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The Way We Were

Pictured here is a copy of a portion of the front page of the June 2, 1927 edition of The Mountain Eagle. At least 16 Letcher County residents, most of them women and children, died earlier that week in one of the worst floods in the history of the Central Appalachian region. The flood occurred about six weeks after the more highly-publicized Great 1927 Mississippi River Flood.

Pictured here is a copy of a portion of the front page of the June 2, 1927 edition of The Mountain Eagle. At least 16 Letcher County residents, most of them women and children, died earlier that week in one of the worst floods in the history of the Central Appalachian region. The flood occurred about six weeks after the more highly-publicized Great 1927 Mississippi River Flood.

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, June 2, 1927 The death list from the terrific storm that swept through Letcher County Saturday night has mounted to 16, with reports saying it might reach 20. Property damage cannot be estimated. Houses are damaged beyond repair; livestock and poultry drowned, and whole farms practically ruined. The fury of the flood far exceeded anything that has ever hit this area in its history. Several persons are still missing and feared dead. Among the bodies recovered were those of Patton Jones and grandchild of Kingscreek; Mrs. Rich Whitaker of Rockhouse Creek, near Blackey; Mrs. Chester Fields, Spicewood Branch of Kingdom Come Creek; Mrs. Green Callahan and two children, a son Dewey and a 9-year-old daughter; Mrs. Tom Royse and daughter; Mrs. Arnold Adkins, mouth of Mill Branch, and Mrs. Henry Caudill and three children on Linefork.

. Members of the national press continue to heap praise on the “greatest sporting spectacle ever seen at Churchill Downs,” the 53rd running of the Kentucky Derby held in Louisville earlier this month. “In one of the most tremendous sporting dramas in the history of the track, 100,000 highly frenzied spectators saw Harry Payne Whitney’s Whiskery beat the flying Osmand by a scant head,” writes national sports reporter Grantland Rice. “Sweeping into the stretch Osmand, Joseph H. Widener’s great horse, had taken the lead from Jock, an outsider who had led from the start. But just back of Osmand there came jockey Linus McAtee on Whiskery, drawing in closer and closer, yard by yard, foot by foot, until Whiskery was on even terms with less than a hundred yards to go. No horse ever drew a greater ride than Whiskery got from McAtee, who in the last few yards put the winner in front by the margin of a final foot as 100,000 extended throats had the neighboring Kentucky hills rocking with the racket of a neck and neck race. There is no Yale-Harvard or Army-Navy football game, no heavyweight championship, no World Series that carries the color, interest and continued excitement of the Derby.”

. Floodwaters hit Elsiecoal [now officially known as Premium] just after 11 o’clock Sunday night, and within a few minutes the whole camp of Consolidated Fuel Company was under water. The house in which Brent Breeding and his family were living was swept against the railroad trestle and then crushed to pieces. All members of the family were saved except a five-year-old girl, whose body has not been recovered. Rescue workers had to chop through the roofs of other houses to reach survivors, including 13 children in one home.

. School Superintendent Arlie Boggs came in from Hazard today and reports that town has been nearly destroyed by floodwaters.

. One boy riding on the Number One train near Whitesburg says he counted 24 snakes in one “herd” on the river Monday morning.

. Practically all of the coal mining operations in Letcher County suffered great loss as a result of Sunday’s flood. Among those hit hard were the Elkhorn-Jellico, Sandlick, South Chicago Coal and Dock companies and the mines at Bastin, Kona and Sergent. Cameo Coal of Mayking and Champion Coal of Kingscreek also suffered heavy losses.

. About a score of Whitesburg men are being credited with saving the Madison Street Bridge at considerable risk of life and limb. The men risked the fast-moving waters of the flooded North Fork of the Kentucky River during the dark hours of Sunday night and early Monday morning to remove driftwood that was gathering at the bridge to prevent a logjam that would have destroyed the bridge within 30 minutes.

. The Coca-Cola Bottling Works of Whitesburg produces eight hundred dozen bottles of drinks daily in one of the most modern bottling plants to be found in a town this size, says plant manager C.L. Kilgore, adding that up to 1,240 bottles more could be produced.

Thursday, June 3, 1937 Whitesburg, which has been without firefighting equipment to date, is about to become the proud owner of a brand spanking new fire truck of the pumper variety. The new Chevrolet truck being delivered to Whitesburg within 45 days will cost approximately $4,000 and have a pumping capacity of more than 500 gallons, said Mayor H.H. Harris.

. In its weekly column “It Is So,” the Mountain Eagle reports “three of Kentucky’s principal rivers have their headwaters in Letcher County. They are the Big Sandy River, the Cumberland River, and the Kentucky River. Elkhorn Creek, which is part of the headwaters of the Big Sandy, has its source above Jenkins. Only a half-mile away is the spring at the head of the North Fork of the Kentucky River. Across Pine Mountain three miles away is the head of Poor Fork, the source of the Cumberland River.

