1946, 1950
Staff (1940s0 and Community

TAGS: Jess Cornett, Sally Cornett, Sallie Cornett, Sallie Wilder, correspondence, PMSS staff, community, nightwatchmen, Laurel House bell, Dorothy Olcott Elsmith, Glyn Morris, Evelyn K. Wells, William D. Webb, laundresses, peace officers act, United Mine Workers’ strike, sheriff’s deputies, H.R.S. Benjamin, surety bonds, Burton Rogers


[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 following list of contents is in chronological order and not necessarily in the order of the image numbers.]

001 August 15, 1940. To Mr. Jess Cornett, Pine Mountain, KY, from [unsigned; “Dictated, but not edited.”], requesting “a list of all the names of those students who come to your store for a whole week, and the number of times each comes.”

002 December 6, 1940. To Jess Cornett from [unsigned], notifying him of a change in the nightwatchman’s routine: “In order to provide maximum protection for the school, I am going to ask you to return to making seven rounds per night with as much regularity as possible.”  [RESTRICTED]

003 December 18, 1940. To “Jesse (sic)” from [unsigned], who is giving staff, students, and trustees little bells to represent the large bell in the Laurel House tower, all donated by Mrs. [Dorothy Olcott] Elsmith [PMSS Trustee, c. 1937-1946].


004 April 11, 1942. Contract on PMSS letterhead to employ Jess Cornett as nightwatchman for July 1, 1942 through June 30, 1943, at $17.50 per week and with two weeks’ paid vacation. Signed by Glyn Morris, Director, and Evelyn K. Wells, Chairman of Personnel Committee.

005 June 16, 1942. Contract on PMSS letterhead to employ Mrs. Sally Cornett as laundress for July 1, 1942 through June 30, 1943 at $30 per month and a two weeks’ paid vacation. A helper will be furnished at $10 a month.

007 August 2, 1942. To Mr. and Mrs. Jess Cornett from [unsigned, likely William D. Webb], Acting Director, expressing appreciation for “the help you have both given the school during the past months. It is good to know that we have neighbors like you working on the staff and furthering the interests of Pine Mountain.”

006 December 19, 1942. To Mrs. Jess Cornett from [unsigned – handwritten notation indicates “Mrs. Webb.”], stating that Mrs. Cornett is expected for laundry work as usual. No girl will be furnished for the ironing. So Mrs. Cornett will iron up to sixty pieces.


008 July 30, 1946. To Mr. Jess Cornett from H.R.S. Benjamin, asking Jess to assume the job of nightwatchman beginning August 1 at $4.00 per night.

009 Aug 28, 1946. Newspaper clipping from Harlan Daily Enterprise, Frankfort, Ky. “Dummit Advises UMW* On Status Of Deputies: Back-To-Work Move Is Halted by Pickets; 1,250 Are Involved” [*UMW = United Mine Workers of America]

010 September 3, 1946. To Hon. Simeon Willis, Governor, Frankfort, KY, from H.R.S. Benjamin. Refers to the newspaper clipping (see 009) that

“mentions a ruling by the State’s Attorney General, Mr. Eldon Dummit, …that Kentucky law forbids the employment of a sheriff’s deputy by a private company and that violations subject the employer to a fine. … [A]lso that if the governor were requested to do so he might appoint guards under the state’s peace officers act.”

Benjamin asks if Mr. James Cawood, the county sheriff, could deputize Mr. Jess Cornett of Pine Mountain, Kentucky. …We can recommend Mr. Cornett as he has served this school well over a number of years. He is a member of the local Masonic lodge and has the respect of his neighbors and of workers at the school.” 

011 October 2, 1946. To Mr. Rodes Arnspiger, Lexington, KY, from Dorothy Nace, Secretary. [RESTRICTED]

012 October 3, 1946. To Klair and Scott Insurance Agency, Lexington, KY, from Dorothy Nace, Secretary. [RESTRICTED]


013 August 17, 1950. To Mrs. Sally Cornett, Pine Mountain, KY, from Burton Rogers, Director, asking if she would return to work at PMSS. “I hope you and the children have had a good summer. Jess has been doing a grand job here and many have mentioned to me how well the campus has looked this summer.”

See Also: JESS AND SALLIE CORNETT Staff and Community – Biography