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The Way We Were




County cracks down on gambling In February 1927, Letcher County Sheriff Morgan T. Reynolds and County Judge Noah Bentley issued a warning reminding merchants that “mint-vending” Liberty Bell slot machines like the one pictured above were illegal gambling devices and that merchants would face criminal prosecution if they kept the machines, which now command high prices from antique dealers, in operation. The machines, manufactured for the Mills Novelty Company in Chicago, dispensed mint candies to make the machine appear legal. Depending on which combination of symbols, the machines would pay up to 50 cents, or 10 nickels for a 5-cent play. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch)

County cracks down on gambling In February 1927, Letcher County Sheriff Morgan T. Reynolds and County Judge Noah Bentley issued a warning reminding merchants that “mint-vending” Liberty Bell slot machines like the one pictured above were illegal gambling devices and that merchants would face criminal prosecution if they kept the machines, which now command high prices from antique dealers, in operation. The machines, manufactured for the Mills Novelty Company in Chicago, dispensed mint candies to make the machine appear legal. Depending on which combination of symbols, the machines would pay up to 50 cents, or 10 nickels for a 5-cent play. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch)

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, February 24, 1927 On Tuesday night, a group of local men and three representatives from the Perry Fish, Game, and Gun Club met in the office of the Letcher County Leader newspaper and organized the Letcher Fish, Game, and Gun Club.

. Applicants for mine foreman and re boss certificates will be examined at the office of W.H. Jones, chief inspector of mines, in the mining building at the University of Kentucky in Lexington on March 7.

. One of Letcher County’s oldest citizens has died at age 75. Riley Hall was buried in the Potter Cemetery at Hemphill on Sunday.

. Letcher County citizens are invited to stop by the window of the Letcher State Bank building in Whitesburg to examine the watercolor drawing of the modern architectural design of the proposed new school building for Whitesburg.

. All property owners in Blackey must pave the street on front of the property they own, according to an ordinance passed by the town council.

. “Dad” Richards of Hazard visited Blackey Thursday and made an interesting talk to the students of Stuart Robinson School about the assassination of President Lincoln. Richards is the only man still living who was in Ford’s Theatre the night Lincoln was killed.

. Blackey will soon be getting a new brick building for its bank, which has been doing a “rushing business” of late.

. Letcher County citizens are complaining about the presence of punch boards and “mint-vendor” slot machines at some businesses, Sheriff Morgan T. Reynolds and Judge Noah Bentley say. “It is a felony for setting up and operating such machines and the penalty is fixed by law at a fine of $500 and from one to three years in the penitentiary,” Reynolds and Bentley say in a statement to The Mountain Eagle. “The county officials do not wish to embarrass any merchant who is innocently operating such a machine; therefore this warning is given with the hope that such operators will get rid of them without being forced to do so.”

Thursday, February 25, 1937 The Dr. Pepper Bottling Company is already established in its new building next door to the Whitesburg Wholesale Company. The main product of the company will be the bottling and marketing of Dr. Pepper, a carbonated beverage new to Letcher County but one that has been established in the Southwest for some time. The local company has Letcher and Harlan counties for its territory and has the capacity to bottle of 600 cases of Dr. Pepper per day. W.D. Vermillion has been chosen as plant manager.

. Reports for the new stockyards at Isom are that the business operated by Floyd Ison is “holding up exceedingly well.” Plug horses and mules sold for prices ranging from $36 to $75, which common horses and mules selling for between $75 and $112.50.

. Doty Creek holds the record for being the most law-abiding community in Letcher County, the sheriff ’s office says. During the past three years there has not been one arrest warrant issued to any of the 200 residents of Doty Creek. In fact, the sheriff ’s office said its deputies have had no reason to even visit Doty Creek during the three-year period.

. In its weekly feature “It Is So,” The Mountain Eagle points out that Letcher County was formed in 1842 and named for Robert P. Letcher, who was governor of Kentucky at the time the county was formed from parts of Perry, Harlan and Floyd counties. At that time, Letcher County extended to Troublesome Creek to where Hindman is now and did not include the Elkhorn Creek territory where Jenkins is now. That section belonged to Pike County, but when Knott County was formed in 1884, the Troublesome Creek area was given to Knott and the Elkhorn territory taken from Pike and given to Letcher. Letcher’s first five county commissioners were Nat Collins (the first county judge), Hiram Hogg, Benjamin Webb, Benjamin Adams, and John A. Caudill.

. Dewey Polly, manager of the Coca- Cola Bottling Company of Whitesburg, says the business is expanding here. In addition to remodeling its offices, the company has purchased new delivery trucks that will be painted according to Coca-Cola’s national standards. The plant is also the new distributor for Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer of Milwaukee for the territory including Letcher, Perry, Knott, Leslie and Breathitt counties.

