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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, March 25, 1926 As hope grows for construction of the proposed Appalachian Highway from Chicago to Florida, The Mountain Eagle is devoting this week’s edition to members of the Whitesburg Business Men’s Club, whose members will join people from Kentucky and nine other states in Lexington April 5 for the second annual meeting of the Appalachian Way Association. “The Appalachian Highway is the first national highway designed to connect the Great Lakes region with the Southeaster Atlantic seaboard, and no other state needs such a thru route worse than Kentucky, which has so much difficulty getting roads built through the mountains,” says a Lexington Herald story reprinted in The Eagle.

. “Three months of the year 1926 are ready to take their back places on the calendar and yet the old county of Letcher has no murder or killing to blacken its record,” writes Eagle editor Webb. “Isn’t that pretty good for a county with over 30,000 people.”

. “Let the North and South shake hands over the Appalachian Highway,” Mountain Eagle editor and publisher Nehemiah M. Webb writes about the proposed highway linking Chicago with Florida. “Make it easier for the people of these two sections to mix and mingle with each other …”

. The towns and cities of Letcher County reached by the KYVA and Mayo Trails of the Appalachian Way are Blackey and its environs, population 2,000; Elsiecoal, population 500; Whitesburg and its environs, population 3,500; Mayking, Sergent, Batin, Millstone, Kona and Seco, total population 3,000; McRoberts, population 2,500, and Jenkins, population 10,000.

. “All the wonders and beauty of any caves or caverns known to man are to be seen in those of Letcher County, The Heart of the Hills,” The Eagle writes about Letcher County’s vast cave system, which underlies Pine Mountain from Pound Gap to Linefork and includes caves known by the names of Buckeye, Bear, Little Mammoth, Dungeon, and Palace.

. A group of mineral springs near Eolia draws hundreds of visitors annually who wish to drink the water. It is known as Parson’s Springs and some day will be the favorite rendezvous of those who need a renewal of youth, The Eagle predicts. “Here there are at least three distinct springs within a distance of 20 feet, one with a black iron sulphur taste, one with a white sulphur content and an odor of aged eggs, and one as nearly perfect to the taste as can be found on God’s great footstool,” The Eagle writes.

. Letcher County now boasts 100 common schools, dozen graded schools, and more than a dozen high schools.

Thursday, March 28, 1946 Kentucky Gov. Simeon S. Willis has signed a bill aimed at greater safety for the state’s coalmines. The Bill, which will become law June 19, will require rock dusting of state mines and provides an additional $50,000 annually for the Department of Mines and Minerals to make better inspections of the state’s underground mines.

. A petition to incorporate Pound, Virginia has been led in Wise County Circuit Court. Pound merchant Earl Jackson estimates that the town now has 750 residents.

. Aunt Sarah Jane Vanover, said to be 103 years old, hitchhiked from Marshall’s Branch to Rocky Branch at East Jenkins this week. She is of sound mind and body and says her mother lived to be 102 and that her father died at age 97. She was picked up and taken to her destination by Mr. N.R. Day.

. Two Letcher County Jail inmates tried to escape this week after one inmate’s girlfriend smuggled two hacksaw blades inside a loaf of bread.

. The soft coal industry has given its answer to United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis’s demand for his miners today, just a week before the April 1 deadline. The terms of the contract offer were not disclosed.

. Elaney Potter, who has been an employee of Kentucky and West Virginia Power Company for several years, has purchased the Star Department Store in Neon from Atta Wise, who is moving to Somerset to establish a business there. Potter has resigned from the power company.

. South-East Coal Company of Seco has purchased the Jesse Holbrook Store at Millstone and all other property owned by Holbrook in the Millstone camp. Mr. and Mrs. Holbrook plan to build a new modern home on their farm above Millstone as well as a new filling station on the highway nearby.

. The Letcher County Garden Club is working to beautify the county’s highways, beginning with a project to plant dogwood and redbud trees on the road between Whitesburg and Mayking. So far, 150 have been planted with 150 more still to go. Boys from Whitesburg High School are assisting with the project.

Thursday, March 22, 1956 Carr Creek High School, which defeated Whitesburg in the 14th Regional final, is the new state high school basketball champion in Kentucky after beating Henderson in the Sweet Sixteen final, 72-68. The win marked the second straight season that a 14th Region team has captured the state title. In getting to the final game, the Indians from neighboring Knott County had to defeat the “King” Kelly Coleman-led Wayland Wasps of Floyd County, champions of the 13th Region, in the semifinals, 68-67. Coach Morton Combs’s Carr Creek team, led by All-State players E.A. Couch and Bobby Ray Shepherd, a transfer from Kingdom Come High School, also had a close call in the state tourney’s opening round, where the Indians needed overtime to defeat Coach Delmas Gish’s Central City team, 70-68. Carr Creek, Central City and Wayland went into the tourney as the three favorites.

. A Mountain Eagle editorial is critical of the treatment Wayland Wasps star “King” Kelly Coleman received in the Sweet Sixteen state basketball tournament last week. “He did more than his share to make the tournament a success,” the editorial says, “but he was treated shabbily by some of the spectators booing him and in general showing they knew nothing about the sensitive spirit of a proud mountain lad. … One of the commentators had the gall and audacity to say over the microphone that Kelly had a very bad attitude on the floor and was a showoff. This, no doubt, played a part in Kelly staying back and letting his team do a lot of the shooting, which could have caused them to lose the game” [to Carr Creek in the semifinals].

