2014-01-15 / Columns

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1908

Thursday, January 13. 1944

No word has been heard from John Thompson Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. John Thompson of Whitesburg, since he was reported missing while flying over enemy territory about three weeks ago while serving in the U.S. Army Air Force. The younger Thompson, who is stationed in England, attended Whitesburg High School.

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The Rev. J.S. Robinson has accepted the call to become the new pastor of Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church in Whitesburg. He will replace Rev. Joe T. Sudduth, who was instrumental in the narrow vote last year that resulted in the outlawing of alcohol sales in Letcher County.

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Mrs. Louise Fletcher of McRoberts has received word from the War Department that her son, Staff Sgt. Edgar B. Fletcher, is being held as a prisoner of war in Germany.

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This week’s edition of The Mountain Eagle was supposed to be printed on a new press, but a lack of necessary wiring material resulted in the debut of the press being delayed.

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According to statistics provided by the Letcher County Health Department, there were 1,243 live births in the county in 1943, while stillbirths numbered 32. Dr. T.R. Collier of Whitesburg was the attending physician for 22 births, followed by Dr. D.V. Bentley of Neon (174 births), Dr. A.B. Carter of Fleming (89 births), Dr. T.M. Perry of Burdine (70 births), Dr. M.W. Anderson of McRoberts (55 births). Dr. John W. Turner of Dunham (46 births), Dr. B.F. Wright of Seco (42 births), and Dr. G.D. Ison of Blackey (36 births). Eight other doctors were present for the deliveries of 11 or more babies last year. The midwife who attended the largest number of deliveries in Letcher County in 1943 was Mrs. Sillar Adams of Whitesburg (51 births). She was followed by Mrs. Elsie Raleigh of Roxana (27 births), Mrs. Diora Fields of Hallie (11 births), and Mrs. Rebecca Browning of Letcher (8 births). Many other midwives delivered seven or fewer babies here last year.

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Emery Fulton Lewis, son of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Lewis of Whitesburg, was recently enlisted at age 17 by the Naval Aviation Cadet Selection Board of St. Louis. Young Mr. Lewis, who will be 18 next September, ranks in the upper half of his class at Whitesburg High School, where he is senior class president, member of the Glee Club, and a letterman in basketball. He has long had the ambition to fly and feels that the Navy’s V-5 program offers him the best opportunity to do so.

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Carl E. Adams, Aviation Ordnanceman First Class USN, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross as a result of “extraordinary achievement and heorism in action.” While Adams was serving as a member of the aircrew protecting a convoy over the Northwest African waters, the plane was attacked by two Folke-Wolfe bombers. According to a Navy citation, the “coolness under fire” displayed by Adams, of Whitesburg, “enabled the plane to prevent the enemy air attacks from reaching their objectives. During this engagement, many hits were obtained on the enemy planes.” Adams, 24, enlisted in the Navy in 1937.

Thursday, January 14, 1954

Snow and numbing cold has covered eastern Kentucky this week, with the weatherman predicting no marked rise in temperatures until Friday. From four to six inches of snow fell Sunday and Monday in Letcher County, making roads extremely hazardous. Subzero temperatures were reported on Pine Mountain, Mayking and Whitesburg Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

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Mrs. Fernoy Mosgrove of Thornton suffered first- and second-degree burns Tuesday night when the gas stove on which she was preparing the evening meal exploded. Mrs. Mosgrove suffered painful burns to her face, arms and hands after she opened the oven door and fumes ignited.

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A not guilty verdict was returned by a Letcher Circuit Court jury Tuesday in the case of Raymond Maloney, who was indicted for voluntary manslaughter for the death of Riley Little, the 70-year-old police chief of Fleming. Little was crossing the street at McRoberts and was allegedly hit by Maloney’s automobile. In circuit court on Wednesday, defendant Ben Wright was found not guilty of armed robbery after a short deliberation by the jury.

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A bill before the current session of the Kentucky General Assembly calls for the establishment of an interstate park at the Breaks of the Big Sandy in eastern Kentucky. The project would be jointly operated by the states of Kentucky and Virginia. Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says the proposed park would be one of Kentucky’s most breathtaking natural attractions. The Chamber has been working since 1948 to develop the park.

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Mrs. Etta Bentley was acquitted last week by a Letcher Circuit Court jury in the July death of her son-in-law, Charles Sizemore. Mrs. Bentley was one of three persons indicted in the murder. The others are her son, Noah, and her daughter Bonnie, who was Sizemore’s wife. In testimony before the all-male jury, Mrs. Bentley said she found Sizemore in the kitchen of her home with a pistol in his hand. She said that when he refused to leave her home she ordered him out, but that he fired the gun and a bullet nicked her ear. She said she got a poker and then began hitting Sizemore with it. Noah Bentley said he heard the shot from his sleeping quarters 25 to 30 yards away before finding Sizemore and Mrs. Bentley scuffling. Young Mr. Bentley said he took the gun away from Sizemore and shot him twice in the head. Physicians E.G. Skaggs and B.F. Wright testified the blows with the poker could have been fatal to Sizemore before the shots were fired.

