2017-12-13 / Columns

The Way We Were


Heavyweight boxing match was big news here Challenger Jersey Joe Walcott stands over heavyweight champion Joe Louis after knocking the champion down for a count of seven in the fourth round of their scheduled 15-round title fight at Madison Square Garden in New York. Walcott also knocked down Louis for a count of two in the first round. Louis won the December 5, 1947 fight in a controversial split decision. Detailed coverage of the fight, including a full recap, appeared in the December 12, 1947 edition of The Mountain Eagle. (AP Photo) Heavyweight boxing match was big news here Challenger Jersey Joe Walcott stands over heavyweight champion Joe Louis after knocking the champion down for a count of seven in the fourth round of their scheduled 15-round title fight at Madison Square Garden in New York. Walcott also knocked down Louis for a count of two in the first round. Louis won the December 5, 1947 fight in a controversial split decision. Detailed coverage of the fight, including a full recap, appeared in the December 12, 1947 edition of The Mountain Eagle. (AP Photo) Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, December 15, 1927 At least seven buildings were destroyed Friday night as fire spread in East Jenkins. All buildings on the upper side of Main Street from the railroad on down were burned. The blaze started in the second story of the Ford Furniture Company’s building and spread from there to Horn’s Grocery Store and the Vanover buildings. Little, if any, of the property was insured.

. White Star Transportation is citing the poor road conditions between Fleming and Whitesburg as the reason all of the company’s vehicles except one are being pulled from that route during the winter months.

. A Studebaker “Big Six” being operated as a bus by Mike Milo of Jenkins and driven by Clarence Fisher collided with a steam shovel on Pine Mountain near Whitesburg earlier this week, but no passengers were injured.

. The Wright Hotel in Neon caught fire Friday night, but the flames caused by a faulty kitchen stove were extinguished before any real damage occurred.

. Two oil barrels stolen recently from the Adam rail siding near the mouth of Marshall’s Branch near the Pike-Letcher county line have been recovered after thieves had prepared them for use in a moonshine still.

. Letcher County Schools Superintendent Arlie Boggs and Whitesburg Schools Superintendent R. Dean Squires attended a meeting of superintendents in Frankfort last week.

. Kentucky changed from a Democratic to Republican governor December 13 when Flem D. Sampson took the oath of office and former Governor William J. Fields stepped down. Democrat James Breathitt Jr. took the oath of office as the state’s new lieutenant governor.

. Kentucky set new coal production records in 1926, mining an estimated nine million more tons than during the year before for a total of 57,485,684 tons. The tonnage was mined by 1,961 machines in 654 mines. The production figures were announced December 12 by Kentucky Inspector of Mines W.H. Jones in his annual report to Governor W.J. Fields.

. Employment at coal mines and coke ovens in Kentucky averaged 62,006 persons in 1926, an increase of 4,730 persons over the year before, according to a report released to Governor W.J. Fields on December 12 by Kentucky Inspector of Mines W.H. Jones. Of the total employees, 4,513 were pick miners; 29,202 were machine miners; 3,498 were machine runners and helpers; 15,288 were inside laborers, and 9,505 were outside laborers. The race and nationality of the 62,006 workers were: white American (49,606); black American (8,957); mixed race and foreign born (3,443).

Thursday, December 16, 1937 Tuberculosis is among the diseases causing a great deal of sickness throughout Letcher County.

. Pike County Tax Commissioner Lafe Lawson died in the Methodist Hospital in Pikeville earlier this week, shortly after he was found in the garage of his home after a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

. E.A. Starling, manager of the Starling Coal Corporation mine on Kingscreek, suffered a serious leg injury in an automobile accident on U.S. 23 near Virgie last Sunday.

. Nehemiah M. Webb, the founding editor and publisher of The Mountain Eagle, is now a writer for the Neon News.

. Residents of Whitesburg, Hemphill and Wheelwright were left saddened by the unexpected death of Emerson Yonts, who died of complications from an operation to remove his appendix. Emerson, a Whitesburg High School graduate and son of Henry and Jane Yonts of Hemphill, was only 29 years old. He fell ill while at work in the Meat Market of the Inland Steel Coal Company at Wheelwright. His parents lived in Whitesburg a number of years while his father was Letcher County Tax Commissioner. He had worked at the A&P Store in Whitesburg before leaving to accept a better position in Wheelwright. Two months ago he was married to Margie Clark, daughter of Professor George Clark of Hindman.

. A murder charge against James Battle of McRoberts was referred to the Letcher County Grand Jury after Battle waived his rights to a preliminary hearing. He is charged in the death of Miss Flora Hardy, also of McRoberts.

