Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

2 courthouses & 80 years ago

2 courthouses & 80 years ago

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, May 12 & 19, 1927 Whitesburg citizen Joe I. Day killed a mad dog last Friday at the “section house” across the road from Will Maggard’s home, just below town. The dog, a large mongrel, was a stranger to the community. After it entered the house and ran the mother and her children outside, their screams attracted the attention of Mr. Day, who was looking for his cow. Another citizen handed a pistol to Day, who fired at the dog and hit it in the breast as it stood on its hind feet to jump out the kitchen window. The shot failed to kill the dog, after which Day ran into the kitchen and clubbed the dog down before dragging it outside and ending its life with a second shot.

. Fifteen Letcher County men have applied for pardons from Kentucky’s 41st governor, Democrat William J. “Honest Bill from Olive Hill” Fields, whose term ends later this year.

Pictured at top is an addition to the rear of the Letcher County Courthouse taken shortly after the “annex,” as it was known, was constructed in 1937. Pictured at right is the courthouse as seen from the corner of Main Street and Webb Avenue, also taken in 1937. You can see the annex in the smaller photo as well. (Photo from Goodman-Paxton Collection, courtesy of the University of Kentucky Digital Library)

Pictured at top is an addition to the rear of the Letcher County Courthouse taken shortly after the “annex,” as it was known, was constructed in 1937. Pictured at right is the courthouse as seen from the corner of Main Street and Webb Avenue, also taken in 1937. You can see the annex in the smaller photo as well. (Photo from Goodman-Paxton Collection, courtesy of the University of Kentucky Digital Library)

. Banks Motor Company of Fleming is building a filling station just across the street from its main building.

. A 19-year-old Whitco man was killed this morning in a coal mining accident at Sandlick Coal Company. Cecil Day, son of Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Day, died after being knocked from the motor he was operating.

. Andrew Holbrook has been named “best orator” at Eastern Normal School in Richmond. A graduate of Whitesburg High School, he is a son of R.D. Holbrook of Little Colley.

. A carnival held last week in Jenkins has pulled up stakes and moved to McRoberts.

. Thirteen members of the Audubon Society of Blackey made the trip to High Rock atop Pine Mountain near Whitesburg on May 10.

. A modern hayride, employing a truck and baled hay instead of mules and loose hay, was given last week. The crowd rode out to the skating rink on Little Colley and played a while, then drove on toward Blackey and enjoyed a roadside lunch.

. C.M. Allen, 40, manager of one of the Wise, Virginia carnival shows, received a bullet wound through the head as a result of trouble with an unidentified man at the McRoberts show grounds. Allen’s wife told authorities the shooting occurred after two men tried to force their way into the show, then returned about half an hour later. She said her husband was anticipating trouble and retrieved his pistol before approaching the two men, one of whom fired at Allen first. After the two men disappeared into the crowd, Allen was taken to the Fleming hospital, where little hope is held for his recovery.

. One hundred eighty-eight students in the common schools of Letcher County finished eighth grade this year and are now ready to begin high school work.

. A Letcher Circuit Court jury found a 17-year-old Elk Creek girl innocent of murdering farmer Isom Caudill a year ago. Polly Engle, along with friends Tom Morton and John Morton, brothers, were acquitted earlier this week. Evidence showed that Caudill was “boisterously” entered the Engle house and fired two shots, one of which wounded the girl’s bedridden mother. The girl then grabbed an old-fashioned rifle from a rack on the wall and shot Caudill. Testimony also revealed the Mortons had nothing to do with the case.

. The L&N Railroad is starting Sunday excursion service to Natural Bridge.

Thursday, May 13 & 20, 1937 “Solomon Branch, which flows into the North Fork of the Kentucky River in the upper end of Whitesburg, is named for Solomon Adams, the third son of old John Adams, the first settler in Letcher County,” The Mountain Eagle reports in its “It Is So” column. “Solomon ‘Sol’ Adams married Nancy Hogg, a sister to Hiram Hogg, and settled at the mouth of this branch and lived there for several years. He later sold out and moved to St. Joseph, Missouri.”

. Fifty-six Whitesburg High School seniors will graduate during ceremonies set for Friday, May 21.

. Al Major, popular Whitesburg merchant, has decided to retire and will liquidate his $25,000 stock of merchandise.

