2018-02-28 / Columns

The Way We Were


Many eyes were on Letcher’s malt case Pictured at left is an advertisement for Red Top Malt Extract that appeared in The Mountain Eagle 90 years ago. The thick syrup was sold for baking purposes but was also used in the making of homebrewed beer. In February 1928, when Prohibition was still in effect in the U.S., officers arrested the manager of the Whitesburg A&P Food Store and charged him with violating Prohibition laws by selling the product. The case against the manager, Joe Hatcher, was moved into federal court, where it became a test case for the rest of the United States. Prohibition would end five years later, in December 1933. Many eyes were on Letcher’s malt case Pictured at left is an advertisement for Red Top Malt Extract that appeared in The Mountain Eagle 90 years ago. The thick syrup was sold for baking purposes but was also used in the making of homebrewed beer. In February 1928, when Prohibition was still in effect in the U.S., officers arrested the manager of the Whitesburg A&P Food Store and charged him with violating Prohibition laws by selling the product. The case against the manager, Joe Hatcher, was moved into federal court, where it became a test case for the rest of the United States. Prohibition would end five years later, in December 1933. Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, March 1, 1928 Joe Hatcher, manager of the A&P Food Store in Whitesburg, entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of violating Prohibition laws by selling Red Top brand malt extract for cooking purposes. The plea was entered in Whitesburg before U.S. Commissioner Stephen Combs Jr. on Monday. It will now go to federal court, which convenes in Jackson next Monday. Attorneys for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company and the Association of Malt Manufacturers are representing Hatcher. The A&P Store has been selling the product since it opened here. Prohibition Officer Clark Day, acting under orders from his superior officers, warned Hatcher that selling malt was against the law, but the A&P organization refused to allow Hatcher to stop selling the product, contending there is no ruling preventing the sale of malt for cooking purposes. On Monday, February 20, Day arrested Hatcher and confiscated the store’s supply of malt. The case is being watched across the country.

. Many of the smaller mines in Letcher County and elsewhere in Kentucky are expected to close unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses a new ruling by the Interstate Commerce Commission on the Great Lakes cargo coal shipping rates. The ICC refused to allow the principal railroads serving Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia to volunteer to cut their rates to Great Lakes ports by 20 cents a ton to compete with coal producers in the Ohio and Pennsylvania coal fields. Coal operators and others say the ICC’s decision is a “disastrous setback” for operators and miners in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

. Coal miner John West was killed in a roof fall in the mines at Kona on Wednesday. West’s body has been shipped to his home in Daisy, Tennessee for burial.

. Mrs. Karl E. Davis and Mary Gee have announced the formal opening of their new business, The New Hat Shoppe, in the Smith building on Main Street in Whitesburg.

. The Whitesburg A&P Food Store is holding its annual Del Monte products sale, featuring peaches for 19 cents a can and two cans of corn for 29 cents.

Thursday, March 3, 1938 The Ashland Oil Refining Company has purchased the lot on the corner of Main and Jail Streets in Whitesburg from J.H. Frazier. The company will construct a modern filling station in the property and have it ready for business in the summer. Mr. Frazier operated a store on the lot for more than 50 years, making it one of the city’s oldest landmarks.

. The Cavaliers of Jenkins High School defeated the Balkan High basketball team of Bell County by the score of 42 to 25 over the weekend.

. Mrs. E. Craft, better known to the people of Whitesburg as “Mother Craft,” has taken charge of the City CafĂ©, formerly managed by T.S. Shepherd.

. The remaining assets of the First National Bank of Whitesburg were sold at auction Tuesday morning.

. Miners living on Bottom Fork are mostly out of work for now. Meanwhile, the weather is too bad for farming.

. Paul Adams, son of W.H. Adams of Bottom Fork and a student at Whitesburg High School, has built a fine brooder house and bought 210 baby chicks, which he is raising.

. The City of Whitesburg is in the process of annexing the property in the area of the L&N Railroad tunnel east of the current city limits.

Thursday, March 4, 1948 The bodies of two servicemen who lost their lives in World War II will arrive in Whitesburg today. They are Chester Holbrook, son of Mr. and Mrs. William M. Holbrook of Mayking, who was fatally injured in the South Sea Islands in 1944, and Paul Stamper, son of Mrs. and Mrs. Troy Stamper of UZ.

. The Whitesburg Bus Station has moved from the rear of the Daniel Boone Hotel to the former location near Salyer’s Radio Shop. Mrs. Ray Shout is the new manager.

. Bureau of Mines inspectors recommend 70 safety improvements for the Marion mine of the Jeanne Francis Coal Company at Letcher. The mine currently employs 48 men and produces 250 tons of coal a day. Among the suggested improvements are more air at working places and adequate rock dusting of all rooms, entries, most crosscuts, and haulage ways. The inspectors also recommend a ban on smoking inside the mine.

. Tommy Roger Adams was born on Smoot Creek February 29 to Mr. and Mrs. Dave Adams. The Leap Day baby weighed in at a whopping 15-1/4 pounds and was named in honor of Dr. T.R. Collier who delivered him.

