Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle
pages since our founding in 1908
 

 

Thursday, June 7, 1934

Letcher County residents were treated to a light show about 10:30 last night when what is believed to have been a large meteor passed over the area of the county above Whitesburg. “It evidently landed or exploded soon after being seen,” a front-page report in The Mountain Eagle says. “There was a loud noise and heavy jar coming from the direction in which it was traveling [Northwest]. As it shot through the upper regions [of the county], there was an extraordinary white light radiating from it. Later we may learn where it struck Earth, if it did.”

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A shooting at the Hot Spot Colored Coal Camp on Saturday night has resulted in the death of Tom Hardin, 46. He was allegedly shot and killed by John London, 45, after and argument between the two men.

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A number of leading citizens of the Eolia section of Letcher County traveled to Whitesburg Saturday to ask authorities not to enforce a “general stock law” that voters in the district approved last fall. “Agitating matters like this always creates more or less hardness and disturbance among neighbors and friends,” a commentary appearing on the front page of The Eagle says without offering explanation of the “stock law.”

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At least 1,100 Letcher County residents have purchased dog licenses so far this year, reports the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office. According to the sheriff ’s office, at least 3,000 dog owners still have not purchased the required license.

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Authorities speculate that a Dunham man who was injured critically by a gunshot wound last Friday may have been trying to commit suicide. Ernest Mullins was believed to be alone in the recreation building at Dunham when he was shot. The 21-year-old is being treated at the Jenkins hospital, but is not expected to live. He had been involved in a domestic dispute before the shooting.

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Authorities say “there was some excitement for a while” in Letcher County last night after a male Negro allegedly shot and wounded a white Jenkins boy at a filling station the boy was operating. The alleged shooter was arrested in Jenkins and brought to Whitesburg, where “people were up late on the street expecting more excitement.” The boy, a son of Johnny Wright, was shot in the arm. The alleged shooter was transferred to a jail in the Pineville area “to avoid the possibility of any trouble,” The Eagle reported.

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A 20-year-old Isom man was “badly skinned, bruised and dangerously hurt” when a moving train hit him near the Whitesburg railroad depot. Some observers say the train hit the man, who had returned to Letcher County from Berea College only a few days ago, after he climbed out of the bed of a truck. “He was rolled quite a distance by the train,” The Eagle reported. “His left hand was badly crushed [and] his back was apparently strained. When brought to Dr. Bach’s office for treatment, he appeared to be badly dazed, scared, and [he] scarcely knew what he was talking about.”

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A circuit court jury has awarded $7,500 to the estate of a Pike County man who was killed near Neon Junction two years ago when a truck he was driving was hit by an L&N Railroad freight train. The estate of D. Ratliff was awarded the money after the jury found that the L&N acted negligently when the truck, which was loaded with household furniture, was hit by the train as the train came out of Potters Fork.

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Whitesburg attorney French Hawk’s damage suit against taxi driver W. M. Webb continued this week in Letcher Circuit Court. More than a year ago, Mr. Hawk was returning to Letcher County from Frankfort in a taxi driven by Mr. Webb. When the taxi was between Hazard and Jackson at nighttime, a car driven by a Hazard man hit it. Mr. Hawk maintains the taxi’s defective lights caused the collision, which resulted in Hawk’s being so severely injured about the head that he had to be hospitalized in Jackson for several weeks.

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A Thornton man “whose word can positively be depended upon” brought a medium-sized Elgin watch with seven jewels by The Eagle offices this week to show it is still “perfect condition” even though it was buried for 12 years. Dock Sergent, who lives in the head of Thornton, says he lost the watch while plowing land 12 years ago. While plowing the same plot last week, the watch was found. “Turning it over and shaking it about a bit, it went to running and is running now,” Sergent said. The town jeweler examined the watch and told Mr. Sergent it is “in perfect condition.”

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Two men who were among five young men and two girls charged with robbing an elderly traveling salesman near Dunham about two weeks ago pleaded guilty to robbery in Letcher Circuit Court on Monday and were each sentenced by a jury to 10 years in prison. The two convicted, John C. Wright and Henry Duncan, will be taken to the state reformatory in Frankfort this week. The judge ordered the charges against the other three men and two girls dismissed for lack of evidence during their trial later Monday.

