Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

In this Nov. 4, 1948 photo, President Harry S. Truman holds up an election day edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, which, based on early results, mistakenly announced “Dewey Defeats Truman.” The comeback was epitomized by a jubilant Truman hoisting a copy of the paper. (AP Photo/Byron Rollins)

In this Nov. 4, 1948 photo, President Harry S. Truman holds up an election day edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, which, based on early results, mistakenly announced “Dewey Defeats Truman.” The comeback was epitomized by a jubilant Truman hoisting a copy of the paper. (AP Photo/Byron Rollins)

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907


Vowing to “wave an adieu to politics and its vexing nature and get back to saneness,” The Mountain Eagle agreed this week “to take off its hat and welcome the choice of the American electorate, Herbert Hoover,” as president “of this, the greatest of the world’s governments.” The front-page comments about the victor, a Republican who defeated Democratic candidate Alfred E. Smith, are by Eagle editor and founder Nehemiah M. Webb. “The forces led by Herbert Hoover, heir of the present Coolidge administration, have won another deeply impressive victory,” observes Webb, who is a strong supporter of the “Democratic South.” Hoover defeated Smith in Letcher County’s 45 voting precincts, 5,365 votes to 3,496.

“No less than a thousand persons attended the (real estate) sale at Neon Saturday and stood for hours in the cold win and rain until the last lot went off the block,” The Mountain Eagle reports on its front page concerning a real estate auction in downtown Neon conducted by the Norman Realty Company of Whitesburg. “It is not strange, however, that lots of property will sell at Neon or near that center of industrial activity. The thousands of people who are employed in that section need homes and they are trying to get them.”

More than 500 football fans showed up in Whitesburg last Friday evening to witness the Hazard Bulldogs defeat the Whitesburg gridiron team, 38 to 0.

Well-known Detroit businessman U.S. Morris was a pleasant Mountain Eagle visitor this week. Mr. Morris is the receiver for the Imperial Coal Company of Sergent, which has been in the hands of a receiver for some time.

Blackey resident Marion Caudill was shot and killed by Sonny Vermillion at Bulan in Perry County. At some point before or after the shooting, Vermillion was beaten badly and cut with soft drink bottles.


Pranks associated with Halloween went too far in Letcher County Monday night, resulting in one Letcher County school teacher being injured. Cora Reynolds, a teacher at the Whitesburg Grade School, was riding in a car being driven from Neon to Whitesburg by county health official Beryl Boggs when the car ran into a wire stretched across the road. The car left the highway and rolled over, injuring Miss Reynolds so badly that she won’t be able to return to work anytime soon. Mr. Boggs escaped injury. In another Halloween incident, a Boone Motor Company mechanic who was out on a late night service call ran into a log that had been placed across the road. The mechanic’s vehicle was badly wrecked, but he escaped injury.

Letcher County’s only living Civil War pensioner visited downtown Whitesburg on Monday. She is Aunt Clara Collins, who is more than 94 years old.

“The story of the 10-year-old girl’s marriage to a 34-year-old miner over in Floyd County, whether true or untrue, is unworthy of going before the readers of the Mountain Eagle,” a front-page commentary from Mountain Eagle editor Nehemiah M. Webb says. “To herald such as this can only belittle the fair intelligence of our mountain people and belittle them to the outside world. Floyd County, the home of thousands of the best people in the world, like Letcher County, has surely suffered enough from those who would take the lowest strata of human life and air it to the world.”

After printing more than 45,000 ballots for Letcher County citizens to use in next Tuesday’s election, the staff of The Mountain Eagle had a tough time getting this week’s edition of the newspaper out to its readers on time. Also delayed were a number of job printing materials. “It’s no wonder we have been cussed by our customers because we sometimes couldn’t get their work to them as soon as they expected,” Editor Webb writes.

“You ought to walk into the new Presbyterian Church building [in Whitesburg] and see the three old-fashioned chairs donated in honor of the late Judge Andrew McConnell January Cochran and from the very church to which he belonged in Covington,” The Eagle says. “There is hardly any question these chairs have been often used by this lamented great Kentuckian.” [A native of Maysville, Kentucky, Cochran was a Harvard Law School graduate who was appointed judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky by President William McKinley in 1901. He served until is death in 1934.]


Many Letcher County citizens were left feeling shocked and saddened Saturday night when word began to spread that 13-year-old James Henry “Jimmy” Flinchum of Mayking was struck down and killed not far from his home by a hitand run driver. The boy, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Flinchum, had been planning for a happy Halloween and had gone to a neighbor’s house to get a pumpkin from which he was going to make a Jack-OLantern. He had the pumpkin a bag and was walking back home while pushing his bicycle when a car hit him at about 6 p.m. Saturday, about eight feet off the blacktop. Arrested later and charged in connection with the incident was Jordan Niece, who allegedly abandoned his car after wrecking it a second time about a fourth of a mile from the hit-and-run. Niece said he doesn’t remember hitting anyone, but police say red paint from Flinchum’s bicycle was found on Niece’s car, while the insignia from the bike was found lodged in the door of the car.

