LAHC – The Beginning

Stinking Creek News

It was August 1958 when I first came to Stinking Creek. Dr. Schaeffer of the Red Bird Mission brought Peggy and me over the hill from Jim Luellans store on Straight Creek to look over the area as he was hoping to sell us on coming to Stinking Creek for Peggy to do her midwifery practice. So we came over the hill to Lee Hopkins and the Alex Creek school. We ventured on down to the Taylor school at the junction of Alex creek and Big Creek. Peggy knew what work she wanted to do—deliver babies in the homes. We started in that area as quite a few people from the top of Stinking Creek were accustomed to traveling over the hill to the Red Bird Hospital. Since there were plans to move the hospital on down the Red Bird river about seven miles that would make it almost impossible for people to get those services, especially midwifery services.

The next step was to find a county school for Irma to teach to earn a living for the combination education and medical center they named Lend-A-Hand Center. It just seemed that Alex Creek School with its twenty some students would be a good match. It took some doings to get Superintendent Lay to give me the job at that school. That task accomplished, we had to find somewhere to live within horse back distance since that was my mode of transportation.

So one hot dusty day we started at Alex creek down Big Creek hunting for a place that could accommodate the two of us, a clinic for Peggy and a barn for the horse. What we remember most about that day was the heat, the very dusty narrow road and the people we met as we inquired about places to locate. The people at the Mills post office and store were friendly but did not know of any suitable place. We traveled slowly asking people along the way and no one could think of any place except an old two room cabin a ways up above the Shady school on Trace Branch. The summer sun was beginning to sneak behind the mountain and we were tired, dusty and discouraged. We had been warned by people at Red Bird Mission that “foreigners” were not always welcomed.

Now we were eight miles from the Alex Creek school which would  be quite a horse back ride on cold wintry days. Then Peggy spotted a house down in the bottom with weeds growing all around—weeds that towered up to the porch roof. There was a walking path down the hill, a log bridge over the creek, a path up the branch which came out in front of a two story, six room house. We made a path to the house and we knew right away why it was empty. There was a good coating of muddy sand from the ‘57 flood. We walked on up the path that led us to Charlie and Lucy Kinningham’s home. They had lived at Red Bird Mission and gave us a big welcome. Lucy even said it could be an answer to prayer. In spite of the house being in very poor condition, we were ready to make it our Center.

There were many challenges to be overcome but we felt God’s leading. And there are many interesting stories how we turned that flooded house and place into Lend-A-Hand Center.