Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, June 17, 1926 A Letcher County sheriff ’s deputy was shot and killed in the line of duty early Sunday morning while raiding a bootlegging operation at a boarding house in Burdine. The deputy, James Robert “Bob” Wright, was gunned down by Joe Vignioroto, an Italian immigrant who was illegally making and selling wine in a boarding house operated by Joe Centi. Sheriff Morgan T. Reynolds said he and Deputy Wright were walking up a stairway inside the house to arrest Vignioroto and Centi when the fatal shot was fired at Wright from a nearby room. The incident occurred after Sheriff Reynolds, Deputy Wright and other local officers joined Prohibition Officer Clark Day in a search of Jenkins area homes where bootlegging whiskey running was said to be taking place. The officers found three kegs of wine in the boarding house just before the shooting. Vignioroto and Centi surrendered immediately after the incident and have been taken to a jail in a neighboring county for safekeeping. “The news of the killing early Sunday struck Whitesburg like a disastrous tornado,” The Mountain Eagle reports. “Bob Wright and his family were among our best citizens and admired by everyone.” Deputy Wright, a son of Rev. and Mrs. Sol Wright of McRoberts, was buried in McRoberts Tuesday after a memorial service was held in Whitesburg Monday at the First Baptist Church. Deputy Wright is “survived by a weeping widow and five children, the eldest a boy 12 years of age,” The Eagle reports.

. Calling late Letcher County Deputy Sheriff Robert Wright “a patriotic martyr to the cause of law enforcement,” professor H.H. Harris of Whitesburg says Wright’s murder in Burdine over the weekend shows that Prohibition needs to remain the law in the United States. “Some fellows want another vote, a referendum on the Constitution,” Harris writes, referring to demands by some that the Eighteenth Amendment be repealed. “Whoever heard of such tom-foolery? A referendum on the Constitution? When the negro was freed, the South accepted. The Thirteenth Amendment stands and always will. The Woman’s Suffrage question [Nineteenth Amendment] is settled. The people of this country suffered as no other people did on account of the sale and consumption of liquor.” Harris also called on local citizens to refrain from blaming all Italian immigrants and other “foreigners” in Letcher County for Deputy Wright’s murder. “These men are foreigners, but it is not a question of nationality. Our country opens it ports to good citizens of foreign countries. They come, or should, to better their conditions in this great land of opportunity and should recognize our laws and do all they can to make our country better by being good citizens. We observe that some people of foreign birth live around Whitesburg, but they are behaving themselves. They are making good citizens. They work for a living and do good honest work. They are not selling booze, but are selling their labor and building good houses, good roads, and, in this way, making the county better and more prosperous. … If one of them is bad the others should not be blamed.”

. Drinking bad bootleg whiskey has resulted in the death one Jeremiah man while another man from the same community is expected to die soon. Willie Adams, 21, a son of Big Steve Adams, died after drinking a quantity of the whiskey. His friend, Gid Ison, also drank the bad whiskey and is given little chance to survive.

. First National Bank in Whitesburg is paying four-percent interest on savings accounts deposited there.

. Two Whitesburg girls were injured — one of them quite seriously — when they were thrown from a horse. Ruby Caudill suffered the most serious injuries, while June Fields was also hurt.

. The Whitesburg Woman’s Club will present the Shakespearean play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” at the school building on Monday night.

. At least 100 lots will be sold at auction in Whitesburg on Thursday, June 24. Each of the first 80 people at the auction will receive a 25-pound bag of sugar.

Thursday, June 20, 1946 Letcher County voters elected to keep alcohol sales illegal during Saturday’s local-option referendum by a vote of 4,367 for the “dries” to 3,397 for the “wets.” The wets won only 13 of 54 Letcher County voting precincts — Upper Cumberland, Lower McRoberts, Kingdom Come, Tom Biggs, Dry Fork, Rocky Branch, Kona, UZ, Smoot Creek, Union Colly, East Jenkins, Dunham, and Middle McRoberts, Nearly three-fourths of Kentucky’s 120 counties now outlaw the sale of alcoholic beverages.

. An 18-year-old Hemphill man drowned Sunday in the L&N Lake in Barlow Branch just below Neon. Charles Edward “Bobby” Ward, who could not swim, drowned when he accidentally stepped from shallow water into water over his head. Friends who were swimming nearby tried to save him, but couldn’t.

. President Truman has nominated native Kentuckian Treasury Secretary Fred M. Vinson as the 1th Chief Justice of the United States. Truman also recommended that his longtime friend and fellow Missourian John W. Snyder replace Vinson as Treasury Secretary.

