Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
Thursday, January 13, 1927 “Evidence at the office of Letcher County Clerk Cro C. Caudill proves the blind god of love was busier in 1926 than he was in 1925,” The Mountain Eagle reports, “as 83 more couples listened to his call and bought licenses last year than they did the year before.” The report says 365 marriage licenses were bought in 1925, an average of one for each day in the year. In 1926, 448 couples asked to be united in marriage.
. Four murder cases will be on the docket when Letcher Circuit Court convenes on Monday, January 17, with Judge Joel E. Childers Pikeville attending. Among the murder cases is that of Joe Centi, who is accused of murdering Letcher County Deputy Sheriff Bob Wright.
. Mrs. Peggie Brown, wife of W.R. Brown of Dry Fork, was thrown from the mule she was riding Sunday afternoon and suffered a broken arm and injuries to her side and back. The mule slipped over a high bank as Mrs. Brown was returning home after visiting sister.
. Letcher County Deputy Sheriff Fillmore Hall is recovering nicely after being “shot severely” while in the performance of his duty at Blackey.
. Mountain Eagle subscriber Alice Fields Steelman of Tacoma, Washington writes that that she is upset with the portrayal of Appalachian Mountain residents in the new film, “Stark Love,” which she says misrepresents the facts of being a mountaineer. The Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation movie, filmed in the Great Smoky Mountains near Robbinsville, North Carolina, tells the story of a young man who, after learning to read, yearns for a better life than what is available in the hills.
. “Our school has one month yet to go, and there will be six of our pupils to graduate and they all plan to enter Whitesburg High School,” teachers and pupils write from Cowan Elementary School. “There are in high school at Whitesburg 14 pupils from our school, and we are told by the county superintendent that no other rural school has so large an enrollment in high school as our school. Since 1923, we have had 17 pupils to enter high school. Prior to that time only five had entered.”
. Former Mountain Eagle editor and publisher Nehemiah M. Webb says he will be a candidate for the office of Letcher Circuit Court Clerk this year.
. “Christmas passed peacefully here, with only one little fist fight,” a dispatch from the town of Hindman says. “We had two weddings and several fine Christmas dinners (with) very little drinking. Work on the new high school will soon begin. Also, the erection of the new Methodist Church is expected to be underway in short time. These two buildings will add much to the community.”
. An advertisement for the Valet Auto-Strop Razor claims it is the only razor that sharpens its own blades — in 10 seconds.
Thursday, January 14, 1937 “Long before court opened, the streets were thronged with people who came for a glimpse at the participant in one of the county’s most sensational trials,” The Mountain Eagle reports in its lead story concerning the trial of Henry Blair, who is accused of murdering his wife, Minta Combs Blair, in October 1916. “Blair, standing by the door of the courtroom, looks wan and pale,” the story says. “The long days of contemplation of his fate, augmented by the confines of his jail cell, have taken their toll. Listless and seemingly uninterested in the proceedings that will determine whether he will meet his fate in the electric chair or spend the remainder of his life in prison, Blair stares into space.”
. A Letcher Circuit Court jury has found Ellis Bentley guilty of manslaughter in the death of his “sweetheart,” Lockie Bentley of Neon. The jury recommended that Bentley be ordered to serve 21 years in the state penitentiary. The killing took place at the Neon home of Mrs. John Bentley. Ellis Bentley claimed the shooting was accidental.
. Ben Benge, 47, was killed in a slate fall Thursday afternoon in a mine operated by the Elkhorn Collieries. His wife and seven children survive Benge, a Tennessee native who lived at the head of Craft’s Colly.
. Stanley Profit was fined $5 after pleading guilty to assault and battery in Letcher Circuit Court this week. In a separate case, Wade Combs was fined $50 after pleading guilty to shooting into an automobile occupied by passengers. Meanwhile, John C. Calhoun has been indicted on a charge of maintaining a public nuisance.
. The Quadrangle, a magazine published by students at Jenkins High School, won first place in a contest sponsored by the Kentucky High School Press Association. The mimeographed magazine has a circulation of 2,000 copies.
