Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, March 22, 1928 “A new kind of news story has gone out of the mountains!” The Mountain Eagle proclaims on its front page. “Not a story of blood and murder this time; not a story of flood and misfortune, but one of good sportsmanship and ability that matches that of the best blood of the Bluegrass, the Pennyrile, or the Jackson Purchase. It the story of the little Carr Creek basketball team.” The Eagle’s story heralds Carr Creek High School’s march to the finals of the Kentucky Boys’ State Tournament in Lexington, where they fell to Ashland High School, 13 to 11, in four overtimes. The Carr Creek team, which played the same five players without substitution the entire state tourney, still advances to the national tournament in Chicago. As a result of the team’s showing, a fund has been started to build a gymnasium for Carr Creek High, which holds practices outside. “Never before did five mountain boys play such basketball as did these Carr Creek lads,” The Eagle reports. “Ashland took the trophy of the state champions home, but Carr Creek held the hearts of the thousands who saw them play.”

. Letcher County and Perry County will receive $418,391 and $588,098, respectively, from the federal government for reconstruction of roads and bridges damaged by the recent flooding. The two counties received the most damage in the flooding by far.

. Visitors to the City of Whitesburg today would find the town to be “absolutely clean with no garbage or filth on the streets anywhere,” writes Gladys Banks, an eighth grade student at Elsiecoal School whose composition, “What I Saw On My First Trip to Whitesburg,” won a top prize from the school’s English teacher, Professor H.H. Harris. Miss Banks writes that the city is bordered by the North Fork of the Kentucky River with the L&N Railroad running through the city along the riverside. “On the south side of the railroad is a depot and other buildings including the Baptist Church and Lewis Wholesale Company, a large brick building,” she writes. “Behind these buildings is a hill that rises gradually. From the steepest part of the hill, steps made of lumber lead and past a large new frame building; this is the school gymnasium. The walks go on up the hill over the steep part to a fine, large brick building that is well modeled. This is the old school building. Just opposite this one is a new brick building … the new graded school home. This hill, known as College Hill, is beautiful. There are wagon roads convenient for delivery wagons to come up from town.” After noting a “fine concrete bridge” that crosses the river, Miss Banks writes that downtown Whitesburg has a post office: two banks, Letcher State Bank and First National Bank; Mullins Department Store; John A. Webb Store; Ideal Furniture; Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company; Fairchild and Parman Store; City Grocery; M.E. French & Company; Hogg Drug Company; Slone Shoe Shop; New Hat Shop, Hazard Lumber & Supply, and the Childers Drug Company. She also notes the presence of a number of attorney and doctor and dental offices occupying several two-story buildings along Main Street. Also existing, she writes, are “the Karlton Theatre and two barber shops; the office of the Letcher County Leader newspaper in the basement of the Hogg Building on Main Street, and the Daniel Boone Hotel, the largest building in Whitesburg. The Norman Hotel and Day Hotel are both down the street near the depot. The other interesting building is The Mountain Eagle, a brick building where our other county paper is published. In the upper part of town is Whitesburg Wholesale Company. There are also several garages in town: Kyva Motor Company, Boone Motor Company, and Miners Motor Company.”

Thursday, March 24, 1938 Neon Mayor Bill Tucker was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after suffering a chronic ailment affecting his esophagus. His condition is reported as serious.

. Whitesburg Police Chief Leroy W. Fields is calling on the town’s residents to clean up their yards as spring weather arrives. “A carelessly kept town will emphasize a spirit of vandalism, while a well kept community is a monument to the progressive policies of those who live there,” Fields says.

. Narce Whitaker, University of Kentucky sophomore and a son of Squire Whitaker, Roxana, has been given an appointment to the Army Air School at Kelly Field, Texas.

. Letcher County farmers have purchased four purebred bulls and one heifer to improve the quality of the county’s livestock. The bulls and heifer, which come from two farms in Ohio, were purchased by M.L. Webb of Mayking, Lawrence Coots of Linefork, B.R. Adams of Cram Creek, and John M. Tolliver of Democrat. “These men are doing a great service for their neighbors and their county by getting in good purebred stock,” says Letcher County Extension Agent Clay A. Colson.

