Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1908

Thursday, April 9, 1925

A 30-year-old Sandlick man died at his home Friday evening after being shot 10 times by his brother-in-law. William J. Smith, 20, fired the shots at John Wesley Cook at the Gorman-Pursifull coal camp at Sandlick. The only witness to the shooting was Cook’s wife, who is the sister of the alleged gunman. Cook was raised in Magoffin County and was well liked in coal plants in Letcher and Perry counties. Smith, who is also a miner, is a native of Morgan County. Smith told authorities he doesn’t know the whereabouts of his father, and that his mother is confined to an insane asylum. He said he has been sick for three or four weeks and unable to work. Cook’s body was shipped to Magoffin County.

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A Dry Fork man surrendered to law enforcement offi- cials in Whitesburg Sunday night after the neighbor he is accused of shooting died in the Seco Hospital. The dead man, Conley Rash, was passing near the home of John Tyree on Friday night when he was shot in the left hip and stomach. Rash, 35, had lived on Dry Fork for more than a year with his wife and child. The shooting is said to be the result of long-time troubles between the two men. Tyree, 50, is deaf and dumb. He and his wife have a large number of children.

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“The killings that took place in our county a few days ago are regrettable affairs,” Mountain Eagle editor and publisher Nehemiah M. Webb observes in a front-page commentary “All the parties to the killings were outsiders, except one, and he will doubtless plead the unwritten law for defense. The killings are the first reported in this county since Christmas Day.”

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“Whitesburg must be sick, one way or the other,” writes editor and publisher Webb. “At one time on our streets Tuesday could be seen four visiting dentists, three practicing physicians and at least 10 preachers.”

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The old county bridge in Whitesburg over which a million feet have passed is going down this week. Provisions for crossing the river by pedestrians will be made, but heavy traffic will have to pass up the Solomon Branch way and over the second bridge in Lewis Addition and vice versa.

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The story of western Kentucky spelunker Floyd Collins and the Sand Cave tragedy near Mammoth Cave is the subject of a combined lecture and movie here next Tuesday night, April 14.

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W.L. Cooper Jr. is the new principal-superintendent at Stuart Robinson School. He comes to Blackey after serving six years as superintendent of Graham White Schools at Graham, North Carolina.

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What is being hailed as the best supper ever in the town of Whitesburg was served at the Daniel Boone Hotel during a banquet sponsored by the Business Men’s Club in honor of the Benham-Lynch-Poor Fork Chamber of Commerce, which has pledged to help Letcher County get the Mayo Trail built between the communities. Ira Fields, a representative of the Poor Fork group, says few people have any idea of how much progress has been done in Whitesburg and Letcher County. If progress in this immediate section is kept up, the time is not far distant when tourists, instead of spending their money in the far South, will be camping in the big pinewoods at the base of the hills where the purest limestone water flows and where life is sweetest and sickness the rarest, notes Fields.

Thursday, April 12, 1945

Dorsie Combs, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Combs of Letcher, was killed Saturday night around 9:30 p.m., in a car wreck on the Blackey to Whitesburg Road, a short distance from the Blaine Francis Store. She was riding in a car with Junior Hogg and her sister, Laura. The car was rounding a curve when it ran into the rear of a parked coal truck. Dorsie and Junior, who was seriously injured, were to have been married Tuesday. In addition to her parents, Dorsie is survived by four brothers and six sisters.

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James Monroe Combs, recently released after two years in a Japanese prison, visited The Mountain Eagle office in Whitesburg this week. Sergeant Combs was captured at the Battle of Bataan while serving with the 3rd Pursuit Squadron attached to the Army Air Corps. In discussing the Japanese, Sgt. Combs said that none of them treated the Americans like humans, but were cruel and brutal instead. He said he watched as one Japanese doctor who had been trained in the U.S. beat on an American who was ill and weighed less than 110 pounds. Sgt. Combs said that while he was a prisoner his weight fell from 195 pounds to about 110 pounds. He said he has regained 50 pounds since his February 4 release. He said that all American soldiers who were prisoners were forced to build roads, airports and farm for the Japanese. U.S. soldiers who were held prisoner were also forced to salute all Japanese soldiers, even the privates. Sgt. Combs is the first soldier from Letcher County to be released from a Japanese prison camp. He is the son of former Letcher County Sheriff Jim Combs, who was killed in a car wreck on Rockhouse a few years ago. He said he hopes to return to the Pacific to “pay the yellow fellows back for some of their cruel treatment.”

