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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1908


LETCHER COUNTY’S FIRST ORGANIZED GRADE SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM was assembled in 1955 and included players from the Grades 5 through 8 at Whitesburg Grade School. Pictured in this photo are (front row, from left) Tommy “Red” Ison, Marvin Sexton, Alfred Gibson, Donald Wayne Blair, Rickey Fields, Roger Collins, (player’s identity unknown), Elmer Bates, Johnny Brashear, Troy Frank Stallard, Billy Wayne “Roe” Wright Jr., (second row, from left) Johnny Mack Brown, (player’s identity unknown), David Sturgill, John Combs, Harvey Ison, Emil Joe Clay, Fulton Combs, Ralph Dudley Webb, Charlie Anderson, Ricky Montgomery, McArthur Lucas, Rodney Montgomery, Remious Day Jr., David Ison, Johnny B. Cornett, Gordon Lewis, (third row, from left) David Combs, Bobby Ray Breeding, Gene Autry Adams, Jack Adams, Bobby Joseph, J.L. Shepherd, Wayne Barker, Kenneth Hall, Dave Jones, Burkey Fields, Carter Bertram Bradshaw, Bennie Jones and Roger Kincer. Team member Roe Wright, who now lives in Lexington, remembers the team in a story that appears on Page B9 of this week’s issue of The Mountain Eagle. (Photo by Billy Wayne Wright Sr.)

LETCHER COUNTY’S FIRST ORGANIZED GRADE SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM was assembled in 1955 and included players from the Grades 5 through 8 at Whitesburg Grade School. Pictured in this photo are (front row, from left) Tommy “Red” Ison, Marvin Sexton, Alfred Gibson, Donald Wayne Blair, Rickey Fields, Roger Collins, (player’s identity unknown), Elmer Bates, Johnny Brashear, Troy Frank Stallard, Billy Wayne “Roe” Wright Jr., (second row, from left) Johnny Mack Brown, (player’s identity unknown), David Sturgill, John Combs, Harvey Ison, Emil Joe Clay, Fulton Combs, Ralph Dudley Webb, Charlie Anderson, Ricky Montgomery, McArthur Lucas, Rodney Montgomery, Remious Day Jr., David Ison, Johnny B. Cornett, Gordon Lewis, (third row, from left) David Combs, Bobby Ray Breeding, Gene Autry Adams, Jack Adams, Bobby Joseph, J.L. Shepherd, Wayne Barker, Kenneth Hall, Dave Jones, Burkey Fields, Carter Bertram Bradshaw, Bennie Jones and Roger Kincer. Team member Roe Wright, who now lives in Lexington, remembers the team in a story that appears on Page B9 of this week’s issue of The Mountain Eagle. (Photo by Billy Wayne Wright Sr.)

Thursday, October 5, 1933

Letcher County’s four high school football teams fell to defeat over the weekend. Benham defeated Whitesburg, 26-0. Hazard put the cat on Stuart Robinson by a score of 26-6, and Jenkins was on the short end of a 13-6 score with Belfry at Williamson, W.Va. The Fleming Pirates forfeited their scheduled game to Pikeville High School after 18 Fleming players were ruled ineligible after they flunked one or more subjects during the last week.

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After throwing his hat into the ring as a Democratic candidate for the office of Letcher County Court Clerk, Mountain Eagle editor and publisher Nehemiah Webb ran a column on the front page seeking votes from readers. Wrote Webb, “Mothers, when your children were born The Eagle welcomed them into life. If they passed away we have spoken a kind and comforting word. In their school days we encouraged them. At the altar we spoke of their starting to sail upon a turbid sea. At their success in life we have rejoiced with you, and in their failures and misfortunes we extended sympathies. … Kindly go to your voting place on November 7 and help me. Somebody said a few days ago, ‘Old man Webb is begging for votes.’ I do not deny the goods.”

 

 

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Whitesburg businessman James Frazier has written to oil and coal mogul and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller in New York City asking for help in getting Letcher County’s citizens more formally educated. “I am a citizen of and born and lived in Letcher County, Kentucky all my life, 48 years, where I’m a merchant, running a general retail store on a small scale at the county seat, which is Whitesburg. We are called one of the pauper counties of eastern Kentucky. I have visited the cities of Bristol, Knoxville, Lexington, Louisville, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York City (and) I have never seen a brighter and more intelligent born people than in Letcher County. I see what the people of this section of the country need, which is an education.”

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Despite the state of Kentucky being in the red financially, about 70 Letcher County teachers were made happy a few days ago when they received orders for their first month’s pay for teaching.

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Claude Hall, 26, son of Mr. and Mrs. Josh Hall, was returning to the home of his parents a short distance above town when his car ran into the highway bridge pier at Mayking, so severely crushing him that he died about the time he reached the hospital at Fleming. Just how or why the car wrecked, nobody knows. Hall had not been drinking. He was returning from the home of his sweetheart who resides at Thornton.