. Did you know that in 1860 — 77 years ago — Whitesburg boasted of two manufacturing plants? There were the salt works and the tan yard. Hiram Hogg, one of the town’s leading citizens of that day (and who lived near where the Commercial Hotel is built opposite the depot), had a tan yard at which all the hides of the countryside were brought and tanned and properly fitted into leather for shoes, which were made by the county cobbler. Also nearby towards the river was Hogg’s salt works, which consisted of a large furnace and several large vats. The salt came from a well drilled 480 feet near the edge of the river. From that well, Hogg obtained the water to boil down into salt.
. Letcher County has a total of four registered bulls after Letcher County Clerk Lee Adams and Martin Bentley of Neon returned home this week with one purebred Hereford bull and one purebred Shorthorn bull. The two bulls are expected to be an asset to Letcher County cattle farmers. Adams will keep his bull on his farm at Rockhouse. Bentley, who also purchased a heifer and brought her back with him, will keep his new animals on his farm near Neon. John W. Collins of Roxana and Dawson Dixon of Blackey own the other two registered bulls in Letcher County.
. Alumni returning to Jenkins High School to attend a basketball game would hardly recognize either the gym or the players. Besides and electronic scoreboard that shows the scores of both teams, the quarter being played and the minutes and seconds remaining in that quarter, the gym is also equipped with “electric goal indicator — in goes the ball, on goes the light.” The players have new satin uniforms of Kelly green.
. The community of Mayking consists of several dwellings, three stores and a post office, which is included with one of the stores. Mayking also has an oil station and a service station. At the mouth of Bottom Fork stands the
Old Regular Baptist Church, “the most beautiful spot in Mayking and Bottom Fork,” says the anonymous correspondent who writes a column about that area.
. Letcher County businessman E.C. Potter says he has sold all of his interest in the Nehi Beverage Company’s Neon operation and “is not responsible in any way for debts or any contracts” made by the company from this date forward.
Thursday, January 16, 1947 Two Jenkins boys were killed and three other boys were injured after their car crashed while they were returning home from a high school basketball game at Virgie. Dead are two 17-year-old Camden boys, Joe Bevins, son of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Bevins, and Francis Burchett, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Burchett. Injured are the car’s driver, 19-year-old Billy Colyer, son of Mr. and Mrs. E.F. Colyer, 12-year-old Don Whitaker, son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Whitaker, and 19-year-old George Reich, son of Mrs. Mike Michitti of Camden. The Colyers and Whitakers live on Elkhorn Drive. Bevins was killed instantly after the car plunged over a 100-foot embankment Saturday night. Burchett died three hours later at the Jenkins hospital. Whitaker suffered a fractured skull and is listed in critical condition at the Jenkins hospital. Colyer and Reich are also being treated for serious injuries at the Jenkins hospital.
. “The fellow who toots his own horn will end up playing out of tune,” a “filler” in The Mountain Eagle warns.
. Funeral services will be held Friday in Lexington for Dr. Fred W. Caudill, a Blackey native who was serving as epidemiologist with the Kentucky Board of Health. Caudill, who spent most of his adult life fighting the spread of disease, died January 12. One of his last major jobs was fighting to control the polio epidemic that began sweeping through Kentucky in 1944. During World War II, he was active in the fight to bring venereal disease under control in Kentucky. He was a graduate of Centre College in Danville and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He attended Harvard on a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship.
. Murder indictments have been returned by the Letcher County Grand Jury, including one that charges three people with murdering a World War II veteran who was originally believed to have taken his own life. The three — Maxie Day, Cora Stamper, and Steve Stamper — are accused of staging the death of James W. Stamper of Kingscreek to make it appear Stamper had shot himself. The indictment is based on a coroner’s report issued after James Stamper’s body was exhumed. The report finds it would have been “improbable” for James Stamper to have fired the long-barreled weapon with which he was killed.
. Miss Pauline Caudill, 19, and Goebel Ritter, 23, were married at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James M. Caudill, in Neon. She is a graduate of Fleming High School and attended Eastern State Teachers College in Richmond. Ritter also attended Eastern State Teachers College, where he was a standout member of the school’s basketball team.
