Tag Archives: Isaac’s Run

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH IV FARMING THE LAND – EARLY YEARS 1913-1930

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH IV
FARMING THE LAND – EARLY YEARS 1913-1930

TAGS: Katherine Pettit ; Ethel de Long ; Pine Mountain Settlement School farm ; farming ; sustainable agriculture ; William Creech ; Mary Rockwell Hook ; Evelyn K. Wells ; Margaret McCutchen ; creek farmers ; farmers ; Greasy Creek ; Isaac’s Creek ; soil analysis ; livestock ; Ayrshire cows ; poultry ; grazing ; farm managers ; Marguerite Butler ; Farmer’s Cooperative ; University of Kentucky ; Kentucky State University ; Fitzhugh Lane ; Horace DMcSwain ; Mr. Baugh ; Gertrude Lansing ; Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Doughtery ; Mr. Morrison ; Boone Callahan ; Harriet Bradner ; Fannie Gilbert ; William Browning ; Louise Will Browning ; Peder Moeller ; Oscar Kneller ; silo ; Darwin D. Martin ; Brit Wilder ; irrigation ;

CLEARING THE LAND

Planning for Pine Mountain was very deliberate and where land was involved, Katherine Pettit. co-founder of the School, was a keen observer and a diligent doer.  Of the two co-founders, Pettit and Ethel de Long, it was Pettit who assumed the lead responsibility for the land issues of the School. Under Pettit’s direction, the land was to support the school, but it was also to be a driving force in the school’s programs. In her vision the land would be a source for the agricultural, educational, physical, and emotional needs of the school.  The forests, gardens, planting fields, grazing fields, flower beds,  —- all received careful consideration under her watchful eye.  There is no doubt that the vision for the school’s physical site was always in Katherine Pettit’s mind’s eye but she also called on her excellent on-site help, particularly Uncle William Creech. If she didn’t find her answers in those close-by staff or in the community folk, she did not hesitate to seek outside consultation.

1913 opened with the first visit to the campus of one of the most important of those farm consultants, Miss Mary Rockwell, an architect from Kansas City,  Together, Pettit,  Ethel de Long, and Hook developed a plan for growth that centered on the topography of the land and the plan was followed, according to Evelyn Wells, (the first chronicler of the school’s history), very closely.  Every effort was made to build around the productivity of the land; to use what the land provided and what the topography suggested. Forest lumber, stone from the fields, native plants and flowers, local human and animal labor, native seeds for garden crops and other native resources were called into use.  All were considered important to the aesthetics and to the growth of the school and its environs.  The remote location demanded that the planners seek local solutions to many of their needs and that they model the best solutions if they were to be both practical and educational in their mission. But, this local focus did not mean the outside world was excluded. It was, in fact, tapped for all it could contribute.

While Mary Rockwell Hook was helping to develop a plan for the land and how the buildings would interact with the landscape, several other consultants were also called upon for direct assistance with farming. James Adoniram Burgess, who was the Superintendent of Construction of buildings, a woodworker and vocational instructor at Berea College,  starting in 1901, was well informed about construction and was heavily consulted by Pettit.  Pettit also consulted with the  Agricultural Department of State University (University of Kentucky), specifically J.H. Arnold, who had written extensively on factors necessary for a successful farm.  While Arnold’s focus was on the Blue Grass area of the state he had some sound recommendations for the business side of agriculture. In 1917 he co-wrote with W.D. NIcholls, USDA Bulletin No. 210 “Important Factors for Successful Farming in the Blue Grass Region of Kentucky.”  This unique partnering of Burgess and Arnold was evidently very productive.  Ethel de Long notes in her May 1913 Letter to Friends, that the consultants

… were here last week … to give us their advice on the best use of our land and the best disposal of the buildings we hope to have in the course of time. 

The progressive ideas of the early founders was not missed on visitors to the School.  Margaret McCutchen, a visitor to the School in 1914 and writes:

“The first intimation I had of the School was the foot-log over Greasy, carefully flattened on top by well-placed stepping stones.  Here I met with my second surprise, (the first was the beauty of the place) that about this school, only an infant in the wilderness, everything was so ship-shape.  Good fences, substantial gates, roads, hitching posts, mounting blocks, the straight furrows of the ploughed fields and even rows of garden patches, wood-boxes on the porches, coat pegs by the doors, and the picturesque stone tool-house to protect the tools and farm implements — all these spell to me in large letters one of the chief articles in the constitution of the school, ORDER.”

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View of the school grounds c. 1913-14. Old Log sits at what is now the entrance to the school. The foot-bridge Miss McCutcheon traversed is just opposite the cabin and crosses Isaac’s Creek where it becomes Greasy Creek, the headwaters of the great Kentucky River.

The school’s early years required some clearing of forested land and the re-preparation of older fields cleared by the earliest settlers.  In the above view of one corner of the school campus, the land is just being prepared for farming.  Efforts to straighten Isaac’s Creek [also known as Isaac’s Run] and to construct a bridge can be seen.  Old Log cabin, the first permanent dwelling on  the school grounds is seen to the left in the photograph.  Moved to the site for early housing of staff, the structure still welcomes all who visit the school.  Today it is the site of the school’s gift shop.]

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A very early view of the Pine Mountain Settlement. The distant house is Old Log with the “Indian Cliff” behind. The field in the foreground is in front of what is now the Chapel.

CREEK FARMERS

A view down the long Pine Mountain valley in the first decade of the twentieth-century would have revealed the steep hillside farming often practiced in the Pine Mountain valley and the surrounding valleys.  In the narrow valleys such as that running beneath the long Pine Mountain spine, the community farmers used as much of their land as they were able to physically cultivate. Often the farms stretched far up the mountainside in a series of random terraces, often following natural contours of the land. The school claims to have introduced terracing but it was also introduced by livestock continually navigating the steep hillsides and by the constant planting and cultivating of corn rows that horizontally followed the contours of the hills.  Each year the farmers often advanced up the mountain in search of  rich soil as their crops depleted the soil. It was arduous work.

005a P. Roettinger Album. "Country [?] Looking from Uncle John's toward the School."

005a P. Roettinger Album. “Country [?] Looking from Uncle John’s toward the School.”

While much farming in the Pine Mountain valley was on the sides of the mountain, the practice of farming in the area was often called “creek farming” and the farmers as “creek farmers.” The narrow strip of bottom land in the eastern Kentucky valleys led to this description in the 1960’s of those who farmed the region. The term was broadened to include the entire family and meant those families who lived only a stone’s throw from the streams of the region. In the small hollow that led into the valley, this geography was often accurate, but the broad slopes of the valley often meant that the farm was much more than a “stone’s throw” from the creek.

