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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
Passenger train service cut by half in 1949 This photo of the Louisville & Eastern Railroad’s depot at Fleming in Letcher County was taken in 1915, some three years after the railroad was extended from Winchester to open the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield to mining. The railroad later become known as the Louisville & Nashville, and is known today as CSX Transportation. In January 1949, the Kentucky State Railroad Commission granted permission to the L&N Railroad to discontinue two of the four passenger trains — the Number 1 and the Number 2 — that ran daily between Fleming and Lexington. (Photo courtesy University of Kentucky Digital Library)

Passenger train service cut by half in 1949 This photo of the Louisville & Eastern Railroad’s depot at Fleming in Letcher County was taken in 1915, some three years after the railroad was extended from Winchester to open the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield to mining. The railroad later become known as the Louisville & Nashville, and is known today as CSX Transportation. In January 1949, the Kentucky State Railroad Commission granted permission to the L&N Railroad to discontinue two of the four passenger trains — the Number 1 and the Number 2 — that ran daily between Fleming and Lexington. (Photo courtesy University of Kentucky Digital Library)

THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 1909

As many as 700 horses were hitched along the cross streets of Whitesburg on Monday as a large number of people arrived in town for the opening of Letcher Circuit Court.

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The Mountain View Hotel is now open in Whitesburg and doing good business. It is located in the Webb house at the corner of First and Upper streets, one square from the post office and two from the Letcher County Courthouse. S.H. Fields is the proprietor.

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Arguing in a letter to the editor that education is of no real value to women, Mary Standefer calls on her “dear sisters” to “kiss and make up.” She adds, “Let us stay in our sphere, the place where God assigned us, ruling the world by cheerfulness, gentleness, love. A woman’s artillery is her tears and when we can’t win with might, let us conquer with them, sure and indefensible.” Standefer is responding to other letter writers who say women in eastern Kentucky deserve the same educational opportunities as men.

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J. Dishman Holcomb, a soldier boy from Letcher County now serving in Cuba, says he will soon have been on that island for a year and “is sure I have seen more wonderful and strange things than I could have beheld in the United States.” Holcomb, who is stationed at Camp Columbia, also says that getting around Cuba’s mountains is a much tougher task than in Letcher County. “I know you all think those hills and mountains around home are awfully rough,” he writes, “but I have been in mountains over here that are far rougher than those at home. … A goat could scarcely go through some of the places.”

THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 1949

The Kentucky State Railroad Commission has approved the L&N Railroad’s request to discontinue two of the four passenger trains it operates daily between Lexington and Fleming. Effective March 1, the No. 1 and No. 2 trains will cease to operate. The Lexington-Fleming route passes through Winchester, Irvine, Beattyville, Jackson, Hazard and Whitesburg. The No. 1 leaves Lexington daily at 11:50 p.m. and reaches Fleming at 10:10 a.m. The No. 2 leaves Fleming at 1:10 p.m. and gets to Lexington at 9:45 p.m. The No. 3 and No. 4 trains will continue to operate between the two points. The L&N claims the operation of four trains between Lexington and Fleming is no longer profitable. Coal operators, businessmen and passengers opposed the discontinuances, claiming it will impede the flow of trade between the Bluegrass and the mountains.

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Some 1,500 employees of the Consolidation Coal Company were back at work Monday after a two-week walkout ended without a dispute over seniority being settled. The men walked off the job December 20 in protest of the layoffs of six timber men at Mine 204 near Jenkins. Miners at 207, the tipple and separation plant for 204 and 206 at McRoberts staged a sympathy walkout and forced the closure of all three mines as well as several truck mines at Millstone. The men went back to work after company officials met with United Mine Workers representatives and agreed to send the men back to work pending the outcome of an arbitration hearing later this month in Cincinnati.

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A 13-year-old Linefork boy was shot and killed Wednesday night after he was mistaken for a burglar. The boy, a stepson of Carlo Akeman of Big Branch, had attended a basketball game at Kingdom Come High School when he stopped at Fess Polly’s home to spend the night. When the boy arrived at the home, Mr. Polly’s dogs began to bark and boy tried to get into the house quickly to get away from them. When he failed to answer Mr. Polly’s questions, Polly fired his .22 rifle at the boy, killing him instantly. “Much regret was expressed over the unfortunate accident,” The Mountain Eagle reports.

