2017-10-11 / Columns

The Way We Were


Grade school addition came 80 years ago A new 10-room addition to the Whitesburg Grade School was well underway when this photo was taken in 1937, a few weeks before it was announced the new rooms would be ready for use by the first of November. This photo is part of the Goodman-Paxton collection at the University of Kentucky Digital Library. Grade school addition came 80 years ago A new 10-room addition to the Whitesburg Grade School was well underway when this photo was taken in 1937, a few weeks before it was announced the new rooms would be ready for use by the first of November. This photo is part of the Goodman-Paxton collection at the University of Kentucky Digital Library. Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, October 13, 1927

A Syrian peddler well known in the Blackey area was found murdered near Hazard last Thursday night. The body of S.A. Solomon, 48, was found on the Lick Branch Road. He had been shot once in the leg with a shotgun, severing an artery. Revenge appears to be the motive behind the shooting. $100 in cash was found with the body. Syrian friends of Solomon are offering a $500 reward for the capture of the murderer.

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A Little Cowan man reported to have been robbed and murdered in Paintsville is alive and well and back home in Letcher County. Milford Fouts walked into his parents’ home last Thursday night, causing his mother to faint. Fouts was presumed dead after his father, Hiram Fouts, was called to Johnson County to identify a body believed to be Milford Fouts. After discovering the dead man was not his son, the elder man started back home to Little Cowan but was beaten back home by the son. Mr. Fouts said the dead man was identified as a 19-year-old with the last name of McCarty.

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Workers are busy this week pouring the last of the concrete needed to complete the road between Haymond and Jenkins. An additional 21 days will be needed to finish work on two bridges on the highway.

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The Carbon Glow Mine is now the largest producer in this coalfield, producing coal from the Hazard No. 4 seam only. Several new houses for miners have been built and several more are under construction. The company recently built a road from the mouth of Caudill’s Branch to the mine.

Thursday, October 14, 1937

Business at the Appalachian Marble and Granite Works of Mayking is soaring as the company nears the end of its third month of business. Stone for memorials created at Mayking is being brought in from Georgia, Tennessee, Vermont and North Carolina. The company already has several of its memorials placed in cemeteries throughout Letcher County. Mr. Hickey, who moved here from Knoxville, Tennessee, is the expert stonecutter.

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In its report to Letcher Circuit Judge Monroe Fields, the Letcher County Grand Jury says it finds the “crime wave in the county about as usual, no worse than surrounding counties (with) most of the crimes being committed coming from the use of intoxicating liquors.”

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The new 10-room addition to the Whitesburg Grade School building is rapidly nearing completion and should take care of the badly overcrowded condition at the building located on College Hill. The work is being done entirely with employees provided through the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). A.C. Brown, superintendent of construction on the project, says the addition should be ready for occupancy by the first of November.

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A second Letcher County man has been found not guilty of murdering Cecil Day at Potters Fork several months ago. Claude Trusley was indicted on the murder charge in July. Curt Anderson was cleared of the same charge in January by order of the trial judge. After the judge’s finding for Anderson, murder charges were dismissed against Lloyd Anderson, Bill Anderson, Ray Anderson, and Wade Combs, all of whom had been indicted the grand jury in the same case.

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The Elk Horn Coal Corporation has announced the formal opening of its now coal preparation plant at Wayland in Floyd County. The company, which has operations in Fleming, Hemphill and Haymond, has invited the governors of Kentucky and West Virginia to attend the event, as well as Senators and Congressmen of both states. The guests, which will also include officials with the C&O and L&N Railroads, will inspect the preparation plant Saturday and eat burgoo. Later in the day the guests will leave by train for White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where two days of sports will be arranged.

Thursday, October 16, 1947

Representatives of approximately 150 employees of Champion Stores Inc. in Jenkins and other Consolidation Coal Company towns in eastern Kentucky met Thursday with Champion officials in an effort to end a strike that began the day before. Employees called the strike, which affects 10 stores and warehouses owned by Pittsburg, Pennsylvania-based Champion, to demand higher wages.

