Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1909

“Only those who have seen good roads know how badly they are needed in the mountains,” former Letcher County resident Can C. Martin writes from his new home in Ashland. “… The best settlement under the sun or the best county in Kentucky is no better than its public highways.” Martin is now working in the blast furnaces in Ashland. “When I go out for a drive I know how,” he writes. “I was so used to jogging into a bottomless mud hole or running up against a boulder that would knock all the religion one had out of him.”

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The Virginia Iron, Coal and Coke Company [created in 1899] is selling about 20,000 of its timber properties between Pound, Va., to the head of the Pound River near Flat Gap. “Getting out this timber will give employment to many of our people for several years,” The Mountain Eagle reports.

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Typhoid fever is raging in the Bottom Fork are of Letcher County.

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“Honor Your Dead!” exclaims an advertisement from the East Kentucky Marble Agency at Thornton placed by its owner, John S. Webb.

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A Letcher County man is being charged in connection with the death of his brother, who was killed after trying to break up a fight between husband and wife in the Montgomery Creek area. An extremely drunken Harrison Banks was beating his wife when Spencer Banks, who lived nearby, came inside the house and wrested a pistol from Harrison. After Spencer left the home with the gun, a large bulldog began chasing Spencer. Harrison, who was also in on the chase, hit Spencer in the head with a rock he had thrown, causing Spencer to fall. “The man flounced and rolled in agony while the vicious bulldog chewed and lacerated him,” The Mountain Eagle reports. “When at last the dog left his victim, he was taken to his home, where he suffered untold agony till early last Saturday morning, when he died.” The two brothers had been close before this incident and never had trouble with each other before.

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Referring to brothers Spencer and Harrison Banks as “nice, smooth gentlemen” who were friends to many, including Mountain Eagle editor Nehemiah Webb, Webb blames the death of Spencer Banks at the hands of Harrison on “whiskey and its long train of evils.” Webb writes: “Two precious [wives and] mothers of the best families in this county are robbed, and at least a dozen children cry in vain for comfort.”

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1929

An American Legion Post was organized in Whitesburg on February 9 under the supervision of C.P. Florence, contact officer of the state headquarters. The Post was designated as the Douglas Day Post in honor of the first Letcher County boy to lose his life during World War I.

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“Call the road from Whitesburg to Seco a ‘state highway’ if you want, but you are subject to insult if you do,” The Mountain Eagle says in a front-page commentary. “The bottoms of cars floundering along through almost invariably drag in the mud. … This road should be called a ‘mistake’ for the time being. It needs correcting.”

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Early Saturday morning, 26 of the Carcassonne students mounted their horses and started on their journey to Carr Creek Community Center, where both boys’ and girls’ teams had a game of basketball scheduled for the afternoon. The girls won their game over Hindman, 18 to 12, but the boys lost to Carr Creek, 23 to 6.

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Tom Haymond, leading citizen of Fleming, is spending a few days in Whitesburg looking after litigation for the Elkhorn Coal Corporation.

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George Collins, about 28, died accidentally Saturday after being hit by a fallen tree limb while cutting timber for a sawmill on Smoot Creek.

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The J.B. Dick and Company 5, 10, and 25 Cent Store is now open in the Hogg building on Main Street in Whitesburg.

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Twenty-one people were registered to stay in the Daniel Boone Hotel in Whitesburg on Monday.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1949

The town of Blackey had great excitement this week when a small airplane was forced to land in Eli Sumner’s cornfield after the plane ran out of fuel. The plane circled low several times down Rockhouse Creek and down to the Kentucky River looking for a place to land. The pilot said he had given up hope of finding a safe place to land when he spotted the field. After refueling with Extra Crown Esso gas at C.B. Caudill’s place the airplane took off for the Hazard airport and then for his home base in Ohio.

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Work has started on Whitesburg’s new City Hall, a two-story brick and block structure that will cover 28 feet by 100 feet. The city is supervising construction of the building, which is expected to cost $35,000 to build. D.E. Perkins of Harlan is the architect. [Note: The building is now the home of The Mountain Eagle.]

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Andrew Frazier Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Frazier Sr. of Kingscreek, has opened a watch repair and jewelry shop in Whitesburg. The World War II veteran was trained at the Kansas City School of Watchmaking in Missouri.

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Six Kentucky miners, including 43-year-old Ed Tolliver of Millstone, will be among the first group of paralyzed coal miners to be hospitalized in Washington, D.C., under the welfare program of the United Mine Workers. The six will arrived in Washington on Friday morning and will be taken to the George Washington University hospital for medical card. Tolliver, a member of Local 5741, was injured in July 1940.

