Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, January 26, 1928 Southern mountaineers are more peaceful than average residents of large cities, Berea College professor William Jesse Baird declared in a lecture delivered in New York City on January 25. “More than 5,000,000 people inhabit the strictly mountain region of the south,” Baird is quoted as saying in a story published by the Louisville Times. “There are more murders in one month in a city with a population less than that than there are in an entire year in the mountains. You can travel in entire safety in the mountains if you attend to your own business.”

. A steam shovel is gnawing a road to the point atop Pine Mountain. The plan calls for construction of a three-mile circle, which will go around the house Bob Harris recently built there. While the road will be privately owned, it will connect with the state highway and will be open to the public when completed.

. The trial of Arlie Day, charged with murdering Wilson Miles, ended last Wednesday when prosecutors filed a motion for dismissal of the charges. Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney O.A. Stump asked that the charges be dropped after it became clear during the trial that the 15-year-old Day was acting in self defense on the night of February 20, 1927, when he stabbed Miles in the left breast. Day testified that on the night of the fight, he was visiting Miles, who was his brotherin law, when Miles insulted Day and Day left. According to Day, Miles followed him to the gate and attacked him in the head with a rock. Day said he then struck back at Miles with the knife.

. Children now occupy new school buildings at Fleming, Blackey, and Campbell’s Branch, along with the three-room schoolhouse on Colly. The new school on Kingscreek will be occupied next Monday. According to Superintendent Arlie Boggs, there are now approximately 600 Letcher County boys and girls in high school.

. Miss Lora Combs, young daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Combs of Whitesburg, suffered painful burns a few nights ago when her clothing caught fire as she passed a grate. The accident occurred about 3 a.m. while Miss Combs was up to help her mother, who was sick at the time.

Thursday, January 27, 1938 Thornton School student Emma Jean Amburgey defeated 37 other Letcher County students to win the Letcher County Spelling Bee, held before a large crowd Saturday in the Whitesburg Grade School Auditorium. She advances to the state spelling bee sponsored by The Courier-Journal of Louisville.

. Wilson Renaker was elected president of the board of directors of Kyva Motor Company of Whitesburg during the company’s annual stockholders meeting held recently. Renaker was not present at the meeting, marking the first company gathering he has missed since he founded the firm 16 years ago. He has been hospitalized in Asheville, North Carolina for the past four months, but has shown much improvement lately and is expected to return to work soon.

. Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. star in the drama “The Prisoner of Zenda,” showing Wednesday and Thursday at the Bentley Theatre in downtown Neon.

. Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray and John Barrymore star in the comedy “True Confession,” showing February 1 and 2 at the Kentucky Theatre in downtown Whitesburg.

Thursday, January 29, 1948 The Jenkins Hospital has been sold to the Sisters of the Divine Providence. They will take over operations April 1, and bring in their own hospital staff.

. An early Monday morning fire destroyed the home of Letcher County Jailer John Gose and his wife. The home is located next door to the offices of The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg. The fire started in a defective flue, and was discovered by Mrs. Gose after she awoke to start breakfast.

. Winter weather intervened the week to delay for at least “a few more days” the completion of the final link of a new $3 million project to open new coalfields having estimated reserves of 250 million tons. The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway announced that the laying of the track through the new Pine Mountain Tunnel beneath Pound Gap has been held up by snow and ice. The railway’s announcement also said there will be no ceremony marking the inauguration of the new 22- mile line, which extends from its Big Sandy division at Wayland in Floyd County to Wise County, Virginia. The tunnel is being called the biggest engineering project ever undertaken in eastern Kentucky.

. With the cooperation of the members of Kappa Alpha fraternity and the sanction of University of Kentucky officials, the Confederate flag flew over the state university campus for a day last week in observance of General Robert E. Lee’s birthday anniversary. The red flag crossed by two blue bars and dotted with 13 white stars flew under the Stars and Stripes with due deference to the Union.

. Several cases of spinal meningitis have broken out in the Neon area.