. Residents of the City of Neon will vote March 28 on whether to issue bonds for the purpose of constructing a municipal building and to proved funds for the improvement of city streets. The bonds must be authorized by vote of two-thirds of qualified residents.

. Only three Major League Baseball managers who can also take their turn playing in the field or facing opposing pitchers in the batting box will be left in the big time when the new season opens April 19. They are Jimmy Dykes of the Chicago Whites Sox, Joe Cronin of the Boston Red Sox, and Jimmy Wilson of the Philadelphia Phillies. Cronin, 31, was named the American League’s top shortstop last season. As many as nine playermanagers were in the big leagues just a few seasons ago, including such greats as Detroit Tigers catcher Mickey Cochran, who announced recently that he will only manage after being severely injured by an errant pitch last season.

. Ab Kirwan is the new head football coach at the University of Kentucky.

. About 100 men are working on the Blackey to Bull Creek Road.

Thursday, March 25, 1948 Letcher County Sheriff Herman Combs testified yesterday that he and his son-inlaw were sitting in an automobile when sheriff ’s deputies Dave Galloway and Willard Hall were shot to death in the home of Leonard Fields near Oven Fork. Fields, 52, is on trial in Pike Circuit Court after a change of venue from Letcher County, and is one of four charged in the double murder. Mrs. Clarabelle Boggs, a neighbor of Fields, testified that she went to the Fields home on the night of the slayings to look for her husband, who she thought was there playing cards. She said that when she left the home after being unable to find her husband, Fields followed her outside, hit her on the head with a blackjack, and then beat her. She said that when her son left his automobile to come to her aid, Fields beat him, too. She also testified that Fields’s son, Charles, who is also charged with the murders, fired a gun at her son. She said she was able to escape the scene and later called the sheriff ’s office to report the crimes against them. Sheriff Combs testified that he and J.W. McWilliams of Louisville sat in the car while the two deputies went inside to investigate. Combs said that after hearing two shots fired, McWilliams was able to look inside a window and “see a part of the bodies of two men lying on the floor.” McWilliams then suggested to Combs that they return to Whitesburg for help. Defense attorney J.W. Moore said in his opening statement to the jury that Mrs. Leonard Fields “will admit it was she who took the lives” of the deputies, adding that she would “testify that she did so in selfdefense.”

. The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce has organized two new clubs in Letcher County, one in Neon and one in Whitesburg. Membership in the “Jaycees” is open to men 21 through 35 years of age. Dr. Sam Quillen was elected president of the Neon club. Woodrow Dawahare is president of the Whitesburg club.

. A petition is being prepared to question the constitutionality of a bill recently passed by the state legislature that would redistrict the judicial setup in the counties of Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Bell, Harlan and Pike. Governor Earle Clements has not acted on the bill.

. Nearly every coal mine in southeastern Kentucky remained closed this week as the United Mine Workers continue to strike after operators refused union demands to fund its Health and Welfare Fund with a 10 cent royalty on each ton of coal mined.

. Some automobiles may run on natural gas beginning a year from now. Standard Oil Company of Indiana and Carthage- Hydrocol Inc. are presently building plants to make synthetic gasoline out of natural gas.

. Funeral services were held March 7 at Colly Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Craft’s Colly for Army Staff Sergeant Chester F. Holbrook, whose body was returned here for burial nearly four years after he was killed in action while advancing into enemy territory with his machine gun section. Holbrook, son of William M. and Rachel Hall Holbrook of Craft’s Colly, was shot in the chest on July 8, 1944 during the battle for control of Saipan. “As your son was hit and fell, he requested that his men go forward and complete their mission,” Captain Joseph T. Willey wrote to Holbrook’s mother. “The action of the guns that day assisted the forward movement of their lines a great deal.”

Thursday, March 27, 1958 Fleming-Neon High School will be rebuilt on the same site as the building that burned last month. W.B. Hall, Letcher County schools superintendent, said a state Department of Education official visited Letcher County last week and decided the site was the only feasible one for a new school building. The new Fleming-Neon school, estimated to cost about $400,000, will have 14 or 15 rooms to accommodate the student body of about 400 pupils. The building that burned had only 10 rooms and was overcrowded.

