Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1928 The town of Neon is the focus of a new newspaper published in Clintwood, Virginia and being distributed in Letcher County under the name The Neon News. J.T. Adams is the editor and publisher.

. Letcher County is home to three First National Banks, at Fleming, Jenkins and Whitesburg. The Whitesburg bank has the most assets ($885,892), followed by Jenkins ($746,147), and Fleming ($373,362).

. Drainage and grading work has begun on new streets leading to and around College Hill in Whitesburg. Henry Deal is in charge of the project to give better access — hopefully with a concrete or crushed stone road — to the Whitesburg High and Graded school buildings.

. “Whitesburg is becoming more and more better-fixed on the county’s map,” The Mountain Eagle observes in a frontpage commentary. “To repeat that it is the place to which a great number of our county people come frequently for business purposes or otherwise is not necessary. But to call attention to the fact that it must be kept a model town in every possible respect is another. Why? People are coming here not only from the county, but also from every known section on the outside. Last Sunday, probably 100 people were in the city from Hazard and Perry and Knott counties alone. Did these people find the streets, sidewalks and gutters clean? Or did they find them dirty and filthy? They’ll go away and talk (about) the way they found them.”

. Ned Ison, one of Letcher County’s first school teachers and is still in the profession, manifested the proper spirit last Saturday by contributing the sum of $5 to the Red Cross Florida Relief Fund. Mr. Ison said he donated the sum to help Floridians recover from the Great Okeechobee Hurricane of September 26 because the Red Cross was here to help Letcher County residents recover from last year’s severe flooding. [The hurricane killed between 2,500 and 3,000 people.]

. The Hon. A.J. May, candidate for U.S. Congress, was in Ermine visiting voters and his cousin, Mrs. F.P. Fletcher.

. The public auction of the Dan Fields property on the western end of downtown Whitesburg is being described as a huge success after all lots were purchased at prices totaling more than $12,000.

. Visitors from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Dr. Muller) and Dayton, Ohio (Mr. Haley) visited the Kingdom Come School recently to deliver the good that work will start soon on a new school building. Kingdom Come High School now has a total enrollment of 26 students. The school also has a good basketball team, which is made up of Melvin Cornett, Fred Crase, Manas Ison, Quinton Ison, and Vernon Whitaker.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1938 Escaped murderer Stephen Blair was captured in Cumberland last week and brought to the Letcher County Jail. Blair and his brother were given life sentences in the Letcher Circuit Court for the killing of Riley Combs, a Rockhouse farmer. They escaped from state prison about two months ago. The other brother is still at large.

. The trial of Mrs. Ola Boggs Jones, the schoolteacher mother of two who was charged with murdering Mrs. Lola Adams in July, began Tuesday in Letcher Circuit Court and ended with her being acquitted by the jury. Mrs. Jones is the wife of Leland Jones, who is also a school teacher here. She had been accused of killing Mrs. Adams in a fit of jealousy. The jury deliberated evidence for only 10 minutes before returning the verdict of not guilty.

. Deputy Sheriff Steve Adams, recently transferred from service in the Blackey area to Kona, was badly beaten and seriously injured Saturday night while trying to arrest a young man who was drinking and disturbing the peace. Adams is being treated at the Seco Hospital.

. Publishing a “noted weekly” like The Mountain Eagle can be “a heavy and strenuous” task, writes the paper’s new publisher, W.P. Nolan. Nolan, the publisher of The Neon News, said he wants to assure readers he will “undertake this task with the fullest confidence that readers and businessmen will render every assistance in helping us to make its publication possible.” The comments appear on the front page of this week’s edition of The Eagle, the first published since Nolan bought the paper in a court-ordered sale. Nolan has hired as The Eagle’s new associate editor Nehemiah M. Webb, who founded the paper in 1907 and edited it for a total of 25 years during two separate stints before leaving the post two years ago to go to work for The Neon News.

. The Jenkins Drum and Bugle Corps, the Harlan High School Band and others perform music at the “Let’s Dam Cumberland River” rally on Saturday, October 16, at the Letcher County Club.