Because the developing transportation system often shared the same meandering creek path or sometimes the creek bed itself, the land that could be farmed was further reduced and families headed for the hills.  This form of subsistence farming, a more common term than “creek farmers”, and the confined transportation corridors, led to the development in the valleys of a kind of continuous and uniformly distributed series of small “centers.”  The so-called “Mouth of Big Laurel” is one such nuclear community.  The Pine Mountain valley and most near-by valleys followed this pattern of development common to eastern Kentucky.

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View of the Big Laurel Community in the second decade of the 20th century. From the Kendall Bassett Album, pmss001_bas010.jpg.

GREASY CREEK

Greasy Creek, a large and stony stream that has its headwaters at the School where Isaac’s Creek flows into Shell Creek, is the largest stream in the immediate area of Pine Mountain.  It was supposedly named for the grease of a bear that was killed near the stream. The clear water in the early years supported a variety of aquatic life including abundant bass, brim, and other common stream fish. I was one of the favorite fishing streams in the area and an important source of food for many families. It also served as a water-way to float log rafts down river to mill during Spring-tide. Today, it is slowly recovering from mining intrusions over the years that have left sections of the stream severely polluted and with diminished aquatic life — with consequential degradation of the entire stream.

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The Big Laurel community on the headwaters of Greasy Creek soon became an important outpost for Pine Mountain Settlement School.  As the location for the first of a half-dozen outposts proposed by Katherine Pettit, Big Laurel Medical Settlement was situated on a hill overlooking Greasy Creek and the wide bottom-land created at the meeting of  Big Laurel Creek and Greasy Creek.

During the early years of the School and before, every piece of land was precious and was often cultivated to the top of the ridges.  This extensive cultivation may be clearly seen in the following photograph taken in the first decade of the twentieth century.  What appears as terracing is often the result of cattle and farm animals paths that horizontally negotiate the steep hill-sides.  Greasy Creek flows in the center of the photograph of this country of “Creek farmers.”

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FARM CONSULTANTS

Pettit realized that education would be needed to change local farming practices that were both labor intensive and not sustainable. Following the first consultation regarding the layout of the School and two years after the founding in 1913, Katherine Pettit and Ethel de Long in 1915 again brought consultants from Kentucky State University [University of Kentucky] to the School to hold a “Farmer’s Institute.” It was open to the full community and brought participants from along the valley and hollows surrounding the school.

Marguerite Butler, an early worker at the school describes the Farmer’s Institute

Four splendid instructors from the Kentucky State University have been here for four days holding Farmers’ Institute. It is a splendid thing for this part of the country and you never saw such interest as the farmers showed. Last night one of the men said it was by far the best meeting he had ever had in Kentucky. Of course mothers, fathers and children came for miles around. Yesterday the school cooked dinner for all out in big black kettles in the open . The men killed a sheep Saturday for the great affair. The talks were splendid on the soil and care of it, proper kind of food and why, how to raise fruit trees and poultry, which are both easily but poorly done in the mountains. I enjoyed every single speech. Just about four yesterday afternoon we learned that there was a “meetin” down Greasy five miles. Of course we wanted to go, so in ten minutes one of the men and lady instructors, Peg, one of the older boys here and I started off. I bare back behind Miss Sweeny on her horse. We had wonderful fun and the ride at that time of evening was glorious. I stuck on, even when we galloped beautifully. One of the men invited us there for supper so he rode on ahead to prepare supper. They had made biscuit, stewed dumplin’s and chickens, sweet potatoes and all sorts of good things. These professors said it was one of the experiences of their life. We all walked down to meetin’ afterwards in the Little Log School. I succeeded in falling in the creek, so did Miss Sweeney, as we only had to cross one four times. You couldn’t possibly believe what a meetin’ is like unless you hear it with your own ears. I shall have much to tell you. After an exciting ride home over a black, rough road we got here at 10:15, no worse for the wear. [1914 Marguerite Butler Letters]

Miss Pettit’ s consultation and the broad sharing of the findings of the Institute gave not only the farm program at Pine Mountain its first leap forward. but jump-started the educational process for the local community.  Pettit believed that the farm was central to the success of the school and that it should be managed by progressive and trained farmers. Her plans were large and her enthusiasm was even greater when it came to farming at Pine Mountain. However, she found it difficult to match her vision with the succession of early school farmers whose early departure from this key position was almost as rapid as annual crop rotation,

Fitzhugh Lane, a young boy whom Pettit and de Long had brought with them from Hindman to help establish a garden and some subsistence farming, was the first farmer at Pine Mountain. He did not stay long and was never designated as “the farmer”.  He overlapped with the first designated farmer, Horace McSwain at the School He came in late 1913 but also quickly left in 1914.  McSwain was hired to also serve as the manager of the new saw-mill at Pine Mountain. The dual position was likely unmanageable as the rush to construct new buildings was cyclonic. The following note in a letter to the Board in 1913 describes the clearing of land and the multiple duties of many of the staff:

I wish you could know what important work has been done here through these last weeks. The coal bank has been made been made ready for the winter’s digging, according to the directions of Professor Easton and we are now making a road to it. We have had foot logs laid in many places over the Creek and have built a bridge that ought to last for two generations so that we may haul stone to the site of the school house. Miss Pettit has had charge of most important work In ditching the bottom lands. You will be interested to know why she had to give her time for this, instead of Mr. McSwain. He has had to be at the sawmill all the time, largely because he has not known what minute one of his hands would have to escape to the woods. You see this is not a conventional community and many of our best workers have indictments against them, for shooting, fighting, or even being mixed up in a murder case. Since this is the month when court convenes the men with indictments against them are all afraid the sheriffs may be after them….

Mr.[ ?] Baugh, whose full name has been lost to time, is listed as the designated farmer for the year of 1914. It is unclear whether he overlapped with McSwain or if his tenure as farmer was less than a year. He shows up on the staff listings simply as “Mr. Baugh”.   Harriet Bradner is listed for 1915 as a worker on the farm. Leon Deschamps, a Belgian émigré arrived in 1916, hired as the School’s Forester, farmer and teacher.  His tenure was to be the longest to date. He briefly left the School to serve in the Great War [WWI] but returned after a year and stayed until 1927.  During 1918 and 1919 another woman, Gertrude Lansing is listed as a farm worker, but was not the designated farmer. In 1919 Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Dougherty were hired to work on the farm and charged to pick up some of the responsibilities of Deschamps who was temporarily away.  Several staff who had other duties are also listed as farm workers during this time.  Edna Fawcett, for example worked as a teacher, a house mother, and on the farm from 1917 – 1919. Many other staff shared farm responsibilities from time to time.

