Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, July 1, 1926 A “big lot sale” will be held in coal mining community of Elsiecoal [now known as Premium and Hotspot] will be held July 10. Boasting a population of 1,500 people, Elsiecoal is located in the center of the second best coal production area in the county. The property to be sold now belongs to former Letcher County Sheriff James Combs and consists of more than 20 acres, six homes, two buildings and one hotel building.

. A visit to the Letcher County Jail finds “there is not a scrap of dirt or filth or germs to be found anywhere,” according to a front-page report in The Mountain Eagle. “The beds with white linens are as well or better kept as the choicest sleeping apartment in any home. You find the prisoners neat and clean and as well fixed as if occupying a parlor … not an oath is allowed to be uttered or a smutty word used.” The credit for the jail’s great condition, reports the Eagle, goes to “Mr. and Mrs. [Fess] Whitaker [who] take great pride in the keeping of the jail as well as the preparation of the food.” Adds the Eagle, “It is no wonder that Fess Whitaker is regarded as the best keeper of a jail in Kentucky.”

. Letcher County Jailer Fess Whitaker has filed a $50,000 damage suit against the Courier-Journal of Louisville, alleging that he has been injured in character and reputation on account of an article recently printed in an issue of that newspaper. Attorney Astor Hogg represents Mr. Whitaker.

. The logging and timer industry is now at a greater height in Letcher County than ever before. It is now common to see long strings of rail cars loaded with big poplar, oak and walnut logs passing down the L&N Railroad.

. Letcher County’s most valuable official wasn’t elected to office, but does a great job of enforcing rules and laws in the Seco and Millstone mining camps that keep drunkenness and lawlessness to a minimum. That man is South East Coal Company’s Henry Pfening Jr., says an unidentified letter writer to The Mountain Eagle, adding that Pfening’s good work means that Seco and Millstone don’t need a police force, a police judge, a city attorney “or others to go about day and night to prevent violations and assure the peace.” The letter writer continues, “No colored or foreigners are employed by his company and any employee who gets drunk or in any way violates the law is immediately discharged and notified to vacate [usually after being given a one-way train ticket to Hazard].” The writer says his letter is “not said for myself nor to boost Mr. Pfening” and adds that if the Seco-Millstone boss ruled the entire county, “the homebrew joints would vanish, police forces would go, carnivals would never ask permission to enter the towns, and the tonnage would never slump from the present output on account of the labor.”

. About 15 pints of “white mule” were confiscated Saturday when Sheriff Morgan Reynolds and others went to Pound Gap and found three bootleggers in the very act.

. Herndon Holland, charged with horse stealing, and R.W. White and Fred Hall, charged with stealing an automobile belonging to Dr. Maggard of Fleming, and Leo Walt, charged with robbery in McRoberts, have escaped from the Letcher County Jail after sawing two bars from an upper window and tying blankets together to lower themselves to the ground.

Thursday, July 4, 1946 The War Department has released the names of 119 soldiers on its Honor List of Dead and Missing World War II Soldiers from Letcher County. Of those listed at this point, 69 were killed in action, 13 died of wounds after battle, 1 died of injury in combat area, 6 have been declared dead, and 30 died of non-battle causes.

. Consolidation Coal Company has announced the resignation of J.O. Watson III as superintendent of Mine 214, McRoberts. Watson will continue in coal mining as a partner with his brother-in-law, G. W. Merritt, in the Far West Coal Company of Floyd County. Seth H. Kegan has been appointed to succeed Watson. Mr. Kegan has been with the company for 27 years, starting as office boy in 1919.

. Work officially started on June 24 on the C&O Railroad line extension from Jenkins to Pound, Virginia, under Pound Gap of Pine Mountain. The work started at the end of Goodwater Street, where a road was built into the mountains above Goodwater Dam to the portal of the tunnel. The portal will be completed in 26 days, after which the tunnel will be dug from Kentucky into Virginia by August. Many huge pieces of machinery are being used on the project, which is drawing many spectators interested in seeing the work performed.

. W.H. Perry has established a new spectacles business in the Jim Frazier brick building in Whitesburg.

. Bennett Trent of Whitco, 24, was killed in a tipple accident at Mayking on June 27. He was a veteran of World War II, where he earned the Purple Heart medal.