. Four Pike County women discovered the bodies of their coal miner husbands last night after the men failed to return to their homes from the small Betsy Layne mine in which they worked. The women found the bodies just inside the entrance

to the mine. They are believed to be the victims of methane gas or an explosion.

. Letcher County Sheriff Herman C. Combs reports that three men were badly beaten with a club during the past week in various places in the county.

Thursday, March 6, 1958 Adams Real Estate Corporation, headed by Stuart Adams, paid $6,800 for the Recreational Hotel property in Jenkins at a public sale in Whitesburg this week. The property contains slightly more than one acre of property. The old recreation building on it is now being torn down. The property was sold to satisfy a judgment foreclosing a $16,500 lien.

. Whitesburg residents will start paying a monthly garbage collection fee of $1 beginning April 1. Local merchants already pay monthly fees.

. The state Department of Revenue this week gave the go-ahead signal to Letcher County Attorney F. Byrd Hogg’s plans to file suits to collect delinquent real estate taxes in Letcher County.

. Jenkins High School basketball star Emory Smallwood was killed instantly when his 1958 car failed to negotiate a curve at the lower end of East Jenkins at 1 a.m. Sunday. “The five-foot, seven-inch speedster was the most respected basketball player in the county,” writes Mountain Eagle sports reporter R. Percy Elkins. “For two seasons he has been the mainstay of the Cavalier basketball team.” Smallwood was an all-around athlete, winning four of four starts last season as a pitcher on the baseball team while throwing 15 consecutive no-hit innings. In his final basketball game Saturday night, Smallwood scored 18 points before fouling out in a loss to Lynch.

. The state highway department plans to resurface KY 15 from Seco to Pine Mountain Junction this summer.

. The Mountain Eagle was cleared today of charges that it had sold an excessive amount of supplies to the Letcher Fiscal Court during the term of former Judge James M. Caudill. An investigative committee led by Letcher County Attorney F. Byrd Hogg found that the supplies purchased by the Caudill administration were not wasteful, but are needed for the ordinary operation of the offices and courts in Letcher County. Former Sheriff Robert B. Collins touched off the investigation last month when he said there is $1,500 worth of unusable office supplies in the county judge’s office. Hogg found there are four boxes of onion skin, 5-1/2 boxes of legalsize stationery, miscellaneous pencils, paper and pens, and a large supply of blank attachments, warrants, search warrants, and other legal forms for use in the eight magistrate courts, county court, quarterly court and circuit court still on hand and still being used.

. The Kentucky Senate has passed by an overwhelming majority a bill that United Mine Workers officials say will force them to close their new chain of hospitals in eastern Kentucky, including the Whitesburg Memorial Hospital. The bill, sponsored by Sen. J.E. Johnson, a Pike County physician, and written by the Kentucky Medical Association, makes it illegal for anyone to operate a health and medical care plan that does not permit members to choose their own doctors. It eliminates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans from its provisions.

. Sue Breeding, a senior at Letcher High School, is the winner of the final cakebaking contest for Home Economics II students sponsored by the Kentucky Power Company in Hazard. She collected a three-speed phonograph as her winning prize. Sue’s cake was a walnut fudge with confectioner’s sugar icing. She is the 16-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Begie Breeding of Jeremiah.

. “We’re going to have to change in eastern Kentucky if we’re going to keep up with the rest of the United States and the world,” Hobart Wooten, city manager of Hazard, said this week in an address to the Eastern Kentucky Planning Commission. No official from Jenkins, Neon or Whitesburg attended the meeting.

. A city fire chief has no more authority to make arrests than a private citizen, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office has informed Sam Bates of Whitesburg, who sought the opinion.

Thursday, February 29, 1968 Some 3,000 letters from Letcher County residents protesting construction of the proposed Kingdom Come Dam were hand-delivered to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Louisville Friday. The letters were taken to Louisville by Everett Hogg, Blackey, and Tom Gish, Whitesburg, as representatives of the Opposition Committee to the Kingdom Come Reservoir.

. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad has gone on record opposing construction of the Kingdom Come Reservoir in Letcher County, as presently proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. L&N Vice-president of Operations R.E. Bisha pointed out the developments along Rockhouse Creek and the North Fork of the Kentucky River upstream from the proposed dam site. He said that in 1967 there were 66,480 cars or approximately 4,600,000 tons of coal moved over rail lines that would be affected by the contemplated reservoir project.

. In a letter to the editor of The Mountain Eagle, author and attorney Harry Caudill makes the point that whether we

like it or not, the face of Letcher County will undergo drastic changes in the years immediately ahead, and that what it looks like “will depend entirely upon what we do today.” He calls upon the government of Letcher County to undertake a deliberate planning program to try to salvage what can be saved — and to build our own future.

. Photographs in The Mountain Eagle show a low-cost house suspended from telephone poles in Hindman. The house was built from a plan designed by Bill Richardson, a Yale University architecture student, in an effort to create a house a low-income family could build for $3,500 in materials costs.