Thursday, June 1, 1944

The Letcher County Ministerial Association said it would ask the Kentucky Court of Appeals to reconsider its majority opinion throwing out Letcher County’s local option election of 1943. With only one judge dissenting, the Appeals Court voided the election won by “dry” forces after ruling that 32 voters in the Rocky Branch precinct at Jenkins were disenfranchised when the Letcher County Board of Elections did not count their votes. The Appeals Court ruled that because 29 of the 32 voters voted in favor of keeping the county “wet,” alcohol sales would still be legal had their votes been properly counted in the November election in which 3,001 citizens voted to stop selling alcohol while 2,952 opposed the change.

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The Letcher County Ministerial Association has called a “mass meeting” for Tuesday, June 6, at the courthouse in Whitesburg. All citizens interested in the “dry cause” are urged to attend.

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Tragedy hit Letcher County Monday when a boy just a month shy of his 13th birthday drowned in Elkhorn Lake at Jenkins. Bobby O’Dell McCowan, 12, drowned after falling from a boat in which he and four playmates were playing. The boys were using tar to try to patch leaks in the boat when Bobby fell into the water. He was rescued soon and taken to the Jenkins hospital, but could not be revived. The boy’s father, Ester L. McCowan, is a sailor in the U.S. Navy and is out to sea. His parents and five brothers and sisters survive the child.

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“One of our neighboring soldier boys has been killed in action in Italy,” writes Linefork correspondent Gwendolyn Huff. “We all regret to hear about the death of Chester Cornett Jr. of Gordon.”

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Convicted murderer Tommy Nelson was given an 11th hour stay of execution by electric chair while his attorney is preparing an appeal to be taken before the U.S. Supreme Court. Nelson was convicted of murdering Frelin Estepp before throwing Estepp out of a car near Kona. He was also convicted of shooting and wounding Claude Ison during a robbery.

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In the wake of the Kentucky Court of Appeals’ decision to throw out the results of last year’s vote on whether to outlaw to sale of alcoholic beverages in Letcher County, a Mountain Eagle editorial calls for both sides in the county’s “wet vs. dry” debate to “get together and try to work out some solution whereby all would benefit.” Writes Eagle editor Pearl Nolan: “Our citizens are about equally divided on the question. It would be unwise to hold another election within the immediate future. Also, because hundreds of our citizens are away [serving] in the armed forces or [working] in defense plants.”

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Rose Duff of Isom has applied for a Road House License for an establishment to be located at Saw Dust Junction, Isom.

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Dr. P. E. Sloan has announced that he has returned from a stay in the hospital and has reopened his dental practice.

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“When we walk down 12th Street here in Detroit we see so many familiar faces from Letcher County we seem to be in one of our own small hometowns,” reports a letter writer identifying herself as A Former Letcherite. “Everywhere, we see men who are going to work in a defense plant here since they left their homes in Letcher County, where they were farmers, teachers, merchants, etc. [Their] wives have donned slack suits and badges and joined the great army of WOWS, or Women’s Ordnance Workers who are making the implements of war. These women are very busy and have only time to dream about their quiet peaceful homes down south, to which they will return when this war is won.” Concludes the writer: “The Mountain Eagle is like a ray of sunshine to all of us who are so far away from our homes. Keep it flying!”

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The Stumble Inn at Potters Fork is for sale, says owner Mary Popovich of Neon, who says the reason for selling is “doctor’s orders.”

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U.S. Army Master Sergeant Vernon Goff, the noncommissioned officer in charge of shipping and receiving at Air Corps Supply in New Caledonia (an island located in the southwest Pacific Ocean), was praised for his work in a column appearing in the Cat’s Meow, a U.S. Army newspaper. “A perpetual smile and the ability to handle men are two reasons why he is so successful,” the column says of Goff, who was the manager of the A&P Store in Whitesburg before he was called to duty.

