Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Above is the front page from the January 22, 1959 edition of The Mountain Eagle.

Above is the front page from the January 22, 1959 edition of The Mountain Eagle.

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 1909

A disagreement Monday between two brothers over a game of “hard knucks” ended with one brother stabbing and critically injuring the other on Boone Fork, near Baker. James Bentley is accused of “inflicting serious and perhaps fatal injury” upon Wiley Bentley. No arrest has been made. The brothers are the sons of “Barlow Bill” Bentley, who is described as being “a good citizen of his neighborhood.” Both brothers are married.

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With the debate over whether girls in Letcher County deserve the same educational opportunities as boys growing more heated, Mountain Eagle editor Nehemiah M. Webb says a letter from a woman identifying herself only as “Hattie” will be the last letter printed on the subject. “I believe in a limited education for girls — enough learning that the girl can write her own love letters (but these must be under the guidance of her mother or guardian) and enough education to read intelligently. … But spare the association of the arrogant, flippant, coquettish girl who boasts a higher education, whose parents have invested an over-amount of money for brain development in a girl whose brain did not develop the higher and howler traits.”

Brothers fought 110 years ago Pictured at right is the image of a report that appeared on Page 2 of the January 21, 1909 edition of The Mountain Eagle. The newspaper was then in its 16th month of operation.

Brothers fought 110 years ago Pictured at right is the image of a report that appeared on Page 2 of the January 21, 1909 edition of The Mountain Eagle. The newspaper was then in its 16th month of operation.

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Smallpox has returned to Letcher County, this time at the head of Frank’s Creek at Eolia. The patient is C.M. Blair. He is believed to have been infected with the disease while in Stonega, Virginia, where there are a large number of cases.

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For the first time in 500 years, the Star of Bethlehem is now visible. It makes its appearance about midnight on the eastern horizon and is exceedingly bright, standing out in bold relief from all other stars. The star comes within our vision every 500 years, with its last appearance being recorded in the year 1408.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 1949

About two tons of expensive copper stolen from the Premium Coal Company has been recovered in Ashland. According to Letcher County Deputy Sheriff George Cook, the copper was stolen from the Premium mine by some “boys” who live in the area. The boys then drove the copper to a scrap yard in Ashland but were unable to sell it there because they had no bill of sale. The attendant at the scrap yard refused to let the boys take the copper with them and called Kentucky State Police. Arrest warrants have been issued for those involved with the theft.

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The U.S. Army has canceled its plan to draft 5,000 men in the months of February and March, saying that voluntary enlistments and re-enlistments have filled its needs in peacetime. The Army’s present strength is 657,700, including 18-yearold volunteers. The Navy and Air Force haven’t found it necessary to draft men in peacetime to keep their ranks filled.

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The U.S. Marine Corps has announced that women without previous service are now eligible for enlistment in the regular Corps.

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The Whitesburg Lions Club has accepted an invitation to be the guests of the Whitesburg Rotary Club Thursday night at 7 at the Pine Mountain Hotel restaurant.

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Hassel and Carlos Smith are standing trial in Letcher Circuit Court this week in connection with the murder of Matthew Collins at Sawdust Junction.

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An inmate in the Cumberland City Jail has been charged with stealing nine pounds of pennies and about $80 worth of silver coins, cigars, cigarettes and other items from Jesse Hatton’s store at Whitco. Letcher County Deputy Sheriff George Cook traced the burglary to Earl W. Stamie of North Carolina after finding Stamie’s car, which had Tennessee plates, wrecked on Pine Mountain near Whitesburg. After determining that Stamie had been arrested and taken to Cumberland, Deputy Cook was able to get Stamie to confess to last week’s burglary during an interview at the jail.

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The University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team is defending three hardwood titles this season — the Southeastern Conference crown, the NCAA championship, and the Olympic Games world championship.

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“Uncle” Billie Rogers celebrated his 75th birthday with a party held in his honor at his home in Blackey. Billie’s son Verlon, now the train master at Hazard, was present and told of Uncle Billie’s arrival in Blackey in 1913 and his many years of delivering the mail at the Blackey Post Office. Verlon also talked about his own career with the L&N Railroad, which he began at age 16 as a water boy.