. “A splendid year is ahead for the Consolidation Coal Company,” writes Jenkins correspondent Burdine Webb. “It is the purpose of the company to load every available ton possible, and it is making an extreme effort to do so. Orders are piled up, and the Great Lakes business is soon to start. It is expected that lake coal shipments will be loaded within the next two to three weeks.”

. Mines are running almost full time in Fleming as rail car shortage is improving.

Miners at Fleming hope to sign a new contract the first of April that gives an increase in wages and a shorter working week.

. Tragedy was narrowly averted Sunday on Main Street in Whitesburg when three small children noticed a runaway truck headed their way and were able to jump to safety. The truck had parked along the front side of the county courthouse, but the driver apparently failed to set the parking break tightly enough and the truck started rolling backward. It ran wild down Main Street before backing over a curb and crashing into the corner of the building occupied by Cook’s Store.

. The Letcher County Health Department, whose operation is funded by 4-1/2 cent tax on county residents per year, gave 1,578 smallpox vaccinations in 1936, 1,670 diphtheria shots, 5,867 typhoid vaccinations, 6,819 tests for tuberculosis.

Thursday, February 27, 1947 Fire broke out in Jimmie’s Grill in Neon during the early morning hours of Wednesday and could not be extinguished until after it destroyed the entire city block, including the post office, jail, police judge’s office, Craft’s Café, The Peoples Store, Caudill’s Grocery, and Charles Hazen’s store. Two homes belonging to Sam Hush and N. Wise were also destroyed. Buildings damaged included Tucker’s Café, Bentley Theatre, Sam Webb’s Barber Shop, Mack Bentley’s building and restaurant, W.S. Tolliver’s Hardware building, N. Wise’s Store, Sam Hush’s Department Store, Abdoo & McKinney Jewelry, and the Neon Drug Store building. The flames, which broke out at 2:30 a.m., were battled by the fire departments of Neon, Jenkins, Fleming and Whitesburg. Jimmie’s Grill is a small restaurant recently purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Marcum. The fire, which consumed all the buildings in about 40 minutes, is said to have started from an overheated stove and defective flu. None of the properties were covered by insurance.

. Teachers in the Letcher County School System have organized a county teachers’ association “whose purpose it will be to sponsor all movements that will tend to improve conditions for both the teachers and children of the county.”

. The City of Whitesburg this week received its new garbage truck that has been on order for some time. The new truck enables the city to collect garbage twice a week.

. Former Letcher County resident Andrew Jackson Hammonds has been honored as one of the country’s top salesmen for Maytag washing machines while working in Hazard. Hammonds began selling Maytag machines on a part-time basis while he was working schoolteacher in 1937. He was recently appointed regional manager for a section in northern Mississippi.

. One of two men accused of shooting and seriously wounding security guard Clark Day while robbing the Bank of Whitesburg several months ago has been sentenced to life in prison. Carmen Stacy was sentenced last week after he pleaded guilty to the crimes. Co-defendant James Holcomb is already serving a life sentence after pleading guilty earlier.

. The Roxana-Whitesburg Bus Line will start operating on March 1. The bus line will make two round-trips daily and one on Sunday, serving the people of Kingscreek and Smoot Creek.

. Mark Vincent Marlowe, son of Mr. and Mrs. M.K. Marlowe, formerly of Letcher County, was recognized as Lexington’s outstanding young man of 1946 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce at its annual Founders’ Day dinner February 24 at the Lafayette Hotel.

. The Kentucky Wildcats, currently the nation’s top-ranked college basketball team, are seeking their fourth consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship when play begins in Louisville on Thursday.

Thursday, February 28, 1957 Harlow Motor Company of Neon is offering a $200 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who broke in the garage last Thursday night and stole $2,000 after opening the safe with a blowtorch. The thief or thieves had attempted to break into Harlow’s Whitesburg garage, but were scared away earlier last Thursday.

. Funeral services for Dr. Thomas R. Collier were held Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Whitesburg. Dr. Collier, one of the county’s best known and loved physicians, died unexpectedly at his home last Thursday morning.

. The City of Whitesburg won third place in the Group One Division (cities with population less than 1,200) of the 1956 “Better Eastern Kentucky” Community Development Contest sponsored by Kentucky Power Company. First place went to West Liberty, with Worthington the runner-up.

. Funeral services were held at Marlowe Chapel Sunday for two-year-old Tommy Neal Hatton, who died after being hit by a coal truck Friday. He was the son of Maney Hatton and Imogene Triplett Hatton.

. Two accused thieves who escaped the Letcher County Jail on Saturday were still at large Thursday. Ralph Brown, 24, of Blackey, and Bernie Miles, 26, of Cowan,

escaped after sawing window bars and trying sheets together for a rope. Six other prisoners, including one charged with murder, had the opportunity to escape but did not take it.

. Mrs. Macie Warf is the new manager of the Haymond School’s lunchroom and is doing a splendid job, writes the Hemphill correspondent for The Mountain Eagle.