FARM ASSETS AND LIABILITIES

By 1917 the assets and liabilities of the new school are listed as:

Assets:

The original 234 acres of land
125 acres recently given. (Mostly coal and timber)
A coal bank
A limestone cliff
A boundary of timber aggregating 600,000 ft.
A stone quarry
A maple sugar grove
Annual pledges to the amount of $1600.00
An unpolluted water supply
Three dwelling houses
One tool house
Two sanitary closets
Sawmill
Two mules
Two cows
One hog and two more promised
Chickens
Two collie pups

Liabilities:

$700.00 a month

FARMERS

 In 1920 Mr. William Browning came to the School as the farmer and stayed for seven years.  Later, in 1922-1924, Fannie Gilbert was assigned to work on the farm and assisted Browning. Until Browning, no farmer had lasted more than two years with the exception of Leon Deschamps, whose duties were spread among three positions (forester, farmer, teacher).   Miss Pettit’s agenda was a large one and the work to be completed was hard labor and long hours. Farming under Katherine Pettit also required considerable ingenuity and diplomacy in negotiating Pettit herself and the community skepticism of new farming practices. It is clear from the many staff letters that William Browning was a favorite with the women staff. He is described in many staff letters as quite attractive and charming, but someone who “needed to be taken care of.” One of the workers described Mr. Browning as a “buttonless man” who had difficulty keeping his wardrobe together.  It appears that many of the women at the school were eager to sew on buttons for the “buttonless man.”

Browning was also assisted by Leon Deschamps, a Belgian whose training as a forester allowed him to address both the silviculture and farming needs of the school. Browning and Deschamps overlapped from 1920 until 1927 when Deschamps left Pine Mountain.  Under the guidance of Browning and Deschamps, the farm had grown in productivity and, like the previous farm workers, these two farmers largely developed the land according to Miss Pettit’s plan. Deschamps, when he was left in charge of the farm largely followed the planning of Pettit and Browning but when he left in 1928 the direction of the farm went through a series of short-term farmers and some of Pettit practices and vision were set aside. A Mr. Morrison, of whom we know little, followed Deschamps and he was quickly followed by Mr. Boone [?] Callahan who became one of the legendary members of the staff and who was also well known as a wood craftsman. Boone Callahan, one of the many Callahan children brought to the School in the very early years and Brit Wilder were among the first Students to come to Pine Mountain.  In the 1943 special edition of Notes, “Our Mountain Family,”  the contributions of Callahan and Wilder are noted

“…  since the days when they [Callahan and Wilder] cut “pretties” for Miss Pettit with their knives, they have never been far away from the life of the school. Boone had special train-
ing in agriculture at Berea and at Bradley Polytechnic Institute, and has been in charge of the carpentry department for years. He lives with his family at Farm House.  Brit is the truck driver and superintendent of the mine. He is the grandson of Uncle William, is married to a former Pine Mountain student and has a lovely home close to the school.”

Pettit was well read on farming practice and she never ceased her consultation with available experts in the field. During the 1920’s Katherine Pettit had been observing the agricultural progress at John C. Campbell Folk School under their new Danish farmer, George Bidstrup. The Scandinavian farmer, who had been hired to bring Danish farming practice to the Brasstown, North Carolina folk school. Bidstrup was charged to provide model farming for the Brasstown community and had enjoyed considerable success in farming in the North Carolina mountains.  Marguerite Butler, a Pine Mountain Settlement School worker who had left Pine Mountain to study in Denmark and had subsequently been recruited to John C. Campbell Folk School by Dame Olive Campbell in 1922. She maintained a lively correspondence with Katherine Pettit following her departure from Pine Mountain and much conversation centered on farming and gardening. Butler married George Bidstrup shortly after she arrived at Brasstown and she was eager to share what she had learned from him about farming with Pettit. When Butler married Bidstrup many local Brasstown practices were passed directly along to the Kentucky school. Intrigued by the Brasstown experiments in farming methods, Pettit went looking for her own Danish farmer and found Peder Moler. Inspired by what she saw at John C. Campbell, Pettit set about to bring the Danish farmer to Pine Mountain where he could introduce Danish agricultural methods to the subsistence farmers of the Pine Mountain valley. Through Marguerite and her new husband, George Bidstrup, many Danish practices entered the Pine Mountain Settlement School farm program and many Pine Mountain practices were adopted by the community of the John C. Campbell Folk School.

While Pettit eagerly set about bringing the Danish farmer, Peder Moler, to the School, the immigration quotas of the late 1920’s slowed down the immigration process.  When the Danish farmer finally arrived at Pine Mountain in 1930, Katherine Pettit had just (late 1930) departed  the School as Director and Hubert Hadley had just been hired for a brief year (1930-1931) and was followed by interim director, Evelyn Wells until Glyn Morris could come as the the new Director.  It was an unstable time at the School.

In late spring of 1930 the new Danish farmer, Peder Moler, immediately encountered a slew of challenges, not the least of which was resistance to any foreigner changing long-standing mountain subsistence farming methods.  As a “furriner” Moler persisted as best he could, and was from all accounts, an energetic and visionary farmer, but one who was “severe” in his demands. His tight “command” of the farm and his crews led to tensions in the work place. Oscar Kneller, an amiable and seasoned farmer of the Appalachians was quickly hired in July of 1930 and was charged to help Moler. The two were, by all accounts, a good team and they produced record crops.  Cabbages and tomatoes were in abundant supply.  The surplus of cabbage was so great that it was still feeding the school “until Christmas the following winter.” [Wells, History, p. 26]

Moler and Kneller made many improvements to agricultural practice as well as the grounds of the School but events at the School soon slowed that progress.  On May Day in 1932  an unusual act of violence occurred on campus at Pine Mountain.  A disturbed young man came to campus, following an argument about a love triangle in the community.  He threatened a student with a gun and then killed him   Moler, who was present at the event, was very shaken by the confrontation and the shooting and the events following the murder.  Glyn Morris, the new School Director, hired in 1931, asked Moler to accompany him on the arduous hike across Pine mountain to the Big Black Mountain community to deliver the news of the young man’s death to the family. The emotional event, the anguish of the family and the memory of the violence and the cultural differences profoundly affected Moler and he decided to return to Denmark. His departure left Oscar Kneller singly in charge of the farm.