. For the first time in the history of Harlan County, a local union of the United Mine Workers of America has been established at every principle mine. In all, 38 locals have been installed and issued charters. All of the Harlan County lies in

the 19th District of the UMW, with the exception of Benham and Lynch, which have been assigned to District 30. “The next step, following the recognition of the union, will be the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) campaign to unionize industries other than mining,” reports The Mountain Eagle. “Taxicab drivers, store clerks, waiters and waitresses are all clamoring for organization in Harlan County.”

. The Dr. Pepper Bottling Company of Whitesburg is announcing a “gigantic” advertising contest designed to make the name Dr. Pepper “a household word in this territory,” said Herman Combs of Whitesburg, who is in charge of the campaign.

. In order to protect their soft drinks from the rays of the sun, the East Kentucky Beverage Company of Pikeville has installed new lightproof bodies on delivery trucks.

. Tex Ritter stars in “Trouble in Texas,” scheduled to show June 11 and 12 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

. Red Top Ale, a beer brewed in Cincinnati, is being distributed in Letcher County by the Coca-Cola Bottling Works of Whitesburg.

. Fehr’s X-L (Xtra Lager) beer is now available in Letcher County. The Frank Fehr Brewing Company in Louisville has brewed the beer since 1872.

. The Johnson Funeral Home of Lynch and Whitesburg is building a new funeral home in the Neon area.

Thursday, June 5, 1947 Whitesburg’s softball team defeated McRoberts on Sunday, 10 to 3, in Southeast Softball League play. The McRoberts team is composed of R. Brewer, J.B. Brewer, J. Brewer, Walker, Gilliam, O. Wright, R. Wright and Cook. Making up the Whitesburg team are three Pigman brothers, two Adkins brothers, two Price brothers, R. Day and C. Ihrig. McRoberts went on to split a double-header with Neon-Fleming, losing 9 to 17 before winning 7 to 5. Members of the Neon-Fleming team are Morris, Allen, Smith, Coulter, Quillen, R. Holbrook, Potter and Collins.

. There will be an auction sell of property at Mayking on June 7 in the Edminston Subdivision No. 4, off the golf course.

. Letcher County native Astor Hogg is a candidate for the office of Kentucky Attorney General in the Democratic Primary Election set for August 2.

. Henry Cook Faulkner, 86, Hazard attorney and former circuit judge, died in Perry County June 2 of injuries he suffered when he was it by a car a short time earlier.

. Carcassonne residents Edgar Whitaker and H.D. Caudill Jr. have finished their 18 weeks of mechanical training in Nashville and are planning to open an auto repair garage soon.

. Seco is undergoing a general cleanup. The houses are being painted and papered, new roads have been graded, and the grass and weeds are being kept cut, “all of which introduces a note of pride among the citizens,” The Mountain Eagle observes.

. Soft coal operators representing 75 percent of the bituminous coal industry have rejected as “unreasonable” a 35-cent per hour wage increase being demanded by United Mine Workers of America President John L. Lewis. The operators are offering an hourly wage increase of 15 cents to $1.98.

Thursday, June 6, 1957 Former Letcher County Judge Arthur Dixon of Whitesburg has defeated current County Judge James M. Caudill of Neon in the Democratic primary election, 2,213 votes to 2,164. Dixon will now face Republican Gordon Lewis in the November 5 General Election.

. Members of the Whitesburg City Council voted this week to give Police Chief Burl Combs a pay raise of $25 per month. The pay raise was proposed by Councilman Dave Fields, who said, “if anybody has done a job that justifies a raise, our Chief of Police has”. Fields pointed out that Combs had not asked for the pay hike.

. The Whitesburg City Council has approved

a building permit for businessman Joe Reynolds, who plans to erect a twostory building on property he owns next to City Hall on Webb Avenue. Reynolds plans to use the first floor of the building for a furniture store. The building’s second floor will be used for offices.

. Plans for development of Stuart Robinson School into an independent but church-related high school were outlined during a dinner meeting at the Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church in Whitesburg on Tuesday. The Stuart Robinson property, currently valued at $1 million, is currently under lease to the Letcher County Board of Education and operated as Letcher High School.

. Kentucky Mr. Basketball Billy Ray Lickert, the Lafayette High School star who has signed to play college basketball at the University of Kentucky, will lead the East squad when they tip off against the West in Whitesburg Tuesday night for the annual East-West Kentucky All Star Basketball Classic. The game, to be held at 6 p.m. in the Whitesburg Gym, is the first of a three-game series, with the other two games set for Pikeville and Lexington.

. The Whitesburg swimming pool will open for the 1957 season on Friday. Jack Hammock will serve as pool manager this year. The pool will be open daily from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Admission is 25 cents for children under 12 and 50 cents for all others.

. The School of Professional Nursing is being established in Harlan to train nurses for the 10 hospitals, including Whitesburg Memorial, now being operated by the United Mine Workers Welfare and Retirement Fund.

. The Hank Snow Show, the Elvis Presley Show, and Rock and Roll Party are among the programs now airing daily on radio station WNKY in Neon (AM 1450).

