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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, February 18, 1926 A large photo appearing on the front page of this week’s edition of The Mountain Eagle features late President George Washington, whose birthday of February 22, 1732 will be celebrated soon. The photo is taken from a portrait painted on iron by the famous early American painter, Gilbert Stuart. It is now in the possession of art collector Albert Rosenthal of Philadelphia. “The lustre of his name will long remain the synonym of liberty,” The Eagle writes.

. Writing about the need for a new high school for a booming Whitesburg and Letcher County, Professor H.H. Harris also laments the rise in real estate prices that have come to Whitesburg. “Seven years ago, Whitesburg was a good thriving little town,” the professor writes. “… Prices of real estate were low, and many of us now see where we could have made good money buying lots then and selling them now. We selected a lot for a home. It had been priced at $400, but when we asked (to buy it) the price was put at $4,000.” Harris also reports the current high school, officially known as the Whitesburg and Letcher County High School has an enrollment of 125 students. He also says the town badly needs an ice plant, a laundry, a dairy, and a canning factory.

. The hillside home of Aunt Vina Holbrook and family of Kona left its moorings a few nights ago and rolled down the hill about 30 yards, flattening out like a pile of boards. Only Aunt Vina was seriously injured. How the others in the house escaped death is a mystery.

. Green Hall was shot from ambush at his home on Thornton earlier today. It will be recalled that Hall is the man who was seriously shot on election day in November in a battle at the Bastin voting place that left Sam Bates dead. The shooting of Hall today is a result of that trouble.

. The advancement of transmission and reception of radio waves under 75 meters in length in 1925 is expected to add 2 million new radio set listeners to the 5 million who already exist. Also, the invention of a combination photoelectric cell and vacuum tube is likely to lead to more rapid development of television and radio motion pictures.

. “There is mud galore, but that is no news,” writes the Fleming correspondent.

. “It may be just the slumbering of the fires, but from all appearances bootleggers and bootlegging has entirely vanished from our environs,” writes the Roxana correspondent.

Thursday, February 21, 1946 The lead photo in this week’s edition of The Mountain Eagle shows Mrs. Alyne Pigmon of Colson accepting the Silver Star and Purple Heart awarded posthumously to her husband, Lieutenant Sidney Pigmon, in a ceremony at Fort Worth Air Field in Texas. Lt. Pigmon received the Silver Star for his gallantry in action during the daylight hours of January 18, 1945, while leading his platoon in an attack on a railroad line. According to the citation accompanying the award, Lt. Pigmon was struck in the shoulder by machine gun fire and knocked down, yet still managed to struggle to his feet and rally his men around him to push on. Pigmon was reported missing in action after the attack.

. People in the town of McRoberts are saddened this week by the death of John Moloney, who was killed February 16 inside the Consolidation Coal Company mine at McRoberts. Moloney was working on a duckbill when he was crushed by a slate fall. He was 39. He leaves behind his wife, Minnie Moloney, and three children, Hazel, 15, Virgil, 13, and Louis, 8.

. Fifteen coal miners died and 937 miners were injured while mining 11.4 million tons of coal in 1945 for the 43 mines of the Big Sandy-Elkhorn Coal Mining Institute. The safety leader in the field for December was South- East Coal Company’s Seco mine, where 28,931 tons were mined in December without injury.

. Local miners with UMW District 30 and District 19 are raising funds to help care for the families of the Straight Creek miners’ who were left widows and orphans after Bell County mine disaster in December.

. Thomas Greer of McRoberts and Willard Hall of Haymond have been hired as police officers by the City of Whitesburg. Greer is former Neon police chief and police officer in McRoberts. Hall has been connected with the Elk Horn Coal Corporation for many years.

. A 100-gallon still was confiscated in the Cumberland River section of Letcher County, the sheriff ’s department reports. The still was operated by a gas steamer, police say.

Thursday, February 16, 1956 Kelly Reed Whitaker, 16, died of injuries he received in an automobile accident Monday night — just hours after he had been discharged from the Air Force. Whitaker, son of Mr. and Mrs. Squire Whitaker of Roxana, met his death when his car went out of control and plunged 25 feet into a creek just outside of Hazard while en route to his parents’ home. He had been stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Base in Dayton.

. Taylor’s Bargain Store is moving from Railroad Street in Whitesburg to its new location in the Bates Building, formerly occupied by Amburgey’s Grocery. The store is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Taylor.

. Eugene “Cotton” Correll, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sie Correll of Haymond, starred for the Eastern State College football team in his freshman season. During the last four games of the season, the 5’10” 180-pounder gained 84 yards in 21 carries for a neat four-yard per carry average. “Correll is one of the finest prospects we have had here for the past two years, and a lot can be expected of him during the next three years,” said Eastern coach Glenn Presnell.

. A former Letcher County coal miner, Earl Dennis English, 56, died February 11 at Norton Community Hospital in Virginia after a long illness. An employee of Black Mountain Coal Company, English had spent most of the past two years in hospitals because of high quantities of “rock dust” in his lungs. He was a native of Asheville, North Carolina, and worked for several mines in Letcher County.