Kneller was an energetic worker and he immediately set about completing projects begun by Moler and enhancing them. One important project was the purchase of a silo for the barn.  The silo was expected to bring down farm costs, particularly for winter feed. Other projects included the further straightening of Isaac’s Creek, particularly in front of the Office and the completion of the pathway and steps to the Infirmary from the lower roadway.  In School documents there is reference to the “hardsurfacing” of roads by Moler, This most likely is a reference to the use of gravel and particularly coal cinders which gave the roads protection in the winter freeze and thaws.  This practical road surfacing and re-use of coal burned in the campus furnaces, was a practice Kneller continued.

Evelyn Wells, in her unpublished history of the School, describes at length the importance of the addition of the silo and Oscar Kneller‘s role in proving the worth of the new purchase

“Mr. Kneller’s project was the building and filling of the new silo. Up to this time all food for the cattle had been purchased and carried to the school in trucks from across the mountain, and it had been most expensive.  There was some disagreement over the building of the silo, but with Mr. Darwin D. Martin‘s backing the silo parts were bought, and in 1932 the farm boys and Mr. Kneller built the silo.  The first filling took several days and all the men workers helped the boys. Every evening the progress of the filling was announced in the dining room, and on the last night, when the fodder from the last field had been cut and brought up, the boys and men workers stayed on the job all night.  Early in the morning, just at daylight the task was finished,  The silo lacked three rings of being filled, but all the corn was put away.

At he end of November 1931 the cost of the Dairy was $1140,08. At the end of November 1932 it cost $1471.80 which included the cost of the silo, cutter, and all incidental expenses of transportation and erection.  Ensilage lasted until the middle of March.  No hay was bought. The argument for building the silo was that it could be bought, built, filled and still we could come out at the end of the year with no more expense for the dairy than the year before, leaving the end of the year with the silo paid for. Hay had cost $200 a car plus freight from Putney. It usually was necessary to buy two or three car loads. Thus, there was a saving of about $600. In May 1932 dairy expense amounted to $2469.38.  In May 1933 it was only $ 1591.38, plus the cost of the silo $541.55. 

Of course a large amount of the land was given to ensilage, and a a relatively small amount to truck garden.  But the bottom land was resting in clover, since it was practically exhausted.  It was replaced with [a] vegetable garden between the creek and the tool house.  This record was made in the spring, and at that time a large number of cans of peas had been put away [number not given] the cabbage between 12,000 and 15,000 heads looked well, and corn covered the hill below the chapel.”  [Evelyn Wells, History, p. 26] 

Crop rotation, another new farm practice, had also been introduced slowly to many local farmers by the school. Some already practiced this technique, having learned by close observation of their soils. The introduction of crop rotation helped to ensure more sustainable farmland for the School and for farmers in the community.  Under this practice, crops were given systematic rotation, i.e. cabbage fields were rotated annually with corn and corn with beans, and so on.  In fall corn shocks, fodder for animals, often dotted fields where  the year before cabbage grew for the school’s extensive canning program. Under the gentle guidance of Oscar Kneller, the majority of the farmers in the area adopted the rotation practice and local crops began to thrive and steep hillsides began to heal and to suffer less erosion.

In a 1920’s editorial in the Jackson Times, the newspaper of Jackson, Kentucky, the editor ruminates that farming

….. for rich and poor, for city and country should stimulate idealism, purpose, action, responsibility, service, brotherhood, true patriotism. It should aim to make better citizens by making better men. And finally, it should recognize the fundamental education in the doing of the common tasks of every day—the education which only needs to be linked with intelligent vision to make everyday life better and happier. This is our problem in the mountains.

The editor further asks

Is it a mountain problem alone?

Clearly by the 1920’s farming had taken on a role beyond just subsistence and had been integrated into the economic and educational dialogue.

The next farmer, whose history spans some 27 years at the School, was a product of this economic and educational mantra.  William Hayestrained by Oscar Kneller when he came to the School as a student in 1933 became a valuable member of the farming crew. In late 1938 when he graduated from the boarding school at Pine Mountain he became the next farmer for the School and was retained until 1953.  Glyn Morris, hired in 1931 as the Executive Director of the School, had a particular crusade to engage students in industrial training and to meet them where their strengths and interests intersected.  He found this in Bill Hayes and also in his appointment of the farm assistant, Brit Wilder, the grandson of William Creech, who had entered the school during its founding years as one of the youngest children ever admitted to the School. Hayes and Wilder were a productive team for many years.

The Hayes years were the longest tenure of any farmer at the School, stretching from 1938 until 1953.  This era will be covered in Dancing in the Cabbage Patch V- FARM & DAIRY – THE MORRIS YEARS.  Also see:  William Hayes.

FARMING AND LAND OWNERSHIP TODAY

Land ownership in Harlan County has changed very little over the years, but ownership of mineral rights has dramatically altered  the idea of “ownership” and in some cases the pride that accompanies it.  As contracts continue to be drawn up for the new gas resources of the region it is not clear what this will mean for the relationship of future generations to their land, their water and their quality of life, but it is clear that the mountain garden will survive.  The transition from subsistence farming to mountain gardens reflects the shift in transportation, food availability, and life style in the Southern Appalachians.

Today, many family lands remain ravaged or vulnerable to the continuing injustice of the Broad Form Deed or “mineral rights” which allows the taking of minerals from lands that were given over by a “broad-form” deed which allowed the owner of the mineral rights to indiscriminately remove their purchased “minerals”.  The practice of mountain-top removal is the most indiscriminate form of this “taking.” Unfortunately the invasive mining practices of today could not be imagined by those who sold their mineral rights through these early broad-form deeds. The broad-form deed returned many families to tenant farmers as coal owners came and scraped off the surface of the farm to remove their mineral — much of this “taking” was bought for as little as a dollar an acre.  It was difficult to know in the pre-industrial eras that such easy money would later bring such hard lives.

The quality of rural life in Appalachia continues to shift as as new means and practices of exploitation are discovered. The uneasy tenancy of the land in Appalachia has shifted the agricultural focus of many families.  Why work the land if it will be stolen away in future years? Why work the land if the grocery store is within driving distance?  Why work the land if there is no one who remembers how to manage seasonal crops?  Why work the land if the only seeds available are GMO altered and will not come back the following year? Why work the land when there is so much entertainment to divert creativity? The excuses for abandoning the land for local farming and gardening are many.  Hard times, however,  always seem to return families to their garden and farm. The current downturn in the economy has brought many families back to the land in eastern Kentucky and with that return, many have begun to realize the profit potential of truck gardening, specialized crops, and family savings and the human potential of families in the garden,

Loren Eisely in his small study of Francis Bacon, The Man Who Saw Through Time, (1961) said that Bacon understood

“…that we must distinguish between the normal course of nature, the wanderings of nature, which today we might associate with the emergence of the organically novel, and, finally, the “art” that man increasingly exerts upon nature and that results, in turn, in the innovations of his cultural world, another kind of hidden potential in the universe.”

