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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1908


 

 

Thursday, April 12, 1934

Children who run amuck apparently have been a fear of every generation, if the front page of the April 12, 1934 edition of The Mountain Eagle is any indication. “In the last dozen years, a great foundation for a universal crime wave has been laid and our country is now reaping the curse and distress and embarrassment of that foundation,” says a story whose authorship is not listed. “In what was that foundation laid? Not in brick or mortar or stone, but in neglect, carelessness and thoughtlessness of parents, homes, schools and churches. … Children by the millions [have been] turned loose to roam the streets, the byways and highways to catch or learn and instill into their minds every vicious and mean thing under heaven. As a result, in the past few years there has developed — not only in the cities but in the country as well — bands of gangsters, bandits, robbers, extortionists, criminals of every type and variety. … Where is your boy or your girl at night?”

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Thornton merchant Willie Lucas has purchased the Fairchild Motor Company property on Railroad Street in Whitesburg and says he intends to enter the general merchandise business.

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While passing through the Dug Hill railway tunnel this week just below her home, Miss Frances Blair of Whitesburg was held up by a robber and surrendered to him the only dime she happened to have with her. Miss Blair says the robber was a man of some age, and that as he crouched behind a jut in the rock of the tunnel he pointed a gun at her with the order, “Lay down your money or I’ll shoot.” The man also said he was hungry. Miss Blair put down her dime and walked on. This is the third time she has been held up in the last few months.

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Judge Sandy Adams and County Attorney Bennett Adams left Monday for Frankfort, where they will ask the state to provide funds for a state highway project from Blackey to Ulvah.

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Theodore Franklin Delano Roosevelt Taylor is the name chosen for a son born to Democratic Party supporters Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Taylor of Sandlick.

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I.B. Ritchie, one of Letcher County’s most experienced and successful merchants, plans to open a new store soon in Neon.

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The sad news reached Whitesburg via telegram yesterday (Wednesday) morning that young William Vermillion, 20, had lost his battle with stomach cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where he had been a patient for several months. “No brighter, quieter, and more gentlemanly boy or young man ever graced the town,” a front-page story said. Undertaker Burke of the Johnson Funeral Home left for Baltimore yesterday and will return with the remains of young Vermillion today. The funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon.

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Twelve new Pontiacs are now on display and for sale at Kyva Motor Company in Whitesburg.

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Industrialist Henry Ford says he is a supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and therefore will not increase the prices of his cars or lower the wages of his workers, an editorial reprinted from the Louisville Time says.

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A disagreement over a physician hired to perform surgeries during a free “tonsil clinic” held April 3 and 4 has led Dr. B. F. Wright to respond to public criticism in a letter to the editor of The Mountain Eagle. In his letter, Dr. Wright, of Seco, says that during the past 17 years he has performed more than $750,000 in free surgeries for needy families and that he would not have been opposed to the clinic if the surgeon hired by the Letcher County Health Department was not from outside the county. Dr. Wright said he was also opposed to families who could afford the tonsillectomies having them done for free through the county health department.

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Actor John Barrymore stars in “Counselor-at-Law,” showing at the Kentucky Theater in Whitesburg.

Thursday, April 13, 1944

In a report to Circuit Judge R. Monroe Fields, the Letcher County Grand Jury says, “crime conditions in the county are no worse than usual, but that roadhouses are the worst source of crime.”

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Mrs. Nettie Williams, formerly of Flat Gap but now living in Dayton, Ohio, has received the Purple Heart medal earned by her son, Pfc. Burley E. Williams, who was wounded in battle in Italy and is now improving at a hospital in North Africa. Mrs. Williams also has two other sons in the service, Cpl. Rudolph Williams and Sgt. James M. Williams. Both are stationed in England.

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1st Lt. Warren F. Sergent of Whitesburg has been promoted to captain. Sergent is a battalion surgeon in an infantry unit of the Fifth Army in Italy. The doctor’s wife, Henrietta Z. Sergent, lives in Whitesburg.

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Passenger traffic on American railroads was almost four times as great in 1943 as in 1939.

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Many Letcher County citizens were saddened by the news that Tom John, a well-know local restaurant proprietor, has died in a [tuberculosis] sanatorium in Asheville, N.C., where he had been a patient for many months.

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John Banks is scheduled to go on trial today for the murder of rural mail carrier Pearl Bowling, who was killed March 11 on Bull Creek.

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Rhoda Rose and John Batinch will be tried in Letcher Circuit Court this week for violating election laws in the local option election held last May 31. The two were accused of false swearing after registering as residents of Letcher County when they actually lived in the Harlan County section of the Cumberland River area. Five other defendants face similar charges as a result of the 1943 special election.

