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Miss Lela G. McConnell


She brought to the  Kentucky Mountains a determination to do what God had called her to do.

The people who came with her shared her vision and were dedicated to her goals.

When the local people met her and understood who she was, they gave land and manpower to her cause.

From their hard work, Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute was built on the hillsides of the Kentucky River at Lawson and Vancleve.

She was a kind and gentle woman who loved  the people in the mountains and the people loved her.

This page is dedicated to her.

Robert Cundiff supplied the photographs.

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Dr. Lela G. McConnell

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Martha Archer,  KMBI Vice-President

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Raymond Swauger,  Vice-president, KMHA


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Mary Swauger. Mt. Carmel  Secretary

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Miss Elma Reed

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Miss Mary Swartwout

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Miss Genelle Day

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Eldon and Agnes Neihof,  Class of 1953




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Bessie and Karl Paulo

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Doris and Verdon Higgins

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Edith Lockard and Mrs. Mary Swauger take a quick break for a photo opt while traveling over one of Kentucky's back roads
Robert Cundiff was saved and sanctified in 1951 while Miss Lockard was preaching.

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Mr. Swauger had an ingenious way of carrying goods across the river. This is his cable car. It sure beats toting everything on one's back.

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Seeing this picture of the old bridge reminded me all of the times that I packed a load of feed over it while it was swinging from side to side and when there was a flood, I watched huge trees narrowly passing below.

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The new swinging bridge was constructed in 1950.

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Asbury College people dedicating their summer to work at Mt. Carmel in the 1920's

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Rev. Wilfred Fisher
WMTC Radio Station

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Seldon Short is busy showing his disc jockey skills at WMTC  in the 1950's.

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Dr. Henry Clay Morrison
President Asbury College

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Green Lawson  was the first to donate land for the school.
Note his shot gun and powder horn

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Dr. Karl Paulo,  Mt. Carmel

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Martha Asher
Lawson, Ky.
Her presence breathes faith, assurance, and gentleness. Quick to feel for the unfortunate, she will give and forget the gift.



Senior Class
Asbury College

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These  Pictures were copied from Page 66
of the Asbury  College Yearbook.

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Raymond Swauger
Lawson, Ky.
Dependable and obliging is our campus policeman, Ray.  Though strict in the discharge of duty, he is kind and gentle of heart. His consecrated life is a rebuke to error.



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Bible School, Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute, 1931

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Day after the disastrous 1939 Flood that destroyed the Bible School

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After a hard day's work building Mt. Carmel,  Mr. Swauger and  students from Asbury, deserve a little relaxation.


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Standing tall on the mountain is the beginning of Mt. Carmel. This is the administration building in 1925


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With Offut Lawson and his wagon team,  Mr. Swauger and Mr. Townley are building the boys' dorm in 1925.

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Brush Arbor Camp Meeting near Mt. Carmel and the Kentucky River with Dr. Morrison conducting the service

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Unknown driver bulldozing the basement for the new dining room and girls dormitory. He taught Paul Major how to operate the dozer and Paul finished the work. The building in the back housed the wood planer that I used to plane all the wood, 1946


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The first floor; the litlle helper on the right is me


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New Dining Hall and Girls  Dormitory
being built in 1946
As best as I can remember, there were seven of us who built this. Mr. Swauger, Paul Major, Mr. Richards, another gentleman, a boy from West Liberty, and me.  I used to jump from the second floor to one of those sand piles.

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Ruth and Robert Cundiff with their three daughters, sons-in-law, and four beaming grand children


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The beginning of the Former Students
Association in 1989

Front: Verdon Higgins, Doris Higgins, Elma Reed,
and Ruth Cundiff
Rear: Seldon Short, Celia Davis, Mary Detwiler, Jerry Cox, Becky Higgins, Jonah Mitchell,   and Robert Cundiff

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Eldon and Agnes Neihof's Retirement Party


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Looking over Mt. Carmel Farm from KMBI



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Local men volunteering their work for the basement for
the Mt. Carmel administration building

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Bird's eye view of KMBI  in the 1940's and 50's

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Mt. Carmel Boys crushing rock
Now this is work!