Thursday, February 23, 1967 Whitesburg Mayor Ferdinand Moore was elected chairman of the board of directors of the Letcher County Economic Opportunity Committee this week. Estill Hall of Jackhorn was elected vice chairman and George Lundy of McRoberts was elected treasurer.

. Efforts are underway this week throughout eastern Kentucky to organize several thousand unemployed fathers into a union. The jobless fathers are participating in the Work Experience and Training Program, which has been operating in Letcher County and nine other eastern Kentucky counties for three years. Its scope is being cut back as part of the general belt-tightening in the War on Poverty. More than a fifth of the participating jobless fathers will be dropped from the program by April 1, however it will be reduced from 5,600 members to 4,100 with prospects for a further cutback late in the summer. It is in response to this move that the so-called “Happy Pappies” launched a regional effort to organize a union. Their primary goal is to have some say in the question of who gets dropped and who gets kept in the program.

. Two former Whitesburg residents were tragically killed in an automobile accident at Paintsville. William Fred King, 35 and his daughter Donna Jean King, 13, died at Paintsville hospital of injuries they received after their car collided with a tractor-trailer truck parked in the roadway instead of pulling it off to one side. Funeral services for father and daughter, who were en route here from Detroit to visit his parents, were held February 21 at Moore & Craft Funeral Home in Whitesburg.

. Lake Cumberland’s boast of having more black bass per acre than any other Kentucky lake is valid. A state test revealed the reservoir contains almost 1,200 fish per acre. The lake also contains walleye, smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and rainbow trout.

. Marine Private First Class Joseph B. Sumpter, McRoberts, is a member of “D” Company, 11th Engineer Battalion in Dong Ha, Vietnam. His battalion specializes in various types of mine laying and field communication.

Thursday, February 24, 1977 First it was severance taxes, now it’s property taxes — Letcher County is losing more coal-based revenue as a result of changes in Kentucky’s coal severance tax law.

. Governor Julian Carroll has appointed Guy Palumbo as police judge for the City of Whitesburg. Palumbo recently returned to Whitesburg after a career with the Air Force and in Lexington. He is a former U.S. Air Force major with 13 years experience as a jet fighter pilot, and is a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars.

. More than $50,000 worth of mining equipment was stolen from two mining sites in Letcher County this past week, according to Sheriff Ruben Watts. The equipment was hauled away from a deep mine operated by the Reedy Brothers on the Whitaker Branch of Tolson Creek and the Holbrook Mining Co. on Cowan.

. Pork chops are $1.09 a pound at the A&P food store. Rock Cornish game hens are 69 cents a pound.

Wednesday, February 25, 1987 After years of battling dust and silt from a nearby coal tipple, an angry housewife fought back with mud as a weapon. Bothered by a situation she says “gets worse every day,” Mercitus Adams carried a bucket of thick black mud into the main offices of Golden Oak Mining Co. at Isom last week and poured it out on the floor. “I had asked them not to push this mud over on me anymore,” said Adams, who lives near a Golden Oak coal washing plant. ‘They pushed it in my yard anyway, so I got my shovel and scooped it up and took it to their office.”

. Heritage Chairs and Sofas, an Owensboro furniture manufacturer, will soon move to Whitesburg. The company will employ only 15 workers when it opens, but that number will increase to between 60 and 100 by the end of 1987, company official Leo Trimpsy said.

. A black stream down the North Fork of the Kentucky River last week was the result of a petroleum product mixed with raw sewage, Whitesburg city officials said. Department of Water and Sewer workers worked nearly 12 hours cleaning up the spill, which entered the river after a sewer main broke near Bill Davis Ford on Madison Street. The spill apparently caused no health hazards as it occurred downstream of the city’s water intake.

Wednesday, February 26, 1997 After 23 years of giving advice to both young and old about how to grow gardens and fruit trees, Paul Morris, Letcher County’s longest tenured cooperative extension agent, is retiring.

. The Letcher Fiscal Court’s refusal to surrender to a large coal company’s demand for a $50,000 tax refund is about to pay big dividends. The company, a subsidiary of Westmoreland Coal Company, has dropped its demands for the refund and is now offering to pay $433,000 in other taxes on the unmined coal owed since 1989.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 Wilford Henry Niece, a former Letcher County coal operator, faces life imprisonment after being convicted of trying to operate a cocaine ring while he was an inmate at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington. Niece is scheduled to be sentenced May 14.

. The City of Whitesburg is hoping an old traffic bridge behind the Letcher County Board of Education can be salvaged and moved to connect Broadway Street (behind the courthouse) to the free parking lot at the end of Main Street.

. A stolen handgun recovered by the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department was first reported missing in St. Louis, Mo., 32 years ago. Deputy Mike Rose found the Smith and Wesson .38 while searching one of two vehicles impounded after a burglary at Payne Gap.

. The Jenkins Cavaliers won the first round of the boys’ 53rd District Tournament against Cordia with a score of 71-59. The Cavs had their revenge against Cordia, which had defeated them twice this season.


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