Thursday, September 30, 1943

Letcher Circuit Court will convene on Monday, October 4, with Judge R. Monroe Fields on the bench, assisted by Commonwealth’s Attorney J.E. Childer and County Attorney J.L. Hays. A verdict is expected to be rendered in the local option election case.

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Sugar Ration Book No. 1, issued to Clara Shaw of Jenkins, has been lost. The finder is asked to please return the book. Also, Henry Delph of Whitesburg has lost his Food Ration Book.

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Mr. and Mrs. Joe T. Begley announce the birth of a son, Joe Taylor, born on September 24 at the Hazard hospital. Mrs. Begley is the former Gaynell Caudill, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Caudill of Blackey. Mr. Begley is in the Navy and stationed in Seattle, Washington.

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A Homemakers Club for colored women has been established in Haymond under the guidance of Mrs. Mary Belle Rogers. Elected president of the club is Mrs. Eula Hope. Mrs. M.E Peake is vice-president, and Mrs. Lucille Garrett is the secretary-treasurer. The program coordinator is Mrs. Mae Belle Hagan. Fourteen members are now in the club.

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Representatives of the nation’s coal operators and United Mine Workers of America met at the Lafayette Hotel in Lexington last week to approve a resolution urging all coal miners to work in the mines six full workdays each week to meet the wartime demand for production. The resolution recognizes there is a shortage of miners and that absenteeism is more serious in the mines than in any other industry in America. “We recognize the fact that many men have left the mines for other industries,” the resolution says. “We also recognize the fact that very few people are being trained in the knowledge of mining.”

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Wid Banks scored both the touchdown and extra point, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Whitesburg Yellowjackets from losing to the Lynch Bulldogs, 12-7.

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Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette star in the movie “A Gentle Gangster,” being shown October 1 and 2 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

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At a morning dress parade, Staff Sergeant William T. Jent of Jeremiah, now of the Moses Lake Army Air Base in the state of Washington, was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was awarded to him “in recognition of extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flights, having participated in 200 hours of operational flight against the enemy in the Middle East theatre.”

Thursday, October 1, 1953

Two young Letcher County veterans were killed in an automobile accident in Charlestown, Indiana, where they had gone to find work. Larkin Aurelius Hogg, 25, and Laverne Fields, 18, died of injuries they sustained after the car in which they were riding at a high rate of speed failed to negotiate a curve. Both men had recently been discharged from the service. Hogg, of Oscaloosa, had served several months in Korea. Fields was from Roxana. Both Fields and Hogg were employed by the DuPont Powder Company in Charlestown.

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The community of Thornton was shocked to learn of the death Tuesday of 43-year-old Hubert H. Brooks, who died suddenly after complaining about a stomachache. Brooks, a valued employee at South East Coal Co., collapsed while his wife was packing his lunch to take to work. His father, Mr. T.F. Brooks, was away from Letcher County at the time of his son’s death, having been called to West Virginia for the funeral of a nephew who had died under much the same circumstance.

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A man believed to be Letcher County’s oldest citizen has died just 25 days before he would have turned 100. “Uncle” Riley Bentley was born at Democrat on October 22, 1853 and died there on September 27, 1953. A banker, dentist, and a “helper for improvement of everything good to many who could not help themselves,” Uncle Riley was looked upon as a community leader. He fathered 10 children. Among those surviving his death is son Newt, 75, who lived in sight of his father all of his life and never failed to help plant and harvest crops. When Uncle Riley was a boy of 9, he rode horseback with his mother to Siolo, Ohio, remaining there only until he was old enough to return to his native Letcher County.

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Al and Mollie Major have announced that the Al Major Department Store has leased its building located next door to the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg and would vacate on November 1, after 20 years of being in business in Letcher County.

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Private Eugene Neice, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lark Niece of Whitesburg, has arrived in Korea for duty with the 25th Infantry Division.

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“Our free press does more than tell our people this history of our times,” writes President Dwight D. Eisenhower in an editorial column citing National Newspaper Week. “It explains that history, interprets it, and in so doing, often actually helps to create that history.”

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A total of 100,300 trees were bought and planted by Letcher County residents in spring 1953, according to John Jordan, Soil Conservation Agent for the county. Orders for 1954 include 40,000 white pine; 100,000 shortleaf pine; 40,000 loblolly; 20,000 locust; 20,000 poplar, and 5,000 black walnut for a total of 225,000 to be planted this coming spring.