. A mountain team failed to advance to the semifinal round of the Kentucky State High School Basketball Tournament for the first time in many years. After trouncing Covington Grant by the most lopsided score in the tournament, 87 to 49, the powerful Hazard Bulldogs fell by three points to Daviess County to end the streak.

. Another rabid dog was found in Letcher County this week. The animal bit the small daughter of Fenley Combs, Millstone, last Friday. The dog was later

found to be rabid after its head was sent to Lexington for testing. The dog is the third rabid animal to be killed in Letcher County in the last month. Another dog and a cow tested positive earlier. The county has no dog warden to catch stray or unlicensed dogs and no pound in which to keep strays.

. The Whitesburg Woman’s Club will sponsor a book and magazine drive for the benefit of the Letcher County Bookmobile and Public Library on Monday, April 7. Two bookmobiles and the library, located behind the county jail, service 84 county schools and the 39,500 people living in Letcher County. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will make a house-to-house pickup of books and magazines between 4 and 6 p.m.

. Noting that our May Primary election “is only two months away,” Mountain Eagle editor Tom Gish writes that now “is a good time to start thinking about a thing that would do a lot for the cumbersome election process in Letcher County — voting machines. Purchase of machines would offer many advantages to the county. The expense of holding election could be reduced sharply. And we could all feel certain that our votes would count, and be counted, just the way we intend them.”

. Mr. and Mrs. James M. Caudill of Neon and their daughter, Anna Laura, were in Lexington last week where Anna Laura appeared on the WLEX television program, “Kentucky Blue Grass Personality,” where she modeled clothing for the Tots and Teens Shop and was also interviewed.

. John Wayne and Janet Leigh star in “Jet Pilot,” a Howard Hughes-presented movie showing March 30 through April 1 at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

. Mr. and Mrs. Ed Moore of Whitesburg have named their new daughter Melody Ann. She was born March 20 at Memorial Hospital.

. William Reed Hall, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Hall of Whitesburg, celebrated his second birthday with a party in the Fellowship Hall of the Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Thursday, March 21, 1968 Letcher County is one of 29 Kentucky counties designated this week as recipients of part of a $10 million program to provide emergency food and medical care. The program’s sponsors say it is designed to attack starvation and malnutrition among the nation’s poor. It is a joint operation of the federal Departments of Agriculture and Health, Education and Welfare, and the Office of Economic Opportunity.

. A countywide cleanup campaign will begin next week in Letcher County. The campaign is sponsored by the Opposition Committee to the Kingdom Come Dam, who feel that the county’s case against construction of the proposed dam would be strengthened considerably if the county is cleaned up to the point that its natural beauty can come shining through. The recent trip to eastern Kentucky by Senator Robert Kennedy also contributed to the drive. Senator Kennedy expressed dismay at the great number of junk automobiles littering the countryside.

. Marine Captain Bert Francis of Whitesburg has been awarded the Navy Commendation Medal. Capt. Francis was cited for meritorious service with the First 133mm Gun Battery of the Fourth Battalion of the 12th Marines of the Third

Marine Division. His citation states he performed with exceptional skill and versatility in a number of operations against enemy forces. It also states that when his commanding officer was wounded, Capt. Francis took over the job although he was only a first lieutenant at the time. He is the son of Sabina Francis of Whitesburg and is married to the former Arlayne Collins.

. Rep. Carl D. Perkins this week filed declaration papers for re-nomination as Democratic candidate for Congress in the Seventh Congressional District. Perkins is seeking his 11th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Thursday, March 16, 1978 United Mine Workers officials were called to Washington to review another controversial contract proposal, developed by negotiators from the union and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association. The meeting was shifted from UMW headquarters to the U.S. Department of Labor after the union headquarters building was taken over by a group of 250 miners from Ohio. The miners urged rejection of the latest union-industry contract.

. During an investigation that lasted more than six months, it appears that federal mining officials have found no new evidence relating to the twin March 1976 methane gas explosions at the Scotia Mine. Last week the Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration cited the Scotia Coal Co. for 72 violations of federal mine safety law, but none of the citations provided any clues as to the cause of the explosions that were not brought out in a public hearing on the disaster held two years ago. There were 22 citations for violations of mine ventilation regulations, that showed that Scotia was not following its approved ventilation plan, had removed numerous ventilation “stoppings”, allowing short-circuits of ventilation patterns, and that Scotia did not have an up-to-date mine map. Twenty-six men died in the two explosions.