. The Blackey Ramp is back in the business of shipping coal after several truck mines that had been closed are now up and running again.

. The Letcher County Board of Education has authorized Superintendent Martha Jane Potter to call for bids for the demolition and removal of the old Bear Branch School building at Gilley.

Thursday, January 30, 1958 Annexation will save money for most property owners whose land is taken into the City of Whitesburg, Mayor Arthur T. Banks says. Banks issued a statement Thursday in support of a proposal now before the Whitesburg City Council to annex property from the mouth of Sandlick to Pine Mountain Junction. Banks says the reduced costs of fire insurance alone would more than pay the city property taxes new residents would face.

. Johnny Osley sank 14 field goals and hit four threes to give him 32 points and a new record for the Jenkins Field House as he led the Dunham Blue Devils to a 56-36 win over the Kingdom Come Wildcats. Don Coots led Kingdom Come with 17 points.

. Twenty-two Letcher County children are suffering the ravages of polio, which they contracted before the Salk vaccine was available. Eighteen of those polio victims are being helped by the Letcher County chapter of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which most people know as “The March of Dimes.” The Foundation is now raising money through its annual March of Dimes campaign.

. Letcher High School senior Betsy Kincer has received the “Homemaker of Tomorrow” award given by Betty Crocker of General Mills Inc.

. Kingdom Come High School is hosting a “sock hop” every Thursday night.

. Mr. and Mrs. R.R. Crawford Jr. have named their new daughter Nancy Evelyn. She was born January 20 at Whitesburg Memorial Hospital.

. Susan Hayward and Kirk Douglas star in “Top Secret Affair,” followed by Randolph Scott in “7th Cavalry” as the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg presents a double feature on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, January 30-February 1.

Thursday, January 25, 1968 The Army Corps of Engineers painted a glowing picture — complete with Technicolor slides — of the proposed Kingdom Come Dam, but the 600 Letcher County residents who saw it did not seem to be much impressed. At a public hearing at Calvary College, the Letcher County people indicated beyond doubt that they want no part of a dam that would destroy 25 percent of the county’s tax base and move 30 percent of its people.

. A permanent public works program, similar to the old Works Progress Administration of the Roosevelt Administration, was proposed this week by Rep. Carl D. Perkins to help the unemployable in eastern Kentucky and other rural areas and in cities. Perkins said he approves of President Johnson’s new proposal for training programs for 500,000 “hard-core” unemployed, but, he said, the program does not go far enough in helping the poor.

. U.S. Navy Petty Officer George M. Webb, assigned to the Navy Submarine Base at New London, Conn., has been selected as Serviceman of the Month for January , 1968. Webb, 24, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond L. Webb of Mayking. He is the editor of the New London Submarine Base newspaper, The Dolphin, which recently won the Chief of Naval Information Merit Award. He expects to be transferred to duty in Vietnam in March.

. The sale of Moore and Craft Funeral Home in Whitesburg to Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Collins was announced this week. The previous owners were Mr. and Mrs. Archie Craft and Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand Moore.

Thursday, January 19, 1978 Coal county legislators have begun lobbying for Rep. Bill Weinberg’s coal severance tax proposal over opposition from Gov. Julian Carroll’s administration. Weinberg’s bill, presented this week to the General Assembly, would return 50 percent of the coal tax receipts more-or-less directly to counties producing the coal.

. The United Mine Workers Health and Retirement Fund is cutting off pensions to coal miners who retired in 1975 or earlier. The Funds said the current coal strike has depleted its resources and that February pension checks would not be mailed. About $20 million would be needed to make the payments to the more than 80,000 retired miners who benefit from the pension plan.

. At least 12 inches of snow has fallen in Letcher County, and forecasters were predicting another 14 to 18 inches of fresh snow on top of the snow already on hand, but it warmed up and rained. Letcher schools were closed all of last week and appear likely to miss this week also. Fears are that a quick thaw would bring on a flood.