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Ballard Bentley, 26, of Rockhouse, died January 5 in the Fleming Hospital, where he was being treated for gunshot wound inflicted by his brother-in-law, Ted Meade. Meade, who claims the shooting was accidental, has been arrested and charged with willful murder.

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Hardy D. Kilbourne, of Blackey, was sentenced to two years in the state penitentiary after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the slaying of B.C. Bolling.

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Wesley Cornett Jr. of Linefork has been promoted to the job of foreman on lumberman W.M. Ritter’s railroad. Another Linefork man, Wilbur Ison, has returned to the W.M. Ritter Lumber Company to work as a swamper. Also, Melvin Cornett has quit sawing logs for the lumber company to go to work on the Ritter railroad.

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The state highway department has started work on graveling the road from Linefork to Kingscreek.

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Harve Hall of Sandlick announces he will run for the office of Letcher County Jailer on the Democratic ticket.

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Ballard Morgan, of Ermine, was graduated from the Clerk-Typist School at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot at Parris Island, S.C. Graduates of this school are assigned administrative duties in various Marine Corp posts throughout the world. Morgan is a graduate of Whitesburg High School.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 15, 1959

Governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler visited Whitesburg Tuesday to take a look at Letcher County’s unemployment problems and ordered the highway department to put as many jobless men to work as possible. Appearing at the Letcher County Courthouse, Chandler also promised that the proposed new bridge linking Railroad Street and the road behind the courthouse, known as “Eagle Street,” would be built. Chandler also said eastern Kentucky will begin to get new jobs again, saying, “As soon as we’re able to get dams and reservoirs built we can get industry and this area will bloom again.”

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Mountain Eagle editor and publisher Tom Gish said today he will travel with Lieutenant Governor Harry Lee Waterfield as Waterfield’s press representative during his tour of Kentucky seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. Gish will assume his new duties February 1. His wife, Pat Gish, will have charge of operations of the Eagle during his absence.

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The Letcher County Grand Jury has indicted two men — Sam Bates of Whitesburg and Henry Hutton of Fleming — for illegally selling whiskey in a dry territory. Both men are accused of selling pints of liquor to Lonnie T. Leach.

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A night depository is being installed at the Bank of Whitesburg. The new equipment is being built by the Mosler Safe Company of Hamilton, Ohio. When installed, the new night depository will enable the bank’s customers to make deposits directly from the sidewalk at any hour of the day or night.

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Bradshaw Jewelers is closing its Whitesburg store and going out of business at the end of the month.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 1969

The design of a housing development to be built in Whitesburg has won a national award for MLTW/Moore Turnbull of New Haven, Conn. The Progressive Architecture Design Award was presented for the Whitesburg development, a rent-supplement housing project to be constructed in the former Adams and Conley subdivision property across Solomon Road from the new A&P store. It will include 50 two- and three-bedroom apartment units.

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Congressman Carl D. Perkins introduced legislation this week that would extend and improve federal food programs for needy school children. One Perkins bill calls for $100 million a year to strengthen child-nutrition programs. Perkins also proposed legislation to extend and broaden the school lunch program.

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Snow and subzero temperatures kept Letcher County residents in their hollows for several days this week and forced schools to dismiss classes until the weather improves. Unofficial reports put the temperature at 16 below zero in the Cumberland River area Sunday morning. At the same time, temperatures in Whitesburg register eight below.

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Marine Lance Corporal James H. Collins, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hearl Collins of Whitesburg, is serving with the First Marine Division in South Vietnam.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 1979

Citing depressed market conditions, Beth-Elkhorn Coal Corp. shut down Mine 22 at Deane this week, putting more than 230 of its 1,200 employees out of work. A Beth-Elkhorn spokesman declined to speculate on how long the mine would be closed or whether other Beth-Elkhorn mines would be affected. Reopening Mine 22 “will depend on whether the market improves,” he said.

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Letcher County recorded the lowest temperatures so far this year on Tuesday night — between 0 and 5 degrees depending on where in the county you were standing. Residents of Jenkins and surrounding communities were shivering in their homes Wednesday as a result of a power failure which affected approximately 450 homes served by Kentucky Power Co.