Incumbent President Harry Truman easily defeated Republican Party challenger Thomas E. Dewey in the race for president of the United States in Letcher County, but Truman’s nationwide victory over Dewey was considered a major political upset. Truman’s victory was so unexpected that the Republican-leaning Chicago Daily Tribune felt comfortable in publishing an early edition of its November 3, 1948 edition with the headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman.” The paper had earlier called Truman a “nincompoop.”

A Letcher County man has been found not guilty of illegally hunting opossums. Game Warden Bill Long charged Rufus Hurl with the crime. Hurl’s chief witness, Watson Mullins, testified that because something had been killing his chickens he asked Hurl and others to help him hunt for the perpetrators. Mullins said he and Hurl were sitting in a field without having killed or hunted any game when Long charged Hurl with the crime. A jury quickly returned the “not guilty” verdict.

The body of Eugene Polly, son of Mrs. John D. Huff of Linefork, was returned to Letcher County for a burial service held November 17. Polly, of Gordon, died of injuries he suffered while fighting for his country during World War II. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart after being wounded in Italy.

Consolidation Coal Company’s ambulance that serves the City of Jenkins burned near West Liberty last week. Ambulance driver Raymond Litts had taken a patient to Lexington, and on the return trip between Mt. Sterling and West Liberty he noticed the rear end of the vehicle was burning. Litts then pulled over to the side of the road and jumped out just before the entire ambulance was engulfed in flames.

Coach Allen Parr has left his position at Jenkins High School and has reportedly moved to Lexington.

Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan star in “Silver River,” showing November 7 and 8 at the Haymond Theatre in Cromona.

Don’t tell Woody Dawahare that people still aren’t honest. Woody, who is charge of the Dawahare’s Department Store in Neon, said this week that one night last week he left a rack of shoes on the outside of the store. When he arrived at the store the next morning the shoes were intact.

Speaking of honesty, young Billy Correll of Neon proved himself to be entirely unselfish and honest this past week when he found a billfold containing $20 inside. Also inside the wallet was the name of its owner, Mrs. Lou Puckett, whom Puckett found and returned the billfold and the money. Mrs. Puckett said the $20 was the last of the money she had. She rewarded Billy with 50-cents and her heartfelt thanks.

Porky Polly and James Gose led the Whitesburg Yellowjackets past the Fleming Pirates, 13 to 6, in a contest being hailed as the game of the year. The game was the final one for Fleming stars Bobby Bentley, Franklin Cornett, Frank Lewis, Jimmy Caudill, Eulice Stallard, Roy Bentley, and Lawrence Beckett.


Letcher County voters showed without any doubt this week that they want a change in county government. The voters, by a margin of nearly two to one (2,284 to 1,262), voted “for” a proposal to switch the Letcher County Fiscal Court to a threecommissioner form instead of the current eight magistrates. However, the change won’t take place until January 1961.

The Kiwanis Club of Jenkins will present its annual Minstrel in the Jenkins Fieldhouse on Friday and Saturday, November 15 and 15, at 8 p.m. each night. Money raised from the annual Minstrel, which is one of the biggest annual attractions in Jenkins, has enabled the Kiwanis Club to build the swimming pool and Fieldhouse, and to support Little League baseball.

Funeral services were held October 29 for George A. Johnson, 42, who died two days before in an accident at Bethlehem Steel mine. His wife, his parents, eight children, four sisters, and three brothers survive him.

The public is invited to attend an open house at the new classroom building on the campus of Whitesburg High School. WHS Principal Jack M. Burkich will be held Friday from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., and again from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. [The twostory structure would come to be known as the “English Building.”]

An elderly Ulvah man was left feeling “hurt” and disappointed after Halloween pranksters stole his mailbox. “Halloween is over and we are very glad,” writes Ulvah correspondent Lovell Caudill. “Nothing went wrong in this neighborhood except some ill-behaved ghost made off with Jim Bailey’s mailbox. Whoever knows the whereabouts of this mailbox would clear their conscience by bringing the box back. This old fellow is hurt over his mailbox, for it was a gift to him from a neighbor.”

The job security of Letcher Schools Supt. W.B. Hall was in doubt this week after school board politics did another about-face here on Election Day. Two of Hall’s most ardent supporters on the current Letcher County Board of Education, Daniel V. Johnson and Manus Ison, were defeated by candidates running with the open support of Dr. B.F. Wright, himself a board member and former chairman of the board. The election this year represents a complete switch from the election four years ago when Dr. Wright supported Mr. Johnson and other successful candidates who went on to name Hall as school superintendent. Dr. Wright soon began working to remove Hall after the two disagreed over school board policy.

“Attack of the Puppet People” and “War of the Colossal Beast” make up the double feature showing this weekend at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in downtown Whitesburg.


President Lyndon Johnson announced in a nationwide television broadcast that the bombing of North Vietnam would be suspended by 8 a.m. Washington time, November 1.

A long, noisy, unpleasant presidential election is drawing to a close and voters will decide on Tuesday, November 5, whether Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey, Republican Richard M. Nixon or American Party candidate George C. Wallace will be the next president of the United States.

