2018-01-31 / Columns

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, February 2, 1928 The Letcher County Grand Jury heard testimony from at least 100 witnesses, but was unable to return an indictment in connection with the November 29 lynching of Leonard Wood, 30, a black man who had been accused of murdering 35-yearold Harold Deaton, a 35-year-old white man from Virginia who worked as a mine foreman in Fleming. At the time of the lynching, Letcher County Attorney Harry L. Moore said that at least 12 Letcher County men would be prosecuted for helping a group of about 300 southwest Virginia men forcibly remove Wood from the jail and take him to the Virginia side of Pound Gap, where he was hanged and his body set afire. “The grand jury examined 100 witnesses in an effort to find out who was in the mob,” The Mountain Eagle reports, “but could not find the name of a single man or woman taking part, or the [license plate] number of any automobile in the long procession that passed through the county.”

. Commenting on the large number of immigrants coming into Letcher County to work in the coal industry and the fact that the county shares a border with the Commonwealth of Virginia, members of the Letcher County Grand Jury are surprised that crime isn’t more rampant locally. The Grand Jury says, “We find there is not much lawlessness in Letcher County considering the number of different nationalities within the mining towns, and the further fact that the county for some distance borders on the state line.”

. Work on the development of Kings Creek, which has been held up since last May’s flooding, will start again soon. J.A. Victor and William Feye of Golden, New Mexico arrived in Letcher County on Sunday to begin the supervision of the reconstruction of the railroad through the valley. Work will begin at the mining operation at the head of the creek. Victor and Feye, along with Victor’s wife and two small children, made the trip from New Mexico to Letcher County in seven days by automobile.

. The Whitesburg Debate Team was defeated by the Caney Creek Community Center Debate Team in a match held here Tuesday night, three to zero.

. Mystery surrounds the finding of a skeleton of a small child on the mountain near Ice on Tuesday night. Dr. Gid Whitaker says the teeth found with the skeleton indicate the child was about seven years old at the time of death. The skeleton was found by Demmer Richmond and Henry Collins, whose hunting dogs started digging under a pile of rocks and dirt. The child is believed to have been dead for several years.

. The Letcher County Fiscal Court has ordered a new bridge to span the North Fork of the Kentucky River. The bridge will replace the structure that washed away during last spring’s flooding. Erection of the bridge will begin as soon as the parts arrive.

. Bristol Hughes, 147 pounds, will meet Willie Lucas, 165 pounds, in the best two out of three, winner take all Letcher County Amateur Wrestling Championship event on Wednesday, February 8 at the Karlton Theatre in Whitesburg. A regular picture show will be held in addition to the wrestling match. Admission is 25 cents for children and 50 cents for adults.

. The annual meeting of the Hazard Coal Operators Exchange will be held Friday, February 10 at the Phoenix Hotel in Lexington.

Thursday, February 3, 1938 The third set of twins were born Monday, January 24, to Mr. and Mrs. Russell Mullins at their home in Whitesburg. The couple have been married 12 years, and during that time they have had nine children. The first set of twins, Elsie and Glessie, are now eight years old. The second set of twins, Syntha and Elmer Russell, are three years old. The latest set of twins are named James Dewey and Norsie Eveilyne. The couple’s oldest child, Cecil, is now 11. Bristol is six and Nellie is five. The Russells are Letcher County natives, having moved to Whitesburg from Partridge.

. A new radio listening center, the 26th in the University of Kentucky’s system, has been established at Linefork Cabin at Gilley in Letcher County. During dry weather, the Gilley location is accessible by way of Cumberland, but often between November and March contact with the outside world is difficult for several weeks at a time. The installation of the listening center will augment the present activities at the Linefork Cabin.

. Johnnie Coppinger and His Orchestra will be “Hootin’ and Tootin’ the Latest Style” during a special Valentine Dance on Saturday night, February 12 at the Whitesburg High School Gymnasium. The dance is sponsored by the 10 Club.

. Linville Ison, 29, was crushed to death in a slate fall at the Dixie Diamond Coal Company mine at Letcher on Monday, January 31. Born and raised on Linefork, he was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Ison.