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Remembering growing up in Blackey, correspondent Gaynell Begley writes, “We played on the river sand bars and drew maps there in the sand from our geography books and learned about peninsulas and islands and continents. We caught crawdads and tadpoles and kept them in lard cans until another day, then returned them to the clear (although probably not as clean as we thought) waters of the river.”

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 1989

Whitesburg native Belinda Mason has reached an out-of-court settlement with the Regional Medical Center of Hopkins County after she contracted the AIDS virus during a blood transfusion. Ms. Mason was giving birth at the hospital when complications set it and she began to lose a large amount of blood. Doctors transfused her with six units of blood — four of which had not been tested for the disease. Ms. Mason said the money would be used for her medical expenses and there would be enough to ensure financial security for her two children. She said she also intends to donate some of the money for AIDS research.

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Danny Ratliff, 37, a former Jenkins city councilman, is recovered from a leg injury he received while exploring a cave. He was scheduled to undergo surgery yesterday to repair a badly broken leg suffered during a fall inside a cave on Pine Mountain. Ratliff and two other men were exploring the cave when Ratliff slipped and fell more than 30 feet.

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Fleming-Neon may be able to return its police force to full strength soon, if officials continue to pay off the city’s debts at the present rate. The city fired its entire police force last summer, after five former officers sued the city for about $40,000 in unpaid overtime. The city has since paid $4,000 of the $9,000 still owed after the courts seized the city’s park and recreation money. Local Government Economic Aid money, which the city is using to pay off the debt, is also being used to pay the two police officers now working.

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McDonald’s has been planning to open a restaurant in Whitesburg for more than a year, but a company official said no progress has been made. The official said he has been trying for 18 months to buy land on which to build a restaurant, but so far nothing has worked out.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 6, 1999

State records show the 1998 Kentucky mining fatalities doubled from a recordlow five in 1997. According to the state Department of Mines and Minerals, 10 Kentucky miners were killed in 1998. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, however, counted 12 deaths in Kentucky. State Mines and Minerals Commissioner John Franklin said it is not unusual for the two agencies to disagree since state officials do not count deaths at operations they do not regulate, such as coal slurries.

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The new Letcher Fiscal Court voted to rehire all 85 hourly workers and 15 salaried employees paid by the county. The court also approved paying the 1999 salaries for 15 elected county officials. Included in those salaries are annual sums of $19,080 for each of the five new magistrates. The judge/executive’s salary is $48,726.

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Unemployment rose in Letcher County during November. Six hundred and fourteen persons were without jobs. This was up a tenth of a percent from November of 1997.

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Officials of the SuperValu wholesale food firm were in Whitesburg Monday for the grand opening of the new Whitesburg Foodland Store on Solomon Road. The new Foodland, formerly known as Super- Thrift, is owned by Jerry Nantz of Cowan and Bob Kincer of London, a Letcher County native.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2009

Lance Corporal Chadwick “Chad” Allen Gilliam, son of Paul Gilliam and Mary Ellen Cook Gilliam of Mayking, died January 3 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Before entering the Marine Corps, Gilliam attended Lindsay Wilson College where he was graduated with a master’s degree in counseling and human development. The cause of Gilliam’s death was unknown at press time.

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Three hikers from Virginia, including one who broke his leg, were rescued Monday on Pine Mountain by rescue squads from Letcher County and Virginia. James Olinger, 58, who fell and broke his leg, was carried down the mountain by several emergency workers. It took rescuers from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to get him down from the mountain with six or seven people at a time carrying him. Each group of rescuers could carry Olinger only a short distance in the steep terrain before becoming exhausted and giving way to another team. Paul Miles, director of Letcher County Emergency Management, said that the hiking incident is a perfect example of why the emergency management department is creating the Pine Mountain Search and Rescue team. “We just think it is going to be an extra resource to use because of the increase in tourism and the trail system that is developing in the county,” said Miles.

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Three Letcher County Central High School football seniors have received allstate honors for the 2008 season. Receiving honorable mention were quarterback Charlie Banks, and offensive lineman Charles Knight. Punter Caleb Frazier was named to the all-state third team. The three are the first players from the new Letcher County Central to be named to an all-state team.

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