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Lieutenant D. Stanley Hollan of Letcher County has been killed in action. A telegram sent to Rosemarie Zimmerman Hollan notifying her of her husband’s death contained no further details.

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Mrs. Cynthia Hogg has received news that her son, Master Sergeant F. Byrd Hogg, has been seriously wounded in Germany. Hogg was injured when he and two fellow soldiers were retrieving three “rocket bombs.” All three men got their bombs and started back to safety when the soldier behind Hogg dropped his, causing it to explode. Both soldiers with Hogg were killed, while Hogg was wounded several times by shrapnel. He is recovering in a hospital in England, where he is reported to be in good spirits.

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Emmett G. Fields, now stationed near Manila, Luzon Island, The Philippines, read in The Mountain Eagle recently that Kirby and Nina Fairchild Mullins and Monroe Combs were in that city. Fields went into Manila to search for them and was successful in finding the Mullinses, but missed Combs, who had left a few days earlier to return to the States. Fields has been overseas with the Sixth Infantry Division since April 1944. This division, nicknamed the “Sightseeing Sixth,” has killed more than 9,000 Japanese soldiers on Luzon. On Easter Sunday, the entire Ordnance Company with which T-5 Fields serves, received the “Meritorious Achievement” award from General Douglas MacArthur.

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Private First Class Kelly Cornett has been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge for participating in the campaigns in Northern France and Germany. A rifleman, he is the son of Mr. and Mrs. L. Cornett of Skyline.

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Sergeant Burnett Adams, who was presented the Purple Heart after being wounded in action September 19, visited The Mountain Eagle office this week. Adams fought for 16 months in North Africa, Sicily, and France, where he was part of the D-Day invasion.

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Felix Gilbert Brown, of Marlowe, recently returned to Letcher County on leave from fighting with the Marines in the South Pacific, where he earned the Purple Heart after he was wounded when his plane went down off the Marianna Islands.

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Former Whitesburg High School student Kennon Breeding, 21, a staff sergeant, has been awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action in France.

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Dr. B.F. Wright is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Letcher County Judge.

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The new sliding board for Neon School has arrived and will be installed this week.

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Mrs. Windus Williams is the new proprietor of the Sweet Shoppe in Whitesburg.

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Miss Joy Arrington has been chosen “Miss Cavalier” at Jenkins High School. Other girls competing for the title were Martha Jane McClelland, Louise Sanders, Shelia Lawson, Betty Jane Fugate, Jackie McDousgh, and Mary Lou Shubert.

Thursday, April 14, 1955

Dr. B.F. Wright of Seco has been appointed to fill the Letcher County Board of Education seat left vacant by the resignation of Dr. E.G. Skaggs. Skaggs was forced to vacate the post after the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that he and Daniel Johnson were serving in the same school board division. Wright’s appointment was unanimous. He joins Johnson, Ray Collins, Kerney Day, and Basil Hall as the county’s board members.

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Military funeral services were held April 7 in Whitco for Private Ira V. Trent, who was killed in action in Korea in 1951 at age 18. He was the son of James and Nannie Lou Trent of Whitco. Graveside services were conducted by Whitesburg VFW Post 5829.

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The Nu Grill, located opposite the ballpark in Neon, has been remodeled and has new owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Cassenelli.

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Whitesburg High School seniors will board Cumberland Coach Lines buses on Monday morning, April 18, for their Washington, D.C., sightseeing tour.

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Retired coal miner Riley Mullins, 71, of Dunham has been appointed Letcher County campaign chairman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.B. “Happy” Chandler.

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Mr. and Mrs. Ray Collins announce the birth of a daughter, Cordelia, born Wednesday, April 6. Cordelia has four sisters.

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Mr. and Mrs. Woodrow Dawahare are the parents of son, Richard Frank, born Friday, April 8 in Charleston, W.Va.