. Neon businessman James M. Caudill says he has purchased the Jenkins Inn property in Jenkins and will place it under the supervision of Mr. and Mrs. Goebel Ritter, daughter and son-in-law of Caudill and his wife.
. So far this season the Kingdom Come Wildcats basketball team has defeated Stuart Robinson School (twice), Cumberland, Whitesburg, and Fleming.
. Actress Vivien Leigh, in her first great role since Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind,” plays Cleopatra in “Caesar & Cleopatra,” showing for one day only at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg on January 16. Claude Rains co-stars.
Thursday, January 10, 1957 Mr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Gish are the new owners and operators of The Mountain Eagle. Mr. Gish is a Seco native who has been working in Frankfort as state bureau chief for United Press. He will serve as The Eagle’s editor and publisher. Mrs. Gish, a native of Paris, Kentucky, is leaving her job as a reporter for the Lexington Leader to come to Whitesburg. The Gishes purchased the paper from Mr. and Mrs. Pearl Nolan.
. Barrett’s Cafe, located on Main Street next to the Alene Theatre, is now under the management of Judy Ison, who bought the restaurant from Mr. and Mrs. S.T. Barrett. The business will now be known as The Panther Cafe.
. Seven persons were killed in traffic accidents in Letcher County during 1956, reports the Letcher County Safety Bureau.
. The Letcher County Purgation Board is now in session in the Letcher County Clerk’s Office checking voter registrations to make sure they are proper.
Three Columbus, Ohio men are facing criminal charges in connection with theft of about $2,000 worth of goods last week from the Hemphill Store of Elk Horn Coal Corporation. Goods stolen mainly involved clothing and jewelry, much of which was recovered.
. The business section of Whitesburg got something of a facelift today with the opening of the new Quillen Drug Store in what used to be the old Kentucky Theatre building on Main Street. The store, owned by Cossie Quillen, is under the management of pharmacist Fred Coffey. Quillen was born at Wright, near the head of the Kentucky River (what is now known as Payne Gap). A gunshot wound he suffered while leading a Boy Scout troop left him blind. Coffey, 31, is a native of Monticello in Wayne County.
. Mr. and Mrs. Halbert Collins of Isom have announced the birth of a little daughter, Shelia Rose, who was born New Year’s Eve at Whitesburg Memorial Hospital.
. Marilyn Monroe stars in “Bus Stop,” showing Sunday and Monday at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.
Thursday, January 12, 1967 Southern Bell says telephone subscribers in Neon and Whitesburg will soon be able to dial their own calls to Jenkins with no long distance charge. Beginning January 15, to call Jenkins simply dial the number listed in the directory.
. More than 5,000 Letcher County residents stand to gain in their monthly incomes if the requests of President Lyndon B. Johnson in this week’s “State of the Union” message to Congress are met. The President proposed 20 percent average increases in Social Security payments beginning in July. He said he hoped Congress would establish a floor of $100 a month on Social Security payments to persons with 25 years of payments into the Social Security fund. Largest raises in the new proposal would go to those who now receive the lowest amounts.
. Carl D. Perkins, Letcher County’s representative in Congress, this week was elevated to the powerful Congressional position of chairman of the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee. Perkins succeeded Rep. Adam Clayton Powell of New York, who was demoted by his fellow congressmen because of alleged misconduct.
. The Office of Economic Opportunity has granted Leslie County $44,667 for a two-month extension of a Community Health action program. The program provides for screenings, diagnosis and referrals, dental exams and health education.
. Funeral services were held in Deane recently for the John L. Bentley, one of Letcher County’s oldest citizens. Bentley died December 24. He would have been 99 years old on February 18.
. Miss Sue Lewis of Whitesburg was elected treasurer of the senior class at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky.
. Army Private Ronald D. Necessary, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan F. Necessary of Whitesburg, has been assigned to the 490th Combat Support Company in Vung Tau, Vietnam. A 1964 graduate of Whitesburg High School, he is an engineer supply specialist.