I would argue that a dance is better than wandering and it seems that dancing works best with a partner.

GO TO:   

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH – ABOUT

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  I – GUIDE

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH II – INTRODUCTION

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH III – PLACE

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH IV – FARMING THE LAND 1913-1930

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH V – FARM & DAIRY I – EARLY YEARS

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH V – FARM & DAIRY II – MORRIS yEARS

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH VI – POULTRY

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH VII- IN THE GARDEN

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH VIII – IN THE KITCHEN

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH IX – DIETICIANS

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH X – IN THE DINING ROOM, MANNERS & ETIQUITTE 

 

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LOG CABIN

Poem by Dora Read Goodale  (1863-1953), from Mountain Dooryards, Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, IA, 1941.

Little bitty ……. hit mought so be,
But it doesn’t look that way to me;
Ever’ log in it once a tree
That aimed at the sky ; the chimley-herth
Once a piece of the living yerth
And old Kentuck; and shutter and sill,
Puncheons, ruf-boards, or what ye will
Hewed and rived by my pap’s pap
When he was young an full of sap
Ther’es Coy’s fiddle — I tell you what! —
Mammy’s churn, and the big black pot
For Monday’s wash; and the shot-gun thar
Over the door, that’s kilt a bar;
Porch out front, and a picket gate
With flowers a-blowin early and late —
Why, ever’ one of em’s dear, so dear,
If I’d done been in Heaven a year
I’d still want out, to get back here.

                  Dora Read Goodale

Dora Read Goodale came to Pine Mountain Settlement School to teach when she was forty-seven years old.  She was born in 1866 in Mount Washington in the Berkshires .  Her arrival at the school in the founding year of 1913 provided her with a unique perspective of the school and community.   She came from a precocious Vermont family of writers and poets and brought those talents to her teaching at the school. Before she had reached adolescence she and her sister, Elaine Goodale [Eastman] had published extensively in national magazines and journals. and Dora, the younger of the two, continued writing poetry for most of her lifetime.  Her last work at age 75  was Mountain Dooryards  compiled while she was in residence at Pleasant Hill mission school, a Tennessee school, not unlike Pine Mountain. She served as the director of the Uplands Sanatorium in the late 1930s through 1941, a treatment center that was part of Pleasant Hill mission school.

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The 1920s view of the Settlement School above, shows the cleared areas and the site of the institution within the steep mountainous terrain. The wide angle view is deceptive, as the closeness of the mountain is missed in this panoramic view. Lower left is Old Log, the oldest building on the site.  The Tool Shed is to the middle left and the Office sits to its right.  Deep in the valley is the Burkham School House II and to its right is Old Laurel House.  The Barn,  sits high on the hill above the Office. The Infirmary (now Hill House)Practice House and Farm House were not yet built, nor were the Swimming Pool and the Draper Industrial Building.  Big Log is hidden in the middle distance of the photograph.  The Chapel is to the far right side and beyond, hidden by the dark knoll is Far House I. What stands out in this photograph is the large swaths of cultivated farm land. 

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Aerial view of Pine Mountain Settlement School c. 1941. Westwind is just under construction as the white patch to the right of the photograph. Again, cultivated fields stand out against the heavily forested area around the school. Today, most of the fields are overgrown with young timber and the cultivated land has been reduced to the central areas of the campus at the middle of the photograph. Photo, Arthur Dodd.

Pine Mountain Settlement School is nestled in the long valley on the north side of the Pine Mountain, a long continuous mountain chain on the Cumberland Plateau in the Southeastern United States.

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View down the Pine Mountain valley from the Westwind hill. c. 1920s.

The Cumberland Plateau encompasses some ten thousand square miles and contains nearly twenty counties in the eastern corner of Kentucky.  Pine Mountain Settlement School is in Harlan County, in the far southeast corner of the state where it borders on Virginia and Tennessee. The mountains in this area represent the most majestic in the state, particularly Big Black Mountain which faces the Pine Mountain range on its South side.

Harlan County was named for Major Silas Harlan, a commander in the Illinois Campaigns of 1779,  and was the sixtieth county added to the state.  It was formed from parts of Knox and Floyd counties. The county was one of the highest, most mountainous, and most remote of  the state’s 124 counties at the time of its formation and it remains remote in many ways, even today.

The history of Harlan County is dominated by a history of coal.  Most all the mountains  in the region contain some coal that was formed when the ancient bog and vegetation of an inland sea was compressed into peat and then into coal over a period of millions of years.  Pine Mountain, one of the mountain chains formed when the earth buckled and thrust upward has coal but is not coal rich as the coal seams are too difficult to mine. due to their quasi-vertical angle.  This long “thrust-fault” mountain chain, some 150 miles long, parallels the tall Cumberland range to the south which is certainly coal-rich.  Within this range is the “Big Black” mountain, at 3,300 feet, the highest mountain in the state.

When the Pine Mountain chain was  formed, it thrust upward along the 150  miles in a continuous line running east to west.  Pine Mountain Settlement School sits on the north side of this east-west thrust-fault and below the watershed point on the mountain for two rivers, the Kentucky and the Cumberland.

An amusing story is told of a local community member who had a unique perspective regarding how the mountain could have come to be so tilted. He asked Alice Cobb, a school worker, if she knew, “Why Pine Mountain was such a “quare” shape with so many big loose rocks scattered around.”  Miss Cobb started to respond with her short interpretation of the geology of a “thrust-fault” when the man continued. “Well people about here thinks that when Christ was crucified the earth trembled and shook so it knocked Pine Mountain plum over on its side. And, that’s why.”  And, “on it’s side,” it is. It is the gentle side, the slope, that forms the backdrop to the Settlement School though the mountains sit so close together, that the long slope is pressed up against everyone who lives in the valley.

As streams pushed their way  through the early plateau, they created multiple steep valleys with meandering creeks and rivers.  These many waterways eventually wound their way to the large tributaries of the Missouri and the Mississippi further west. Harlan County and specifically the Pine Mountain range above the settlement school is the source of three of Kentucky’s major rivers; the Cumberland, the Kentucky and further north, the Big Sandy river.

