2017-02-15 / Columns

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, February 17, 1927 Jenkins police shot and killed a 26-year-od Breathitt County man Monday during an incident that began in Pound, Virginia. The dead man is John Combs, who had been to Pound with John Spencer and William Stidham. As the three were entering Kentucky, Combs hit Stidham across the head with his gun and ordered him to get back into Virginia. Combs also took Stidham’s gun and ordered Spencer to go to Jenkins. Meanwhile, Stidham was able to get around Combs and Spencer and fled to Jenkins, where he reported the incident to police. Jenkins Police Judge A.C. Daniels, Police Chief Sam Privitt, and Magistrate Hobert Tucker later confronted Combs and shot him after he resisted arrest. The three officers took Combs to the Jenkins hospital, where he lived only a few minutes. The officers then traveled to Whitesburg for a hearing before Judge Noah Bentley, who ruled the offi cers were acting in self-defense. Stidham and Spencer were also set free.

. A rail accident near Lewis Wholesale Company’s main building in Whitesburg demolished the dray wagon belonging to “Uncle” Sol Holcomb. The accident occurred when Holcomb’s wagon collided with a yard engine on a sidetrack. Holcomb escaped injury.

. The Whitesburg School continues to grow since it was founded in 1910. Approximately 25 pupils will be graduated from eighth grade into high school and nearly 100 additional students will enter from county schools next year, officials estimate. The officials expect the freshman class to number 125 pupils next fall, bringing the high school’s attendance to 225. There were only six students enrolled during the school’s first year, and only 25 pupils by 1916.

. James Napier, 22, was buried in the Elsiecoal Cemetery after he was killed in a slate fall at the Consolidated Fuel Company mine there last Saturday.

. Whitesburg’s bridge team defeated the visiting team from Hazard by the narrow margin of 330 points in a bridge tournament held in the offices of Judge Lewis E. Harvie. A return match will be held in Hazard in three weeks.

. The building occupied by Ward’s Cash Store of Neon is being enlarged to take care of the store’s growing business. In addition to a rear extension of 24 feet by 24 feet, the entire building will be raised 12 inches because of flood dangers.

. George Hogg of Roxana has sold the George Drug Company to Dr. S.M. Childers. Dr. B.F. Wright of Seco will also be connected with the new firm, which will do business under the name of Childers Drug Company. Dr. Childers, a native of Campton and graduate of the University of Louisville College of Pharmacy, has been employed as a pharmacist in Whitesburg since November 1925.

. The Ladies Fashion Shoppe, a new business carrying ladies’ ready-to-wear, opened in Neon February 15 across from the post office.

Thursday, February 18, 1937 The people of No. 6 Hollow in Jenkins were grieving this week after the loss of two of its residents. Early Sunday morning, Beecher Fitzpatrick was crushed to death in a slate fall at Mine No. 6. He leaves behind a family of 10. On Sunday night in No. 6 Hollow, Mrs. John Blaine was shot to death by Ralph Conley. When John Blaine heard about the shooting, he rushed to the scene and shot and killed Conley. In the melee, James Douglas Stephens of Lynch was wounded in the right leg by a stray bullet.

. Letcher County’s last Civil War veteran has died just short of his 95th birthday. E.A. Craft, known to the people of the county as “Uncle Chunk,” died at his home on Millstone Tuesday night. He would have turned 95 on February 28. Craft was born the same year Letcher County was constituted and was directly related to the county’s first settlers — the Adams, Craft and Webb families. His father, the Elder Arch Craft, was a grandson of Archelius Craft, who settled here around 1800, about the same time John Adams settled at the mouth of Bottom Fork. Archelius Craft married Betty Adams, daughter of John Adams. The mother of Uncle Chunk was Letty Webb Craft, a daughter of early setter Benjamin Webb, who married John Adams’s daughter Elizabeth.

. John D.W. Collins wants the world to know he will not be a candidate for any office, proclaiming that a good man cannot be elected to public office. Asked how he knows that to be true, Collins said, “I have tried it.”