. Sam T. Webb of Neon, aspirant for county tax commissioner in the coming election, wants the world to know he is not an “old man.” Webb said he’s tired of hearing younger men talk about him being “old,” and says he is in the prime of his life and has never felt better.

. Gary Cooper stars in director Cecil B. De Mille’s “The Plainsman,” showing at The Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg on Sunday and Monday.

. Double Cola, which sells for 5 cents for 12-ounce bottle, is bottled and sold by Parfay Bottling Works at Sassafras, Kentucky in Knott County.

. Burke & Craft Funeral Home is doing business in Whitesburg.

. Consolidation Coal Company mines at Dunham were idled this week after electricians

said they would no longer work on Saturdays.

. Letcher County residents Dr. B.F. Wright and Cro Caudill joined former U.S. Rep. John Y. Brown and 10,000 others at a mass meeting of the United Mine Workers of America held outside of Cumberland in Harlan County on Sunday. The UMW claims it has organized more than 6,000 new members since it started a membership drive in Harlan County one month ago.

. U.S. Attorney General Cummings has ordered federal agents to open an investigation into whether coal operators and others have conspired “to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed under the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act.”

. Work on excavation for the new Fields Apartment building on Main Street in Whitesburg is being rushed. On Wednesday morning, workers shot off a blast that rocked the town. Trucks quickly backed into the hole and the task of removing the dirt and rock was underway. It won’t be long before the framework of the building will be towering skyward.

. Remodeling of the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg is nearing completion. This week, a firm from Charlotte, N.C., is installing a new neon sign on top of the theatre canopy.

. In its weekly feature “It Is So,” The Mountain Eagle on May 20 revisits one of the largest snows that ever fell on Letcher County — the snowstorm of Saturday, May 18, 1864. “The weather had been very warm a few days previous, but on Friday night turned colder and by Saturday looked like the middle of winter,” The Eagle writes. “The snow began to fall around 9 o’clock Saturday night, and on Sunday morning the people of the hills woke up to find one of the largest snows they had ever seen. In some places, it was 18 inches deep and drifted deeper than that in other places. The trees were bent to the ground and many of their tops and branches were broken out. Many people had gone over their corn for the first time and several were getting ready to hoe on Monday morning, but in most cases the corn was destroyed and will have to be replanted. By Wednesday all the traces of the snow were gone and beautiful weather again held sway.”

. “Whitesburg’s [semipro] baseball team has indeed had its ups and downs during the past few years. However, at this early part of the season it looks as if a winner has been developed,” The Eagle says in a commentary urging fans to attend Sunday’s game. Adds the paper: “P.S. Don’t forget your pocketbooks when the offering is taken up. A real team cannot run on air alone.”

. Whitesburg merchant Al Major will not be closing his store after all. After announcing his retirement and store liquidation plans, Major received good news from his doctor and will keep the popular business open. “A few weeks of good rest

and quiet, coupled with freedom from business worries and old Al Major will be as good as ever,” The Eagle writes.

. Old age pensioners in Letcher County drew a total of $1,644 during April for an average payment of $9, state officials say. The statewide average pension pay for April was $10.

Thursday, May 15 & 22, 1947 Consolidation Coal Company, with headquarters at Jenkins, announced plans this week to open three new coal mines in the near future. The company, a subsidiary of Pittsburgh Consolidation Coal Company, now operates six mines in Letcher, Harlan and Johnson counties. The three new operations will be the Hendrix Mine at Deane, the Wright Mine at Dunham, and the Hill Mine near Myra in Pike County. The Hendrix Mine is named in honor of Arthur Ray Hendrix, a paratrooper hero of World War II who was the first Consolidation employee to lose his life in battle on the second day of the Sicily invasion. Hendrix was employed at Mine 204 at Jenkins as a tipple man.

. Three men were killed recently in separate roof falls in Letcher County mines. Sam Mullins, who moved to Letcher County from Breathitt County several months ago, was killed Tuesday in the Carbon Glow mine, where he was a coal loader. Survivors include his wife and four sons. Charlie Franklin Daniel of Millstone was killed Monday at the Red Bud Coal mine in Kona. He was 42. Funeral services for Lawson Gilley, 51, were held May 4. The father of 13 died May 1 of injuries he suffered in a slate fall at Consolidation Coal Company’s McRoberts mine on April 21.