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Pfc. Marie Sparkman, daughter of J. D. and Isabella Sparkman of Defeated Creek, was promoted to the rank of corporal. An administrative clerk at base headquarters at Homestead Field, Fla., Miss Sparkman joined the WACS in April 1943.

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Wendell L. Wilkie, who, according to The Eagle, is one of the nation’s smartest men and a favorite of many Republicans for the office of President of the United States, has quit the race after losing the Wisconsin primary.

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William B. Cury has been elected secretary of the Neon-Fleming Lions Club to fill the unexpired term of Ferdinand Moore, who has been called to service in the Armed Forces. “We had a farewell party planned for ‘Fritz,’ but it all went awry,” the club said in a release to The Eagle. “And besides, ‘Ferdie’ had to go to Pikeville that night. We are going to miss him in the Club a whole lot. Ferdinand was always the life of the party, and as a record keep he just wouldn’t quit.”

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Major Marcus W. Adams, of Whitesburg, was a recent visitor to the 79th Station Hospital in North Africa, which is under the command of his brother, Lt. Col. Edward Adams. The two brothers, sons of Mr. and Mrs. J. Wash Adams of Whitesburg, hadn’t seen each other in more than two years, when Major Adams was attached to the Cavalry unit as a first lieutenant. The 79th Station Hospital was organized and trained by Edward Adams more than a year ago in New Orleans. Lt. Col. Adams and the organization left New Orleans for North Africa in April 1943. The Adams family is well represented in the service with 10 members now serving in various branches of the Armed Forces.

Thursday, April 8, 1954

Letcher County Judge James M. Caudill says only four deeds for rights-of-way remain to be secured before construction can begin on the proposed new county road at Linefork. When completed, the road will give the people of the lower end of Linefork much-needed access while opening the longest creek in the county (35 miles) from one end to the other.

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A raid on Mullins junkyard at Hemphill netted eight gallons of moonshine, Letcher County Sheriff Robert B. Collins said. Charged with possessing the illegal liquor was Sylvia Mullins Sammonds, who pleaded guilty and was fined $50 and ordered to spend 30 days in the county jail by Magistrate Edwin Holbrook.

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Two soldiers AWOL from the Army were charged with automobile theft after they were found sleeping on Pine Mountain near Whitesburg inside a car stolen from Lyman Hill of Jenkins. Arrested were Dexter Caudill of Letcher County and Roger A. Fletcher of Detroit. The two men admitted that in addition to stealing Hill’s vehicle, they stole a car in Prestonsburg and one in Pikeville. They also admitted to being absent without leave from the Army. Caudill is already under indictment in Letcher County for an earlier armed robbery.

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An indictment charging Bonnie Sizemore and her brother, Noah Bentley, with murder was dismissed in Letcher Circuit Court this week upon the recommendation of Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Emmett G. Fields. The two were charged with murdering Bonnie Sizemore’s husband, Charles Sizemore, in the home of Etta Bentley last July. Mrs. Bentley, the mother of Bonnie Sizemore, was previously cleared of a murder charge in connection with the case in January.

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Marilyn Jordan and Ransom Jordan of Jordan Motor Company of Jenkins left Detroit recently in one of 120 replicas of the Dodge Pace Car that has been chosen to pace this year’s Indianapolis 500 auto race. Before leaving Detroit for Jenkins in the new V-8 convertible, the Jordans took part in a 120-car cavalcade guided through downtown Detroit by an escort of motorcycle policemen.

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“Stevie Joe Litts sent word to Mr. Stork to bring him a baby sister,” writes Gertrude Gambill in her Jenkins News column. “And that he did on March 30 at Norton Community Hospital, delivering Carol Ann to Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Litts. She weighed 6-1/2 pounds.”

April 9, 1964

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has handed down a decision making coal land owners responsible for damages suffered by their neighbors as a result of strip mining.

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Classes were held for the first time in the new Cowan Elementary School. The new consolidated school permitted the closing of four one- and two-room schools — Upper Cowan, Middle Cowan and Little Cowan and UZ. In addition, some pupils from the Hot Spot School, which had burned, are attending classes there.

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Ray Stallard of Cromona, was nearly asleep in the Transit Coach Line bus in which he was riding, when a wild duck smashed through the windshield of the bus and into Stallard’s head. When Stallard regained consciousness, he was at Whitesburg Hospital for treatment of cuts and bruises.

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A delegation of citizens from Cumberland asked for and received Letcher Fiscal Court support for a proposed dam on Poor Fork of the Cumberland River in Letcher County. A spokesman said the dam would be located above Eolia where U.S. 119 leaves the valley and climbs Pine Mountain.

