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The Way We Were

Members of the 1930 Whitesburg Yellowjackets football team are seen in this photo taken at what was then known as Lewis Field. The team, which defeated a good Jenkins team, 7 to 2, in one of that season’s most talked about games, featured future University of Kentucky stars Lexie Potter and Sam Potter. This photo was furnished by Hiram Wright, whose late father Charlie Wright was a member of the team. Charlie Wright is the longest-serving county clerk in Letcher County history.

Members of the 1930 Whitesburg Yellowjackets football team are seen in this photo taken at what was then known as Lewis Field. The team, which defeated a good Jenkins team, 7 to 2, in one of that season’s most talked about games, featured future University of Kentucky stars Lexie Potter and Sam Potter. This photo was furnished by Hiram Wright, whose late father Charlie Wright was a member of the team. Charlie Wright is the longest-serving county clerk in Letcher County history.

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, JANUARY 7, 1909

“Let a man marry a woman who is his inferior in education and misunderstanding is almost sure to result,” Pound, Virginia resident W.J. Standefer writes to The Mountain Eagle in a letter addressing the controversy over whether girls deserve to afforded the same educational opportunities as boys.

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Kentucky Governor Augustus E. Wilson has granted “executive clemency” to Noah M. Reynolds who, with his brother John Reynolds, was convicted of killing William S. Wright on Boone Fork in Letcher County in 1900.

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James P. Fields, president of the Union Bank in Whitesburg, announces that he is reducing his working hours at the bank to start a “subscription school” in Whitesburg for primary-, intermediate-, and high school-aged students. The new school will also offer a “teachers’ course” under the direction of A.C. Adams, the bank’s assistant cashier.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 10, 1929

A grandson of “one of the first men to start a home in eastern Kentucky” died Tuesday at his home on Thornton. Sam Webb, a 94-year-old former Confederate soldier, was a son of the late Dutch Webb Sr. and grandson of the aforementioned Benjamin Webb, who was only once removed from an old Scotch-Irish family that migrated from England before the French and Indian War. Sam Webb has been laid to rest in the old Webb burying ground at Bottom Fork.

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Bettie Lucas, 93, died earlier this week at Thornton from the effects of flu. Before she married Wesley Lucas, Bettie was a member of the Hale family, having descended from the family of that name well known in the Revolutionary days and in the first settlement of America. She was a sister to the late Nathan W. Hale of Camp Branch.

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“If I should address this letter to the ‘Best Weekly Paper in the United States’ and leave off any other address … the Postal employees would decipher the address and deliver it to The Mountain Eagle,” Emmitt A. Collins of Appalachia, Virginia writes in a note accompanying his payment for renewal of his yearly subscription.

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“After quibbling for years as to just what to do in the matter of offering accommodations to residents of the City (of Whitesburg) residing on and in the neighborhood of Pine Street,” the Whitesburg City Council has voted to award a contract to Wright Construction Company to compete grade work and install drainage on the street.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 5, 1939

More than 1,100 Christmas gift packages were given to the children of employees of the Elk Horn Coal Corporation at the local union hall in Fleming, where Elk Horn miners have been struggling to make ends meet for most of the past year. Each package contained one pound of nuts, one pound of choice candy, two apples, two oranges, one box of Cracker Jack, and one pack of chewing gum. Coal company employees and businesses in Neon raised all funds for the event.

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Businessmen in East Jenkins gave nice Christmas packages to 226 children and a number of widowed mothers.

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The state Railroad Commission has authorized the L&N Railroad to cut its passenger rates to one and one-half cents per mile. The rate has been two cents per mile.

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Directors of the Bank of Whitesburg have re-elected M.K. Marlowe as president, Dr. B.C. Bach as Vice President, and Herman Hale as cashier.

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Lester Amburgey, the young man charged with murdering William Caudill on Little Colley a few months ago, was indicted Tuesday by the Letcher County Grand Jury. He will be tried January 12.

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“Letcher County at the beginning of the New Year remains the model county, the most peaceful, the least criminal in eastern Kentucky,” The Mountain Eagle says in a front-page commentary.

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Willard Bartley, the four-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Bartley, died tragically Friday night at the Fleming hospital, where he was being treated for burns he suffered after his clothing caught fire at the family home on Potter’s Fork.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 6, 1949

The Jenkins Recreation Center was sold January 1 to A.C. Combs of Dorton. Combs, a former Jenkins resident, will operate the center with the help of his sons, George and Jimmy.