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The No. 1 commissary and general appliance building in Wheelwright owned by Inland Steel Corporation was destroyed by fire January 10. E.R. Price, general manager of Inland’s Wheelwright division, estimated the loss at $500,000. The fire, discovered at 4 a.m. by a night watchman, is believed to have started from a short circuit in the elevator of the three-story building in Floyd County.

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Ralph Palumbo, U.S. Navy, arrived home to Whitesburg last Saturday from Hong Kong, China, where he has been stationed for the past several months. T. Sgt. John Palumbo Jr., his wife, Kathy, and their son, John III, who have been in London, England for some time are also expected home this week. A family reunion will be held at the home of their mother, Mrs. John Palumbo, with all members of the family present for the first time in several years.

Thursday, January 16, 1964

Ten men have been indicted by the Letcher County Grand Jury in connection with beatings inflicted on employees of South-East Coal Co. on top of Pine Mountain in October 1962. All 10 are charged with armed robbery and malicious striking and wounding with intent to kill. The South-East employees were attacked as they were on their way from their Harlan County homes to their jobs in Letcher County. One of the men accused of the beatings was a leader in the band of roving pickets which was active in eastern Kentucky during 1962.

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Representatives of Life magazine and an educational television network are in Letcher County gathering material on conditions here. They are here as a result of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of war on poverty.

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Sale of “dope pills” at Letcher County schools was investigated by the January Letcher County Grand Jury, which did not have time to complete the investigation and asked the April grand jury to continue checking into the situation. The grand jury heard testimony concerning distribution of pills at Letcher School and the area around Isom. Physicians who looked at the pills say they are probably Phenobarbital.

Thursday, January 17, 1974

Two Kingscreek boys were rescued from an abandoned strip mine after being lost for almost six hours. Travis Roark, 9, and Anthony Roark, 7, had gone to play on the old mine site and apparently got lost as they tried to head back. After a relative called the sheriff ’s office for assistance, about 100 people began looking for the boys. The boys were found on the Kingdom Come side of the strip job.

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Linefork correspondent Thelma N. Cornett writes that she had received several calls about “the awful condition of the large garbage collection containers which were placed along our roads several months ago and are not being serviced at all . . . I wonder what the difference is between putting (the garbage) in old Linefork Creek, which is already polluted with bad water, and letting it rot along the highway.”

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After a week of heavy rain, the water in the North Fork of the Kentucky River crested above the eight-foot mark in Whitesburg, where the flood stage is about 10 feet. A section of railroad track near Whitesburg was hit by a heavy landslide from an old strip mine, sending tons of mud and debris over the rails and into the river below.

Wednesday, January 18, 1984

After three miners — including one miner at a South- East Coal Co. mine in Letcher County — died in mining accidents in one week, the state Department for Mines and Minerals has stepped up safety inspections of underground coal mines. Five miners have been killed on the job in the first weeks of 1984.

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The Letcher County School Board has authorized Supt. Jack Burkich to “locate one or more professional negotiators” to represent the school board in its negotiations with the Letcher County Teachers Organization (LCTO). The board voted to recognize the 195-member LCTO as the bargaining agent for the county’s school teachers. The board and the LCTO are expected to meet to discuss salaries, fringe benefits and working conditions in the county school district.

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Photographs showing Blackey in its infancy were found in an old album belonging to Oma H. Fields of Blackey. They show the city of Blackey probably before any of the fires that eventually burned most of the town. In the foreground of the photos are new railroad tracks being laid.

Wednesday, January 19, 1994

With nearly a foot of snow already on the ground, single-digit and sub-zero temperatures, widespread power outages, frozen water pipes and nearly impassible roads — plus more snow and continued bitter cold in the weather forecast — the outlook for Letcher County is none too bright.

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Thirteen babies, including a set of twin boys, were born at Whitesburg Hospital during a four-day period. Dr. N. Wade Baker, an obstetrician, says it is the most babies to arrive in such a short period since he has been associated with the hospital.

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The bad weather brought out good neighbors, says Cowan correspondent Elsie Banks. “We appreciate Allen Sexton who took our Jeep, went to the store and delivered needed groceries to Mrs. Gladys Pitts, Pearl and Elizabeth and us, and checks on all of us during the cold weather. . . Felicia and Ricky Bates, Rocky and Michelle Craft are good to check on Pearl and Elizabeth, so we are blessed with good neighbors close by.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Kathy Ellen Walters-Williams, the 46-year-old Letcher County woman charged with murdering 19-year-old Forrester D. Caudill, has been indicted on a single charge of capital murder.

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In its first meeting of 2004, the Fleming-Neon City Council rejected last month’s financial report, questioned why Mayor Harlan “Tootie” Seals was listed on the city’s insurance policy, and heard a report from Neon resident Clifford Mullins on the deteriorating condition of Abdoo Street — caused by water Mullins said came from an abandoned coal mine.

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Letcher County Schools retired teacher and assistant superintendent Columbus Sexton died at 82. He had served two terms as property valuation administrator in Letcher County.

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