. Former Letcher County Court Clerk Cro C. Caudill of Whitesburg is now employed in the engineering department in the Hazard District of the Kentucky and

West Virginia Power Company.

. A 25-year-old Letcher County man died of typhoid fever recently in the hospital at Grundy, Virginia. Curtis Wright, son of John Wright of Dunham, was hospitalized after suffering a leg injury while working in a coal mine near Grundy. He was believed to have been recovering well when he was stricken with typhoid.

Thursday, February 5, 1948 Railroad engineer H.L. Burpo, a Jenkins veteran of some 40 years with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, grasped the throttle Monday and the first train rolled through the new $2-million Pine Mountain Tunnel under Pound Gap. The east-to-west crossing from Virginia to Kentucky marked the completion of the tunnel itself, which was built to give access to the 300-million tons of coal in the rich field of the Upper Pound Valley. The train, Engine No. 1456 and eight work cars, traversed the 3,400-foot tunnel without incident. Meanwhile, the railroad announced that regular train traffic would not start until February 29, as additional time is needed to buttress bridges and finish up other work on the 14-mile line from Wayland in Floyd County, which was part of the project. The train trip was another “first” for Burpo. He was at the throttle back in 1912 when the first work train moved out of Shelby, Kentucky on the Big Sandy Elkhorn Division of the C&O.

. South-East Coal Company’s Millstone mine was named safest in its production class for the year 1947 by members of the Big Sandy-Elkhorn Coal Mining Institute. The Millstone mine, said Institute Secretary A.D. Sisk, had three injuries and lost only 65 man-days as a result of the injuries during 1947. At the same time, it produced 221,413 tons of coal. As the best in Class A, the mine will be awarded a bronze plaque for safety when the Institute convenes in Pikeville February 27. For the Big Sandy-Elkhorn field as a whole, 1947 was the second best production-safety year on record. The best was 1945.

. Death came to Orville Wright on January 31, 44 years after he put wings on the world with his first flight in a heavierthan air machine. The 76-year-old coinventor of the airplane died in his sleep under an oxygen tent at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, at 10:40 p.m. The world’s pioneer aviator entered the hospital early last week after suffering his second heart attack in recent months.

. While some Letcher County residents believe the groundhog saw its shadow Monday, others are skeptical. “If he did come out, he no doubt saw the heaviest snow of the season and some of the most beautiful snow scenes ever witnessed by anyone,” The Mountain Eagle reports. “Everything everywhere really looked beautiful.”

. 92nd District State Representative Robert B. Collins has been appointed to the following committees for the 1948 session of the Kentucky General Assembly: National Parks (chairman), Sixth-class Cities, Labor, Mines and Mining, and Oils and Minerals.

. One of the world’s great spiritual leaders, Mohandas K. Ghandi, was shot to death on the night of January 30 by one of the Hindus he led to independence. The frail and wise man, 78, was killed in New Delhi, India by three bullets fired from an assassin’s gun at close range. Death came less than a year after he achieved his life’s main goal of independence from Great Britain for the teeming subcontinent of India. The assassin was seized by an American bystander, Thomas Reiner of Springdale, Connecticut, who had gone to Ghandi’s prayer meeting.

. A new record for population increase was set in the U.S. in 1947, as the excess of births over deaths exceeded 24 million. Experts now say there might be 150 million people living in the U.S. by the end of 1950. [As of Saturday, January 27, 2018, there were more than 329,256,465 persons living in the U.S. and 7,450,196,700 living in the world. The U.S. ranks third in population, far behind China’s population of 1,384,688,986 and India’s population of 1,296,834,042.]

Thursday, February 6, 1958 Fleming-Neon High School graduate and Oregon State assistant Clay Stapleton has been named the new head football coach at Iowa State in Ames, Iowa. Stapleton, known as “Stud” from his days in Letcher County, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Stapleton of Haymond. His wife is the former Edith Tucker, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Tucker of Neon. Stapleton was given a three-year contract at Iowa State for a salary of $24,000 per year. His appointment comes after a 10-day search by the Cyclone Athletic Council for a successor to Jim Myers, whose controversial departure to Texas A&M on January 22 created the coaching vacancy. Stapleton, 36, played guard at the University of Tennessee in 1940 when Myers was at the other guard position. All through his career, Stapleton has been associated with the balanced line, single wing offense, which the Cyclones employed successfully under Myers last fall.

