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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1908


The Mountain Eagle was about to begin its 17th year of operation when this issue was published on Thursday, August 14, 1924. The edition featured a report on the planned demolition of what was then the oldest house in Whitesburg.

The Mountain Eagle was about to begin its 17th year of operation when this issue was published on Thursday, August 14, 1924. The edition featured a report on the planned demolition of what was then the oldest house in Whitesburg.

Thursday, August 24, 1924

Among the items appearing in a front-page column entitled “Local News Field” were these:

• We regret much to learn of the drowning of young Edgar Blevins in the lake at Jenkins Sunday.

• Have you tried Peach Julep, the new rich drink put up by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company? It is one of the purest and best drinks on the market.

• Franklin & Brown will build a $3,000 residence for Harvie Addington in the Collins-Harvie Addition in Whitesburg.

• Rev. A.N. Joyner, a well-known old-fashioned Baptist minister from Virginia, spoke at the Letcher County Courthouse Monday night in the interest of the Ku Klux Klan organization.

• Well, the Democrats say that the speech of acceptance by presidential candidate John W. Davis was grand, while the Republicans supporting Calvin Coolidge say they can see nothing to it. Another case of whose cow was horned.

• Joe Pendleton stopped in to tell us that the new Eolia highway will be passable to his home by next Sunday and that 100 of his good friends with automobiles will be welcomed at his home, where they can get a cool drink and get a bath in the pure clear waters of Cowan Branch.

• The opening of the new state highway from Ermine to Mayking a few days ago was cause for rejoicing from the traveling public. For years the old rough stretch of county road skirting the river — full of curves, mud holes and boulders — has been a bugbear in the minds of all. Now that the new way is open it will soon be forgotten that there was such a path.

• A large automobile containing four men drove into Whitesburg yesterday from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, 3,000 miles away. It was a little worse for the wear and tear of the trip. Two large elk horns were fastened to the front of the car. It is said the tourists were on their way to Hazard.

• Dr. Whitaker has traded his residence in the Lewis Addition to Tony Colisante’s residence on Broadway. Colisante paid $3,000 to “boot.”

• Someone took a pair of new pants from the Cook Restaurant Saturday night by mistake … or otherwise. Louis Cook will pay $5 for return or for information as to who took them.

• The county highways recently let for bids are 18 feet wide and not 16 as heretofore stated.

• Whitesburg’s “old guard” of 35 years ago, to our sorrow, has about dwindled away. … We could mention many closely approaching the pioneer class whose temples are whitening with gold, but rather than embarrass them we desist.

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An altercation on Little Colley a few days ago between Benton Breeding and his brother-in-law, Benton Collins, has left Mr. Collins clinging for life in the Seco hospital. Dr. J.M. Bentley said Collins struck over the heart, resulting in a rupture of that muscle’s valves.

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Consolidation Coal Company manager George W. Hay is praising readers of The Mountain Eagle for urging county officials to fight to get the contract to build a road across Pound Gap and into neighboring Virginia. “Say to your readers and the Letcher County officials that the citizens of Jenkins and all the people in the Elkhorn and head of North Fork sections know of no way of expressing their gratitude to them for their fight to have the contract let for the building of the Pound Gap highway,” said Hay. “When this grand, picturesque roadway is built it will mean more to Letcher County than anyone can possibly surmise. And I want to extend to The Eagle my heartiest thanks for the effort it has expended in popularizing it.”

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County officials returned to Whitesburg from Jenkins Saturday with a check for $11,000 to be used in the construction of county roads. “Some years ago when the lamented John G. Smyth was superintendent of The Consolidation Coal Company, he and others proposed to the county authorities that Jenkins should contribute $18,000 to the county’s road building fund when certain road building conditions were met,” says a front-page story. “This has been done and the city will carry out the promises of its former chief. It is no wonder that Letcher County moves to the front when peopled by such noble spirits.”

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Pike County is pushing to meet the tide of progress alive in Letcher, Harlan and Wise counties. A few days ago the noble old county threw down $300,000 to build its part of the state highway to the Letcher County line. Dear old Pike, here’s our hand! Seize it!

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Whitesburg’s last building of the antebellum days will be demolished soon. The old Brashears-Prichard home on the South side of Main Street is now owned by J.H. Frazier. It is the oldest building still standing in the town, and was built years before the Civil War. The large brick chimneys at the end of the large home were built in 1868 from bricks burned from native dirt and are as sound today as when put into the chimneys.

Thursday, August 16, 1934

A ghastly deed almost too horrible for words to tell was perpetrated at Millstone last Saturday evening. Two persons, a man and his young wife, were the victims and a little three-year-old girl is left an orphan. About four years ago, Arthur Short, 28, came from Norton, Va., to the neighborhood of Mayking and married Miss Sarah Wampler, 16, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Creed Wampler. In a year or so, the marriage proved a failure, though one girl was born into the family. The marriage was eventually patched up, but a month or two ago, Mrs. Short brought suit for divorce, which is still pending. Several days ago, Short returned from Virginia to get possession of his baby from the mother, who was living with relatives at Haymond. It is stated that Short became wildly drunk and was creating disturbance at the home of Abe Wampler at Millstone on Saturday. In order to quiet him, a messenger was sent to Haymond to bring his wife to Millstone. About 6 p.m., Short, his wife and daughter were in a room talking when the crack of gunfire broke out. Short was found standing with the smoking pistol in his hand and Mrs. Short was found lying across the bed with three bullet holes in her head. After the little girl was removed safely from the room, another shot was fired. The wild man had shot himself fatally through the head.