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John H. Polly is the new distributor at Pure Oil Company’s Whitesburg plant.

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The U.S. Civil Service Commission is scheduling an examination for the position of “substitute clerk” at the Fleming Post Office. The basic rate of pay for substitute clerks is $1.04 per hour.

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Mrs. Bradley Bentley hosted a party January 15 in honor of her son Ronnie on his 11th birthday.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 22, 1959

A storm of what seemed like tornado proportions struck Letcher County late Wednesday afternoon, felling trees, breaking windows and leaving the area without electricity for several hours. An inch of rain fell in Whitesburg from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday; most of it coming during the storm that occurred about 5 p.m. Winds reached about 30 miles per hour and the temperature dropped 40 degrees from Wednesday to Thursday. Dr. Huston Westover, the weather observer, said the temperature fell from a high of 60 degrees Wednesday on top of Pine Mountain to a low of 20 degrees Thursday morning. Whitesburg Fire Chief Remious Day, weather observer for Whitesburg, was unable to report the temperature. The wind blew down his thermometer.

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The City of Whitesburg lost a major battle Wednesday in its fight to annex territory now outside the city when Circuit Judge Courtney C. Wells ruled that City Attorney Leroy Fields had waited too long to file a response to a request for admissions made by attorneys for suburban residents who have filed suit to stop the annexation. In effect, Judge Wells’s ruling makes the city admit that more than 75 percent of the property holders of the areas to be annexed object to the annexation.

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Maxwell Oliver, who was found guilty in the slaying last fall of Conley Potter, has been sentenced to life in prison. The sentence was rendered Wednesday in Harlan Circuit Court, where the trial was moved after efforts to seat a jury here were unsuccessful. Potter was killed while he and his cousin, a deputy constable, were attempting to bring Oliver and a woman companion to the Letcher County Jail.

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Contributing sports writer Ralph Dudley Webb reports that the Whitesburg Yellowjackets lost two most recent basketball games, falling 85 to 63 at Lynch and 67 to 54 to visiting Fleming.

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Jenkins improved to 3-0 in district play with a come-from-behind win over the Letcher Eagles. The Cavaliers were led by Ross Chaney’s 29 points.

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Johnny Osley scored 28 points to lead the Dunham High School Blue Devils to a 60 to 44 win over Johns Creek. Teammate Curtice Slone added 25 points to the Dunham cause.

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For the first time in 100 years, a colony of beavers has been spotted in eastern Kentucky. The beavers built a dam on the farm of Hargis Arnett, Magoffin County tax commissioner, on the Middle Fork of the Licking River, about five miles southwest of Salyersville.

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A college education in the 1960’s will be a necessity, not a luxury, according to the annual Kiplinger report on future business growth and population changes. Furthermore, the next decade will see a 75 percent increase in the number of college graduates.

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Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones star in Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” showing January 25-28 at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 1969

Lilley’s Woods, the largest tract of virgin woods in the eastern United States, may soon be purchased by the state of Kentucky. The 400-acre forest is located on Linefork in Letcher County. The state has promised that a full-time forester will be stationed in the woods to see that they are preserved as Lilley Cornett wished. The state has no plans to sell any of the land to timber interests.

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Letcher ranked as the fifth highest coal-producing county in Kentucky during 1967. This was reported by the University of Kentucky, which ranked the top five coal-producing counties as Muhlenberg, Pike, Hopkins, Ohio and Letcher.

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Fire destroyed the home of Anzil Morgan at Whitco and threatened to envelope other nearby houses. Both the VFW Fire Department and the Whitesburg City Fire Department worked to prevent the blaze from spreading to the other homes. A Letcher County landmark, the Pine Mountain Hotel, on top of Pine Mountain on US 119, burned New Year’s Eve.

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Technical Sergeant Clayburn Blair, son of Walter Blair of Blackey, has been recognized for helping his unit earn the U.S. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. Sergeant Blair, an electrician in the 4392nd Civil Engineering Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., will wear the distinctive service ribbon as a permanent decoration.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 1979

South-East Coal Company has joined the growing number of area coal producers forced to cut back production in response to rapidly declining coal sales. The 800 employees of South-East were scheduled for a three-day work week this week in all seven of the company’s mines. The railroad car shortages that plagued eastern Kentucky last fall left South-East with stockpiles of both steam and metallurgical coal.