. The rampaging Fleming-Neon Pirates, still smarting from their lone defeat at the hands of the Whitesburg Yellowjackets, smothered a good Elkhorn City team last week by the humiliating score of 93 to 33. Still not satisfied, the Pirates went on to break the century mark in their next game, a 104 to 55 drubbing of host Wayland. The Pirates also defeated two 53rd District teams over the weekend, dropping the Letcher Eagles, 71 to 50 on Friday, and

rolling over the Kingdom Come Wildcats on Saturday, 91 to 36. Coach Rex Chaney’s big trio of Acie Hall, Daniel Tackett and Ross Chaney continue to lead the Pirates.

. The Whitesburg City Council has again reviewed state law and determined that city firefighting equipment cannot legally be used outside of the city’s limits.

. Jack Craft of Neon, owner of Craft’s Department Stores at Neon and Whitesburg, recently purchased Tepper’s Store in Whitesburg.

. Black-Gem Coal Company Inc., of Whitesburg, capitalized at $20,000, was granted a charter recently by the Kentucky Secretary of State. Incorporators are D.S. Setzer, Follace Fields, and F. Byrd Hogg, all of Whitesburg.

. Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Isaac Sr. have announced the marriage of their daughter, Barbara Alene Isaac, to Frank Charles Bickel Jr. of Louisville. Mr. and Mrs. Isaac, of Cumberland, own and operate Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

. Elvis Presley stars in “Jailhouse Rock,” showing Sunday through Wednesday (February 9-12) at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg. The film features Elvis singing seven new songs, including the theme song. Admission is 75 cents for adults and 30 cents for children.

Thursday, February 1, 1968 Eight more state highway employees in Letcher County were dismissed from their jobs this week. The men were told when they left work Friday that their jobs had just ended. A new crew went to work in their places Monday morning. This was the second large-scale dismissal of state highway employees here since the Republicans took over the state administration from the Democrats in December. Nine other employees were fired last month.

. “The road to Whitesburg was very icy and treacherous on Jan. 22,” writes McRoberts correspondent Madeline Combs, “and caused seven cars to wreck between Neon Junction and Whitesburg. One of our boys, Coda Mullins Jr., miraculously

escaped death when the station wagon he was driving was hit by an A&P truck.”

. Four Letcher County youths have been assigned to Fort Knox for their initial eight weeks of Army training They are Kris Lucas, son of Mr. Herless Lucas, Thornton, and son of Mrs. Patricia Lucas, Cromona; Bobby Benton, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Benton, Whitesburg; Steve A. Fields, son of Mrs. Dalna Shell of Kingscreek; and Lucious J. Thompson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Thompson of Jenkins.

. Rep. Enoch Oliver Holbrook, D-Mayking, has introduced a House Resolution that would call for the Kentucky Department of Highways to complete construction of US 119 from Pikeville to Jenkins and KY 15 from Hazard to Jenkins.

Thursday, January 26, 1978 The Letcher County Fiscal Court is asking questions about public services — including garbage collection and ambulance service — farmed out under franchise to firms and individuals. Acting on widespread citizen complaints, Judge Robert Collins and fiscal court members plan to meet with owners of the county’s five garbage collection franchises today. “We’ve gotten literally hundreds of calls from people saying their garbage hasn’t been picked up in some cases since before Christmas,” Judge Collins said.

. Contractor Harry J. Ison was killed when his car was hit from behind by a tractor-trailer Tuesday. Ison, 52, stopped to observe flashing red lights at the railroad tracks on KY 15 in front of Farmer’s Supply. The driver of the tractor-trailer told state police officers the brakes failed on his vehicle as he came down the hill behind Ison.

. State water pollution officials are investigating the source of a massive black water spill, which forced city water systems in Hazard and Jackson to close down. The spill, the worst incident of black water pollution in 20 years, originated between Whitesburg and Hazard on the North Fork of the Kentucky River. Blue Diamond

Coal Co. and Kodak Mining Co., both with preparation plants in Perry County, were chief suspects after investigation showed run-off problems at both places.