“One of the worst conditions with which we have had to contend is child desertion and parents failing to support their infant children,” the Letcher County Grand Jury writes in its report to Letcher Circuit Judge R. Monroe Fields. “This is disgusting, since who are responsible for bringing little children into the world and abandon said children while the wife and mother of said children is helpless.”

. Rhudell Burklow, substituting for the ill Lawrence Smith, led the Fleming Pirates to a 28-0 win over the Jenkins Cavaliers Saturday night. The Pirates will next play the Van Lear eleven.

. An all-time high of 3,604 students are enrolled this fall semester at the University of Kentucky. Nineteen of the students are from Letcher County.

. Doty Creek defeated Smoot Creek, 21 to 4, in a basketball game played on Smoot.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1948 Seven murders trials are scheduled this month in Letcher Circuit Court. Two trials are set for October 14, when Earl Bentley will be tried for the murder of former Neon police officer Hillard Bates and Townsel Collins and Hassel Brock will be tried in the killing of George West of Smoot Creek. B.M. Bentley will be tried on October 15 for the murder Miles M. Holbrook, and Alvin Grey will be tried on October 19 for the killing of his wife, Bessie. Shorty Marcum and Dock Bentley, who are charged with murdering Lena Harris of Neon, will be tried October 20. On October 25, Willie and James Cook will stand trial for killing a Gibson man on Rockhouse Creek. H.D. Kilbourne will be tried for murder October 26 in the death of Curt Bolling.

. Herman Hale of Whitesburg is the new president of the Kentucky Bankers Association.

. Hazard High School defeated the Whitesburg Yellowjackets, 14 to 7. James Gose scored Whitesburg’s only touchdown.

. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that building a flood control dam on the Poor Fork of the Cumberland River in Letcher County would come at a cost that “would far exceed the benefits that might be expected to accrue.”

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1958 A Letcher County school bus driver was being held in the Harlan County Jail today, charged with the murder of persons at Cumberland Monday. The school bus driver, Lilly Coots, 64, of Linefork was charged with two counts of willful murder in the deaths of Hobart Golden, about 60, of Lynch, and a woman identifi ed as Lillian Moehle, about 38. Coots, who drives for the county school system in the Linefork area, is also a Letcher County constable. Golden was the owner of the I and T Bar, where the shooting occurred. Coots, who had apparently been dating Moehle, walked into the bar and opened fire without saying a word. Witnesses say he yelled the words “That’ll teach you” when he left the bar.

. Maxwell Oliver was indicted on a charge of murder this week in connection with the slaying of Conley Potter several weeks ago.

. Whitesburg’s Lloyd Hodge has moved into the number one fullback slot for the University of Kentucky even though he is only a sophomore. Fleming-Neon’s Henry Johnson has chosen to be redshirted, which means he won’t be able to play this season but will have another year of eligibility. UK Coach Blanton Collier has also asked Bill Elkins of Jenkins to red-shirt.


Letcher County residents will vote November 4 on the question of whether the county’s government should be switched from being represented by magistrates and the county judge to “having a fiscal court composed of three commissioners and the county judge.”

. Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn star in “Love In The Afternoon,” showing Tuesday and Wednesday at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1968 Whitesburg Attorney Harry M. Caudill and Dr. Joseph Maloney, director of the Urban Studies Center at the University of Louisville, will debate the pros and cons of encouraging mountain residents to migrate to other areas at the Boone Fork Community Center at Fleming.

. Problems of money and politics are troubling the LKLP Community Action Council, an agency formed to aid poor families in Letcher and three other mountain counties. The political problem involves the candidacies of two employees who are working on a LKLP program and also are running for the Perry County Board of Education in opposition to Supt. Alex Eversole. Program supervisors say they have tried to dissuade the two men but cannot. The federal Office of Economic Opportunity, which provides financing for LKLP, says it considers school board races nonpartisan and will not interfere; OEO regulations prohibit employees of community action agencies from taking part in partisan political races. LKLP’s money problem involves the proposed employment of a North Carolina man as executive director of Eastern Kentucky Housing Development Corporation at a salary of $17,000 a year, which is several thousand dollars more than other LKLP employees receive.