. Miss Betty Lou Cureton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chester L. Cureton of Seco, has accepted a full-time teaching position at Eastern Kentucky State College in Richmond. A 1952 graduate of Fleming- Neon High School, she attended college at Eastern with the help of the South-East Coal Company Scholarship Plan.

. Gertrude Ann Lewis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Lewis of Whitesburg, was awarded a certificate of honor for outstanding achievement in the National French Test conducted recently in her class at Whitesburg High School.

Thursday, May 25, 1967 Letcher County voters followed the statewide trend Tuesday and chose Henry Ward and Louis B. Nunn as the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor.

. Whitesburg minister and businessman Ray Collins gained overwhelming support of fellow Letcher County Republicans Tuesday in his bid to become state senator. Letcher County voters preferred Collins by a vote of more than 9 to 1 over his Perry County Republican opponent, ex-sheriff Charlie Combs. The count in Letcher County was 1,125 votes for Collins, 104 for Combs.

. Four Letcher County men were killed accidentally Tuesday. Sol and Bill Fleming, brothers, of Jackhorn, and Anzel DePriest, of Burdine, died in a slate fall in the Hendrix No. 22 mine of Beth-Elkhorn Corporation at Deane. Lytle Sword, 32, Whitesburg, was struck by a train near the railroad tunnel just east of the Kentucky River in Whitesburg. He died an hour later.

Thursday, May 26, 1977 Former Letcher County Judge Robert B. Collins apparently will return to offi ce in January as Letcher County’s first “county judge/executive.” Collins won the Democratic nomination for the office over incumbent tax commissioner Sam Clinton Webb. Pete Ingram won the Republican nomination without opposition, but political observers don’t give him a chance to win in November.

. A $20,000 fine levied by Harlan Circuit Court against the United Mine Workers of America during the bitter Eastover strike has been reversed unanimously by the Kentucky Supreme Court in Frankfort.

. Carolyn Sue Banks is the valedictorian

at Jenkins High School, and Jennifer Sergent is the Jenkins salutatorian. At Fleming-Neon High School, Susan Smith is valedictorian and Tim Lucas is salutatorian.

. Whole hams are on sale for 97 cents a pound at the Whitesburg A&P store. Spare ribs are $36.95 for a 30-pound box.

Wednesday, May 27, 1987 The new Jenkins water treatment plant, now under construction, is the subject of a dispute between the City of Jenkins and the builders. City officials say they believe some material used to fill in around the building may be inferior.

. A strike by Whitesburg High School seniors has ended with school officials saying ‘yes’ to the students’ demand to hold graduation at the school’s football field. The students walked away from school Thursday morning after principal Gene Horn refused to change his decision to hold commencement ceremonies in the gymnasium. The ceremonies have been held on the football field for several years, and spokespersons for the senior class said they would not break the tradition.

. The City of Whitesburg should actively seek a national hotel chain to locate in downtown, a downtown revitalization study says. The study also recommends constructing a bridge to connect Broadway and Railroad streets, planting “tree scapes” in the downtown area, placing trashcans and planters in downtown, and creating 98 new parking spaces. The study was just completed by Richardson and Associates Architects of Whitesburg and Laurel Run Resources of London.

Wednesday, May 28, 1997 Letcher County officials are negotiating to lease property that would be used as a county park by next summer. Officials hope to include Little League and softball playing fields, a running track, a soccer field and a picnic area in the park.

. State health officials have warned against swimming in the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Letcher County and stretches of two other rivers and their tributaries because of contamination by raw sewage.

. Letcher County bridges washed out by flooding last March will be rebuilt according to state standards, meaning any new bridges built from now on will have to be built along state guidelines. County Judge/Executive Carroll A. Smith said the state standards are more detailed than county standards and call for additional surveying and specifications on the bridges. Bridges built before now were built according to county standards. After the March flooding, Letcher County was declared a disaster area, making it eligible for federal funding to repair damage from the flood. Officials identified 43 sites that are now being repaired, including some bridges, creek banks, slides and damaged roads.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 Consol of Kentucky says a lawsuit filed against the company by 11 Letcher County residents should be heard in federal court instead of Letcher Circuit Court. The lawsuit charges that “noxious” mud and dust coming from Consol’s mining operations and coal preparation plant on Kentucky Route 7 near Deane have harmed their health and diminished the value of their homes.

. Randall Adams, 55, who teaches diesel mechanics at Letcher County Vocational School, is riding a 26-inch electric bicycle from his home at Payne Gap to Whitesburg. Adams says he may retire from teaching and would like to start making electric bikes.

. A celebration for the 90th birthday of Pelma Blair Dixon will be held from 2 to 4 p.m., June 9, in the Jenkins Public Library. After 26 years as a second grade teacher at Burdine Elementary, she retired to become more active in her community. She has served as president of the Retired Teachers and as a board member of the Letcher County Public Library, Home Health, Jenkins Hospital, and Senior Citizens.

. Appalshop’s 21st annual Seedtime on the Cumberland Festival will be held June 4-9 in celebration of traditional mountain arts.

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