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A new post office named “Holbrook” has been established a few miles up Millstone Creek. The big family of Holbrooks living in that section is responsible for the name. There was a crying need for the post office.

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A German police dog named Jack Whitaker has been charged with assault and battery and felonious attack on a person. He was taken before County Judge Adams, where attorneys and friends pleaded for his life and asked that the examining trial be put off until yesterday afternoon at 2. Jack again appeared in court yesterday, puffing and panting, but his trial was again put off until tomorrow.

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Persistent advertising in The Mountain Eagle has resulted in The Kermit Grocery becoming one of the best-patronized stores in Letcher County although it is inconveniently situated so far as the heart of Whitesburg is concerned. Ask Kermit what built it and he’ll tell you that it was by constant and persistent advertising.

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Orell Fields will return to Letcher County soon from Lexington, where on August 17 he will receive his A.B. degree from the University of Kentucky, majoring in French and Social Science. His is also a graduate of Pikeville College. Fields graduated with honors from Whitesburg High School in 1928.

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Clyde Ward of Eolia was one of the 17 miners killed in the explosion last week of the No. 3 mine at Derby, Va. One hundred men were working at the time of the blast. The mine had not previously shown evidence of gas.

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Sylvia Sidney and Cary Grant star in “Thirty-Day Princess” showing August 16 and 17 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg. Admission is 10 cents for students and 50 cents for adults. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi will star in the film “The Black Cat” showing at the Kentucky August 21 and 22.

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Thursday, August 30, will mark the 27th birthday of The Mountain Eagle. “Yes, it’s been a long span and it looks like a different world,” notes editor and publisher Nehemiah M. Webb.

Thursday, August 10, 1944

Japan has broken her steady string of defeats in the Pacifi c, Burma and India with the capture of Hengyang, vital Chinese city from which the Japanese can drive south to split China in two. The most important Japanese victory in China since 1938 cleared most of the way for Nippon’s army to close a 170-mile gap Chinese-held gap on the Hankow- Peiping railroad.

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Pvt. Edward Combs Jr. and Pvt. James M. Combs met in France recently. They are the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Combs of Ermine. Both boys sailed for England in the same convoy but could not locate each other until they landed in France. It had been a year since they’ve seen each other.

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Only a few Letcher County voters bothered to go to the polls for last Saturday’s primary election. Lexington attorney James Park won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator, while incumbent Alben W. Barkley easily won on the Democratic nomination.

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S.M. Banks has been hired to serve as county patrolman by the Letcher County Fiscal Court.

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A gymnasium, a bakery and a laundry are among the things the county seat town of Whitesburg needs in order to improve the quality of living in Letcher County, says a survey conducted by the Whitesburg Rotary Club. Most of Letcher County’s laundry goes to Norton, Va., and other far away places. Also listed as needed desperately are improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems. “After the war there will be a crying demand for production of goods of various kinds and this demand can create thousands of post-war jobs,” the study concludes. “Thousands of soldiers and defense workers will be returning soon and it is up to us to look forward to and plan for the future.”

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Seaman Ferdinand Moore, former employee of Craft Funeral Home in Neon and Whitesburg, is in charge of a ward in the Sick Officers Quarters in the Naval Hospital. Seaman Moore assisted with the 60 bodies recovered from the munitions explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California. In all, 320 sailors and civilians were killed in the July 17 blast.

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Johnny Weissmuller stars in “Tarzan’s Desert Mystery” showing August 13 and 14 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

Thursday, August 12, 1954

Eighteen-year-old Darrell Garden Niece was killed last Thursday morning in a mine near Colson when he came into contact with a high voltage wire while working. He was a son of Bradley and Nannie Niece of Colson.

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Ulis Hunsucker of Whitesburg has been appointed a national aide-de-camp in the recruiting class of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States by Commander-in- Chief Wayne E. Richards. National headquarters explained that these appointments are made by the commander in recognition of those who have signed up at least 50 new or reinstated members of the organization.

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The Letcher County Board of Education says there will be a new school at Campbell’s Branch, and that it might be built by the end of this year.

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F.C. Hammonds, outstanding member of the Whitesburg Yellowjackets football team, will play in the East vs. West all-star game to be played at the University of Kentucky on August 14.

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The state of Kentucky is in drought for the third consecutive year. Governor Wetherby has petitioned President Eisenhower for emergency aid.