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Two cars belonging to Whitesburg citizens were stolen off the town’s streets at night recently. A new 1946 Dodge belonging to Woodrow Dawahare was stolen from Back Street, while a car belonging to former Letcher County Sheriff Gilbert Polly was taken from its parking place near the Polly home. Polly’s car, also a Dodge, was later recovered on Cumberland River. Interestingly, the thief who stole Polly’s car left an old Ford automobile parked in its place.

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Luther Elbert Holcomb was fined $250 and sentenced to 60 days in the Letcher County Jail after being found guilty of an undisclosed misdemeanor in the beating death of Clint Cornett, father-in-law of Letcher County Jailer John H. Gose. Cornett died at the Lynch hospital in May after he crawled for help after he was allegedly beaten by Luther Holcomb and his brother Roscoe Holcomb in the Gordon area at Raven Rock. Luther Holcomb’s son, 10-year-old Nelson Holcomb, told police he was with his father and uncle when the two confronted Cornett. However, the youth’s statement never came up during the trial. Nelson Holcomb said that he, Luther and Roscoe Holcomb were on their way from Linefork to Cumberland when they encountered Cornett. He said his father and uncle forced Cornett to give them a quart of moonshine he was carrying. The younger Holcomb said that after witnessing his father kick Cornett, he and his Uncle Roscoe left the Raven Rock area, but that Luther Holcomb stayed there with Cornett for at least half an hour. Nelson Holcomb said his father was armed with a .22 caliber rifle and later threatened to shoot Roscoe if he didn’t give Luther the quart of liquor taken from Cornett. He said Roscoe later took the liquor to the home of Velar Cornett in Saw Mill Hollow near Cumberland while he and his father returned to their home in Fair View Hill, Cumberland.

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Before the largest crowd ever assembled at a football game in Whitesburg, the Yellowjackets defeated the previously unbeaten Hazard Bulldogs, 18-14. Leading the way for Coach Ray Pigman’s Yellowjackets was team captain Porkey Polly, who caught two passes from quarterback James Gose and ran them in for touchdowns that closed the gap to 14-12 in favor of the Bulldogs. Halfback Gayle Fields scored the third and winning touchdown for Whitesburg. After the game, the Whitesburg High School Marching Band gave a concert in front of the Daniel Boone Hotel, where spectators cheered the band through many encores.

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Coach Allen Parr’s Jenkins Cavaliers dropped their second game in five starts last Friday, falling to Prestonsburg by the score of 27 to 7. The Cavaliers’ Sergent-to- Williams passing attack kept the Blackcats at full attention throughout the game, but in the end it wasn’t enough.

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Paintsville defeated Fleming in a football game Saturday night, 7 to 0.

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The Rockhouse Creek Branch Extension of the L&N Railroad in Letcher County is now halfway finished, with completion set for the summer of 1948. Extending from Duo Railway Station in Letcher County to the community of Deane, the extension will serve an area estimated to contain some 200 million tons of high-grade coal. Production at the Consolidation Coal Company Mine 22 at Deane alone will be around one million tons annually, estimates show.

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Forty-two Kingdom Come High School students now participate in 4-H.

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More than 35 Whitesburg residents attended the football game between the University of Kentucky and the University of Georgia in Lexington Saturday.

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The Club Estella, specializing in T-bone steaks, oysters and fried chicken, is open in Cumberland on the Whitesburg-Cumberland Road.

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Women’s shoes by Tweedies are top sellers at Dawahare’s Department Stores, now located in Whitesburg, Neon, Hazard and Pikeville.

Thursday, October 17, 1957

“There was much excitement October 9, when the telephones began ringing for the first time here on Blair Branch,” writes correspondent Minnie Adams.

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State highway officials have given top priority to rebuilding Main Street in Jenkins (U.S. 23 & 119) and say that work will be completed on the 2.436 mile stretch from Wright’s Hollow to the eastern city limits by mid-1960.

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A 33-year-old Kingscreek coal miner who tossed a box of 200 dynamite blasting caps into a fire to keep his children from playing with them was reported in satisfactory condition today. The resulting explosion Sunday cost Arnold Shell part of his left arm. He also suffered chest, abdomen, and face injuries. Mrs. Shell said the couple’s four children found the caps in or near an abandoned mine and brought them home, after which Mr. Shell started a fire and threw the box into the flames. He is being treated at the Fleming hospital.