. Letcher County residents are entitled to purchase only ve pounds of sugar for home canning purposes this year, says J.D. Maggard of Eolia, Chief Clerk for Price Control Board 32-69.1. The Price Control Board was known as the Ration Board until the war ended recently.

. Nearly 70 percent of American prisoners in the Far East came home from World War II with intestinal parasites or worms, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Conditions under which most of the men had lived were those of starvation, filth and lack of suitable clothing, with periods of definite torture,” the Journal report says. “Many of the troops captured in the Philippines had been on starvation diets and had suffered from dysentery and malaria for many weeks before capture. Some had lost 30 to 50 pounds.”

. Letcher County businesses are being encouraged to hire a war veteran as soldiers continue to return here from fighting overseas in World War II.

. The Fields Cannel Coal Company has been dissolved as a corporation, company president L.W. Fields has announced.

. Mr. O.C. Long is the new dealer for The Courier-Journal of Louisville in the Mayking area.

Thursday, June 14, 1956 Doctors at the WMW Miners Memorial Hospital in Whitesburg are being praised after they successfully performed an extremely rare operation that saved the life of a 21-month-old Knott County girl. Little Priscilla Bentley was taken from an oxygen tent Wednesday for the first time since surgeons removed two bits of walnut meat

from her left lung during the 6-1/2 hour operation on Sunday. Two staff surgeons at the new hospital had to cut through the chest wall and several ribs of the little girl to reach her left main bronchus — that section of the windpipe that goes to the left lung. Two bits of walnut there, each about half an inch long, had blocked Priscilla’s left lung passage since she swallowed them more than two weeks before. She became critically ill as a result. Her mother, Mrs. Patsy Lou Madden of Amburgey, brought her to the hospital last Thursday.

. Sherman Adkins, 66, was killed Wednesday when the state highway truck he was driving collided with a coal truck driven by Hager Sexton of Isom at the Blackey junction. Funeral services will be held Saturday at the Adkins home on Whitco Road in Whitesburg.

. A construction permit has been granted to set up a new radio station in Neon. When completed, the new station will be 250 watts at 1450 on the AM dial. The permit was granted this week to Hence Eversole.

. The U.S. Senate has passed the Public Works Appropriations Bill, which provides $1-million to start construction of the Buckhorn Reservoir in Perry County.

. The old Kentucky Theatre building on Main Street in Whitesburg has been purchased by Cossie Quillen and is undergoing extensive remodeling for use as a business that Quillen says will be announced at a later date.

. A Letcher Circuit Court jury has sentenced a 32-yearold Breathitt County woman to 15 years in the state penitentiary after finding her guilty of killing Fallen McIntosh, 35, of Quicksand in Breathitt County. The jury deliberated 55 minutes before returning the verdict against Pearlie Fields at 11:55 p.m. Friday. Mrs. Fields killed McIntosh and her 34-year-old husband, Bert Fields, on the night of December 3, 1955, with a .32 caliber revolver. Mrs. Fields told prosecutors after the crime that she killed McIntosh because he was “telling tales” on her and that she killed her husband because she was afraid of him. Testimony revealed that Mrs. Fields had been living in adultery with Jackson City Police Officer Earl Barnett at the time of the shootings. She told the jury that Barnett killed the two men, but other Jackson police officers testified that Barnett was with them on the night of the murder.

. Calvin Cole, 66, of Banks in Letcher County, and James Floyd Caudill, 78, of Dayton, Ohio were killed at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday when their 1929 Ford plunged down an embankment one mile south of Cornettsville in Perry County.

Thursday, June 16, 1966 A Letcher County native who served during World War II is now fighting in Vietnam. Lieutenant Colonel John V. Back, whose sisters, Mrs. Leonard Lewis and Mrs. Verna Holbrook, still live in Whitesburg, is an F-104 Star Fighter pilot and operations officer in support of the Pacific Air Forces, the nation’s air arm guarding the 10,000 mile “Bamboo Curtain.” Back received his commission in 1943 through the aviation cadet program, and had served in the Far East during World War II. He is a graduate of Whitesburg High School and attended Georgetown College, the University of Maryland European Extension Division, and Phoenix College.

. A photograph on the front page of The Mountain Eagle shows Airman Third Class Russell Malone, son of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Malone of Jenkins, on duty as an Air Policeman in the Pacific Air Forces in Vietnam.