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Funeral services were held Monday in Kona for PFC Jack Benge, 24, who was killed in action January 27, 1945 on Luzon Island. Benge’s remains were returned to the United States recently.

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Jack Gibson, 16, of Detroit is being held in the Letcher County Jail on a charge of cutting and wounding with intent to kill after he allegedly stabbed his 22-year-old uncle, Raymond Short, on Rockhouse. Police say the stabbing occurred after an argument between the two men. Short has been free on bond in connection with the murder several months ago of Junior Vanover of Millstone.

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Members of the United Construction Workers Local 751 will meet February 17 to elect a new president for the Whitesburg taxicab drivers union. The new president will succeed Charley Blair, who resigned.

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Owen Wayne Wright of Whitesburg celebrated his sixth birthday with a party at the kindergarten.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1959

Letcher County is broke again, with no money left in the budget to pay any “casual bills” or much of anything else except utility bills, says Deputy Letcher County Clerk Nick Wright. Coroner Virginia Craft, Letcher Circuit Judge Courtney C. Wells, and the soil conservation district have not been paid in some time. While the county can’t pay any bills until July under the present situation, the eight magistrates who make up the Letcher Fiscal Court continue to pay themselves $200 per month.

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Whitesburg Mayor Arthur Banks has the following advice for anyone wishing to run for mayor in 1961: “You don’t have to be an idiot to be mayor, but it helps.” Banks, who has held the part-time position for seven years, said that during 1958 he made and received 48 long-distance telephone calls, made and received 308 local calls, received 15 telegraphs and sent five, listened to 368 complaints, interviewed 36 persons seeking jobs, had more than 50 callers at his home on town business, was called out of bed 43 times after he had gotten to sleep, and was stopped on the street at least 730 times on city business. For all this — not including the $504 he spent out of his own pocket on city business, “to say nothing about the criticism and abuse heaped on him by either ignorant or uninformed people” — Banks is paid $75 per year.

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Members of Local Union 9636 of the United Mine Workers of America at Deane have voted to endorse Harry Lee Waterfield for the office of governor of Kentucky. The endorsement was unanimous from the 300 union members.

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Letcher Schools Superintendent W.B. Hall is blaming publicity of the “secession” movement in eastern Kentucky for the school system’s difficulty in selling construction bonds for the new Fleming- Neon High School.

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A Chicago Tribune editorial appearing in this week’s edition of The Mountain Eagle criticizes President Eisenhower and the federal government for spending millions of dollars of federal money in aid to foreign countries while refusing to help the “thousands of coal miners who are starving down” in eastern Kentucky, “where four out of every five coal mines have closed down.” The Tribune writes that pleas for aid for out-of-work miners “who are suffering as a result of conditions over which they had little control” have “been met inadequately or with shrugging references to red tape and lack of funds. But if these miners have been reading the papers, they know that red tape didn’t keep the government from lending another five million dollars to help Tito, the communist dictator of Yugoslavia, buy locomotives for his state-owned railway system.”

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Mr. and Mrs. Glen Polly are leaving Neon and moving to Louisville, where Mr. Polly will attend mortician school.

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Ronald Polly, son of Mr. and Mrs. Millard Polly of McRoberts and a member of the University of Kentucky debating team, will participate in the University of Maryland’s second annual Capitol Hill Debate Tournament at College Park, Md., on February 20 and 21. UK is one of 34 colleges and universities competing in the tournament.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 1969

More than 5,000 persons showed up in Whitesburg to indicate their willingness to work should a factory locate here. The turnout was more than twice the number required by the firm that might build here. Almost the first in line to apply for a job in the plant was Mountain Eagle correspondent Siller Brown, who writes the Ice news. She assured County Judge James M. Caudill that now that she is pushing 70 she might not be exactly a spry spring chicken, but that she would be glad to put in a full day’s work every day she is needed.

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A Mountain Eagle editorial objecting to the move of the main offices of the Leslie, Knott, Letcher, Perry (LKLP) Community Action Council from Whitesburg to Hazard says, “Letcher County was one of the first in Kentucky to have an organized community action program, and had a strong program in operation in 1966 when the LKLP four-county council was organized. Letcher County received firm assurance from the four counties and from the persons then in charge of the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington that if it would agree to the merger, then headquarters for the four-county operation would be in Whitesburg. A bargain was struck between Letcher County and the other three counties. The bargain was that the four-county headquarters would be here. … And OEO, if it values the tattered remains of its reputation in the four-county area, would join in insisting that the commitments to Letcher County on maintenance of the headquarters here be honored.”