. In a note looking back on The Mountain Eagle’s first 30 years in business, managing editor W.W. Vogel notes that when the paper was founded in 1907 only 10,000 people lived in Letcher County, a number that has grown to more than 35,000 today. Whitesburg had only four stores, one hotel (the Kentucky) and not a single restaurant in 1907. Writes Vogel: “Then, not a single high school in the county; now over 1,200 high school students. Then, not a single mile of graded road, but today over 75 miles of graded road throughout the county. Then, electric refrigerators, radios, airplanes, washing machines and automobiles had not been heard of, and our daily papers mostly came from Louisville and were always three or four days late. They came in through Stonega and were hauled in a hack or by horseback over the mountain and the re-dispatched from Whitesburg. A single telephone line across the mountain

to Stonega kept us in touch by wire with the outside world, but it was out of commission most of the time. … Everybody had a job of some kind and worked.”

. Joan Crawford stars in “The Bride Wore Red,” showing December 21 and 22 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

Thursday, December 11, 1947 The Commonwealth of Kentucky has purchased the Cumberland Falls Hotel and 125 acres of land for $40,000. The 50-room hotel, most of which was destroyed by fire November 23, and adjoining property are located just outside the Cumberland Falls State Park area in McCreary County.

. Democrat Earl Clements was sworn in as Kentucky’s new governor on December 9, replacing Republican Simeon Willis, whose term expired.

. An investigation continued this week into the dynamiting and burning in a tavern in nearby Leslie County, which officers have linked with an earlier ambush slaying. Sergeant Earl Gilbert of the Kentucky Highway Patrol reports that a .45-caliber submachine gun had been found within 25 years of the home of Theo Brock, the tavern operator. Gilbert said the discovery is being followed as a clue to the November 29 ambush slaying of Cornelius Caldwell, son of a Leslie County patrolman. Three of Brock’s relatives were shot and wounded, none seriously, after the tavern was dynamited and burned. The Brock family later disappeared and none has been located, Gilbert said.

. The Kingdom Come Wildcats defeated the Whitesburg Yellowjackets Friday night, 35 to 32. The win came three days after the Wildcats were defeated for the second time this season, falling in overtime to the Wallins Purple Devils, 43 to 41.

. Ella Vermillion, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John M. Vermillion of Little Cowan, was married to John Preston, a native of Martin County, on December 6.

. Professional boxer Joe Louis held onto his heavyweight championship on December 5 in a split, hotly disputed decision over Jersey Joe Walcott in 15 rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 33-year-old Lewis was knocked down twice by Walcott, one of those lasting seven seconds.

. The Jenkins Cavaliers fell to the Wheelwright Trojans Tuesday by the score of 56 to 26.

Thursday, December 12, 1957 The eight magistrates who are now on the Letcher County Fiscal Court voted unanimously to raise the monthly pay of incoming magistrates to $150, or at least 10 times their current pay of $15 per meeting. County Judge James M. Caudill opposes the pay increase and believes it is a direct violation of state law. Judge Caudill and state finance officials in Frankfort say the pay increase is unlawful because it wasn’t voted in last May, as state law requires.

. Whitesburg attorney Emmett Fields has led suit in Perry Circuit Court contesting the re-election of Courtney C. Wells as circuit judge for Letcher and Perry counties. Fields, a Republican, was defeated by Wells, a Democrat, by 64 votes in the initial count of the November election. That margin was cut to 42 votes after a recount.

. Ground was broken December 10 for the construction of the University of Kentucky’s new Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry buildings off Rose Street in Lexington.

Thursday, December 14, 1967 A special study group appointed last year by Gov. Edward T. Breathitt has recommended that a special severance tax be levied on each ton of coal produced in Kentucky. The Young Kentuckians Commission

said that the tax should be used “to make a more significant contribution to more local tax effort, especially for schools.”

. Funeral services for Sgt. Richard G. Stamper Jr., 21, were conducted in Johnsville, Ohio. Sgt. Stamper was killed in action in Vietnam on November 27. He went to Vietnam with the 9th Infantry Division January 8 and landed in the Mekong Delta. On November 27 he was fatally wounded by mortar round fragments. He was the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Troy Stamper of Whitesburg.

. Deeds were presented to the State of Kentucky this week for property on Marshall’s Branch to be used as a state vocational school to train coal miners. The property was donated by Mrs. Adams Senters of Marshall’s Branch and Beth-Elkhorn Corp. Vocational school officials said they already have 50 applications from prospective students at the new school.

. The Elk Creek Gun Club is sponsoring a shooting match on December 17. Various prizes such as fruitcakes, slabs of smoke bacon, and rolls of bologna will be given away according to marksmanship. All proceeds will be given to the Salvation Army. Gun club president Joe Begley urges that you come out and join the fun.