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Harry M. Caudill is seeking re-election as state representative on the Democratic Party ticket.

Thursday, April 8, 1965

Letcher County, which was the first in Kentucky to send volunteers to the new Job Corps program, is also one of the first counties to have to close its local Job Corps screening office. Officials say eastern Kentucky already has its quota of Job Crops trainees, and the corps is concentrating on obtaining recruits from other parts of the county.

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A total of 1,882 Democrats and 302 Republicans were registered to vote before the registration books closed until after the May primary election. One hundred fourteen candidates are running for office.

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The Stuart Robinson School campus has been purchased by the board, which directs operation of the Open Door Children’s Home, an orphanage. The board plans to operate an evangelistic training college on the SRS campus.

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”Bye Bye Birdie” and “A Yank in Vietnam” are being shown at the Alene Theater in Whitesburg.

Thursday, April 10, 1975

About 250 teachers, parents and children marched in downtown Whitesburg to call on the fiscal court to return 50 percent of the county franchise tax revenue on coal to education.

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A Mountain Eagle editorial comments on coal mine operators and truckers traveling to Washington to protest the proposed federal strip-mine control legislation. “Why the coal truck journey to Washington?” the editorial asks. “It has been our general understanding that the stripmine control legislation . . . is very weak as it affects the Appalachian area and won’t really do much about stripmining . . . What seems to come through is an apparent absolute determination on the part of those making the Washington trip to have themselves exempted from all controls.”

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The Letcher School Parent Teachers Association honored Dr. Lundy Adams as an outstanding citizen. Many former patients attended the ceremony.

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A Rolls Royce dealership in Cincinnati, Ohio, is advertising an offer in The Mountain Eagle to bring the automobile to people’s homes for a test drive.

Wednesday, April 17, 1985

Classes at Kingdom Come Settlement School were called off after more than 100 parents demonstrated in front of the school. The parents were protesting the proposed transfer of three longtime Kingdom Come teachers and asking for the removal of school principal Billy K. Banks.

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Letcher County’s unemployment rate fell to 24.4 percent from 26.6 percent, but is still the highest in the state.

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”April, the best month of the year, is passing so swiftly we hardly have time to enjoy all the beautiful things that she brings,” writes correspondent Mabel Kiser. “But then I am older today than I have ever been before. Maybe time passes faster to we older folk. Would it be that we try to hold back the hand of time?”

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”Purple Rain” and “Grandview U.S.A.” are playing at the Cinema 7 Drive-In at Jeremiah.

Wednesday, April 12, 1995

Anthony Longsworth of Mayking, was honored by the Kentucky House of Representatives for acts of heroism in a blast that killed Odell Dollarhide of Cowan in October 1994. Longsworth and Dollarhide were bulldozer operators for Fairbanks Coal Company and were reclaiming a strip mine near Deane. The blade of Dollarhide’s bulldozer ruptured an eight-inch high pressure gas line. Longsworth jumped down a 70-foot slope, but crawled back to help Dollarhide to safety. Dollarhide died of burns four days later. Longsworth suffered second- and third-degree burns.

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Thomas “Tommy” Little, 52, a first-term member of the Fleming-Neon City Council, died when his car hit the rear of a parked coal-hauling trailer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Former Letcher County Board of Education Chairman Tommy R. Vanover was paroled from state prison last month after serving about 3-1/2 months of the sentence he received after being convicted of trafficking in narcotics.

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The medivac helicopter facility at Gateway Industrial Park in Jenkins will not be named for 94th District State Representative Howard Cornett, as originally planned. The Letcher Fiscal Court voted 4-2 to rename the facility the Letcher County Medivac Helicopter Service.

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Rosemary Fields McClain, 32, of Ovenfork, and her boyfriend, Shannon Dewayne Garland, 29, are accusing each other of stabbing Lisa Jenkins, 40, to death. Jenkins’s body was found on Little Shepherd Trail.

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Gas prices soared an average 19 cents in the past three weeks due to lingering high crude oil prices, growing demand and higher refining costs, an industry analyst said. Self-serve regular was priced at $2.29 a gallon, while customers paid $2.38 for midgrade. Premium averaged $2.48 a gallon.



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