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Ercell Frazier has applied for retail package liquor and distilled spirits and wine licenses to be operated in the name of Frazier Liquor Store. The business will be located in Frazier’s building on the corner of Main Street and Webb Avenue in Whitesburg in space now occupied by Frazier’s Café.

Thursday, June 3, 1954

Fult Combs, the 26-year-old son of the late Herman C. Combs, is reported to be holding his own in the Jenkins hospital, where he was taken after being seriously wounded by a former mental patient in Wise, Va. According to the Combs family, Fred Niece, who had been discharged from an asylum in Marion, Va., shot Fult Combs at the Stone Gables in Wise. Witnesses say Niece arrived at the establishment armed with a rifle and said he was going to shoot the first person he saw. About that time, Fult Combs, who had been on a Sunday afternoon drive, stopped by the Stone Gables and was greeted with three gunshot wounds, the bullets hitting his abdomen and piercing his intestines. Combs, whose chances for recovery are said to be 50/50, is employed at Combs Motor Company in Whitesburg. He is married to the former Marie Byrd and is the father of four children.

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Dr. Glen McDavid, optometrist, has opened an office on Main Street in Whitesburg. He formerly practiced in Illinois.

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Boone Motor Company President Sanders Collins said he and his company were sued by competing auto and truck dealers Russell Price [Kyva Motor Co.] and Harrison Fields because Collins and his employees are “Republicans and didn’t vote right.” Collins said Boone Motor’s actual bid to sell the Letcher County Board of Education a Chevrolet school bus for $2,223 was far below that of the next-lowest bidder. He also said that if the Letcher board did business correctly “we could have built a $300,000 school building at Whitesburg to replace the one now about to fall down without having to borrow the money and tax the people of Letcher County to pay for it.”

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A former Letcher County resident believed to have died many years ago has been found alive and well and living with a son in Oakland, California. Mansford Scott Bentley, 93, left Letcher County to homestead a farm in New Mexico around the turn of the century and lost his wife in 1912. He is the great uncle of Zenith Bentley, who operates Bentley’s Grocery in Whitesburg. Family members do not recall why Mansford left Letcher County “unless it was to seek new horizons.”

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Orville W. Chinn has been appointed director of the state’s new Strip Mining and Reclamation Commission, Governor Lawrence Wetherby has announced. The commission will supervise reclamation of land disturbed by the strip mining of coal. The Kentucky General Assembly created the commission in 1954. All persons who produce coal by strip mining after July 1 of this year must have a permit from the commission.

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Cadet Sgt. James D. Chandler, 21, son of Mrs. Myrtle B. Chandler of Burdine, will be graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on June 8. A 1950 graduate of Jenkins High School, Chandler was appointed to the Academy by Rep. Carl D. Perkins of Kentucky’s Seventh Congressional District.

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Ralph Johnson, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Johnson of Fleming, has been promoted to the rank of private first class in the U.S. Army.

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Army Private James H. Gray of Kona successfully completed his fifth parachute jump from a C-119 aircraft, marking the end of three weeks of intensive physical and technical training and qualifying him as a paratrooper. He is a member of the famed 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and son of David Gray of Kona. He is also a rifleman in the 504th Airborne Infantry Regiment, “America’s Guard of Honor.”

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Loretta Mayes is the valedictorian of the 1954 graduating senior class at Stuart Robinson School. Delores Chandler is the salutatorian. Stuart Robinson Principal Jack M. Burkich presented the awards.

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Citing the benefits of mechanization, the coal industry says the per-man output of bituminous coal in the U.S. has risen to nearly eight (8) tons per man, per day.

Thursday, June 4, 1964

By June of 1968 West Whitesburg should have a new 52-lot subdivision, new sewer and water lines, a site for a new grade school, a new 40-unit low-rent housing project and six prime commercial sites. The changes were assured this week when the federal Urban Renewal Administration announced a grand of $476,095 to help finance the West Whitesburg Urban Renewal Project. The new project will include what is now Graveyard Hollow.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court declined this week to pay the costs incurred last spring when Jenkins held a special election on a school tax issue. County Judge James M. Caudill said some 24 persons who worked as precinct election officers still have not been paid, and suggested the court agree to pay them. State law provides that in such special elections, costs are to be paid by the school board. Caudill said the Jenkins board has declined to pay the money due.