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Lestor Carmody, 29, of Neon is among six coal miners who became paraplegic after underground accidents who are getting expert help at the East Orange Hospital in New Jersey. The care for the six is being paid for through the United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund. They were transported to New Jersey aboard a special Pullman car on the George Washington Train operated by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. The train left Lexington at 4:30 p.m. on Monday and arrived in East Orange at 11:29 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Jordan Niece has been indicted on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the October 31 death of little Jimmy Flinchum, who was killed near his home at Mayking after being hit by an automobile driven by Niece. Young Flinchum was riding his bicycle and carrying home a pumpkin he had just carved when the incident occurred.

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Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys will perform live in Whitesburg on Friday night at the Letcher County Courthouse. Admission is 75 cents for adults and 50 cents for children.

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Jack Prunty of Jenkins is home to spend the holidays with his family. He attends Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 1959

Dr. B.F. Wright was elected chairman of the Letcher County Board of Education Monday in a reorganization of the board resulting from the November elections. Wright replaces Daniel V. Johnson of Jackhorn as board chairman.

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A new science laboratory, costing about $12,000, is to be installed at Whitesburg High School. The county board of education voted in a special meeting Saturday to hire Harlan architect D.E. Perkins to prepare plans and specifications for rewiring and re-plumbing the concrete block building near the school, which will be used as the laboratory. One board member, Dr. B.F. Wright, objected to employing Perkins outright without advertising the project for bids. Wright said he thought the business of hiring an architect should be “an open proposition.”

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Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Wilson Wyatt said eastern Kentucky “does not deserve to be a stepchild.” Wyatt, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, said it is past time that officials in Frankfort take action to “relieve eastern Kentucky of its economic blight and present handout economy.”

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Lieutenant Governor Harry Lee Waterfield was scheduled to visit Letcher County today in behalf of his race for the Democratic nomination for governor.

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Prestonsburg attorney Bert Combs was in Letcher County Monday campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor. Combs predicted he will win in all but two of Kentucky’s seven congressional districts. The exceptions, he said, are the first district — the home of Harry Lee Waterfield — and the third district, which is the home of Wilson Wyatt.

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Two persons were convicted this week in Letcher Circuit Court of bootlegging charges, but the jury couldn’t decide the guilt or innocence if a third defendant. Found guilty in separate cases were Jack Parrott and Draxie O. Holbrook, each of whom was sentenced to 30 days in jail. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of Sam Bates of Whitesburg.

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The Letcher County School System now pays its teachers $850 per year less than the state average, making it the 211th worst paying system among the state’s 215 school districts. In 1954, the Jenkins Independent School System paid its teachers $123 a year more than the state average. This year, Jenkins is paying $388 below the state average, dropping from 14th place down to 136.

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R.L. Blake is the new president of the Jenkins Kiwanis Club.

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Sworn is as new school board members for the Jenkins Independent School District on Monday night were Dr. T.M. Perry, Oakie Greer, and Chester Wolfe. The three were elected in November.

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A 20 percent increase in population and a soaring birthrate is being predicted for the United States during the next decade. The Kiplinger organization, which is responsible for the survey, is referring to the coming decade as “The Soaring Sixties.”

THURSDAY, JANUARY 2, 1969

Three Letcher County men were killed in an auto accident near Kona on Christmas Day. Sheriff Maynard Hogg said the car, apparently traveling at a high rate of speed, left US 119 on a curve just above Kona, knocked down six guard posts and landed in a tree, where it hung until officers freed it two and a half hours later. One man died instantly and the other two died on the way to the hospital. It was nearly an hour and a half before all the injured could be removed from the wreck. The dead are Hubert Leon Meade, 20, of Millstone; Leland Paul Yeary, 18, of Mayking, and Hobert Richardson, 26, of Kona. A 14-year-old brother of Yeary also was injured.

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In a listing of events which took place during 1968 — including the assassinations of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, the student riots over Vietnam at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the circling of the moon by three astronauts while there was no money for school lunches on earth — an Eagle editorial comments that the year had not been one to brag about, for the community, the state or the nation.