. Chester Cantrell has returned to Jenkins after several weeks of tedious work with the Veterans Administration.

. Mr. and Mrs. S.M. Cassidy and children Sam, Charles and Katherine have moved into the Consolidation Coal Co. manager’s home on Lakeside in Jenkins.

. A.B. Francis has purchased the Tunnel Hill Inn from Jesse Bates and Della Bates of Jenkins. Francis stated he paid $5,000 for the property, which is located above Whitesburg and has been managed for many years by Sam Bates. He says he plans to make a number of improvements to the property and around Tunnel Hill.

Thursday, June 28, 1956 Fire of unknown origin broke out in downtown Whitesburg last night, causing extensive damages to four businesses and destroying an apartment located in the old Southern Hotel building now owned by Willie Lucas. The businesses damaged heavily were Bradshaw Jewelry, Morgan’s Shoe Shop, Harvey’s News Stand, and Fields Wallpaper Store. Neighboring buildings were saved by the heroic efforts of the Whitesburg and Neon fire departments.

. Two men and a woman were returned to Whitesburg from Vicco Wednesday morning to face charges after they were caught riding in a car stolen from in front of the Whitesburg Post Office. Carl Hays Morgan of Perry County, James C. Summer of Cincinnati, and Lavinia Sexton are charged with stealing a 1955 Buick from a salesman from Barr’s Sporting Goods in Bristol, Virginia, who was in Whitesburg on a business call. Vicco City Police seized the car and Whitesburg Police Chief Burl Combs returned it to Letcher County. The trio is also accused of stealing a car in Newport, Kentucky.

. John Reese Collins, 26, of Isom, was fatally stabbed in Vicco in Perry County on Saturday night. Charged with murdering Collins was Charles Whitley of Knott County, who was arrested at Defeated Creek shortly after the stabbing in front of a Vicco tavern.

Dr. G.L. Morin has returned to his old job as chief of staff and chief of surgery at Sharon Heights Hospital in Jenkins after spending the last three years as a surgeon with the Bronx and Bellevue hospitals in New York City.

. A 12-year-old Beckley, West Virginia boy is the new national marbles champion after defeating a 12-year-old neighborhood rival in a 21-game final match in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Fred Brown was awarded a trip to the West Indies, a bicycle and TV appearances after defeating Dennis Kyle of Richmond, West Virginia. Brown credits his title win to the seven rabbits’ feet he had strapped to his belt.

. Electric and Machine Supply Company of Whitesburg has bought all the equipment from the Insull Coal Mining Company operations in Harlan County, said EMAC co-owners Melvin Adams and William F. Conley. “We will be selling this equipment to operators,” said Adams. “No coal will be mined there any longer.” Insull was once one of the largest mining operations in southeastern Kentucky before it was bought about a year ago from Southern Mining Company.

. Mr. and Mrs. Sterling Welch of Jenkins and their daughter Betty, 17, son Sterling Jr., 11, and neighbor L.J. Bowling were all admitted to the Jenkins hospital last Friday for injuries they suffered when a tractor-trailer jackknifed in a curve on U.S. 23 in East Jenkins and hit and demolished their 1951 Oldsmobile. The driver of the truck, Robert Lee Wilson of Betsy Layne, was uninjured.

. “Yes, even a blind man can see that eyesores are gradually being eradicated,” the Mountain Eagle writes after editor W.P. Nolan’s visit with former Letcher County Clerk Cossie Quillen at the old Kentucky Theatre Building on Main Street. Quillen, who lost his eyesight in 1934 when a group of Boy Scouts he was leading were shot at by a 25-year-old Letcher County farmer, is remodeling the old theater into a new business he has yet to announce. He pointed out to Nolan that just across the street from the old theater building, one eyesore that existed for many years has been replaced by a new structure that houses the A&P Food Store. “Farther up the street, (Quillen) continued, was once an old stagnant ‘Frog Pond,’ now the site of a new modern department store (Craft’s); still farther on and now under construction on the site of the late Jim Frazier property is now being erected a new modern service station by Standard Oil Company [the site is now occupied by Community Trust Bank]. … Some of the other improvements include a new modern Ford garage being built by the Harlow Motor Company (and) the local football field where a new fence is being planned.”

