Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1908

Thursday, March 19, 1925

Fire early this morning destroyed the powerhouse and tipple at Elkhorn Collieries Company at Thornton. The cause of the fire, which broke out about 3 a.m., is not known. The mines will be closed for between 30 and 60 days.

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Letcher County voters will go to the polls Saturday to vote on whether to authorize Letcher Fiscal Court to issue and sell $200,000 in road bonds.

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Excavation is continuing on the new site of Kyva Motor Company in Whitesburg. “When this hustling concern gets started in business there will be four big motor companies biding for business in our city,” The Mountain Eagle notes. “The Letcher Motor Company sells Fords, the Miners Motor Company sells the Studebaker, the Superior Motor Company sells the Nash and Chevrolet, and Kyva the Oakland and Chandler.”

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“The banks tells us money is now the scarcest it has been for some time — and banks know,” writes Eagle editor and publisher Nehemiah M. Webb.

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“We hear considerable boasting over how fine it is to drive over the Sandlick-Garner Road,” notes Eagle editor and publisher N.M. Webb. “You can now spin out from Whitesburg at least 12 miles on the state highway. Let everyone wake up to the importance of putting the Mayking-Haymond Road in the best condition possible.”

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“Things are going to get pinchy in some of the coal camps,” warns Webb, the Eagle’s editor and publisher. “In the Eagle’s opinion, the only salvation or hope for many of the miners is to get out and hit the soil for support. An acre of two or garden and a few acres of corn will save their bacon when nothing else will. Money is scarce already and it will bet scarcer. Do you see?”

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Karl Pigman, son of Dr. and Mrs. Owen Pigman of Sergent, is a freshman in the College of Arts at the University of Kentucky. A graduate of Whitesburg High School, he is a pre-med student majoring in chemistry.

Thursday, March 22, 1945

Lieutenant Charles Ogden Blair was killed in action on Luzon Island on February 15, the War Department says. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Blair Jr. and graduate of Whitesburg High School, Blair volunteered for service many months ago. He leaves behind his wife, Myrtle Evelyn Blair, and a young son he had never seen.

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All of Neon rejoiced when Mrs. Junior Ogelvia received word that her husband is well but being held as a prisoner of war in Germany. He had previously been listed as missing in action.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court has allocated $10,000 to be used to complete to complete construction of the Kingscreek to Linefork Road. The action was taken Tuesday by County Judge B.F. Wright and magistrates John D. Huff (Linefork), J.M. Fuller (McRoberts), W.M. Caudill (Whitesburg), Enoch R. Holbrook (Thornton), Dewey McKnight (Cumberland), Sol Blair (Isom), and Johnny Fulton (Seco).

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Staff Sergeant Bobby E. Adams, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Howard Adams of Millstone, was seriously wounded in action in Germany on February 27. He has been awarded the Purple Heart and Oak Leaf Cluster.

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The Mountain Eagle has learned of two more Letcher County citizens who are more than 90 years old. Mr. Riley Bentley of Democrat is 91 years old, plows his own garden, shaves himself, and is able to read The Eagle without wearing glasses. Aunt Rachel Dixon of Blackey will be 92 years old in October.

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United Mine Workers miners in Letcher County will vote by secret ballot March 28 on the question of whether to authorize a work stoppage during wartime production. The miners work at the following companies: Elkhorn- Jellico, Sandlick Coal, Premium Coal, Hazard Splint, Carbon Glow Coal, and Jeanne Francis Coal Company.

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The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company has announced it is seeking permission to extend its railway lines from Jenkins into Wise County, Virginia for a distance of 14 miles.

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Sergeant Hascal Combs of Whitesburg was presented with the Bronze Star medal. During the recent Belgian Bulge, Combs’s tank was credited with knocking out four German tiger tanks. He is now fighting somewhere in Germany.

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T-4 Reed Brown, son of Mr. Jesse C. Brown of Whitesburg, has been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge for his participation in the 38th Division’s drive across northern Bataan.

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The people of Gilley were pleased to welcome home Corporal Walter Holcomb, who has been in the Army for more than two years. He has been presented with two Bronze Stars.

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Private First Class Henry S. Taylor is back home in Gilley. He wears six Bronze Stars on his Service Ribbons.

Thursday, March 17, 1955

The first color TV set ever in Letcher County is now on display at Salyer Radio Company in Whitesburg. The set, one of the best manufactured by RCA and one of only 20 allocated to a possible 400 merchants. “I am very fortunate to be one of the few, out of so many, to get a set at this time,” said Rapheal Salyer. He added that people could check their TV listings to find when a color program will air, then come and enjoy the color set at his store. The set on display is not for sale, but will be used to acquaint the public with color TV. Salyer Radio Company was the first to establish a community tower when television initially came to Letcher County.

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Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Cassenelli have bought The Neon Theatre and will be remodeling it soon. “We love this community and our work and we are not going to quit until the best in a show house is provided for our people,” Mr. Cassenelli said. Widescreen Cinemascope is being installed along with other improvements. Mr. Cassenelli’s late brother is a former owner of the facility. His wife is the former Alma Rose of Kona.

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The Elinda Ann Drive-In Theater, located at the mouth of Solomon Creek in Whitesburg, suffered heavy loss from floodwaters on Tuesday night. Manager Billy Wayne Wright said the water damage caused by flash flooding early Wednesday and, estimated at between $1,000 and $1,500, is the heaviest suffered since the business was established in 1949.

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The Whitesburg High School Marching Band, directed by Jack Taylor, performed at the 14th Region Basketball Tournament in Hazard on March 10 and 11. The Whitesburg Athletic Association sponsored the trip. The band performed numbers such as “El Capitan” and “Brass Band Boogie” while the majorettes performed under the direction of Drum Majorette Phyllis Hall.

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Local health officials still must await the approval of the Salk vaccine against polio before 2,466 Letcher County school children can be vaccinated. “Most likely the Salk vaccine will prove to be our only and best means of fighting infantile paralysis,” said Dr. R.D. Collins, Letcher County Health Officer.

Thursday, March 18, 1965

Blackey Woodcrafters was organized at a meeting at Blackey School. Classes in woodcraft are being offered by Larry Herman, a sculptor and ceramics artist from Washington, D.C.

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The Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital has increased its bed capacity from 61 to 85 and added nine employees to care for the patient load. The hospital was running at 91 percent of its capacity.

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Letcher County landowners are being offered free trees by the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. The trees will be planted by members of the unemployed fathers work crews. Logging in the early 1900s had left bare land, which had become gullied and worthless.

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”Five Finger Exercise” and “Two Tickets to Paris” are playing at the Alene Theater in Whitesburg.

Thursday, March 20, 1975

A Whitesburg coal company, Plateau Mining Co., Inc., operated by Stamper Collins of Oak Ridge, Tenn., has received a $64 million contract from the Tennessee Valley Authority to mine coal on TVA reserves in Scott and Campbell counties, Tenn.

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A fire destroyed an old boardinghouse at Tom Biggs. The boardinghouse had been owned by the Oldham family.

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Residents of the Woodrock area near Blackey awoke to nd their road blocked by a slide. Residents blamed the slide on a strip mine near the area.

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The Lady Cavaliers defeated Breathitt County in the regional tournament to advance to the girls’ state basketball tournament.

Wednesday, March 27, 1985

Residents from the Cumberland area of Letcher County have started a campaign to fix the road leading across Pine Mountain. More than 75 residents gathered to lay the groundwork for a drive to get a portion of U.S. 119 between Whitesburg and the Harlan County line repaired so that it is at least safe enough for travel by a school bus.

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Brandon Holcomb, 6, of Isom, won three large packages of toys from Bozo the Clown and WGN-TV in Chicago. Brandon, the son of Robert and Diane Holcomb, won the toys in a drawing on “The Bozo Show” which airs each morning on the Chicago “superstation.” His mother had entered his name in the contest.

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Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers are scheduled to perform at Cowan Elementary School. The show is sponsored by the local chapter of the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation.

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”I’ve always heard old people say that April borrows 10 or 12 days of March,” writes Blackey correspondent Grace Caudill. “The snow we had overnight Sunday and Monday morning surprised many. That’s just an indication of the many moods of March. It is so unpredictable.”

Wednesday, March 22, 1995

Thousands of advocates for human services are expected to gather in Frankfort for a rally of the People to People Campaign. The Campaign was initiated by State Rep. Paul Mason of Whitesburg. Mason is urging people to tell candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial election that they would like the candidates to support “the issues that are important to human beings.”

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The Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation has changed its name to the Fighting Blindness Foundation, according to Jeremiah correspondent Hassie Breeding Helton. She says the new name covers “the many eye problems other than RP, which it should.”

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”People are busy in various ways as the spring season begins,” writes Cowan correspondent Elsie Banks. “Some are planting gardens, spring cleaning, or cleaning up after the snow. There is much to be done in the spring.”

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County high school baseball teams are preparing to open their seasons, weather permitting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Blackey City Council voted to do away with property liens placed on delinquent taxpayers, to set the tax rate at $1 per household for the City of Blackey, and to raise water rates for households served by the Blackey Water Plant.

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Easter sunrise services will be held at Burton Hill Cemetery, the Isom Cemetery and also at the Carr Creek Cemetery in Knott County, according to Jeremiah correspondent Delana Banks.

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”My brother, Edison Caudill of Cowan, is celebrating his 100th birthday April 2 at the Little Cowan Primitive Baptist Church,” says Cowan correspondent Elsie Banks. “He has been looking forward to having this birthday for a long time.”

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Former Letcher County resident Guy Leslie Palumbo, 73, died in Tennessee on March 15. He was an attorney and was the son of the late John and Della Howard Palumbo.



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