. Letcher County had 250 stores in 1954 with total retail sales of $12.6 million, according to preliminary 1954 Census of Business figures announced by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The county had 84 food stores, 20 eating establishments, nine apparel stores, 11 furniture and appliance stores, 16 automotive dealerships, 31 gas and service stations, 10 lumber and building stores, three drug stores, 24 stores listed as “other,” and two stores listed as “non-store retailers.”

. “With the coal business at its lowest peak in modern history,” writes Ralph Dudley Webb, jobless miners might find work in the timber industry “if the people who first inhabited this vicinity had looked to the future before they needlessly destroyed our timber.” Webb, of Premium, is a seventh grade student at Whitesburg Elementary School. His remarks are taken from a paper he wrote about the need for forest conservation.

Thursday, February 17, 1966 The Letcher County Health Department and three men’s civic clubs in the county — Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis —are making plans for a countywide cleanup campaign. There have been no cleanup campaigns on a county-wide scale since 1963.

. Whitesburg had nearly two inches of rain in a 48-hour period last weekend, sending surrounding creeks roaring down the mountainsides and raising the Kentucky River but stopping short of a true flood in Letcher County.

. The school lunchroom in the basement of the old Whitesburg High School is back in use this week, four weeks after it was closed as a fire hazard.

. The Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington considering an application from the Millstone Community Center to set up a sewing center at Millstone. The center would employ women of the Millstone area to repair and remodel used clothing which is sent into Letcher County by charitable individuals and groups. It would also be a training center and develop a usable workforce, which center directors hope might form the basis for setting up a clothing manufacturing plant later.

Thursday, February 26, 1976 Beth-Elkhorn, a captive mining operation for Bethlehem Steel, sells 90 percent of its metallurgical quality coal to the steel company. Last fall Bethlehem had cut some of its steel-producing plants back to 50 percent production. Beth-Elkhorn Corp., the largest coal producer in Letcher County, is back to a five-day work week after six months of four-day work weeks necessitated by the slumped steel market.

. Four more juveniles have been arrested this week in connection with the bomb threats in Letcher County schools which have been disrupting classes since Christmas. A total of 10 people have been arrested so far for making threats.

. Ninety-two families, most of the survivors of the Buffalo Creek flood in Morgan County, W.Va., that killed 125 people, are in danger of being evicted from the land where federal aid mobile homes are located. Many of them cannot afford to move in the area where land and housing are scarce commodities at high prices.

Wednesday, February 26, 1986 Gasoline prices in Letcher County have fallen to a level that’s about average for most of eastern Kentucky,

a survey by the Blue Grass AAA Automotive Club shows. The average prices at self-service pumps in Letcher County this week were about $1 (99.9 cents) a gallon for leaded regular and about $1.05 (104.9) for a gallon of unleaded. Gas here is at its lowest price since 1980.

. Traffic fatalities in Letcher County last year cost more than $1.4 million, according to figures released this week by Kentuckians for SAFETY (Seat Belts Are For Everyone, Try Yours). Estimates are based on statistics compiled by the Kentucky State Police and the National Safety Council.

. Kentucky Utilities Co. customers paid millions of dollars more for electricity in the late 1970s and early 1980s under poor coal supply contracts the company entered, federal officials say. The coal was obtained from South East Coal Company of Irvine and Whitesburg, and River Processing Inc. and W. G. Coal Sales, both of Hazard. KU doesn’t have any customers in Letcher County, but does have customers in Benham, a mining town near Cumberland in Harlan County.

Wednesday, February 28, 1996 Test scores have improved at 13 of the 14 schools which make up the Letcher County school system. The news isn’t as good for the Jenkins Independent school system, which was listed as a “decline candidate” in the 1994-95 test results released today (Wednesday) by Kentucky Education Commissioner Wilmer S. Cody.

. A proposed mountaintop resort touted by its supporters as an economic stimulant for eastern Kentucky could cost the state millions each year in operating expenses, an analysis found. “The proposed Red Fox Resort conference center should be regarded as a relatively high-risk undertaking,” according to a report by the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

. Hundreds of times a day, coal trucks pull off Lick Branch onto KY 1087 at the tiny community of Ary in Perry County. The loaded trucks carry coal from Starfire mining company’s strip mine to the Buckhorn Processing and transit train complex about eight miles away.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 Mica Dawn Niece, 17, a senior at Letcher County Central High School, died of injuries she received in an automobile accident. Letcher County Deputy Sheriff Kenny Terry said the single-car accident occurred shortly after 8 a.m. February 16 when Miss Niece lost control of the car she was driving on a rain-slickened Kentucky Hwy. 931.

. The Letcher Fiscal Court has adopted a resolution asking the state Public Service Commission to order the cost of electricity lowered in Letcher County until American Electric Power improves its equipment and service.

. Legislation introduced to the Kentucky General Assembly would require all coal miners to undergo mandatory drug testing. State Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, said the legislation is key to Kentucky’s effort to make coal mines safer and is supported by miners whose lives could be endangered by co-workers impaired by drugs or alcohol.

. ”Old Man Winter is back again,” writes Cowan correspondent Elsie Banks. “I guess this is the coldest weather we have had. We had about two inches of snow on Monday. I haven’t seen many out on the road here. It was a good time to watch ball games.”



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