South East Coal Company has won an unprecedented $7.23 million judgment against the United Mine Workers of America and Consolidation Coal Co. of Pittsburgh, Penn. The suit charged that the UMWA had conspired with Consolidation and other large coal firms to force smaller producers such as South East out of business. South East contended that beginning in 1950 the UMWA and large coal producers such as Consolidation had agreed that too much coal was being produced and that too many small companies were responsible for the overproduction. It also alleged that major coal producers and the union had negotiated labor contracts which forced smaller producers to go non-union. South East said the UMWA, Consolidation and other large coal companies refused to write contracts suitable for smaller producers. The award to South East is the largest ever made in such a case.


The Montgomery Coal Co. has told 14 Kodak families they will have move, houses and all, by January 3 to make way for a new coal tipple. The coal camp houses were sold by the coal company 25 years ago, but the company kept the title to the land on which they sit. Homeowners have been signing annual leases with the coal company, paying $30 a year for their house sites.

Start of construction on the Kentucky 15 by-pass around Whitesburg may still be some time away. Codell Construction Company of Winchester has submitted the apparent low bid of $24,797,711.09, more than twice the Kentucky Department of Transportation’s cost estimate.

Funeral services were held Wednesday in Hendersonville, Tenn., for “Mother Maybelle” Carter, a member of the Carter Family, musicians credited with pushing country music to its current popularity. Mrs. Carter, her brother-in-law A.P. Carter, and her cousin, Sara, formed the original Carter Family and made their first record for RCA Victor in 1927 at Bristol, Tenn. Mrs. Carter developed a style of playing the guitar and autoharp which has formed the basis of much of the country music sound since.

Trick-or-treat visits will be allowed in Whitesburg from only 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Halloween, city police said this week. The same hours will apply for Corn Night, October 30. Officers said parents will be held responsible for the behavior of their children.


Voters in Letcher County’s 31 precincts will vote on 19 separate ballots this year, some with little more than a presidential race and two state constitution amendments in common. Voters in different parts of two precincts will vote for different school boards, depending on where in the precincts they live. Candidates for president are Republican George Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis. Also to be voted on are the state lottery amendment and broadform deed amendment.

Officials expect an average turnout of voters, but new state election laws will end the usual array of people who gather at voting places to hand out campaign literature and solicit votes. The new laws, approved by the 1988 General Assembly, prohibit electioneering within 500 feet of the entrance to buildings where voting machines are located. More importantly, the buying and selling of votes is now a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Two Letcher County teens, Kimberly K. Pettyjohn and Tammy Gay Sexton, were killed when the moped they were riding was hit by a coal truck. Police said the accident occurred when the two rode a moped out of a driveway and onto U.S. 199 at Payne Gap. Police said the driver of the truck steered left trying to miss the cycle, but was unable to avoid it.

The visiting Fleming-Neon Pirates wrapped up their district schedule with an easy 37-6 victory at Phelps. The play-off bound Pirates, now 8-2 overall and district runners-up, finish their season at M.C. Napier Friday.


Letcher Fiscal Court has approved a groundwater contamination study by federal Abandoned Mine Lands to determine whether mining is responsible for poor water quality in the communities of Farraday, Thornton, Indian Creek, Stinking Creek, Camp Branch and Democrat. The study will cost $31,800 and will cover 230 households.

The bill providing the City of Fleming- Neon with $1.5 million in funding for Kentucky Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment (PRIDE) has been signed into law, according to U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers. The funding will enable to city to build sewer line extensions that will serve the areas of Kona, Cromona and Potter Fork. The extension will provide service to an additional 500 homes, which will stop the daily discharge of raw sewage into local rivers and streams.

State officials defended plans to cut off welfare benefits to hundreds of people in Kentucky next month, although one advocate said the action would “hurt families and children.” The state plans on Nov. 1 to cut off benefits to adults who have not met federal requirements of spending between 20 and 25 hours a week at a job or workrelated activity such as job training.

Parking space has been moved from the east to the west side of Taxi Street in Whitesburg, which runs from Broadway to Main Street beside the Letcher County Courthouse.


It is predicted that a record number of Kentuckians will vote in Tuesday’s presidential election between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.

Paula Lowe, 63, of Perry County, will appear in Letcher District Court on Friday to answer a misdemeanor charge of illegally feeding a black bear at Little Cowan. Lowe is charged with feeding the bear from a bucket of honey placed next to a salt bucket at her mother’s residence. Homer Pigman, a conservation officer with the Fish and Wildlife Department, said once black bears start eating human food, they lose their fear of humans and begin wanting more food fit for humans.

Letcher County is one of only five Kentucky counties where the unemployment rate fell between September 2007 and September 2008. The county’s rate fell from 7.4 percent to 7.2 percent.

An organizational meeting for an autism support group will be held at 6 p.m., Thursday, at the Neon First Church of God. The meeting is open to anyone interested in autism or who deals with autism. It is sponsored by the Letcher County School System and parents.

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