. Alvin C. Adkins, crack car salesman for Kyva Motor Company of Whitesburg, sold 103 automobiles during the last 12 months, a number believed to be a local record. The number includes new Pontiacs and Buicks as well as used cars.

. In its feature, “It Is So,” The Mountain Eagle points out that explorer Christopher Gist is the first white man to ever set foot on the soil of what is now Letcher County. Gist was sent out by the Ohio Land Company to explore Kentucky. After leaving Cumberland, Maryland in the latter part of 1750, he came down the Ohio River to a point opposite of where Cincinnati, Ohio is now located. From there, Gist traveled southeast past the mouth of the Red River and eventually reached the Kentucky River. A journal kept by Gist shows he traveled up the Kentucky River at the rate of a few miles per day, passing along where Whitesburg is now in the summer of 1751 and camping in the bottom at Mayking, which he refers to in the journal as having been the camping ground of Indians who weren’t there at the time. Gist traveled on up the Kentucky River, where he camped near the river’s head and killed a bear before passing through Pound Gap, turning the right and discovered a river that is named for him, the Gist (now known as Guest) River. From there he went on to his home along the Yadkin River in northern North Carolina.

. Letcher County residents were saddened by the death of a Thornton boy whose physical handicap couldn’t keep him from attending school in Whitesburg. Henry Clay Lucas, 19, died Friday, just days short of his 20th birthday. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Lucas was born on Washington’s birthday and died on Lincoln’s birthday. Though very small for his age and handicapped, he walked two miles from his home on Thornton to the state highway everyday so he could ride the bus to Whitesburg High School, from where he would have graduated this year. “He was loved by all the student body and idolized by the teachers,” The Mountain Eagle reports. “His seat in the senior class this week is vacant, but he has been called above to that class where he is not a cripple anymore, but where all things are well.”

. An 82-year-old Harlan man has been arrested by federal authorities in connection with a wide-ranging dope

peddling syndicate. Police say a search of the property belonging to the defendant, Rice Jones, turned up $7,500 worth of morphine and other narcotics.

. Joan Crawford and Clark Gable star in “Love On The Run,” showing February 23-24 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

Thursday, February 20, 1947 Several changes and developments are taking place in the City of Jenkins. Plans have been laid out for a subdivision in the Goodwater section; Hobart Tucker is making arrangements through Pure Oil for the erection of a modern service station in Payne Gap; Sanders A. Collins has broken ground for his Chevrolet agency and garage; the Lincoln’s temporary theater is operating well in the old power plant; the McRoberts Recreation Building has been sold to Mr. and Mrs. Roy Fleming, who will continue its operation as a recreation center, and Mr. and Mrs. Paul James have bought the Dunham Recreation Building, where they will open a 24-hour sandwich and coffee shop for the convenience of the men at Mine 207. Also, the Kentucky and West Virginia Power Company now operates the city’s streetlights, and the McRoberts Office Building has been sold to the United Mine Workers of America.

. Is the City of Whitesburg “going backward or forward,” The Mountain Eagle asks in a front-page commentary. “Within the next five years, our town’s population would in all probability be doubled if we would only encourage businessmen to build houses for the people to rent or purchase. Some seem to think that a stock company could be formed and some 50 or more new homes built and this company could probably profit by at least $50,000 on them. We feel that any number of people will be wanting to settle here who would gladly invest from $5,000 to $6,000 for a small home. … A town will only grow and prosper in accordance with its building program. Let better businesses and better homes be our motto.”

. About 50 of Letcher County’s leading Republicans attended the Lincoln Day Dinner held at the Pine Mountain Resort Hotel near Whitesburg. The dinner was prepared by Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Morgan, who manage the hotel.

. Pairings for the district basketball tournament have been announced, with first-round action between Kingdom Come and Whitesburg set for March 5 in the Fleming High School gym. Stuart Robinson, Fleming and Jenkins drew first-round byes. Stuart Robinson will tip off against Fleming at 8 p.m. on March 6. Jenkins will play the winner of the Kingdom Come vs. Whitesburg game on March 7 at 8 p.m. The title game will be played March 8.