. Fifteen-year-old Bill McFall has been captured by Deputy Sheriff Johnny Belcher. McFall, who was on probation from a juvenile home, is accused of stealing a watch and cigarettes from Henry Tolliver of Neon and has admitted to several other burglaries in the Neon area. He has been returned to Greendale to serve out his term there.

. Mr. S.D. Blizzard took his Sunday School class in Jenkins on a hike to Raven Rock. Those going were Jack and Larry Horner, Billy Don Mullins, Sethie Kegan, Billy Holtzclaw, “Dizzy” Pack, Franklin Mink, David Blizzard, Burton Bradley, and Bobby Mullins.

. Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Durante star in “It Happened In Brooklyn,” showing May 20 and 21 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

. “My beloved mountains are donning the robes of summer,” Mrs. Shelby G. Sturgill of Whitesburg writes in a letter to the editor.

. Thirty-five members of the Jenkins High School Senior Class have returned from their class trip to Washington and New York City.

. Jasper Nease, 21, of McRoberts, was sentenced to death by the electric chair May 20 in the kidnap and murder of

26-year-old Vernon Hodge of Louisville. A criminal court jury in Louisville deliberated evidence for about 30 minutes before agreeing on the sentence. Nease, who was arrested in Letcher County earlier this spring, testified that he tried to save Hodge and blamed the murder on one of the other two defendants. Nease told the jury that Herbert H. Workman, 18, of Tesla, West Virginia, was the person who held the Army carbine rifle when he and the third defendant, Daniel T. McPeak of Dublin, Virginia entered Hodge’s car at Old Seventh Street Road and New Cut Road in Louisville on the night of March 14. The three defendants, all escapees from the brig at Fort Knox, were accused of driving Hodge to Hazard, where they killed him and threw his body in the North Fork of the Kentucky River. Nease told jurors he was trying to save Hodge when “Workman jumped from a tree limb and beat me to Hodge. I saw him strike several times at Hodge with the carbine. Then I saw Hodge go under” the water.

. Car salesman and Letcher County native Paul Harris, 38, was bludgeoned to death with a dull instrument in Los Angeles, a coroner’s jury determined May 18. Harris was still barely alive early May 7 when he was found lying on the floor in the back of the 1941 Buick he had taken to meet a prospective buyer. After the jury’s report, 28-year-old Simmie Williams was arrested by Los Angeles police and charged with murdering Harris.

. Ground was broken in Neon this week for construction of a new business block of fireproof buildings to replace a post offi ce and four businesses destroyed by fire earlier this year.

Thursday, May 16 & 23, 1957 The Whitesburg Lions Club has voted to set aside $400 to begin work on its street side park, which will be located near the railroad station.

. The Jenkins High School Cavaliers are dominating spring sports in eastern Kentucky. The Cavs defeated Combs, 4 to 2, and Fleming, 15 to 1, and M.C. Napier, 13 to 2, to win the district baseball tournament.

. Work is underway on several projects to beautify the City of Whitesburg. Members of the Whitesburg Garden Club have planted flowering shrubs and perennials on the Webb Avenue side of the Letcher County Courthouse. The L&N Railroad has reacted favorably to a Whitesburg Development Association request for the widening of the overhead bridge at the east entrance to Whitesburg, and for improvement of the passing lane on Railroad Street. Officials at Whitesburg Memorial Hospital say they will landscape the approach to the hospital as soon as their budget permits.


Twenty or 30 years of sustained effort may lift the economy of eastern Kentucky to a high level; the Kentucky Department of Economic Development reported this week. Eastern Kentucky must solve one basic problem before any development program can yield significant results, report said. That problem is sites for industry. The department lists only eight sites in the entire region as usable. Two of those are in Whitesburg. The others are four at Ashland and two at Paintsville.

. The Mountain Eagle is celebrating its 50th birthday this week. “It is with considerable pride that we point out that today’s issue is a milestone in the history of The Mountain Eagle,” writes new editor and publisher Tom Gish, a Seco native. “The present editor of The Eagle is too new at his job to claim any credit for the paper’s anniversary. Instead, the credit belongs to N.M. Webb, who founded the paper and for more than a quarter of a century nursed it through its early days, and to Mr. and Mrs. W.P. Nolan, who succeeded Webb as publishers and saw the paper through the money-scarce days of he depression and he supply-short days of World War II and the Korean War.”