. Whitesburg Postmaster R.C. Day Jr., says mail carriers are having trouble getting to curbside or roadside mailboxes. In some cases, the boxes are almost buried by ice and snow piled on the side of the road by snowplows, and in others they are snowed in by the large amount of snow that fell.

Wednesday, January 27, 1988 Twenty million gallons of water — 80 percent of Fleming-Neon’s water reserves — apparently disappeared overnight, and the city is urging residents not to wash cars or use any water unnecessarily. Elbert Richardson, of the city’s utility commission, said one pump burned out when the water level in the abandoned Shea’s Fork mine dropped below the pump and the city had to move to another well.

. Henry T. “Hut” Hutton will receive Berea College’s Carter G. Woodson Award in February, during Black History Month. The award, named after the Berea College alumnus and historian who launched Negro History Week in 1926, is presented each year for “efforts to foster the development, unity or research of black communities.” Hutton became the first black mine owner in the area in 1958. He was the first black county constable, and was a Fleming city councilman, chief of the Fleming Fire Department, president of the Lions Club, a Mason, and a deacon of the Corinth Baptist Church.


In an article on slavery in the United States, author and attorney Harry M. Caudill writes that Kentucky mountain counties contained few slaves, but there were 55 in Letcher County who were the property of 17 owners. Of the Letcher County slaves, 25 were males and 30 were females. They ranged in age from 60 years down to six months.

. The unbeaten Fleming-Neon Lady Pirates kept their streak intact with decisions over Virgie, 54-44, Letcher, 51-34, and Breathitt County, 70-60.

Wednesday, January 21, 1998 An abandoned coal mine at Cow Branch near Isom is expected to contain about 350 million gallons of water which may serve as a reservoir for Letcher County residents. Engineers said they hope to start pumping water from the mine next month to determine the amount and quality of the water. The engineers say it may be feasible, if the mine water tests out to be plentiful, to construct a water system for the residents of Camp Branch and nearby areas whose wells have been destroyed by recent underground mining activity of Golden Oak Mining Company.

. Former Letcher County Sheriff Ben Buster” Taylor has decided not to seek the sheriff ’s office again in the May primary election. Taylor had picked up filing papers and told supporters he intended to run, but in an ad in this week’s Mountain Eagle, he announces his decision to “just remain a dedicated citizen of this county.”

. Heartwood of Kentucky, an environmental group, has challenged the decision to allow U.S. 119 to pass through a newly acquired portion of Bad Branch Nature Preserves in Letcher County. The group has filed an administrative appeal of the decision, and has filed a notice of the group’s intention to go to court if necessary. The lawsuit would contend that the state nature preserve commission ignored the federal Endangered Species Act.

. Justin Reynolds, an eighth-grade student at Whitesburg Middle School, has won the school-level competition of the National Geographic Bee. He will now take a written test for the state title.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 Construction is expected to begin this spring on U.S. 119 between Eolia and Partridge said state highway officials. Bids for construction should be awarded in February or March, and the widening and straightening of the road will begin soon after.

. Letcher County employees have requested an 8 percent raise in the 2008- 2009 budget, but are not likely to get it. Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward said that while he sympathizes with the workers, recently-announced cuts in state funding will probably make it impossible to fund a raise beyond the 2 percent raise that is already planned.

. Six water projects are slated to receive most of Letcher County’s coal-severance tax receipts during the next two years. The Letcher County Fiscal Court has recommended that $6.75 million in coal-severance funds be applied to water projects planned for the communities of Mayking, Payne Gap, Millstone, Premium, Red Star and Hallie.

. Several automobile accidents occurred Monday on a section of the Whitesburg Bypass after a leak from the Tunnel Hill water tank caused road conditions to be extremely icy and slick. “It was a disaster area. You couldn’t even stand up on it,” said Whitesburg Police Chief Scott Adams. Adams said the area of KY 15 across from the old Whitesburg High School was iced over, causing at least five wrecks without injuries.

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