. The Whitesburg City Council is increasing residential garbage rates from $3 to $5 a month. The new rate will be assessed as a sanitation tax, which enables residents to deduct it from their income tax.

. Sergeant First Class Richard A. Campbell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Troy Campbell of Blackey, recently participated in “Empire Glacier 78” at Fort Drum, N.Y. which has near arctic conditions. The exercise is meant to teach the soldier, from commander to private, how to cope with and survive in a cold weather environment.

Wednesday, March 23, 1988 The Letcher Fiscal Court has passed an emergency anti-litter ordinance that some have described as “strong as lye.” Anyone convicted of violating the ordinance could be liable for as much as $750 in fines and fees and/or seven days to 12 months in jail. Residents have 30 days to clean up litter piles they have already accumulated. The ordinance says Letcher County is suffering from litter, garbage, and insanitary conditions, “all of which adversely affect the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Letcher County.”


Author and attorney Harry M. Caudill talks in an article in The Mountain Eagle about the primitive coal industry which operated in Appalachia as far back as 1732. Caudill writes, “By 1760 numerous coal mines were in operation along the James River. They were strip mines operating in thin, shallow seams. The coal was uncovered by gangs of slaves and was hauled in wagons to homes and manufactories, or delivered to flat-boats that carried it down the river to iron mongers.”

. Fans are following the Fleming-Neon Lady Pirates to Frankfort to watch the team battle Ohio County in the first game of the girls’ state basketball tournament. This is the first time in the history of Fleming-Neon High School that any basketball team — boys’ or girls’ — has played in a state tournament.

. Esther Layne Hamilton of Middletown, Ohio, formerly of Letcher County, celebrated her 106th birthday on March 14.

Wednesday, March 18, 1998 State officials have fined Golden Oak Mining Co. $1,000 for “upsetting the hydrological balance” of Camp Branch and surrounding areas through mining activity. State Rep. Paul Mason said he was told that the company is also under orders to replace water supplies of families affected by Golden Oak mining activities with a water supply of equal quality.

. The Veterans Administration has issued a bronze marker commemorating the death of Jesse James Gilmore, a U.S. Navy storekeeper who was only 21 years old when he died while being held a prisoner of war by the Japanese in a Philippine Islands prison camp. Gilliam’s half-brother, Willard Gilliam of Premium, said the family applied for the marker at the urging of former Letcher County resident Thomas V. Edwards, who served with Jesse Gilliam in a Civilian Conservation Corps camp before both men enlisted in the Navy.

. ”One of the saddest days of my life came last month when our old high school (Kingdom Come High School) had to be demolished,” writes Linefork Area correspondent Bonnie Ingram. She says the school building was neglected and the roof started leaking and caused it to rot down from inside. “A strong storm of heavy, wet snow caused the already weakened roof to fall on down and pushed out the front of the third floor and also the back side.”

. The Whitesburg Lady ’Jackets are the 1997-98 53rd District junior varsity champions. The team has a 19-1 record for the year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 Letcher County Attorney Harold Bolling issued criminal summons to 22 parents whose children are in the sixth grade or below and have had between 15 and 30 unexcused absences for this school year. Of the 13 parents who showed up, two pleaded guilty and were sentenced to supervised probation for two years. Those who pleaded not guilty are due back in district court on March 25.

. The Letcher County Fiscal Court is proceeding against county residents with overdue garbage bills over $500. The original plan was to bring suit against 50 individuals with bills over $500, then the decision was made to go after 25 at a time to keep from flooding the court system. The lawsuits will be filed April 1.

. The families of Bemis and Irene Pratt and Charlie and Christine Whitaker will hold an open house to celebrate the couples’ 50th wedding anniversaries. The brides are identical twins and the two couples were married in a double wedding ceremony on March 29, 1958.

. “About a week ago last Sunday it snowed about eight inches of snow,” writes Kingscreek correspondent Margie Ison. “Jessica Wells and Wendy Ison were riding boxes down the hill. They were having a good time. They flattened down the hill pretty well. So just remember if you don’t have anything to ride when it snows, cardboard is a good sled.”

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