Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lynwood Montell, Kenneth Clarke, Mary Clarke

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


A number of aspects of the life style and material culture of a mountain settlement in Eastern Kentucky are studied to provide a portrait of life in that region in the early part of this century.

The Hensley Settlement was established about 1903 when two families, the Hensleys and the Gibbonses, moved onto a 509 acre survey on top of Brush Mountain near Middlesboro, Kentucky. luring the course of almost forty—eight years on the mountain, the settlers multiplied into a community of over eighty people and constructed in excess of 100 log buildings. They had their own school, gristmills, and blacksmith. Their economy was agricultural at a subsistence level as their only cash crop was illegal whiskey.

In later years the younger generation of Hensleys and Gibbonses becaue disenchanted with the rugged style of mountain life and were lured away by the regular paycheck and cash economy of the coal camps. As the younger generation left the mountain the older settlers were forced to move also. Advancing ape made it impossible for them to carry on their farming activities without the help of their children. Finally about 1951 only Sherran Hensley, the first of the settlers to move up the mountain, remained. The land was bought by the National Park Service to be reconstructed and used as a living historical museum. The settlement history and genealogy is examined in detail as well as the buildings, food production and preservation methods, and the mountain culture.


Anthropology | Arts and Humanities | History | Oral History | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology