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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1908

Thursday, March 26, 1925

A basketball team from Lexington was commanding the attention of Letcher County residents this week after losing two games to Whitesburg High School, 19-12 and 20-8. “The Striped Devils came up Friday and attempted to play the Whitesburg Independents,” The Mountain Eagle reports in a front-page story. “They arrived with a demeanor of ‘sweep the mountains,’ (but) they soon saw they were up against the real thing in the mountain brain and valor pitted against them.” The games were played before “an immense citizenship” at the Whitesburg Armory. “No doubt the (Lexington) boys mean well, but coming from a big city where life is easy and timid, they were more or less daunted and abashed,” The Eagle observed. “However, the city boys were a gentlemanly lot.”

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An overwhelming majority of Letcher County residents have voted in favor of a $200,000 bond issue to pay for road construction. They vote was 3,784 in favor and 226 against. The heaviest vote in favor of the bonds came from the coal towns above Whitesburg.

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Construction on the Mayking-Haymond Road, also known as the Kentucky-Virginia Highway and Mayo Trail, will start in 10 days. When completed, this stretch in the link from Blackey to Pound will tie Letcher County to the Virginia highways and to the rest of the world, reports The Eagle. “Think of it,” the paper says. “From Pound Gap to Palm Beach, from Pound Gap to Chicago or elsewhere (save one and one-half miles of dirt roads) while you travel over hard-surfaced roads. How badly Perry, Knott, Breathitt and the rest of our good neighbor counties need to hitch up with us.”

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The stone piers for the new concrete bridge in Whitesburg were completed just as The Eagle was going to press.

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Matthew Fields fell from the railroad bridge in town, a distance of about 30 feet. He was only slightly injured.

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Young Woodford Webb (son of Eagle editor and publisher Nehemiah Webb) of Whitesburg says he looks like a bulldog as he battles the mumps.

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Lexington coal operator J. Henry Hall was in Whitesburg this week and reports that “undoubtedly, better times are coming for the mountains.”

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Miners Motor Company of Whitesburg reports sales of more than $5,000 in autos the past week.

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As The Mountain Eagle nears its 18th birthday, editor and publisher Nehemiah Webb writes: “To print a newspaper that will elevate, advance and make actual men and women of high minds and noble impulses has always been the ruling idea of The Eagle.”

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Professor Minkey, who has been praised for his work while teaching school at Sergent this year, left yesterday evening for his home in New York State.

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Letcher County resident Alfred Fugate is offering a 25$ reward for the recovery of each of two mules he says were “fraudulently procured” from him by J.O. Patterson, who, Fugate says, “was claiming to be a logger on Cowan Creek.”

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A school that would be known as Letcher College is being planned for the top of Pine Mountain near Whitesburg.

Thursday, March 29, 1945

Staff Sergeant Pete Barney Jr. was killed in action in France on January 10, the Army says. He previously had been listed as missing in action. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Pete Barney of Jenkins. He was serving in General Sandy Patch’s Seventh Army in Southern France. Barney spent 2-1/2 years in Newfoundland before being sent back to the United States for two months’ advance training at Ft. Bragg, N.C. From there he was transferred to France.

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Private John G. Hoffman has died of wounds he received January 7. Hoffman was a member of the 401st Glider Infantry, 82nd “All American” Airborne Division. “Your son was wounded in Belgium by the burst of an enemy shell while leading his squad against the enemy,” Hoffman’s commanding officer, Major General James M. Gavin, wrote to Hoffman’s mother, Mrs. Sallie Hoffman of Whitesburg. “Your son was buried in Belgium, and I can assure you that this was accomplished in a most befitting manner by his comrades, with an Army chaplain officiating.”

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Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Caudill, Blackey, have been notified by the War Department that their son, Solomon Caudill Jr., was killed in action in the Philippines.

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Monroe Combs of Smoot Creek is back in the United States after being held prisoner of war by the Japanese for three years. He is now in San Francisco.

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Private Roy E. Sturgill, son of Caleb Sturgill, has been presented with the Purple Heart after being wounded somewhere in the Pacific.

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Private First Class Tommy W. York, Whitesburg, has received the Bronze Star Medal for his “valorous conduct” while fighting German troops near France on October 19, 1945. York was honored for his bravery in repairing a communications line damaged by German artillery shells. “For one hour, Pfc. York moved up and down the 200-yard line disregarding enemy artillery shells that landed from 20 to 35 yards from him to repair breaks whenever they occurred. His fearless actions enabled his section to place steady effective mortar fire on the enemy and accomplish the mission.” Private York is the son of Mr. and Mrs. A.R. York of Whitesburg. He also holds the Purple Heart for wounds he received while in action in France.

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Leslie Hogg Jr., Blackey, has been promoted from the rank of Staff Sergeant to Second Lieutenant. Lt. Hogg has been wounded and is now on Saipan. This is the second battlefield commission given to a Blackey soldier, the first one going to Lt. Taylor Dixon, who received the award soon after the African Invasion in November 1942. On a much sadder note, Vanda June Hogg, the infant daughter of Lt. and Mrs. Hogg, died Tuesday night. Funeral services were held at the Blackey Presbyterian Church. Burial was in the Blackey Cemetery.

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Private First Class Ted Marcum, Whitesburg, was slightly wounded on Luzon, Philippines on March 1, the Army’s Adjutant General’s Office said in a telegram to Marcum’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Marcum.

Mr. and Mrs. Jim Back of Blackey have been notified by the War Department that their son, Private Ollie James Back, who was previously reported as missing in action, is now a prisoner of the Germans. He was reported missing last December 21.

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Mrs. Mildred Rogers Brown of Blackey has been notified by the War Department that her husband, Private Ernest Brown, was slightly wounded in action in Germany on March 7.

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Three Jenkins boys participated in the battle of Iwo Jima. The three Marines are Private Cossie Clay Mullins, who was slightly wounded in the head during the battle; Corporal Charles Cline, and Private Donald Hill.

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Lawrence Niece, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Niece of Camp Fork, was slightly wounded while fighting with the Marines on Iwo Jima.

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“Our home, like many others, is still lonesome because of the absence of my brother, Private Eugene Cox, who has been in Italy 15 months,” writes Linefork correspondent Launa Cox. “We hope the flag of peace will soon be waving again all over the world so our dear boys can come marching home.”

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Premium Coals Inc. is advertising its need to hire 10 conveyor men” at its operation located at Premium. The company also has several opening for “hand loaders.” Pay for both jobs is $1.114 per hour plus travel time and onehalf rate for all work over 40 hours per week.

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Former Letcher County resident Calloway Crawford, 80, has died at his home in Rockcastle County after collapsing while walking to his barn. Mr. Crawford came to Letcher County many years ago as a school teacher, later serving one term as county sheriff. Ten children survive him, including Dr. J.E. Crawford and Roy Crawford of Whitesburg. His widow, the former Mary Collins of Letcher County, also survives.

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Letcher County Clerk Cossie Quillen announces that he will not run for a third term of office, choosing instead to concentrate on his new business to be known as Quillen Drug. The store was previously owned by S.M. Childers.

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The Kentucky Theatre of Whitesburg is asking that the rightful owner of money found in front of the theatre come forward and identify what they lost. Theatre management say the money was given to them by a “boy” who found it on the street.

Thursday, March 24, 1955

All radios in Letcher County were turned to WHAS in Louisville on Saturday night to listen to the final game of the KHSAA State Basketball Tournament being played at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington between Hazard High School and Adair County. Letcher Countians rooting for our mountain team were biting their nails and having one big time every time Hazard scored a point on its way to the victory and state championship. Letcher County residents had extra reasons to be proud. Goebel Ritter, son-in-law of Letcher County Judge James M. Caudill, coaches Hazard. Also, the Bulldogs were led to victory by “Big” Johnny Cox, a Letcher County product who played his first two seasons at Fleming-Neon High School, and Sam Burkelow, grandson of Whitesburg barber Sam Blair. Burkelow also spent his first two seasons at Fleming- Neon.

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The Neon Lions Club is finalizing plans for “Dr. D.V. Bentley Day.” According to Neon dentist Dr. Sam W. Quillen, Dr. Bentley, a practicing physician for many years, is now up and about and is able to be at his drug story part-time.

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A hearing will be held in Frankfort April 19 to consider the application of John Smith, Neon, to purchase the taxi certificate now owned and operated by Bill Clifton of Neon.

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The family of Mr. and Mrs. Roddy Sexton, formerly of Jenkins, has been left grieving over the death of their three-year-old son. Roddy Sexton Jr. had been living in Tampa, Florida for only five weeks when he was killed in an auto accident on Tuesday. The death occurred after the car in which Roddy was riding with his father collided with a vegetable truck.

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James Critt Gose is the first child born to Mr. and Mrs. James Gose of Whitesburg. The five-pound boy was born March 19 at Methodist Hospital in Whitesburg. Grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Critt Webb of Mayking and Whitesburg Police Judge John Gose.

Thursday, March 25, 1965

More than 100 of the 270 teachers in the Letcher County school system have joined a newly organized local of the American Federation of Teachers, affiliated with the AFL-CIO. The Letcher County local is the first in eastern Kentucky.

. President Lyndon B. Johnson has asked Congress to approve a reorganization of the Area Redevelopment Administration, which could go far toward filling the gaps left in eastern Kentucky under his other major antipoverty programs. The program calls for direct grants and extends the ARA loan setup and expands it by proposing a federal refund of part of the interest paid on business expansion loans obtained from private capital.

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A Mountain Eagle editorial urges Whitesburg to take advantage of the president’s proposals for development. The editorial says the city must annex territory in all directions to make the town show in census reports as the center it is; hire its own professional city planner; and resume monthly meetings of the Whitesburg Planning Commission.

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”The Cardinal” and “Seven Women from Hell” are playing at the Alene Theater in Whitesburg.

Thursday, March 27, 1975

An application by the City of Whitesburg for federal funds for an Olympic size swimming pool has been denied by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Letcher County’s application for $199,000 to construct a fish and game lodge at Fishpond Lake was also rejected by HUD.

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Tiring of the obstacle course of potholes along the rails on Railroad Street in Whitesburg, Helen Bentley parked her Volkswagen across the tracks and blocked an L&N train for 45 minutes, refusing to move until she had extracted a promise that L&N officials would be dispatched to Whitesburg to inspect the street.

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”There will probably be a lot of hard work going on in the next few weeks,” writes McRoberts correspondent Madelyn Combs, “because spring is house cleaning time and garden time for the ones who raise their own vegetables.”

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Ernie Sexton of the Whitesburg Yellowjackets and Lawrence Payne of the Jenkins Cavaliers have been named to the All-Region Basketball Team.

Wednesday, April 3, 1985

Residents of the Turkey Creek area near Linefork attended a Letcher Fiscal Court meeting to complain about what they say is a broken promise by county officials to fix the road. More than 260 families live in the Turkey Creek-Bates Fork area. Many of them have complained about poor road conditions.

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Jenkins High School students are participating in a statewide “mock trial” competition heard before real judges. The Jenkins students represent the defendants in the case.

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Whitesburg Lady Yellowjackets standout Bridgette Combs is planning to sign a letter-of-intent to play for Western Kentucky University. Combs led Whitesburg to three consecutive state tournament appearances. She was also recruited by the University of Kentucky, Georgia, Auburn, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee and a number of other schools.

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William Lewis Collins of Whitesburg, is serving as U.S. vice consul in Bombay, India.

Wednesday, March 29, 1995

Staff members of the Kentucky Department of Education plan to ask the Kentucky Board of Education to continue its management of the Letcher County school system. The Letcher County Board of Education will consider at its next meeting whether to accept the recommendation for continued state management or to fight longer supervision of the school system by a state management team.

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The Jenkins Schools administration has moved into new offices in the Beth-Elkhorn Building from the old Jenkins High School.

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Letcher and Harlan counties are working together to lure a hosiery manufacturing factory to the Cumberland River area. The factory would be located in the old Rose’s Department Store building near the Letcher-Harlan County line.

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John High, coach of the Whitesburg Lady ’Jackets, has been named the 1994-95 Kentucky Association Press Girls’ Coach of the Year. In 16 years at Whitesburg, he has a 423-70 record.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A body found on Pine Mountain is believed to be that of Lisa Jenkins, a 40-year-old Partridge woman reported missing March 23.

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A group of citizens is working to bring a 1,200-inmate federal prison here. Elwood Cornett, who is working with the group, says the rewards — mainly annual salaries of between $35,000 and $40,000 — far outweigh any risks associated with bringing such a facility to Letcher County.

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The Pine Mountain Trail Conference has received

$10,000 grant from the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Fund to extend the trail 18 miles and add a trailhead parking lot, a covered shelter, and directional signs along the way. More than 35 miles of the trail have already been completed.

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Richard J. Peltz, the Appalachian Regional Commission’s alternate federal co-chair visited Letcher County and spoke at the Rotary Club lunch meeting. He said community leaders are needed to open up new jobs for the community.



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