. Private First Class Thomas A. Kimbley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Kimbley of Blackey, is stationed in Saigon. He is a graduate of Letcher High School.
. Alvin E. Bentley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil E. Bentley of McRoberts, has been promoted to Army Staff Sergeant in Vietnam, where is a members of the 246th Psychological Operations Company. Sgt. Bentley is a noncommissioned officer in charge of the propaganda section of the company stationed near Bien Hoa. A graduate of Jenkins High School, he entered the Army in 1954.
. Marine Corporal Richard L. Ashcraft, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roxie R. Ashcraft of Neon, is serving as a member of the Marine Attack Squadron (VNA)-214, Marine Aircraft Group, at Chu Lai, Vietnam.
Thursday, January 13, 1977 Sleds, heat tapes for water pipes and tire chains for cars and trucks were hot items in Letcher County stores this week for those who could get to the stores to buy them. A severe winter storm all but paralyzed the county for several days after seven inches of snow fell over the weekend and temperatures dropped to below zero.
. Campaigns are gearing up in Letcher County for the May primary election. Former county judge Robert B. Collins, of Mayking, is the only candidate who has filed for the office but Wilson Hall, of Neon, and Tax Commissioner Sam C. Webb say they are “seriously considering” the race. All are Democrats. Republican incumbent Estill Blair has not yet announced his political intentions, but
an employee at his funeral home told The Eagle he might run for a state office.
Wednesday, January 14, 1987 The Letcher Count Fiscal Court will hire consultants to prepare grant applications for the Lower Letcher Water District. The court voted to hire Adkins Elrod and Associates, consultants from Covington, to prepare the applications for a Community Development Block Grant which would provide money to begin a countywide water system.
. Letcher County is home to one of the rarest creatures in the state — Wehrle’s Salamander. The current issue of Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground, the magazine of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, calls this salamander “perhaps the rarest of Kentucky’s nongame wildlife.” The state’s entire population lives “along a few hundred feet of shale outcrop in Lilley Cornett Woods in Letcher County,” says biologist John Mac- Gregor, who is program coordinator for the department’s Nongame Wildlife Program.
. A countywide emergency radio system should be installed by next week, county officials said. The equipment will allow one dispatcher to route calls to any of the county’s
nine fire departments, two rescue squads, and four police departments. Dispatchers will be on duty 24 hours a day at the Civil Defense building at Mayking. Letcher County Judge/Executive Ruben Watts said during the floods of 1982 and 1984 communication between fire and rescue squads was difficult because no central radio system was in use.
Wednesday, January 15, 1997 The Letcher County Board of Education is scheduled to meet later this week to consider rescinding its request that a special judge hurry and decide whether state Education Commissioner Wilmer Cody acted legally when he vetoed the local board’s selection of Anna Craft as superintendent.
. Advanced placement classes will be available this semester to students in all three high schools in the Letcher County school system — Fleming-Neon, Letcher and Whitesburg high schools. “The classes will be in U.S. history and will go beyond the normal high school level,” said Mike King, acting superintendent of Letcher County schools.
. John High, who is appealing his dismissal as girls’ basketball coach and teacher at Whitesburg High School, said he has not illegally recruited any players during his 17 years as head coach. High was speaking
under oath last week during a hearing to determine the eligibility of Veronica Clayton, a standout junior center who is currently under suspension from the WHS girls’ team. High was fired in November for alleged transfer and recruiting violations, some involving Clayton.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 A request to rename U.S. Highway 23 in Letcher County to honor the county’s coal miners was among items scheduled to be addressed during the January meeting of the Letcher Fiscal Court. Ross Fleming, a member of the Letcher County Coal Miners Memorial Organization, submitted the request.
. Kyla Bellis was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to helping her late boyfriend carry out a plan to murder his grandmother, Virginia Geraldine “Gerri” Combs, at her Craft’s Colly home.
. The Jenkins Cavaliers defeated the Letcher County Cougars 54-51.
. Two professional racers from Letcher County will compete this week in the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center round of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series — the first time the Arenacross series has raced in Pikeville. Heading up the field are Donnie Adams of Whitesburg, and Edgar Robinson of Jenkins.