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A editorial in The Mountain Eagle on the proposed dam says, “We must strongly urge that Letcher County officials and citizens generally take an attitude of healthy skepticism and downright suspicion toward fresh efforts to bring about construction of a lake on the Upper Cumberland River in the Flat Gap area . . . If all the dams are built that have been or are being talked about for this county, then Letcher will become one giant lake with a few mountains sticking up in between.”

April 11, 1974

Picket lines remain up at Whitesburg Hospital as union employees and some non-union hospital workers seeking union membership continue to stay away from their jobs. The strike was called against nine Appalachian Regional Hospitals by the United Steelworkers of America after the union’s contract expired.

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West Whitesburg Elementary School says it will not participate in any more Appalachian Drama Workshop productions after the performance of “Peter Pan” at the school. Principal Bernard Watts said he received a number of telephone calls, some of them anonymous, from persons objecting to the presence of Appalshop “outsiders” and “hippies” at the school. Students in the fourth grade at the school have been rehearsing the play for several weeks.

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Drivers and owners of coal trucks in Letcher County have received permission from county officials to operate coal trucks that exceed by almost 150 percent state weight limits. Letcher County Judge Estill Blair invited coal truckers to meet at the county courthouse “to work something out” on overweight coal trucks. County Judge Pro Tem Lexie Potter, who presided over the meeting in Blair’s absence, told 35 truckers: “You’re not going to be fined in Letcher County Court as long as you stay within your (license) tag limit and keep the hump of coal down on your truck. We’re not telling you that’s lawful, but we’re telling you that’s how we can go along with you boys.”

April 11, 1984

The number of Letcher County residents without jobs rose in January 1984 and fell slightly in February, according to figures released by the Kentucky Cabinet for Human Resources. From December 1983 to January 1984, the unemployment rate rose 4.6 percent to 28.8 percent. From January to February, the rate fell to 27.4 percent.

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U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, a native of Burdine, was honored in a historical marker erected outside the Letcher County Courthouse in Whitesburg. The plaque was put up by the Kentucky Historical Society and the state Department of Transportation. Powers was captured in 1960 after he had to parachute from a disabled plane while flying a spy mission over the Soviet Union. He was released in 1962 and later decorated with honors by the U.S. Civil Intelligence Agency (CIA), which had directed his spying mission.

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Heavy rainfall is putting a hold on gardening, according to Blackey correspondent Grace Caudill. “It stays so wet that no one can get anything done toward gardening,” she writes, “but it sure doesn’t keep the grass from growing.”

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Reconstruction of a portion of U.S. 119 between Whitesburg and Cumberland is included in the state’s latest six-year road plan. Work on improving a 4.9-mile stretch of the road from east of Cumberland in Harlan County to west of Partridge in Letcher County is scheduled to begin in 1985.

April 13, 1994

The search is underway for a new superintendent of the Letcher County schools. Superintendent Jack Burkich resigned effective July 1, 1994.

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Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers visited Letcher County and said the county is to receive federal and state funds to help the county recover from some of the effects of a harsh winter and the troubled coal industry. Federal disaster funds will help pay for damage caused by a snow-and-ice storm and subsequent floods in early February. The county expects to receive around $50,000 in federal disaster funds. The state funds will help to repair damages from three mine-related mudslides.

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”I am so tired of making excuses for Letcher County,” writes Sergent correspondent Vendetta Fields. “Every ditch line from Mayking up to Millstone is full of garbage. It wasn’t washed in there by recent rains, either. It’s been there all winter. Do our officials think tourists are going to spend their money and time to come see our garbage?”

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Fans are mourning the death of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain. Cobain committed suicide on April 8, 1994.

April 14, 2004

The Letcher Fiscal Court is considering a “nuisance ordinance” that would regulate trash, junk, weeds and abandoned buildings. Letcher County Solid Waste Coordinator John Cleveland said a law requiring some residents to rid their property of excessive and dangerous piles of junk is necessary for the health and welfare of the county’s citizens.

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Civil War re-enactors visited the Jenkins City Council meeting to ask for the town’s support in obtaining space for a monument of reconciliation titled, “Brothers Once More” that will be dedicated to Civil War soldiers from both sides.

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Eleven Letcher County residents are among 211 persons from eastern Kentucky charged in one of the state’s largest roundups of street-level drug dealers. The roundup was conducted April 6 in Letcher and seven other southeastern Kentucky counties after being organized by the Operation UNITE anti-drug task force.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court and the cities of Fleming-Neon, Jenkins and Whitesburg are participating in an annual spring cleanup sponsored by PRIDE.


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