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Betty Sue Hamilton has been elected homecoming queen at Whitesburg High school for the 1957-58 school year. The general theme for this year’s homecoming, which will be held Friday, October 25, is “Song Titles.” The annual homecoming parade through Whitesburg will be held at 1:45 p.m. and begins at Pascal Fields’s Service Station. Coronation of the queen is set for 7 p.m., with the football game starting at 8. The homecoming dance will be held in the WHS Gym beginning at 10 p.m. and ending at 12:30 a.m. Admission to the dance is 25 cents.

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The Bank of Whitesburg marked its 25th anniversary October 10 with a dinner at the Pine Mountain Hotel hosted by Herman Hale, who has served with the bank since its opening in October 1932. [The bank is now known as Whitaker Bank.]

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In an editorial concerning the recent banning by television networks of Stephen Foster’s song “Old Black Soul” and the New York City Board of Education’s decision to remove “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from its approved textbook list, Mountain Eagle editor Tom Gish warns “there is only one logical end to such a trend” — the banning of “all literary and musical material which happens to offend anyone, whether those offended are white men, yellow men, or black men; Protestants, Catholics or Jews; business men or labor leaders, and so on ad infinitum. Then we can all live in a cultural vacuum comparable to the Dark Ages.” “Old Black Soul,” writes Gish, is “a piece of immortal Americana, loved and sung by tens of millions of people over the generations.” About Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” novel, Gish writes, “it is seen by many excellent critics as the greatest of all American novels.”

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Jack Howard, small son of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Howard, underwent a tonsillectomy at the Whitesburg hospital Wednesday morning, writes Marlowe correspondent A.P. Williams.

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Mr. and Mrs. Forrester Combs announce the birth of a daughter, Jennifer, born at the Harlan hospital on Monday, October 14.

Thursday, October 12, 1967

Army Specialist Four Eugene A. Nash, 20, son of Dr. Arthur Nash of Jenkins, is participating in “Operation Wheeler” in Vietnam with other members of the 101st Airborne Division 1st Brigade.

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Wendell Boggs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Boggs of Kingscreek, has returned home and has been discharged from the Army after almost two years of service — the last 13 months in Vietnam. He entered the Army in December 1965 and went to Vietnam in August 1966. After his tour of duty was up, he volunteered for an extra month of service there.

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The Letcher County grand jury has indicted Hobart Ison, 69, on a charge of murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Hugh O’Connor, a Canadian film producer, at Jeremiah September 20. Ison will be tried at the January term of court. O’Connor was shot as he and a film crew photographed some houses owned by Ison at Jeremiah.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court officially has gone on record as opposed to the construction of the Kingdom Come dam near Ulvah proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We don’t want any Carr Creeks in this county. We are not going to permit that to happen here, and we’ll fight the Corps every step of the way,” said County Judge James M. Caudill.

Thursday, October 6, 1977

The nation’s first experiment with turning strip mine benches into housing for coal miners ran into problems this week when the Letcher County Fiscal Court withdrew its support for the $1.5 million Ben’s Branch project near Burdine and voted to use the $55,000 allocation for roads instead.

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Executives at two of Letcher County’s biggest employers, BethElkhorn Coal Corp. and South East Coal Co., say they are uncertain how metallurgical coal production here will be affected by the current recession in the steel industry. Both firms are large producers of high-grade “met” coal. Coal trade journals report that massive cutbacks in domestic steel production, coupled with Japanese companies selling steel under cost in order to cut their own losses, have thrown the metallurgical coal industry into its worse slump in nearly 20 years.

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”We had an enjoyable evening this week when musicians Amos Campbell and McGoffin and Brenda Bradley did their practicing on our store front porch,” writes Blackey correspondent Gaynell Begley. “It sounded perfect to us already as they went through their square dance fast numbers and a few slow ballads. This group has been playing for the Carcassonne square dances.”