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A superior Jenkins 11 registered a 31-6 win over the Fleming Pirates last Saturday night to close another chapter in one of southeastern Kentucky’s most bitter rivalries. Bob Collier and Burton Bradley pounded a game Fleming wall unmercifully, and little Truman Sexton intercepted a Pratt-propelled aerial to account for five touchdowns in a game that was, in reality, much closer than the final score indicated.

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Whitesburg High School’s football team fell from the undefeated ranks and bit the dust of the Cumberland Redskins, whose to great backs, Jack Gallagher and Ronnie Cain, kept the Red Men stampeding the Yellowjackets’ defense. Whitesburg’s running backs, Bob Kincer and Buddy Fields, were also spectacular, but their buddies let them down occasionally on their downfield blocking. The final score was 26-20.

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The movie “Shane,” starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur and Van Heflin, will be showing at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg on Sunday and Monday, October 4 and 5.

Thursday, October 3, 1963

The American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative have asked President John F. Kennedy for an Eastern Kentucky Appalachian Area development program similar to the TVA. The request says, “The Appalachian region is a chronically depressed area where unemployment runs as high as 30 percent . . . the area has little hope for the future . . . We urge a bold and dynamic program for the area, similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority.”

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Whitesburg Memorial Hospital, built eight years ago by the United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund, has become part of Appalachian Regional Hospital Inc.

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Demolition of the Letcher County Courthouse is expected to begin before Nov. 1. The Letcher County Fiscal Court accepted a bid of $535,865 for removal of the old building and construction of a new one from Ramsey & Clubb Construction Co. of Shelbyville.

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The Letcher County Board of Education is considering purchasing the old Stuart Robinson School property. A gymnasium for Letcher School would be the main use, but seventh- and eighth-grade classes at Letcher might also be moved to the Stuart Robinson site.

Thursday, October 4, 1973

The Letcher County Teachers Organization claims negotiations with the Letcher County School Board are “nearing a standstill.” The teachers are working without a formal contract.

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The United Mine Workers of America is conducting its first major drive in the Kentucky coalfields in years at Eastover Mining Company’s Brookside Mine in Harlan County.

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An editorial in The Mountain Eagle lists the signs noted by Siller Brown of Ice — katydids sticking to the walls, birds eating dogwood seeds, trees with thick foliage, and thick cornstalks — and warns of a hard winter ahead.

Thursday, September 28, 1983

Frank Wayne Jenkins pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the 1975 shooting death of coal operator William Harvey Johnson. Jenkins was sentenced to 12-1/2 years in prison. A second man, Larry “Jughead” Taylor, was sentenced to life in prison for his part in Johnson’s death at his trial in 1981.

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These cool nights make for good sleeping, says Corbin correspondent Rachel Berry.

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Lucy Spicer, owner of Joe’s Drive-In at Isom, won a 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier by donating $10 to the Kentucky Easter Seals Sweepstakes.

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Six-year-old James Dale Kincer of Bottom Fork, is the winner of a tobacco-spitting contest at the Mountain Heritage Festival. The youngster spat tobacco juice 14-1/2 feet to take the title over two other contestants who had tied him by spitting 12 feet.

Wednesday, October 6, 1993

Funeral services were held in Jenkins for a father and son who died the same day. Joseph Wayne Potter, 27, was injured when the coal truck he was driving wrecked on the Daniel Boone Parkway. He died two days later. His father, Brit C. Potter Sr., 56, died after suffering a stroke when doctors told him his son would not recover.

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Eastern Kentucky schools show the most improvement in the state assessment test scores. Fourth-grade reading scores show the significant improvement in Letcher County, especially at Kingdom Come School.

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Some species — especially the goldenrod — don’t merit protection, according to Eagle columnist Ike Adams. He describes the plant as a “noxious weed” and says it causes him “agony for which modern medicine has yet to offer any feeling of relief.”

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Writing a history of the Whitesburg Methodist Church, Eagle correspondent Virginia H. Combs quotes Harry M. Caudill in describing the church building. Caudill says in his book The Mountain, the Miner and the Lord, “The beautiful little Methodist church at Whitesburg is surely one of the finest examples of the stone cutters’ skill to be found in Kentucky.” The church was built by Joe Romeo.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

A burglar has apparently been using a key to get into the West Whitesburg Branch of Community Trust Bank to steal night deposits. Chief Paul Miles of the Whitesburg City Police said there is no sign of forced entry, leading police to believe that the burglar has access to a key.

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Poverty in Kentucky increased at twice the national rate from 2000 to 2002, according to figures released by the Census Bureau.

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A second bird discovered in Letcher County has tested positive for West Nile virus. The bird was found about two weeks ago at Isom.

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Two police cruisers were wrecked during a high-speed chase this week, and police charged the driver of the vehicle being pursued with 14 crimes. It was one of two pursuits that night. Both ended after the pursued vehicles allegedly rammed police cars, then wrecked.


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