The Cumberland River runs westward and southward through the length of Harlan county and has its head-waters on the south-side of the Pine Mountain range.  Isaac’s Creek or Isaac’s Run, which runs through the campus of the School is the essential headwater of the The Kentucky River as it begins its journey and runs on the north side of the Pine Mountain.  This small stream soon forms Greasy Creek and then the Middle Fork of the Kentucky and then on to the main Kentucky river.

The Kentucky by state historian, Thomas D. Clark, told the story of the this important state tributary in 1942. Clark asked John A. Spelman, III, an art teacher at Pine Mountain Settlement School, to illustrate the book with his linoleum block prints.  The Kentucky was one in a series of books written for The Rivers of America Books, edited by Stephen Vincent Benet and Carl Cramer.  The Kentucky remains the definitive work on this beautiful river and a rich source for information on rivers and culture in the eastern part of Kentucky. Pine Mountain retains the Spelman original blocks for the prints in this important book.  Further, the linoleum blocks of John A. Spelman III may be found throughout Pine Mountain school publications created in the late 1930’s and the early 1940’s.

Thomas D. Clark says of the Middle Fork of the Kentucky

“… the middle one [stream] scampers along through the Big Laurel to Greasy Creek and then to an arbitrary point where temperamental map makers finally decide to imprint the name “Kentucky.”  Perhaps nowhere else in America does a stream drain a more genuinely rural or isolated area. In some respects the valley of this fork comprises America’s human museum. Here the great westward movement eddied and then stood still.  If it be true, as some sociologists have assured us, here are to be found America’s “contemporary ancestors.” Human life has changed little from what it was when the first settlers forced their way through the great pass at Pound Gap or wandered upstream from the “three forks.”  [Clark, p.9-10]

While Clark’s narrative written in 1942, captured life along the creeks of the north side of Pine Mountain, Spelman’s block prints capture the romantic wildness of the mountains in the area.  Spelman left another remarkable set of prints in which he captured the elegance of mountain cabins and the patterns of the mountain farm in his published work, At Home in the Hills: Glimpses of Harlan County, Kentucky Through the Media of the Linoleum Block and the Woodcut.  Published in the Pine Mountain Print Shop in 1939, this sensitive work caught the attention of Thomas Clark when he went looking for an illustrator for his classic, The Kentucky.

Spelman says in his introduction to At Home in the Hills

Where else can one find houses that so grow out of the soil, chimneys with so much unconscious beauty in their lines, roofs and wall spaces with such “at-oneness”? Time and the weather have done much toward their decay, but so have they colored these houses and barns to a mellowness that it makes them at one with the hills upon which they stand.

The Harlan County region has always been difficult to access and the remote geographic area saw only limited settlement in the early years of pioneer exploration. Further, the area  remained isolated far longer than many other more accessible areas of the Appalachian chain of mountains.  This geographic isolation of the north side of Pine Mountain in Harlan County has been a point of discussion of all who have sought to study the area and even today it continues to challenge visitors as they are asked to assess their visits to the School or are asked “How do you get there?” Whether the isolation of the area brings to mind Shangrila or geographic determinism, it is a topic in most any discussion of Pine Mountain Settlement School.  

Settlement of the region by pioneers,  largely European in origin, came early in the nation’s history.  The first exploration, completed by Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750,  rapidly opened the area to settlement.  Immigrants, mostly gleaned from England, Scotland, Ireland and the German Palatinate diaspora, eagerly homesteaded the mountainous area as pioneer farmers joining the Native Americans who were found throughout the area.

bram_ (59) Coal Tipple, c. 1940.  Arthur Dodd, photographer]

When coal was discovered in the mid-eighteen-hundreds, another wave of immigrants came from Europe and then Eastern Europeans joined them to work in the coal-fields. Italians, Austrians, Russians, Hungarians, Rumanians, Czechoslovakians and Polish men entered the mining work-force in Harlan County in large numbers. African Americans shifted from share-cropping and from inner city life to join the coal mining labor force in many of the larger coal camps. Coal accounts for a large population of African Americans in Harlan County, particularly in the International Harvester and United States Steel mining camps of Benham and Lynch.

Kentucky’s eastern coalfields have been both a source of wealth and  a deplorable example of labor exploitation. The region holds land of extraordinary resources and extraordinary environmental degradation.  The history of the settlement school at Pine Mountain, found in its farming, foodways and festivals, a large and important theme for mountain living, but coal always runs as a sub-theme in all that was and is Harlan County. King coal has often stood in,  in contrast to, and sometimes challenged the environmental sensitivity of the School. Today coal mining is both a significant monetary asset and a gross environmental liability for the region. The lack of a diversified economy throughout the Appalachian coal fields has always presented a land of competing values and contrasts.

Authors who have written about the region have all approached the quandary of coal from different perspectives.  Dr. Thomas Walker in his important The Kentucky (1942) devotes one page to the topic.  “Coal” does not show up at all in the index to Henry Shapiro’s Appalachia on Our Mind (1978), one of the most comprehensive overviews of the Appalachian region.  David Whisnant, however, challenges the conundrums head-on in his All That is Native and Fine (1983)  He engages the coal story and citations for coal related subjects are many, including: coalfields  ; coal industry ; coal miners, etc.. Whisnant’s book recounts one of many conflicting stories of coal and its role in the life of eastern Kentucky, but it is a perspective that resonates with many and is important in the debates that surround the role of coal in the development of the early settlement schools of the region.

One story in the Whisnant book describes the early relationship of the coal industry with Hindman Settlement, Miss Pettit’s former home.  He recounts that early in the history of Hindman Settlement School, when Miss Pettit was still with the institution, the secretary, Miss Newman,  secured some $25,000 in preferred stock from the Elkhorn Fuel Company which over the years yielded a continuing revenue stream for the school.  John C. Campbell in a letter to John C. Glenn of the Russell Sage Foundation in 1913 noted that less than a decade after the founding of Hindman Settlement School (1909) some 76% of the school’s endowment was stocks and contributions from the local coal companies.  While this large investment in coal stocks was an early revenue stream for Hindman, Pine Mountain found it difficult to establish similar early ties to coal.  Katherine Pettit, when she came to Pine Mountain, reluctantly pursued both coal companies and logging companies for donations but was rebuffed in her early attempts to wrestle donations from both coal and timber companies working in the area. Her initial efforts to secure contributions from the Kentweva Coal and Lumber Company and its President, Mr. Merritt Wilson, were largely unsuccessful, as were her efforts to stop the Company from running a narrow-gauge rail line through the heart of the campus to haul timber from the region.