Thursday, August 13, 1964

The Whitesburg City Council has passed an anti-union “right to work” ordinance similar to that adopted by a number of Kentucky towns recently. The council approved the measure Tuesday night, moments after it was presented — with almost no discussion — by Councilman Russell Price. Price gave as a reason for adopting the ordinance the fact that representatives of Levi Strauss & Co. are considering Whitesburg as a possible site for a garment factory. He said representative of Levi Strauss are “scared” of the United Mine Workers. The council’s action apparently makes illegal any renewal of the present union contracts between the A&P Tea Co. and its Whitesburg employees and between the Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital and its nonprofessional employees.

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The Whitesburg City Council has voted to sublease property in front of the L&N Railroad Depot from the Whitesburg Lions Club and will convert the space into a parking lot for use by taxicabs.

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The Whitesburg City Council has refused to refund a portion of an occupational tax payment to T. Ray Allen, former administrator of the Whitesburg hospital. Allen applied for the refund on grounds he had paid a full year’s fee but had worked within the city limits only about half that time.

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The Federal Aviation Administration has given the final go-ahead to plans for paving the runway at the Whitesburg Municipal Airport near Colson. Adams Construction Company is expected to start work within the next two weeks.

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Funeral services were held August 9 in the Hemphill Freewill Baptist Church for Fred Graham, 44, who was killed in a mine accident at Doty. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca Quillen Graham.

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Funeral services were held in Isom on August 12 for Elwood Amburgey, 24, who was killed in a car wreck at Kona.

Thursday, August 15, 1974

Problems left by the fire which struck The Mountain Eagle office on August 1, 1974 are still plaguing the newspaper staff. Half of the August 1 newspapers were destroyed by the fire. Subscribers have been told they will receive copies if August 1 newspapers can be found during the cleanup.

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The United Mine Workers of America has called a fiveday “holiday” to point up the union’s concern over safety, black lung disease, and its organizing strike at Brookside in Harlan County. Only one firm in Letcher County, Beth- Elkhorn Corp., is affected by the action.

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Commenting on Gerald Ford’s ascension to the presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon, an Eagle editorial says, “We do join in what seems to be a national prayer that, although a Ford, he not be an Edsel. But he will have to prove it to us.”

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Jeremiah correspondent Hassie Breeding reports that Delana Pridemore caught a 22½-inch fish at the swinging bridge that spans Rockhouse Creek.

Wednesday, August 15, 1984

The Letcher Fiscal Court is trying to find a way to keep the Appalachian Regional Ambulance Service in operation. The debt-ridden service has closed its doors, leaving county residents dependent on volunteer ambulance services from Fleming-Neon and Letcher.

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As school opened for another term, Letcher County resident Harry M. Caudill appealed to Gov. Martha Layne Collins to help secure funding to widen U.S. 119. “The much traveled highway across Pine Mountain south of Whitesburg in Letcher County has so deteriorated that there are numerous areas that are wholly without any shoulder or guard rails,” he wrote in a letter to the governor. “They lie above precipitate drops of about 500 feet. If a school bus were to leave the road at such a place it is a near certainty that the driver and all the students would be killed.”

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Whitesburg High School cross-country coach Eddie Holbrook is feeling confident about his team’s chances for the 1984-85 season. Two of the top four female runners in Kentucky, sophomore Kim Fields and junior Deana Boggs, are on the team.

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Three county football teams are scheduled to open their seasons. Whitesburg High School will play at Lexington Tates Creek, Jenkins will travel to Knott County Central, and Fleming-Neon will host Rockcastle County.

Wednesday, August 17, 1994

Whitesburg Mayor Jack Howard and members of the city council are talking with Meade and Shepherd Coal Company about the possibility of extracting coal from land next to the city industrial site at Caudilltown. Coal company official suggested that the city file for a strip-mine permit and pay the required bond. They said the city would be able to use the land sooner that way, since some rules of the state strip-mining regulatory agencies are eased when the mining involves some kind of industrial development work.

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”Belinda,” an Appalshop film about the late Belinda Mason, will be shown on KET. Mason, a native of Letcher County, died of AIDS in 1991. She contracted the disease through a blood transfusion during childbirth. The daughter of State Rep. Paul Mason of Whitesburg, she became nationally known spokesperson for victims of AIDS.

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The Letcher County Board of Education approved the Improvement Plan for the Letcher County School District. The plan has been sent to state education officials in Frankfort for their comments and eventual approval. The Improvement Plan was drafted by 14 committees which included more than 100 local citizens.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Fifth District Magistrate Wayne J. Fleming has been named Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Jenkins Festival Committee. He will receive the award at a ceremony during the Jenkins Days Festival.

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The Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department will have its new child identification system in operation this week at the Jenkins Days Festival.

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County and state officials will attend a community meeting to address the concerns of residents of Little Cowan who were affected by recent flooding. Some of the flooding is believed to have been caused by road construction on Pine Mountain.

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”The gardens are about gone now, “ says Ice correspondent Sara C. Ison. “We have done very well despite the rainy weather. Now is a good time to gather in what is left and make a big kettle of homemade soup. We like the flavor corned beef gives to soup. No one cooks alike; I am an old-fashioned cook.”


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