. Mrs. Virginia Combs was elected as Whitesburg’s Woman of the Year” and honored at a banquet at the VFW Post on Saturday night, May 11.

Thursday, May 11, 1967 Retired members of the United Mine Workers of America will get a $15-a-month raise in the pensions effective July 1. The raise will put the pensions up to $115 a month. The new figure is the highest ever reached by the pensions fund. A spokesman for the union said the raise was made possible by increased coal production.

. The Leslie, Knott, Letcher, Perry Community Action Council has asked the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington to finance two proposals. One would attempt to find ways to get better housing for poor families. The other would continue the LKLP Council in operation for another years.

. Ten ears of yellow corn are on sale at the Whitesburg A&P for 65 cents.

Thursday, May 12, 1977 Pike County Judge Wayne Rutherford asked federal district court this week to force the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make all of Pike County eligible for federal flood insurance. Presently, only the communities of Pikeville, Coal Run Village and Phelps are eligible for flood insurance because they are the only areas that have been mapped to determine flood-prone areas.

. Under pressure by a budget-conscious Congress, Rep. Carl Perkins, D-Hindman, has agreed to accept amendments to a black lung bill cutting out proposed payments retroactive to 1970 for black lung victims granted benefits under the bill. Thousands of miners who stood to gain about $15,000 each in benefits are expected to lose out.

. A group of 20 parents from Upper Cumberland School presented a petition to the Letcher County school board opposing consolidation for their school. A recent state survey recommended consolidating Upper Cumberland with Eolia School.

. Members of the Whitesburg High School track team will be in Richmond this Friday and Saturday to take part

in the regional track meet at Eastern Kentucky University. The team holds third place in the Eastern Kentucky Mountain Conference and recently won ribbons in hurdles, mile and two-mile dash, 100-, 800-, 220- and 440-yard dash, pole vault, 880-relay and mile relay.

Wednesday, May 13, 1987 This year’s cicada crop — know as Brood 10 since scientists began tracking cicadas — will hit 76 of Kentucky’s 120 counties and about 20 states. According to the University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Letcher County can expect heavy cicada infestation.

. For this school year, Kentucky is estimated to be in 37th place in average teacher salaries, compared with the revised ranking of 40th place in 1985-86. Average salaries are projected to be $22,612 in Kentucky this year, but the actual figures will not be known until next year. Letcher County’s highest paid teacher received $24,325 per year, while a beginning teacher with a master’s degree makes $15,865, according to Letcher County Board of Education pay schedules.

Wednesday, May 14, 1997 Kentucky State Police will investigate allegations that thousands of dollars’ worth of timber was illegally cut on county-owned property near Fishpond Lake.

. The Letcher County school system expects to spend about $160,000 this summer on playground equipment for the system’s nine elementary schools.

. Employees of the Letcher County school system will receive 3 percent pay raises beginning July 1. The raises are included in the system’s tentative budget for fiscal year 1988, which the Letcher County Board of Education adopted Monday night by unanimous vote. Daryl Boggs, assistant superintendent for finance in the school system, said the average annual teacher salary would go from $33,000 to $33,990 when the budget takes effect.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 In what Mayor James Wiley Craft called a “red letter day”, the Whitesburg City Council voted unanimously May 11 to approve Ordinance 2007-4, a measure which formally legalizes the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city for the first time since shortly after the end of World War II.

. With enrollment declining to three students in the sixth grade, six students in the seventh grade, and 12 students in the eighth grade, the Letcher County Board of Education voted at its January meeting to close Kingdom Come Settlement School after eighth-grade graduation on May 23. The students will be sent to Cowan Elementary School for the next school year.

. Funeral services were held May 12 for Alma Martin, 93, of Millstone. At the time of her death, Mrs. Martin and her husband, Sherd, 99, were believed to be the longest-married couple in Letcher County. The Martins celebrated their 78th wedding anniversary on October 18.

. Whitesburg correspondent Oma Hatton included picture with her column of Ethel Banks, 91, and the Weed Eater Mrs. Banks has asked for and received for her birthday.

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