Thursday, December 8, 1977 Beth-Elkhorn Coal Corp. shut down Tuesday as the United Mine Workers’ 130,000 working members walked out and began waiting for President Arnold Miller to finish negotiating a new contract with the Bituminous Coal Operators of America. No non-union mines were picketed in Letcher County, but a group of Beth-Elkhorn miners closed down the UMW Health and Retirement Funds office in Jenkins. “They can’t see any reason why Funds people should work and continue to draw salaries since our benefits have been cut off,” commented one miner.

. U.S. District Judge H. David Hermansdorfer has ruled against victims of the 1970 Hyden disaster in their suit against the federal Mine Enforcement and Safety Administration. Hermansdorfer ruled that the government was not liable for damages in connection with the coal mine explosion which killed 38 miners at Finley Coal Co.’s No. 15 and 16 mines on Hurricane Creek in Leslie County. Families of 25 victims sued MESA, claiming negligence because the Bureau of Mines had not conducted inspections mandated by the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.

. A transformer failure at Kentucky Power Co.’s Collier Station during heavy thunderstorms caused a power outage in several communities through lower Letcher County. Electricity at Blackey, Roxana, Carcassonne and along Route 7 to Isom went out for up to four and one half hours as KPC crews worked to switch the power load to neighboring stations.

. Roger Moore stars as James Bond in “The Spy Who Loved Me” playing at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg this weekend.

Wednesday, December 9, 1987 Gov. Wallace Wilkinson says he is still committed to building U.S. Highways 119, 23, and 25E and improving the quality of life in eastern Kentucky by putting people back to work and improving education. He says the only way to bring jobs back is to complete U.S. 119, 23 and 25E. “Roads need to be built where they’re needed,” he said, “and in my opinion they’re needed in eastern Kentucky.”

. A Letcher County man was arrested after attempting to smuggle drugs into the Letcher County Jail. Jail officials say the man left a box of instant cocoa to be given to an inmate of the jail. When jailers opened the box to make sure it contained cocoa, they found marijuana had been stuffed into the

foil packets with toothpicks.

. Letcher Fire and Rescue may become just Letcher Fire because there’s not enough money to continue operation of ambulance services. Assistant Chief Wallace Bolling said, “I’d say if things don’t straighten out by the end of the month, this will be the last month we’ll be able to offer the ambulance services.”

. The Fleming-Neon Lady Pirates opened their season with a 52-36 win over Elkhorn City. The Lady Pirates return all five starters from last season’s district runner-up team.

Wednesday, December 10, 1997 The official unemployment rate in Letcher County fell to 8.8 percent in October, state officials said. The rate for September had been 10.2 percent. However, Letcher’s rate was still the highest in the Kentucky River Area Development District.

. Four schools in Letcher County exceeded their improvement goals in state accountability testing. Jenkins High School was the seventh most improved high school in the state. It exceeded its 1995- 96 score by 10.1 percent and its two-year accountability index goal by 255 percent. Three schools in the Letcher County system also exceeded their 1995-96 scores and exceeded their accountability index scores for the 1996-98 testing period. They were Letcher High School, West Whitesburg Elementary School, and Cowan Elementary School.

. Bill F. Mackey, formerly of Letcher County, has been named executive secretary treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Mackey served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Whitesburg from 1969 to 1979.

. Letcher County native Darrell Looney, who moved to Bowling Green less than three weeks ago, has won a Kentucky Lotto jackpot of $6.3 million. He chose the cash option and, after taxes, received $2,543,200. He bought the winning ticket in Bowling Green after filling his car up with gas at a small convenience store there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 Forty-three Letcher County residents were injured in all-terrain vehicle accidents between 2001 and 2005 — the secondhighest rate in Kentucky. “There are so many people who have them,” Kentucky State Police Trooper Tony Watts said of the vehicles. “We have mountain terrain which makes them more dangerous when they ride them.”

. Facing a water shortage that is already at a critical level, the City of Fleming-Neon is calling on residents not to make things worse by “hoarding water.” Carlos Phillips, superintendent of the city’s water department, told the Fleming-Neon City Council he couldn’t guarantee how long the current supply will last.

. Authorities have opened an investigation into the alleged theft of 32 oak trees from property belonging to Marvin Potter, 81, and Verna Potter, 77, of Craft’s Colly. The couple told police a crew of loggers came onto their property last month and cut and removed red and white oak trees valued at more than $50,000.

. A 100-foot boat and fishing dock is now open for use at Fishpond Lake. The multipurpose dock an accommodate 14 to 16 boats at any given time and people can fish from various points on the dock, which is lined with handicapped railing.

. A 250-pound black bear was killed near Jenkins last week, apparently after it ran into the side of a car traveling on U.S. 23. The bear, a male, was killed about 6:30 p.m. on December 16. The carcass of the bear, which was not wearing a tag when the collision occurred, was transported to Frankfort.

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