Thursday, February 23, 1978 President Carter may be headed toward government seizure and operation of the nation’s strike-bound coal mines unless there is last-minute agreement between the United Mine Workers and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association. The UMWA bargaining council has been called into a meeting with Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall in what appears to be a kind of last-ditch effort to persuade the union to accept nationally a contract patterned after an agreement reached with the Pittsburgh and Midway Coal Company. Bargaining council members told The Mountain Eagle that they had been told the government would use their endorsement of the P&M agreement to pressure the coal operators toward a settlement.

. Letcher County’s new fiscal court has voted to support the Ben’s Branch housing development at Jenkins. A motion of general support was passed at the request of Ralph Coldiron, Frankfort, who recently was named to head state government’s Appalachian program in the Kentucky Development Cabinet. Coldiron has helped develop Ben’s Branch as eastern Kentucky representative of the Kentucky Housing Corporation, a state agency.

. “Neither snow, rain, hail, or dead of night nor cloudy days keep Sherd Martin from planting peas come February 14,” writes Millstone correspondent Mabel Kiser. “He did Tuesday, and neither rain, drought, or hail keeps them from coming up; neither do the bugs or blight keep his peas from bearing.”

. “First Love” starring William Katt, Susan Dey and John Heard is showing at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

Wednesday, March 2, 1988 The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a Democratic presidential candidate on a campaign visit to the mountains, said Appalachian’s coalfi elds — like other economically deprived areas across the country — continue to be denied “economic justice” because the region is owned and controlled by outside corporations that care little about the people who live here. “The barracudas are eating up the small fish,” said Jackson. “The land is wealthy, the people are poor and the owners are absent.”

. Author and attorney Harry M. Caudill writes about the Battle of Blair Mountain, in which striking coal miners battled the forces of Don Chafins, Sheriff of Logan County, W.Va. The battle ended when U.S. Army troops arrived and disarmed the combatants, collecting “more than 1,872 high-powered rifles, 556 pistols, 6 machine guns, 480 black-jacks, many daggers and brass knuckles and 225,000 rounds of ammunition” from the two sides.

. Mayors and judges in the Kentucky River Area Development District have voted to ask for federal money to study the possibility of building a regional water system. The officials voted to seek money from the Appalachian Regional Commission to study the feasibility of drawing water from Carr Fork Reservoir for the

proposed regional system.

. The Cornettsville Fire Department will be having its annual Coon on the Log Festival this year on July 2. There will be music, carnival games, a horseshoe tournament and arts and crafts booths, beside the traditional dog events.

Wednesday, February 25, 1998 U.S. Navy Airmen Matthew D. Smith and Toby G. Cornett will meet mid-ocean in March as Smith’s carrier, the USS George Washington, is relieved of duty in the Persian Gulf by Cornett’s carrier, the USS John C. Stennis. Both are from Letcher County. Cornett is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cornett of Little Cowan, and is a 1995 graduate of Whitesburg High School. Smith is a son of Letcher County Judge/Executive Carroll and Nancy Smith of Oscaloosa, and grandson of Herbert and Florene Smith of Whitesburg, and Nath and Mildred Wilder of McRoberts. He is a 1996 graduate of Whitesburg High School.

. The Letcher County Board of Education will hold public forums at Campbell’s Branch and Beckham Bates elementary schools soon to talk about possible changes at the schools. Board members said nothing has been decided but that they will listen to parents’ opinions before making any decision about the schools’ operation.

. State and federal government representatives will be in Whitesburg Thursday to talk with residents of the Camp Branch area about their problems with the effects of coal mining on their home water supplies. This meeting will be a follow-up to one held earlier this year at which Camp Branch residents described as a loss of wells and other problems related to underground coal mining in their area. Since that meeting, residents of other parts of the county have also complained of well damage, which they believe is caused by mining.

. Tournament play continues in the 53rd District with girls’ teams from Jenkins and Fleming-Neon, tied for second seed, meeting today. Boys’ games continue Thursday at Whitesburg between number two seed Jenkins and fourth seed Letcher. Whitesburg defeated Letcher in the opening round of the girls’ tournament.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 Letcher County has been designated as a member of the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) — a move that should help local law enforcement agencies to secure more federal funding for the efforts to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.

. A 61-year-old North Carolina woman died in a head-on collision near Letcher County, more than four hours from her home. Her husband had reported her missing after she failed to return from grocery shopping. A detective, to whom the husband had reported his wife missing, entered a computer database and learned that she had been involved in a fatal wreck. The detective said he did not know why she had driven so far from home.

. Letcher County native Carla Gover is now a highly-acclaimed singer and songwriter, having appeared with such artists as Doc Watson, Jean Ritchie and Tony Furtado. She will perform in concert at Summit City in Whitesburg on March 8.

. The Kentucky State Police Academy graduated its first class in more than two years this week, including two men from Letcher County. Anthony Trotter of Seco has been assigned to KSP Post 1 in Mayfield in far western Kentucky. Joshua Pigman of Premium will be station at Post 8 in Morehead.

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