. Hoover Dawahare has been elected chairman and treasurer for the Democratic Party campaign in Letcher County.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1978 The long-awaited Whitesburg Bypass has been delayed again with the contractor dropping from the project. Bids for the 2.3-mile section, connecting Kentucky 15 at the west city limits with Kentucky 119, are being invited for a second time.

. Letcher County Attorney Forrest Cook said he will meet with state auditors to discuss statements contained in an audit of Letcher County finances. A letter from Kentucky Auditor George L. Atkins listed numerous violations of Kentucky law and stated that business associates of thencounty Judge Estill Blair had used public money to purchase materials for private use.

. Five people escaped from the Letcher County Jail, according to Sheriff Vernon Hall. The escapees are Vernon Pack, Larry Johnson, Corbin Slone, Ronnie Litton and a juvenile. Hall said the men had sawed through 1/4-inch thick metal into the jail plumbing section. They sawed off locks to two doors and removed a piece of plywood above an air conditioner in the jail hallway and made their escape down a rope made of sheets tied together, Hall said.

. “The Bad News Bears Go to Japan” is playing at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg this weekend.


A 100-year-old iron cauldron used to cook the annual soupbean supper at Isom Pic Pac during Isom/Letcher Day of the Mountain Heritage Festival has been stolen. The kettle was borrowed from Bennett Adams of Sassafras, and was locked inside a chain link fence beside the store. Someone cut the lock and stole the pot. Gwen Christon, manager of the store, is offering a $100 reward for the return of the pot.

. Kentucky Educational Television said would refuse to present a documentary by Appalshop of Whitesburg about the movement for reform of the broadform deed, and families whose land had been mined under provisions of the broadform deed. KET officials said they canceled the documentary because they felt the program on broadform deed abuses made too powerful a statement for broadcast prior to the Nov. 8 election, when an amendment of the broadform deed will be voted upon.

. The Fleming-Neon Pirates took over sole possession of second place in District 2 standings with a 32-0 shutout of Johns Creek.

. Ollie Combs Riley marked her 94th birthday October 5. Forty relatives and friends helped her celebrate at her home at Pratt Branch.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 1998 Emergency-911 operators handled 37 calls from Letcher County during a seven-day period. Kentucky State Police Captain Danny Webb said 10 of the 37 calls were requests for law enforcement; nine calls were made to request ambulance service; two calls were made to report injury accidents; and one call required response from a fire department. Webb said 911 operators also received 15 hang-up calls.

. Letcher County’s unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in August, down from 7.1 percent in July and 8.5 percent from August of 1997.

. Flu season is just around the corner, so Kentucky health officials are encouraging Kentuckians, especially those more than 65 years old, to get a flu shot between now and November to get the best protection.

. The menu for Letcher County schools for October includes country fried steak, corndogs, pizza, and chicken and dumplings.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2008 State prosecutors have asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to reverse a recent decision by the Court of Appeals which says Jason Ray Ison, 24, of Letcher County, was wrongfully convicted of six criminal charges filed against him after his wife and two other passengers in his car were killed in a traffic accident near Whitesburg in October 2005. A motion for discretionary review says the Appeals Court was wrong when it ruled that Letcher Circuit Judge Samuel Wright III should have ended the April 2007 trial of Ison and found Ison innocent by directed verdict when evidence showed that Ison was not intoxicated at the time the wreck occurred.

. Ice correspondent Sara C. Ison and her husband, Clarence, marked their 70th wedding anniversary on September 24. “Time passes so quickly,” she writes. “You can hardly think we have been together 70 years.”

. University of Kentucky entomologist Lee Townsend says yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects seem to be especially troublesome when it is dry and food and moisture become scarce. He said the insects are much more persistent in attacking fruits or coming to soft drinks and other attractive items.

. Letcher County Central easily defeated non-district foe Leslie County 47-0 to improve its record to 4-1 (2-1 in district), but the competition will be stronger this Friday when the Cougars host district leader Whitley County at Ermine.

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