Ron Eller’s book, Miner’s, Mules, and Millhands (1986), a well researched classic resource on Appalachian life, also looks closely at coal and its impact on eastern Kentucky and other coal areas.  It provides a balanced, documented and clear assessment of the many sides of mining, mines and miners.  The story of coal and the Pine Mountain valley is a complicated one but the story of Pine Mountain Settlement School yields a history that largely placed the school outside the influence of the coal industry, but not its impact.  Though the initial purchase of land for the school involved a land swap with the coal and lumber company, Kentweva, the competition for land and resources in the narrow valley have steadily waxed, waned and waxed over many cycles at the School. Again, isolation played a key role as the north side of Pine Mountain has no coal and the area is too remote for much change.  It is, as recorded in a Settlement School survey taken in the late 1930’s, “Some Shifting Aspects of Our Problem,”  that the School was “16 miles, 6 hours from [the] Railroad.” Further, it noted that the “mines produce a large shifting element that is perpetually on the move, and therefore a very difficult class to help.” This antipathy toward the populations of coal camps and mining communities shifted during the late 1930’s and 1940’s when the need to help the youth from the large mining population centers became dramatic and youth from mining camps comprised a significant percentage of the School’s population.

For nearly half a century the school moved forward without significant contributions or endorsement from coal companies that came and went in the region.  Dis-entangled from any financial relationship to coal, the school became a voice for individuals, organizations and institutions that began to question the serious environmental issues associated with the coal industry. By the l970’s both the environmental and the social fall-out of the coal industry became a national issue and when Johnson launched his “War on Poverty,” the coal region came under the scrutiny of not just the Nation, but of the whole world.

When Uncle William said that he wanted the School to be a lesson even for those in other lands, he would not have imagined what valuable lessons many of those would be.  Over time, the school slowly became the conscience of the region with regard to mineral and gas extraction and the School began to openly oppose any entity that would damage the environment, the economic security of the region’s people, or the health of both land and the people.  This vocal advocacy which continued from the 1970’s onward was seriously challenged in 2000 when it was clear that the coal industry was quickly beginning to encroach on the rights of the school and was showing little concern for its operational environment and its modeling of environmental education.

The encroaching surface mining in the area threatened the image of the school as an environmental center and threatened the pristine scenic views of the school, its water sheds, and its unique flora and fauna. Fearing an ever-growing coal appetite and a fledgling gas exploration and facing an expanding degradation of environment, Pine Mountain took action and filed a petition on November 13, 2000, with the Kentucky Department for Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to declare the surrounding 5,226 acres around the school as unsuitable for all types of coal mining operations. This so-called “Lands Unsuitable …” petition pointed out that the School had recently received  status as a National Historic Landmark site and that as a national treasure it would suffer irreparable harm from continued mining in the immediate area.

Robin Lambert, Executive Director of Pine Mountain Settlement School (1999 – 2001), said

“As trustees for a National Historic Landmark which provides a unique resident outdoor environmental education experience to over 3,000 school children each year, and which has been a cultural and educational resource to this community for over 85 years, the Board of Trustees of the School believes that the permanent protection of the School property, the spring-fed water supply, and the view-shed, from mining impacts, must be our first priority.”

As reported by the Kentucky Resources Council,  Lambert stated,

“The process for designating lands as unsuitable for mining was intended by Congress to protect those lands where simply mitigating mining impacts on the environment would not be enough.”

The 32 page petition, endorsed by the school’s Board of Trustees, with strong support from environmentalists, historians, and friends, was successful in its effort to curtail proximate mining and to protect both the environmental mission and the physical environment of the institution for future generations.

These actions were specific to the immediate threat to the institution and were not intended as an indictment of the responsible coal industry and the many labor benefits that  responsible mining operations brought to the region. Many of Pine Mountain’s boarding  school children and, later, the children within the community, had strong ties to coal mining and their families were often wholly dependent on the industry for their livelihood. The tensions of these conflicting interests can still be felt in the community, but the School pulled from these experiences one of its most important educational missions, that of raising awareness of the human impact upon the environment.

Today, strong ties to coal is still the reality in Harlan County and the surrounding region.  Coal is “King” and “Black Gold”  rules both the economy and the cultural mind-set of the region. But, as coal again turns its back on the people of the region and as the industry declines — some say its last decline — the people and the state are looking for other economically sustainable livelihoods.

It is the juggling of diverse perspectives, the commitment to civil response and the environmental realism of Pine Mountain Settlement School that makes it so very important to regions such as eastern Kentucky that are being devoured by insensitive corporate interests and by equally insensitive personal greed. This ravenous appetite for mineral and other  resources is now world-wide and the dangers to environment and to people is great.  Conflicting views arising from mineral extraction is an international reality that is being played out in nearly every corner of the world today as resources become scarce, and as industries lose their social compass and populations grow. Clearly, a strong environmental voice, education in our schools regarding our relationship and responsibility to vital resources such as land and water, and civic responsibility, is fundamental to everyone’s survival, not just those who live in eastern Kentucky. Learning how to live as a community of diverse interests but one that shares concern and respect for the common good is vital to the survival of us all.

William Creech reminded Pettit and de Long in his letters that he wanted the school to be a benefit not just to the community, to “their generations as yet unborn,  but to the whole state and nation and to folks across the sea if they can get any benefit out of it.” Pine Mountain still has this international perspective and continues to bring residents from throughout the country to work in the environmental education programs at the school.  Pine Mountain invites foreign visitors to the school to experience the beauty and peace of the valley, while taking from the visitors, their multiple world views. This has always been the history of the institution — that it both shares its lessons and learns from the lessons of others.

As the region continues its struggle with the dominant coal economy and consciousness, and now with the rapid decline of that industry — again —  It is not only Pine Mountain School, but the many social, religious, and educational institutions in the area that are struggling with what James Still, noted Appalachian author, called “a handful of chaos.”

James Still used this phrase in his sensitive portrait of an Appalachian family in River of Earth (1940). Caught in the chaotic transition from a simple life close to the land, many families were challenged to sort out a largely agrarian life-style against all that an evolving industrial economy promised.

In Still’s novel the family obliquely debates their future as they roam in search of the eggs of a guinea fowl in the pennyrile near their home.

 “This would make the finest hayfeed ever was,” Mother said.  “Just going wasting.”

