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The View from Puncheon Creek: Suffer the Little Children

But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 

Scripture such as this awaked a desire around the turn of the twentieth century in many north eastern society people to do something for the children of eastern Kentucky.  The golden age of the do-gooder was born. Coming on the heels of the Civil War, naturally suspicious-by-nature hill people didn’t receive these Yankee carpetbaggers with open arms. Most do-gooders who came to these hills could not adapt to the local culture and could not make themselves understood by the very people they were trying to help. A remarkable exception was a lady named Alice Lloyd and I will tell you her story. 

Alice Spencer Geddes was born in Athol, Massachusetts on November 13, 1876 with a future destiny most improbable. Alice was to be the only daughter of William Edwin Geddes and Ella Mary (Ainsworth) Geddes. Alice was educated at prestigious Chauncy Hall and Radcliff College and would become editor of the Cambridge Press in Boston Massachussetts, the first all-female newspaper in the nation. She would marry Arthur Lloyd, the paper’s advertising manager but it seems to have been short lived. In 1916 Alice and her widowed mother left for Kentucky on the advice of her doctor to seek a warmer climate. Always frail of health by her mid-thirties she was partially paralyzed by spinal menengitis. They settled in Knott County on Troublesome Creek, a country with only one college graduate within its borders. Soon they would move to Caney Creek where Abisha Johnson gave them fifty acres in exchange for educating his children. In a letter writing campaign to her wealthy friends in the north Alice managed to raise enough money to begin construction on a six room schoolhouse and to purchase the rest of the Johnson farm. Alice would devote the next 46 years of her life to bringing education to the mountains. 

In 1922 Lloyd founded Caney Junior College which would become known after her death as Alice Lloyd College. The college accepted no state or federal funds and relied entirely upon public contributions during Lloyd’s lifetime. Today Alice Lloyd College is a four-year liberal arts school in Pippa Passes founded primarily by Alice Geddes Lloyd and New York City native June Buchanan. This college has provided tuition free education to the students of Eastern Kentucky. 95% of Alice Lloyd graduates are accepted into professional schools, a remarkable achievement. 

Join us at the Magoffin County health Department this November 5 at 7:00 PM where Jacqueline Hamilton will be in performance as Alice Lloyd in the drama Stay on Stranger. The Magoffin County Civil War Committee and the Kentucky Humanities Council are proud to bring these dramas to the public free of charge. This will be our sixth such presentation and all have been well received. Each character is right out of a page of Kentucky history and are brought to life by professional actors and actressess. Alice Spencer Geddes truly created a miracle on Troublesome Creek founding over 100 schools, the crowning jewel of which is Alice Lloyd College. 

 

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