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A proposed water rate hike of 25 percent by the Jenkins Water Company has citizens threatening to dig their own wells. In arguing against the increase, Jenkins residents pointed to uncollected bills totaling $34,000.

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Army Private Donald A. Lamb Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald A. Lamb Sr., formerly of McRoberts, was graduated recently from Fort Knox where he completed basic training. Lamb will remain at Fort Knox for specialized training as a track vehicle mechanic.

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“Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Back who were married 58 years December 18,” writes McRoberts correspondent Madelyn Combs.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 1989

The state has renewed Letcher County’s sanitary landfill permit after a four-month delay while officials reviewed engineering reports on the site. The landfill’s permit expired September 30 and the state Division of Waste Management had declined to renew it until officials were sure there was room left to dump more refuse. The county was allowed to keep the landfill open while the state carried out its investigation.

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The Whitesburg City Council postponed action on deciding on a use for the old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant until City Attorney Daniel Dotson can finish researching the title to the property. The city voted to buy the building in December for $150,000. Mayor James Asher said the city has received “at least four” suggestions for the use of the building.

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In an article about Elizabeth Moncrief, local historian William T. Cornett tells of her life as the war bride of Ellis Moncrief, an eastern Kentucky native. The couple met in England during World War II and came to Letcher County in 1945. Her husband was a coal miner and they lived on Tunnel Hill in Whitesburg. Mrs. Moncrief says she feels so American she doesn’t think about it.

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The Jenkins Cavaliers defeated Riverside 83 to 78. The Cavs went to 6-9 while Riverside fell to 5-7.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13, 1999

The Kentucky House of Representatives gave a more than hour-long tribute to the late Paul Mason, who was the representative of Letcher County. Mason was praised as a leading liberal who led the fight for abortion rights and services to protect children. He was a crusader in the fight to pass legislation aimed at preventing the spread of AIDS. His daughter, Belinda Mason, died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 33 after she was infected through a blood transfusion after giving birth. He also fought for coal miners and the elderly — any group he believed had been mistreated by the state. Mason died December 8 of a brain aneurism.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court is suing up to 200 county residents and business owners who refuse to pay their monthly garbage bills. The fiscal court voted unanimously to authorize County Attorney Harold Bolling to file civil complaints against customers whose unpaid bills have helped the county’s sanitation department amass a $460,000 debt over the past four years.

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Appalshop of Whitesburg has received a $10,000 grant from the Kentucky Humanities Council to support work on the C.B. Caudill Store and History Project at Blackey. The grant will be used to support writing the history of the store and the community surrounding it and an essay on the cultural, economic and political role of country stores in rural Kentucky.

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Letcher County students returned to school Tuesday for the first time since the beginning of the Christmas holidays. Low temperatures, snow, ice and freezing rain delayed the reopening of school from January 4 to January 12.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2009

Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft is warning the Letcher County Conservation District not to begin tearing down any portion of the old KYVA Motor Company building the district owns in downtown Whitesburg. Ron Brunty, chairman of the conservation district board, said because Craft never put anything in writing ordering the moratorium, he thought the district could move forward with its project. The KYVA building was built more than 80 years ago and is one of several downtown buildings placed on the National Register of Historic Places two years ago.

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Jimmy Craft, 18, a Letcher County Central High School senior, has been chosen to be in the audience to watch Senator Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th president of the United States. He is participating in the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference. The conference says its mission is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the history behind the electoral process and the rich tradition surround the presidential inauguration. Craft is the son of James and Delta Craft.

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The number of miners killed on the job in the United States fell to 51 in 2008, the fewest number of deaths since officials began keeping records nearly a century ago.

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The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast will be held January 19 at 9 a.m. at Letcher County Central High School. Music will be provided by the Passing the Bow Youth Band and instructors, and Dr. William Turner of Berea College will be the speaker.

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