. Numerous Letcher County residents will receive additional medical assistance under a plan approved by the Kentucky Advisory Council for Medical Assistance. The program will cover, for the first time, all children under 21 whose families receive welfare checks for them.

. The Whitesburg City Council has increased the pay of City Police Chief Burl Combs to $425 monthly and has reemployed Joe Pack as night policeman at $400 monthly. The third policeman, Castle Shepherd, was raised to $350 monthly.

. The Letcher County Medical Society is calling on the county and city governments to concern themselves with dog control and the threat of rabies. The action comes after several local families have had to endure painful and costly shots after family members were attacked by dogs suspected of being rabid.

. Letcher County has been selected as one of the 19 poorest counties in the nation to be assisted this summer by college students who will take part in the Appalachian Volunteers movement. Sargent Shriver, director of the Offi ce of Economic Opportunity, announced in Washington that nearly 500 college students will take part in the program in eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and eastern Tennessee. The students will serve as special VISTA volunteers. The program will run from June 15 to August 20, and will bring the total number of VISTA volunteers in the four Appalachian states to 800.

. Funeral services for Randall C. “Ran” Day, 71, were held this week at the family home in the community of Day. He was a senior member of one of the oldest eastern Kentucky families, among the earliest settlers of the Cowan section.

Thursday, June 24, 1976 Friends and relatives of the 11 men entombed in the sealed Scotia mine learned Friday that the mine will be unsealed July 14. The men died in the second of two explosions March 9 and 11 that killed a total of 26.

. Scotia Employees Association President David McKnight is considering using his veto power as representative of workers at Scotia to block the proposed plan to recover the 11 bodies entombed in the Scotia mine through the driftmouth. In an interview Tuesday, McKnight said a veto of the plan is “under full consideration” but declined further comment.

. Dave L. Craft, former superintendent of Letcher County Schools, will retire June 30 after serving for 45 years in the Letcher County and Jenkins Independent school districts.

Wednesday, June 25, 1986 Convicted murderer Benny Lee Hodge says he will go to the electric chair still denying he killed Tammy Dee Acker. Hodge, 34, of Harriman, Tenn., is one of two men convicted by a Letcher Circuit jury last week of stabbing the 23-year-old Miss Acker to death and attempting to murder her 78-year-old father, Dr. Roscoe J. Acker, last August 8.

. Commonwealth Attorney James Wiley Craft said the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kentucky State Police will try to find out what happened to $1 million of Dr. Roscoe J. Acker’s money for which the authorities have still not accounted.

. Union and Appalachian Regional Hospital officials say they have little to discuss at strike negotiations that began Tuesday, although workers were scheduled to return to two ARH hospitals today (Wednesday).

Wednesday, June 26, 1996 The planned renovations of the Letcher County Courthouse may cost $500,000 or more above the amount the fiscal court had anticipated or budgeted, based on construction bids received by the court on May 30. County Judge/Executive Carroll Smith said the bids, which reached almost $5 million, may have been so high because the new state prevailing wage scale goes into effect in July.

. Nine workers at Kentucky government offices in Whitesburg won a total of $100,000 this week on a shared Powerball ticket. They will split the money equally. The nine have been putting in a dollar each for every Powerball draw for about two years. Last Saturday they matched Powerball’s first five of six numbers.

. The “wiring” of the Letcher County School System continued this week when the Board of Education approved an aerial fiber cable that will extend the local network through most of the schools in the district. “There is an endless amount of resources on the Internet,” said Dannie Caudill, the system’s technology coordinator.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 The Letcher Fiscal Court has approved an operating budget of $7,883,484 for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The budget, which was amended by Judge/ Executive Carroll Smith to accommodate a $1 per hour raise for hourly county workers approved at the May meeting, will have to be amended again after the new fiscal year begins to accommodate a similar raise for salaried workers that was approved last week.

. State officials say a controversial paving project on Little Shepherd Trail that will connect the beginning of the trail near Whitesburg with Kingdom Come State Park near Cumberland will be finished July 1 at a cost of $1.073 million. Some citizens have been protesting the paving, wanting the trail left as a dirt and gravel road.

. Four Letcher County Central High School students have been named Governor’s Scholars. The students, Niklos Quintillion Hawkins, Callie Jane Horn, Jessica Delores Stephens and Calvin Lee Ward, are among 1,156 Kentucky high school juniors chosen from nominations submitted from each school district.

. Eddie B. and Sue C. Auton Collins marked their 50th wedding anniversary June 2. They were married at the Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church.



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