Wednesday, October 7, 1987

Anthony Smith, 21, his wife Carolyn Shepherd Smith, 22, Steve Adams, 20 and his 17-year-old wife Rebecca Pennington Adams were arrested by Plaquemines Parish, La., police last Tuesday night. The four are accused of murdering Carolyn Smith’s parents, Sie and Judy Shepherd, and their son, Buster Shepherd, all of Leatherwood. They are also charged with abducting the Smiths’ two-year-old daughter, Pamela, who had been legally adopted by the Shepherds. The couples were arrested after a 16-year-old from Empire, La., where the four had been living, suddenly stopped his car in traffic after pulling out in front of a car driver by Carolyn Smith. Mrs. Smith was unable to stop and slammed into the rear of the car driven by the youth. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Adams, who was a passenger in the car, were arrested after a routine check of the car’s registration plate and Mrs. Smith’s driver’s license in a national crime information computer showed she and Mrs. Adams and their husbands were fugitives from Letcher County.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court has declared the garbage hauling franchises of Oscar Cornett and C&M Sanitation void and advertised for bids on the routes. The two companies quit after a disagreement on franchise fees. County trucks are picking up the garbage in the two franchise areas until new contracts are awarded.

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State and local government and private companies scrambled to bring water in to Jenkins last week when the Jenkins Reservoir level became threateningly low. Mayor Robert Shubert said lack of rain brought the water level in the reservoir so low it was in danger or dropping to below the city’s fresh water intake. The state Disaster and Emergency Services and the National Guard had to be brought in to supply a generator to power pumps at Pike, Letcher Coal Partners’ abandoned Mine 22. The Letcher County Road Department and the city cleared the right-ofway for a power line and Kentucky Power installed the lines to the pumps within two days, putting them on line permanently by Oct. 3.

Wednesday, October 8, 1997

Pascal Fields, 88, was robbed of about $180 Monday after he was beaten in the head with a club or stick, Whitesburg police say. Fields, who has operated his own small service station on Bentley Avenue in Whitesburg since 1941, told police he was giving a man change for a $1 bill when the man hit him in the head and took the money from the station’s cash register. Authorities were angry Monday as they searched for clues to lead them to the person who would commit such a violent act against a friendly, but frail man who has worked pumping gas for 70 years.

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Unemployment in Letcher County remained at 8.8 percent for the second month in a row in August but was two percentage points below the figure for August 1996.

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U.S. Senators Wendell Ford of Kentucky and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota have urged members of Congress to include $208.5 million for the federal Mine Health and Safety Administration in the appropriation bill for Labor, Health and Human Services now being considered by Congress. Funding the amount approved by the Senate would allow MSHA to increase federal sampling for respirable coal dust beyond its current pilot program at three sites, so that federal monitoring can take place nationwide, the senators said. They pointed out that coal miners continue to be at risk for black lung, and that an advisory panel had recommended strengthening MSHA’s role in coal mine dust sampling.

The Whitesburg Yellowjackets used a pair of field goals by senior Chris Collins, including a schoolrecord 47-yarder, and two touchdowns by senior tailback Caleb Brock to upset rival Fleming-Neon 19-6 for their first victory of the season.

Wednesday,

October 10, 2007

At its October meeting, the Fleming-Neon City Council voted to implement an existing ordinance which calls for a fine of up to $500 a day to an individual or company responsible for allowing property to become a “nuisance.” The council voted unanimously to instruct Police Chief Henry Day to deliver a copy of the ordinance to East Letcher Ministries along with a letter giving the organization 15 days to clean up its property before fines are levied. Council members said the problem with East Letcher Ministries has been ongoing since the organization moved into the old A&P building and began accumulating a wide variety of goods for distribution to needy people.

The Letcher Fiscal Court voted unanimously last week to adopt a resolution supporting members of the Kentucky/ West Virginia Nurses Association who are on strike against Appalachian Regional Healthcare. Court members also said ARH may lose nearly $2 million in government funding if the hospital chain doesn’t reach a labor agreement which meets the terms of the striking nurses.

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Whitesburg Police Chief Scott Adams has nominated two Whitesburg policemen, Officer Justin Gayheart and Sergeant Mark Sexton, for a Kentucky State Police life saving award. Adams said both of the officers were able to save lives recently by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in two separate situations.

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A reenactment of the Battle of Leatherwood will take place Oct. 26-28 on the battle’s 145th anniversary. The event will feature Civil War re-enactors, and a battle for Saturday and Sunday. It will also feature period music, a living history village, and a Heritage Ball.

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