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Members of the Letcher County Board of Education voted this week to install electric heating in the new grade school being built at Kona. Superintendent Dave L. Craft said the move will save the school system $30,000 on the initial cost of the building.

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“Blackberry winter” left Letcher County residents shivering as temperatures dipped to 37 degrees.

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Mrs. Susan Combs of Craft’s Colly will turn 100 years and two months old on Friday (June 5). She was born on Craft’s Colly on April 5, 1864. The mother of five children, she has never weighed more than 100 pounds and remains active today. One day last fall, one of her sons returned home to find her trying to dig potatoes in order to surprise him.

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One of every six Letcher County residents is now receiving a monthly Social Security check.

Thursday, June 6, 1974

Rep. Carl D. Perkins spoke at the dedication of the Mountain Comprehensive Health Care clinic in McRoberts. The $400,000 structure was financed with federal funds.

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The Kentucky Department of Transportation has filed suit against 137 owners of overweight trucks in Clay County, and has indicated it is considering similar suits in Letcher County. State officials said there have been 47 overweight citations in Letcher County with no convictions.

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Offices of Consolidation Coal Company in Georgetown, Ohio, were raided by federal marshals as part of an investigation into allegations that the firm has falsified data on coal dust in its mines. The company is the second largest producer of coal in the United States.

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County Extension Agent Paul Morris answers questions about the cicadas, commonly called locusts, which are emerging in Letcher County. He identifies the insects as belonging to the 17-year brood, which first appeared in 1957.

Wednesday, June 6, 1984

A Mountain Eagle editorial headlined “Who will have a job in a few years?” warns of the development of the “offshore office” — “the possibility that millions of white collar jobs will be exported to overseas countries where labor is cheap . . . Where it all leads we don’t know. But if the office jobs are now to join the factory jobs in the mad trip across the seas, who in the United States will have a job a few years from now?”

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A report on high school dropouts in eastern Kentucky shows the Letcher County School District graduated 56.64 percent of the students who had entered school in the ninth grade. The Jenkins Independent School District graduated 48.05 percent of students.

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A recanvass of voting machines used in the primary election shows a change in the outcome of the race for state representative of the 91st Legislative District. The final tally is: incumbent Hoover Dawahare, 1,749 votes; Paul Mason, 1,603 votes; and E.O. Holbrook, 269 votes.

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Mary C. Adams is the valedictorian of the graduating class at Letcher High School. Freddie Hatton is salutatorian.

Wednesday, June 8, 1994

“The ground was getting so dry,” writes Ice correspondent Sara C. Ison, “but God sent us a good soaking rain, It was like the old woman praying for a rain, she asked not for a ‘gully washer,’ but a ‘nubbin stretcher.’ So we got exactly what we needed.”

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Carcassonne correspondent Clifton Caudill writes of the “hours and days of volunteer work in support” of Carcassonne School given by Kelly Combs of Big Kell, and his four sons, Sylvester, Hebron, Tommy and Blaine, and their mother, Sally Ma. The school served the community from 1923, when it was founded by Caudill’s father, H.D. Caudill, until it was closed in 1948. Clifton Caudill says the Combs family “gave many days of labor to the upkeep and building of the school.”

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”Beverly Hills Cop III” starring Eddie Murphy and “Naked 33 ½ The Final Insult” are showing at the Cinema 7 Drive-In Theatre.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Kentucky River Community Care, the agency responsible for most of the treatment programs available to drug abusers in the Kentucky River area, has no immediate plan to start using Suboxone or Subutex, two new drugs that help patients overcome their addictions to prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone or oxycodone.

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Fleming-Neon City Council Member Karen Quillen Hall won’t have to stand trial on a misdemeanor charge of harassment if she agrees to keep at least 500 feet away from former Mayor Harlan “Tootie” Seals for a year.

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Teacher Sherry Sexton of Beckham Bates Elementary School received the statewide Harry J. Cowherd Award for exceptional service.

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World War II veteran H.D. Caudill and his wife Edna attended the dedication ceremonies at the new World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.


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