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Airman First Class Billy R. Stapleton, son of Mr. and Mrs. William A. Stapleton of Jenkins, has arrived for duty at Duluth International Airport, Minn. He is assigned to a unit of the Aerospace Defense Command. He previously served at Nha Trang AFB, Vietnam. The airman is a 1966 graduate of Jenkins High School.

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A cow belonging to Jim Brown of Dry Fork gave birth recently to a rare “Siamese” calf — with two heads and eight legs. The stillborn calf was found to have a single heart, one set of lungs and one liver.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1979

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky has decided to submit evidence on the 1976 Scotia mine disaster in Letcher County to a federal grand jury for possible criminal prosecution.

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The Blackey City Council is expressing reservations about a request from Wallace Worsley, the production manager for “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” a $5 million movie based on the life of Loretta Lynn to use Blackey as a location for the film. The council says it is concerned about the film perpetuating old stereotypes of the Appalachian mountaineer and degrading the community. Others attending the meeting between Worsley and the city council felt the filming in Blackey would be good for the community. The council is expected to reach a decision before the end of the week.

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Employees of South- East Coal Company will be working nine days in February. After completing their three-day work schedule this week, miners will return to work the week of February 21. Harry Laviers, president of South-East, attributed the shutdown to winter weather conditions and a reduction in coal orders.

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The Neon City Council voted to hold a special public meeting to discuss plans for construction of a new municipal building to replace the one that burned down more than a year ago. Neon received $38,000 in coal severance tax money to construct the new building.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1989

Two development agencies offered help if Letcher County residents decide to try to set up a furniture industry. Responding to an article by Harry M. Caudill in last week’s Mountain Eagle, the Kentucky River Area Development District in Hazard and Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea wrote Caudill saying they may be able to provide loan funds and other assistance.

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An official of the Ku Klux Klan has applied for a permit to hold a march and rally in Pikeville on March 19. About 300 people watched a similar Klan march in Grundy, Va., in September, when Jack Webb Newsome of Pike County told reporters three chapters of the Klan had been organized in the Pikeville area.

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Jenkins school superintendent Alex Eversole will retire this summer. Eversole, 56, who has headed the Jenkins Independent School System for 10 years, plans to retire June 10. Eversole has been a school administrator for 27 years, 22 of them as a superintendent.

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The Jenkins Cavaliers split a pair of games at home, edging Elkhorn City 83-81 in overtime and falling to Wheelwright 78-71.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1999

A special election will be held March 16 to select a state representative to replace Paul Mason, who died Dec. 8 in a Boston hospital.

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Five city officials reelected in Jenkins last November were “imprudent and rude” when they used city fire and police vehicles to stage a lights and sirens “victory lap” the night of the election, the Letcher County Grand Jury said in its final report. The jurors said, however, they did “not find sufficient evidence of criminal activity” to support indictment of the officials.

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Engineers for the City of Jenkins will have to realign a water and sewer easement to a proposed industrial site after finding that some manholes would be as much as 20 feet deep. The lines are to cross a strip mine operated TECO Inc. to get to the 79-acre site. Parts of the easement are on land created by hollow fill and could be unstable, said an engineer.

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Thirty-seven elk were released on the Bell-Harlan county line. This is the second year of a nine-year elk restoration project between the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the University of Kentucky. The elk came from Utah, where they were captured by KDFWR biologists.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2009

Kinzer Drilling, a natural gas drilling company based in Floyd County, has “made some progress” toward cleaning up a thick layer of mud its employees caused to be placed on a state highway at Little Cowan and is expected to do more cleanup work this week, officials say. Meanwhile, Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks II said he will ask the Letcher County Grand Jury to investigate why the road was allowed to become so dangerous in the first place. Bank said he will also ask the grand jury to look into other instances of damage to public and private property which have occurred at Little Cowan since Kinzer and two other natural gas companies began drilling gas wells there last summer.

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LCpl. Bennett Jonathan Adams, a native of Whitesburg, is working at Recruiting Substation Pikeville as a recruiter’s assistant. Adams, a graduate of Whitesburg High School, is the son of Bennett Adams and Tammy Cook of Whitesburg. He has served two tours of duty in Iraq.

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The AfterShock Band will host a Valentine’s Day dance at the Neon American Legion, Saturday, February 14. Other Valentine’s Day dances will be held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Whitesburg featuring State of Mind, and at the Whitesburg American Legion where The Connection will play.

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