. Congressman Carl D. Perkins of Hindman announces he will seek re-election to a fourth term in the U.S. House

as representative Kentucky’s Seventh Congressional District, which includes Letcher County.

. The Whitesburg Jaycees will sponsor a special April 5 showing of the movie “The Houston Story” at the Alene Theatre. Proceeds will be used to buy a fence for the Whitesburg Recreation Park.

. Three Seco boys have volunteered to join the U.S. Army, says Recruiting Sergeant Ballard Collier of Neon. They are John D. Sandlin, 17, Oscar Hart, 17, and James B. Meade, 19.

. State Representative Clay Gay of Leslie County is endorsing the candidacy of State Representative Harry M. Caudill of Whitesburg, who is seeking re-election. “If all the House of Representatives was made of men like Caudill we would have better government in Kentucky,” writes Gay.

. Harvey’s News Stand in Whitesburg has relocated and now next door to Bradshaw’s Jewelry on Main Street.

. Mr. and Mrs. Raleigh Fields of Whitesburg announce the birth of their daughter, Vickie, born March 18 at Fleming Hospital. Also announcing the birth of a second child are Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Frazier of Whitesburg, whose son Ralph Roderick II was born March 15 at Sharon Heights Hospital in Jenkins.

. At least 21 Whitesburg merchants have set aside gifts to be given to the first baby born in the new Whitesburg Memorial Hospital, which will open soon.

Thursday, March 24, 1966 Calvary College will hold a formal opening ceremony at 2 p.m., March 27, at the campus at Letcher. The school is located on the old Stuart Robinson School campus. The college will offer degrees in education, business and religion.

. The daycare centers for deprived children will be opened in Letcher County by April 15. The centers will be located at Blackey and Fleming. They will serve four– and five-year-olds whose families have incomes of $2,000 or less. The program will be operated under supervision of the Kentucky Child Welfare Research Foundation, Inc. It is part of the War on Poverty.

. Increases in money orders, insurances, registry, certifi ed mail, and COD rates will become effective March 26, Postmaster R.C. Day Jr. said. The certified mail fee will be increased 10 cents from the present 20 cents an item to 30 cents.

Thursday, April 1, 1976 A preliminary proposal for development of about 40 new housing sites in Neon has been approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

. The fourth annual All-Letcher County Band Concert will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at West Whitesburg Elementary School. The band is made up of students from Fleming-Neon, Jenkins and Whitesburg high schools.

. Governor Julian Carroll has reappointed Dr. Robert

Gatton, principal of Little Cowan Elementary School, to the Advisory Board of Southeast Community College at Cumberland.

Wednesday, April 2, 1986 More than 150 workers at the Whitesburg Hospital Tuesday morning joined in a chain-wide strike over job security against Appalachian Regional Hospitals.

. Judge/Executive Ruben Watts says he may have to ask the federal government to do something about Kentucky Power Company’s decision to shut off service to Letcher County families who can’t pay their power bills.

. Whitesburg Bridgette Combs, a current member of the Western Kentucky University Lady Topper basketball team, made Letcher County history when she stepped onto the Rupp Arena floor late in the second half of her team’s semi-final contest with Texas Friday night. The appearance made Combs the first Letcher Countian since former University of Kentucky star Johnny Cox in 1958 (Cox attended Fleming-Neon before transferring to Hazard) to play in an NCAA Final Four Tournament.

Wednesday, April 3, 1996 Several Letcher County coal miners were in Frankfort March 28 to watch Governor Paul Patton sign a bill permitting them to collect worker’s compensation benefits owed them since South-East Coal Company went bankrupt several years ago. The bill was House Bill 287.

. Kentucky got its sixth NCAA basketball title in school history with a 76-67 victory over Syracuse Monday night. Walter McCarty, Derrick Anderson, and Ron Mercer are members of the national college championship team, which is coached by Rick Pitino.

. Marilyn Y. Sumpter has retired from her job as postmaster at Eolia. Her retirement, which took effect March 1, ended a 24-year career with the U.S. Postal Service.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 Plans for upgrading and adding on to the obstetrics and gynecology unit at Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital were announced at the hospital’s 50th anniversary celebration. The project will include 16 private rooms, four labor and delivery rooms, and a dedicated Caesarian section room.

. At a gathering for Democratic candidates for office, 30th District Sen. Daniel Mongiardo told the crowd that better education is absolutely vital to increase livings standards in Kentucky and that it must be addressed at every level of government.

. The Letcher County Central High School Lady Cougars, in their first year as a team and as a school, made an appearance in the Sweet 16. After defeating Rockcastle, the Lady Cougars fell to top-ranked Lexington Catholic, which was the eventual Sweet 16 champion.

. Almost 200 miles of state roads in Letcher County will get fresh stripes this spring. Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert said $778,870 will be spent painting stripes in Highway District 12, which includes Letcher, Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Martin and Pike counties.



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