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Dr. McConnell and Paul Major on the new bridge

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Forrest Cox driving on the low bridge under the
Gov. Martha Collins Bridge
Photo by Robert Cundiff

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Original  KMBI 1931-1939
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Mt. Carmel Administration Bldg. 1927

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Reed, Person, Swartwout, and Drake


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Old Adminstration Bldg,

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Horace P. Myers Family
Before 1939 Flood



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New KMBI in 1940

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Mount Carmel Faculty
Front Row: Alice Spatz, Mary Swartwout, Lorene Clayton,  Elma Reed,  Genelle Day,  and Edith Mehl;   Second Row:  Roy and Pearl Ouderkirk, Glenn Graves, Helen Smith, Geleah Mollenkopt,  Alice and Joe Stuckey ;  Third Row:   Raymond and Mary Swauger,  Verdon Higins,  Paul Major,  Bessie and Karl Paulo.




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Mr. Swauger with his work crew in 1925


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A younger Mr. Swauger



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Mt. Carmel 1950 Suspension Bridge
All that there is left are rusty remains.

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A younger Verdon Higgins


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Miss McConnell receiving her LHD, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Asbury College

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WMTC Radio Personnel
L-R:  Seldon Short, Janet Short, Violet Person, Faith and Kenneth Amspaugh, Wilfred Fisher, and Louis Bouck

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Mt. Carmel High School Sign

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Class Testament
Was originally one long  document. It had to be posted in two parts

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Miss McConnell on bicycle

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Standing with Miss McConnell on her Doctorate Day are Miss Archer on  the left and Miss Day on the right.

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Miss McConnell is finding out that getting water
from a  well is easier said than done

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Graduation Day

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Miss McConnell poses for a picture with
an unknown guest

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Miss McConnell  preaching to her vast
radio audience

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Sitting tall like a trooper on her horse, Beauty, with her trusty pump organ

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She loved hats

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Here she is relaxing in her home

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In between Mrs. Swauger and Miss McConnell is Elizabeth O'Conner, Founder of Oakdale Free Methodist School. She invited Miss McConnell, then at Asbury, to preach a revival at Oakdale. While visiting there, she  had a vision to build Mt. Carmel  Church and School. God works in mysterious ways.


Nineteen year-old Miss McConnell flanked by her college roommates

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Miss Swartwout is being presented a bouquet of
flowers by Eldon Neihof and his son John

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Miss Swartwout driving around on the school's golf cart

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Miss Swartwout with a friend

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Mr. Swauger mediating by a stream

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Mr Swauger taking time out from his
construction work to visit with a guest

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Misses McConnell, Reed,  Person, Swartwout, and
(Perry Sister?)

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Miss McConnell driving a stake to mark the
beginning of Mt. Carmel

This was the beginning , but not the end. Mt. Carmel is still vibrant and carrying on with Miss Lela McConnell's dream.

It has been a real pleasure to have done this page.   To all of my schoolmates  and the faculty from 1945-1950, thank you for making a boy of the hills welcome among you. I will never forget you.

Royal Francis Feltner


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1963 Faculty

Front Row: Dr. and Mrs. J. R. Bird, Pearl and Roy Ouderkirk, Genelle Day, Lela McConnell, Mary and Raymond Swauger, Patsy Major, Doris and Paul Major
Second row: Clair and Dorthy Champion, Treva Leach, Sharon Teal, Doris and Verdon Higgins, Henrietta News, Edith Vanderwarker, Ida Crigger, Ladonna and Robert Barber,
Third Row: Jimmy and Helen Watkins, Elma Reed, Bessie Paulo, Agnes and Eldon Neihof, Patsy Woodring, Ava Smith, Elizabeth Davis, Ruth and Robert Cundiff

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