Thursday, June 30, 1966 Funeral services will be held July 2 for Private John C. Hampton, 23, killed June 23 in Vietnam. Hampton, a Whitesburg High School graduate who worked as a carpenter before leaving for Vietnam, was the son of Irvin and Orpha Banks Hampton of Ice, who survive him.

. Eastern State College, Richmond, becomes Eastern Kentucky University tomorrow when the school will, by legislative action, become Kentucky’s fifth university, joining the University of Kentucky and three other colleges elevated to university status June 16 — Western, Murray and Morehead.

. The Letcher County School System will have a new superintendent beginning July 1. He is Kendall Boggs, who has served as assistant superintendent for the past seven years.

. Gov. Edward T. Breathitt singled out the Millstone Sewing Center for praise this week as a program in the War on Poverty, which is helping Kentuckians enjoy a “richer, fuller life.”

. The new television translator went into operation this afternoon in the Whitesburg area, picking up CBS channel 10, Knoxville, and re-broadcasting it on channel 7.

. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1996 takes effect July 1. The act approved last January by the Kentucky General

Assembly outlaws discrimination because of race, color, religion or national origin in employment and in places of public accommodation and service.

. Dr. Emery Lane has joined the Daniel Boone Clinic in Whitesburg as a general physician. A graduate of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, he replaces Dr. Edward D. Currie, who has moved to Harlan.

Thursday, July 8, 1976 Letcher County is continuing to overspend its budgets, courthouse records show, six months after a state auditor told county officials that Kentucky law “expressly prohibits expenditures in excess of any budget fund.”

. Kentuckian John Whisman, a founder of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and representative of its 13 member states for the past 10 years, resigned this week.

. Kathy Kincer, 15-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David J. Kincer of Mayking, has placed second in Kentucky in Senior Girls’ 4-H Electric Demonstrations.

Wednesday, July 9, 1986 This issue of the Mountain Eagle could not be found

Wednesday, July 10, 1996 The Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department has a new chief and crew after former chief Jim Revis and all the firemen resigned last week, upset at the city council’s decision to hire and pay full-time salaries to a new chief and assistant chief and angered over remarks made by city officials at the council’s meeting on June 1. According to Jenkins Mayor Robert E. “Pud” Shubert, the crew walked out of a meeting at 8:15 p.m. last Tuesday, each tendering his resignation. Shubert said that by 10 p.m. he and Police Chief Bill Tackett had contacted and activated 10 new members, most of them former firefighters, and named Richard Corbett acting chief.

. The Fleming-Neon City Council failed to meet a quorum for its meeting June 8, postponing discussions on several ordinances and delaying the release of the bid advertisement for the Haymond water system project.

. Recycle Man, the new mascot of Southern Appalachian Recycling Inc., was created by McRoberts Elementary thirdgrader Joshua Howard. Recycle Man, drawn as a globe surrounded by the recycling arrows, is SAR’s new charge to make Letcher County an environmentally friendly region.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 The home of Lester and Phyllis Caudill, of Low Gap, was destroyed by a mudslide on June 27. Lester Caudill said the mudslide pushed his house 10 feet from where it was originally built.

. Desiree Banks Morton has pleaded guilty to seconddegree criminal abuse in connection with the 2004 death of her three-month-old daughter and the assault of her infant son. Morton was charged with complicity to murder in the death of Hailey Madison Morton and complicity to first-degree assault in the beating of Hailey’s triplet brother, Hayden Edward Morton. Desiree Morton’s husband, Edward Morton, is accused of murdering Hailey Morton when he was babysitting her on Oct. 21, 2004. He is also charged of fracturing Hayden Morton’s skull and breaking his ribs on the same night.

. In a ceremony held June 14 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Letcher County native Lt. Col. David R. Holbrook turned over command of the 169th Engineer Battalion to Lt. Col. Daniel S. Larson. The battalion trains combat engineer soldiers in all facets of military engineering. Holbrook is the son of Corene Holbrook and the late Eddie Holbrook and is married to the former Jennifer Noble of Craft’s Colly.

. The Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department had two smoking complaints at a bingo hall on the day the county smoking ordinance went into effect.



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