Father kicked the lush growth where it caught the top hooks of his brogan.

“I hain’t started eating grass yet,” he said.

“There’s not a beast on the place to be cutting it for, and it’s the truth.”……”If we had us a cow her udders would be tick-tight,” Mother said.

“It would be a sight the milk and butter we’d get.”

“Won’t have use for a cow at Blackjack,” Father said.  “I hear the mines are going to open for shore. They’re stocking the storehouse, and it must be they got orders down from the big lakes. This time of year they come, if the’re coming a-tall.”

Mother picked up the baby, holding him stiffly in the crook of her elbow.

“Where is the big lakes standing?” Euly [their son] asked.

 “A long way north. It’s on reckoning how far, ” Father said. “There’s ships riding the waters, hauling coal to somewheres farther on.”

 “I had a notion of staying here,” Mother said, her voice small and tight.  “I’m agin raising chaps in a coal camp. Allus getting lice and scratching the itch.  I had a notion you’d walk of a day to the mine.”

“A far walking piece, a good two mile. Better to get a house in the camp.”

  “Can’t move a garden, and growing victuals.”

  “They’ll grow without watching. We’ll keep them picked and dug.”

“I allus had a mind to live on a hill, not sunk in a holler where the fog and dust is damping and blacking. I was raised to like a lonesome place.  Can’t get used to a mess of womenfolks in and out, borrowing a dab and a pinch of this and that, never paying it back.  Men tromping sut on the floors, forever talking brash.”   

 “Notions don’t fill your belly nor kivre your back.” [responded the Father]

Few authors have captured as starkly the lives of families caught up in the economic conflicts of the industrialization of eastern Kentucky, as does Still in this classic novel.  The mining and timber exploitation of a region that was largely agrarian, fractured the lives of the rural families in the region.  James Still heard their stories first-hand for he spent most all his life within the folds of the hills of eastern Kentucky on Wolf Creek in Letcher County. He knew the lives of his neighbors and he heard their voices and sensed their dreams and he listened,  closely.  Very closely.

pmss0008Land cleared for mountain subsistence farming.

Pine Mountain continues to listen, as well.  As Pine Mountain looks back on its one-hundred year history it can take pride in its strong protection of the land; its commitment to the people of the region; and its understanding of the pragmatic life-style, the dreams and the work-ethic associated with labor close to the land.

Farming, food, community celebrations, and a strong commitment to the preservation and conservation of the natural resources of the southeastern Appalachians, eastern Kentucky, and Harlan County,  are integral to the on-going ethos of  Pine Mountain Settlement School. The activities associated with these core elements are part of the “educating for life” that continues to hold a fundamental place in its framework for the future.  As the School has evolved and re-shaped itself to the twenty-first century and as it has adjusted to increasingly rapid cultural surges forward, it shows every evidence of doing so with a solid foundation and values just as solid.

As this narrative, Dancing in the Cabbage Patch,  continues, it shares one story of Pine Mountain Settlement School.  There are many.  The essays are dialogues intended to contribute to and invite dialog regarding the most recent re-visioning processes at the School and more extensively in the eastern Kentucky region.  The narrative seeks to show how re-invention and the processes associated with it pay homage to and derive strength from historical commitments.  Like the warp of a loom, the narrative threads of history at the School continue to be a pragmatic and a demonstrably foundational dialog. The personal narratives continue as an unbroken warp within various communities of interest. The long narrative of the first one-hundred years is foundational to the next one-hundred.   Farming, food, celebration and a profound environmental awareness are shared experiences that are understood at a very basic level by the institution and the community, even as that community continues to grow and change.

In its new form this electronic narrative looks to the past, but it also looks forward with hope that the guiding principles of the school, “… will make a bright and intelligent people …” as Uncle William hoped. Pine Mountain Settlement School is only one-hundred years down the road, but if the first century of the journey is any measure,  the next many centuries will be even more exciting and rewarding if the values and the vision of all stake-holders can be shared and learned. It is ironic that coal sits as a fundamental contributor to the digital revolution.  The coal-fired plant fueled the electronic frontier and continues to do so today.  That Appalachia has been one of the last stops on that frontier, makes the coal relationship even more ironic. It seems fitting that Pine Mountain call these inequities to our attention and that we remind the lords of industry that their empires were built on the backs and resources of this unique region.

Farming, food, various celebrations, and conscious environmentalism, still serve to help sustain the school and its community, but it is the people, seen in many of the images in this web, or more accurately, weft, that give hope for the coming centuries. The resilience, determination, intelligence, and work ethic of the people in both the school and the community suggest that the future is bright and that the people of the valley of the Pine Mountain and beyond will continue to dance in the cabbage patch.

Just how Pine Mountain continues its commitment to community, how it protects and nurtures the land, how it expresses it joys and sorrows and how the people will respond to pressures outside the valley and the region, cannot be known.  But, is is very likely that farming, food, health, celebrations, and environmental education will continue to be integral to the settlement school mission and to the lives of those living in surrounding as well as virtual communities of interest.  It is also clear that those communities of interest are now, not just local, but are expanding rapidly to the global.

Friends & Neighbors - VI-51 - Capturing a snapping turtle

Capturing a snapping turtle, children at Big Laurel, 1960’s. Friends & Neighbors – VI-51 –

Farming, food,  community celebrations, and conscious environmentalism have all become quite complicated by our modern life-styles, but as we all struggle to sort out how we will manage the “new-normal,” it may be instructive to look to the lessons found at Pine Mountain Settlement  School and  to imagine them practiced in a wider context.

 

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Students participating in the Environmental Education program at Pine Mountain, 2010

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Circle dance of students and staff on playground at Pine Mountain Settlement School, 1920’s. pmss001_bas098

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Children dancing on the playground at Pine Mountain Settlement School, 1990s.

How do we manage our resources?  How do we treat our neighbors?  How do we educate our children to respect nature? What lessons are there in working with our hands as well as our minds and hearts?  What is literacy?  Reading? Math? Computer skills? Visual literacy? Civic responsibility? How can we eat healthy? How can we grow responsible crops? How can we exercise, intelligently? How important are aesthetics to our well-being? How can we help to shape our life-style into quality of life? How can we better respect our natural environment? Speak out when our water resources are in peril? Stop the removal of our mountains? What does it mean to have quality of life? These are short questions with life long answers. To seek answers to these questions and more,  is the discovery of “educating for life” found at Pine Mountain School and in the surrounding community.

GO TO:  DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH – IV – FARMING THE LAND

BACK: DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH I – ABOUT

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