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U.S. Rep. Carl D. Perkins says he plans to seek five-year extensions for two major federal programs of interest to Letcher County — the Economic Opportunity program and the school-aid act of 1965.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1978

The City of Whitesburg will receive two gifts — expanded water service and a new airport — in the upcoming year. Whitesburg’s application for a grant for $203,000 to improve water service has been given priority one status by Gov. Julian Carroll and sent to Washington for final approval. Final approval is contingent upon the Farmer’s Home Administration awarding a matching grant. The city council was also told that sometime in 1979 South- East Coal Co. would pave 3,000 feet of runway, creating a new airport for Whitesburg and Letcher County.

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Parents of Whitesburg Middle School and Whitesburg High School students described conditions at the schools — plaster falling from the ceilings, sagging floors, rotting stairs, cracks in walls that allow sunlight and rain to pour through, and toilets in the girls’ bathroom leaking to the boys’ bathroom on the floor below — to the Letcher County Board of Education. With the blasting that will accompany the forthcoming building of the Whitesburg by-pass, parents warned the hazards in the schools will increase. Board members Tom Lewis and Frank Wright agreed to tour the schools before the next meeting of the Whitesburg Parent-Teacher Association in January.

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South Central Bell has announced construction of a new telephone line in the Neon Road area and East Whitesburg. Work is expected to start during the first quarter of 1979 and be completed during the third quarter. Several customers will be able to get service for the first time. Several other party-line customers can be placed on a line by themselves or a line with fewer parties.

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Nine Scotia miners participated in an amateur wrestling match to raise $1,250 for orphans at Christmas. Taking part in the event were Gayle “Grizzly” Bentley, Charlie “The Claw” McKnight, “Gorgeous” George Creech, Paul “Cherokee” Church, Harold “The Ripper” Sexton, “Crazy” Fay Boggs, Danny “The Mouth” Cress, Billy “Red Devil” Lewis and Frank “Mountain Man” Fields.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 1989

Asking if eastern Kentucky can save itself, Letcher County attorney and author Harry M. Caudill writes, “The region can help itself. The time is ripe for an effort to rally the counties in a crusade to re-industrialize the region and bring the territory to an economic par with American norms. Our region has a tremendous potential asset that might be put to work on its behalf. I refer to the numerous experienced and capable people who have left the mountains but whose talents could be organized and used in a serious effort to re-industrialize and modernize the Kentucky hill country.”

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Letcher County Judge/Executive Ruben Watts is predicting rosier times for the county. He bases his opinion on several hopeful indications including a new nursing home with a payroll of more than $1 million a year, new water and sewer systems in the county and cities, $3.25 million in federal grants and loans for a new county jail, and installation of a 9-1-1 emergency line.

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Domenick Braddock, 105, died December 21 at Jenkins Community Hospital. He was born September 9, 1883 in Villadelphia, Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1903. He came to Jenkins in 1915 where he worked for Consolidation Coal Co. until his retirement in 1948. Mr. Braddock was the town gardener and responsible for the maintenance of the manager’s home on Lakeside Drive. He was a volunteer firefighter and a beekeeper.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1998

Members of the new Letcher Fiscal Court will be sworn into office at 10 a.m., January 1. Members of the court are Judge/Executive Carroll Smith, who is beginning his second term in office, and Magistrates Wayne Fleming, Homer Rose, Robert Lewis, Mack Fultz and Junior Banks.

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The Defeated Creek coal mining property in Letcher County formerly owned by South East Coal Co. has been sold to Coastal Coal of Texas. Coastal paid $5.75 million for two mines, leases and real property, which it bought from Kentucky Processing. The mines were idle at the time of purchase.

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University of Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch is a key figure in three of the Top 10 sports stories selected in an Associated Press poll of sports editors and broadcasters from across the state. Couch, of Hyden in Leslie County, will decide whether to leave school early for the NFL after leading the Wildcats against Penn State in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. It is the team’s first Jan. 1 bowl appearance in 47 years.

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“Mighty Joe Young” and “You’ve Got Mail!” are playing at the Whitesburg Cinema.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2008

Kentucky Resources Council, an environmental group, is calling for a federal investigation to determine whether endangered species were harmed in the construction of a portion of the new Pioneer Horse Trail in Letcher County. The group complained to Gov. Steve Beshear about bulldozer work on Little Shepherd Trail.

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Letcher County is one of only three Kentucky counties where unemployment rates fell over a 12-month period ending in November. Jobless rates increased in 116 other Kentucky counties during the same period and remained the same in one. Letcher County’s jobless rate in November was 6.6 percent, down from 6.8 percent last year.

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