. Seven Harlan County miners were arrested and a non-union miner was slightly injured in connection with picketing near the Coal Resources mine at Lenarue in Harlan County. Two of the miners were charged with malicious mischief and disorderly conduct and were accused of throwing things at passing cars near the mine site on Monday. Tuesday, 75 to 100 pickets gathered at Coal Resources and police arrested five men, also in connection with rock throwing. The non-union miner was hit in the head with a rock while on his way to work.

. President Jimmy Carter, in his fiscal year 1979 budget request to Congress, has requested $343.7 million for the programs of the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Appalachian budget, which is $20 million above the amount requested for last year, includes $221 million for highways and $122.7 million for non-highway programs.

Wednesday, February 3, 1988 Gov. Wallace Wilkinson, who promised repeatedly during his campaign to put more money into the road fund and to rebuild US 119, 23 and 23 E, last week proposed cutting $35 million out of the fund. Parts of US 119 between Whitesburg and Cumberland were to be built this summer and fall, but in light of the proposed budget cuts, the future of that road is uncertain.

. In an article on the settling of Kentucky, attorney and author Harry M. Caudill gives this description of eastern Kentucky: “The largest of the state’s subregions lay in the east, a land of two long mountain ranges — the Black and the Pine — fronted to the west by a plain that streams had chiseled into a labyrinth of low, rock-capped, twisting ridges. Nature had stuffed these ridges with coal. The creek and river bottoms were narrow, with the largest single area of usable land at what came to be known as Clay City on the Red River.”

. Pvt. Garvin W. Chadwell, son of James G. and Eva L. Chadwell of Whitesburg, has completed basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. He is a 1985 graduate of Letcher High School.

. The Fleming-Neon Lady Pirates kept their record perfect with a 71-21 victory over out-manned Jenkins on January 28.

Wednesday, January 28, 1998 After 49 years as Letcher County Clerk, Charlie Wright is calling it quits. Wright, 84, announced that he will not be seeking re-election, but that he

will be working in support of his son, William, who wants to succeed him.

. A bill touted as a way to halt the “straight pipe” discharge of raw sewage into creeks has been defeated in the Kentucky Senate. The defeated bill is similar to local ordinance already in effect in Letcher County. The sponsor, Republican Barry Metcalf of Richmond, said it was “a sad day for Kentucky.” The bill would have required a new house or mobile home to have an approved sewage system before electricity could be turned on. The Senate’s defeat of the bill will have no effect on Letcher County’s local ordinance, which has been on the books for about two years.

. In the opening round of the boys’ 14th Region tourney, Letcher lost 100-98 in triple overtime at Wolfe County and Owsley County won 80-64 at Fleming-Neon.

. Recipients of the spring 1998 Roy R. Crawford Memorial Scholarships are Brandie Lea Back, Ruby Smith, Kathy Caudill and Robert Lee Spangler.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 State Rep. Leslie Combs says she will sponsor legislation designed to make it tougher for coal truck drivers to continue working after they’ve failed a drug test. She said the bill would require the state to set up a computer database to keep track of truckers who fail drug tests. Companies who fire truckers for failing a test would be required to notify the state of the trucker’s dismissal, after which steps would be taken to have the trucker’s commercial driver’s license revoked.

. After spending several months getting petitions signed and writing letters to state officials, Shirley Breeding received word in December that guardrails would be placed on a dangerous stretch of KY 1148 between Isom and Little Colley. Mrs. Breeding has since received another letter telling her the project has been cancelled. Mrs. Breeding says she is having a hard time understanding how a stretch of rural road that has been the site of a number of accidents resulting in serious injury and even death does not qualify for safety improvements.

. Jenkins guard Emily Walker scored 11 points during the Lady Cavs’ 70-26 win over Jackson City in the opening round of the girls’ 14th Region All ‘A’ Classic.

. My son Rob Hatton “hit a big deer and damaged his vehicle,” writes Whitesburg correspondent Oma Hatton. “Strange enough, my son Astor ‘Red’ Hatton, hit a deer the same day in Ashland and knocked his grill out of his truck. That deer wasn’t killed; he got up and ran away. Watch out for deer!”

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