. Thirty-second meals are now possible, thanks to the radar range,” which debuted February 6 before the Ohio State Restaurant Association convention in Columbus. The oven, which can deliver a well-done frankfurter in a bun in just 10 seconds, has the usual white enamel exterior and a standard-looking interior, and uses radio frequency heat through a tube that was the heart of wartime radar. There is no grease, smoke, or odors.

. Bituminous coal like that mined in Letcher County heats four out of seven dwelling units, powers 74 of 100 railroad locomotives, and provides coke for 100 percent of the steel. Industry supporters say there are enough bituminous coal reserves in the U.S. to last more than 3,000 years at the current rate of consumption.

. James Cagney stars in “Blood In The Sun,” showing February 27 only at the Haymond Theatre in Haymond.

Thursday, February 21, 1957 Miss Carol Bentley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Bentley, was named Valentine Queen at Fleming-Neon High School. A junior, she was crowned at a dance Saturday night in the school’s gym. The attendants were Miss Anna Ruth Warf, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Warf, and Ernestine Wright, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wright.

. Dr. Tom Collier, veteran Whitesburg physician, died unexpectedly at his home today after suffering a heart attack. He became ill while out on a call and returned to his home. His wife went to find another physician, but when they returned to the home they found Dr. Collier dead. He came to Letcher County in 1920, and began his

practice at what was then Dalna, later known as Elsiecoal and later the community of Hot Spot. He was a classmate at the University of Louisville School of Medicine with Seco physician Dr. B.F. Wright. “He was one of the most obliging, courteous and fine men I’ve ever known,” Dr. Wright said, adding that Dr. Collier did “an enormous amount of work for the poor, for which he received no pay and or which he expected none.” Dr. Collier entered the Army Medical Corps as a first lieutenant and served until the end of World War I.

. Letcher County Sheriff Robert B. Collins plans to discontinue the telephone in his office effective March 1, he said, “due to the fact the Letcher Fiscal Court has refused to pay the telephone charges.” Collins said phone company officials told him the fiscal court has been paying phone bills for all county officials since it had phones installed in the Letcher County Courthouse in 1942.

. University of Kentucky football coach Blanton Collier was guest speaker at two banquets in Letcher County last week. Thursday night, he addressed guests at the Whitesburg Athletic Association’s annual banquet. On Saturday night he spoke at a banquet sponsored by the Jenkins Kiwanis Club to publicize the organization of a Quarterback Club to promote Jenkins athletics. At Jenkins, Coach Collier addressed one of the largest banquet meetings ever assembled there.

. Licensed strip mining operations in Kentucky now total 167, according to a report filed with the state Department of Conservation. The number is up from 107 the year before.

. “Quit Your Kidding,” the senior play to be given at Letcher High School February 22 will begin at 1 p.m. A repeat performance will take place Saturday night, February 23 at 6:30 p.m. Admission is 25 cents for students, 50 cents for adults.

Thursday, February 16, 1967 South-East Coal Company general manager Harry LaViers Jr. is praising a New York City ordinance prohibiting the burning of fuel that has more than three percent sulfur content. “When the mayor of New York passed that ordinance the other day,” LaViers says, “he gave the coal industry a shot in the arm. The ordinance is mostly aimed, you see, at the electric companies around New York, and they’ve been burning Venezuelan crude oil for many years. … Venezuelan oil is very rich in sulfur content. It can’t possibly conform to [Mayor] Lindsay’s standards. So if New York wants cleaner air, it’s going to have to burn our coal.”

. Ten years after the disastrous regional flood of 1967, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertook a river-clearance project here last week. Approximately five miles of the North Fork of the Kentucky River are being cleared of floating and submerged debris and rubbish along the riverbanks. Several dozen trees the Corps has declared a flood hazard will be removed.

. The Letcher County Board of Education is still having difficulty obtaining a suitable construction bid for the proposed new Whitesburg High School library-cafeteria building. The board accepted bids Friday for the third time, and they still exceeded the amount of money available for the project.

. Members of the Boone Fork Community Group voted this week to continue efforts to operate a community action program through the Boone Fork Community Center at Fleming. The group met Tuesday night to discuss its future after the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington turned down its request for federal funds to operate a community kitchen and homemaking program. OEO said last week it has no money to finance the program because of congressional cutbacks in OEO funds.

. Jobless fathers in eastern Kentucky are getting together to try to save the government program that has enabled them to give their families proper care over the past two years. More than 40 Letcher County residents attended the meeting held in Barbourville last Saturday for men employed in the Work Experience and Training Program. Clisten Johnson of Partridge was elected chairman of the Southeastern Kentucky Unemployed Fathers.

. Sergeant Cecil Abe Wampler has returned to Vietnam after a 30-day leave with his parents, the Abe Wamplers of

Mayking. Sgt. Wampler finished his three-year tour of duty with the Army but volunteered for another year and a half in Vietnam, where he felt he was needed. He is a helicopter gunner. Wampler says that his crew takes off at 8 a.m., when weather permits, and do not get back much before midnight.

. Airman First Class Charles O. Chapman Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles O. Chapman of Jenkins, is on special duty in Vietnam as a member of the Pacific Air Forces. A special vehicle repairman, he is a 1959 graduate of Jenkins High School.

Thursday, February 17, 1977 The entire workforce at Pioneer Coal Co’s mine at Sassafras was laid off February 4 shortly after roughly 60 miners had signed cards asking for negotiation by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

. Because of renovations, this year the Whitesburg Municipal Swimming Pool won’t open until mid-summer. The pool will be enlarged and a diving area will be

added. A play area and baby pool will border the pool.

Wednesday, February 18, 1987 Fleming-Neon and Letcher schools should have new classrooms next school year, school officials say. The Letcher County Board of Education has submitted plans to the state Board of Education for additions at the two county schools.

. Donald Terry Bartley, whose statement helped to convict two of the killers of Tammy Dee Acker, has made a statement concerning the 1982 shooting of former Harlan County sheriff Paul L Browning. Bartley’s statement implicates Benny Lee Hodge, one of the two men convicted of killing Miss Acker, in the shooting of Browning. Bartley was also involved in the Acker murder and is to be sentenced in Letcher Circuit Court Thursday.

. Letcher County schools should offer sex education to students, the school board’s advisory council of parents and teachers says. Brenda Bolling, president of the advisory

council, said the increasing number of teen pregnancies and the seriousness of sexually transmitted diseases makes such courses necessary.

Wednesday, February 19, 1997 Five schools in Letcher County will distribute a total of $177,184 in reward money among their staff members this month. The money came to them this week from the Kentucky Department of Education because their students exceeded their two-year goal on state test scores. The Letcher County schools receiving rewards are Fleming-Neon High School, Fleming-Neon Elementary School, Hemphill Elementary School, Whitesburg High School and McRoberts Elementary School.

. Twin births have climbed 42 percent since 1980 in the United States, largely because of fertility drugs, the government said.

. The Whitesburg Yellowjackets broke open a close game against visiting district rival Fleming- Neon in winning 64-48. With the victory over the Pirates, Whitesburg

clinched the top seed in this month’s boys’ 53rd District tournament with a record of 5-1.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 Preliminary work is underway on a project to raze the old Suburban Motel in downtown Whitesburg to make room for a new building that will house the Letcher County Health Department.

. The Whitesburg City Council voted unanimously to participate in an experimental program that uses a series of electrical shocks to detoxify drug users.

. Seven business and individuals are named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed this week in connection with an underground mining accident that killed David Sherman “Bud” Morris Jr., a Letcher County miner, in 2005. The lawsuit was filed in behalf of his widow, Stella Mae Morris.

. Bertha Sizemore, daughter of the late Ike Hatton, will celebrate her 100th birthday February 22. President George W. Bush sent her a card for her birthday.

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