Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 1909

Floyd Frazier, convicted in the death of Mrs. Ellen Flannery, was brought into the Letcher County Courthouse on Saturday and sentenced to hang on July 9. However, it is not likely that Frazier will be hanged on that date, as an appeal will be made and arguments heard. Meanwhile, Frazier will continue to be held in the Letcher County Courthouse in Whitesburg until all appeals are exhausted.

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Perhaps the hardest fought legal battle ever waged in Letcher County’s little Capitol ended Saturday when the jury in the W.R. Halcomb case reported it could not agree on a verdict. With little surprise manifested — it was generally believed that such would be the result — the jury was dismissed, Holcomb executed bond, and the case was reset for trial in September. The case was brought here on a change of venue from Harlan County. Halcomb is accused of killing Isaac Huff near W.W. Cornett’s store, located on Poor Fork in the upper edge of Harlan County.

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John Cook, son of Dr. T.A. Cook of Democrat, graduated second in his class Friday at the University of Louisville School of Law. It was not known at press time whether he would hang his shingle out to practice law here or elsewhere.

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Two human skeletons were unearthed recently near the Linefork home of Isaac Ison. “They seem to have been buried a very long time and must have belonged to some ancient race,” writes Boyd Ison, The Mountain Eagle’s Linefork correspondent.

THURSDAY, MAY 2, 1929

An attempt by a group of four local boys to “hobo” a coal train in Whitesburg turned tragic early yesterday morning when one of them, 16-year-old Robert Fields, lost his hold on a moving coal car and fell under it. Young Mr. Fields died a short time later in the office of Dr. Back, where he was taken for treatment.

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“Another lady candidate,” reads a headline on the front page of this week’s edition of The Mountain Eagle. The subject of the story is Mrs. Sallie Keathley of Burdine, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the office of Letcher County jailer. According to The Eagle, Mrs. Keathley is “a lady of high character and reputation” and is “the second of the widowed mothers of our county to seek the nomination for this office.”

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An official test of the Model “A” Ford automobile in Switzerland, with the Alps as the proving ground, has demonstrated that the new Ford can be operated for long periods over steep hills without there being a need to lift the hood. The Model “A” was kept running for a period of six days while it was driven from Zurich to other cities and then back to Zurich.

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Noting that Letcher County seems “different” than other eastern Kentucky counties when it comes to violent crimes, Mountain Eagle editor Nehemiah Webb asks, “What county in the mountains can boast truthfully of the fact that in the past four months only one man has been shot down and killed? That is true in Letcher County.”

THURSDAY, MAY 5, 1949

The R.H. Hobbs Company’s new building being constructed in downtown Whitesburg is drawn the ire of local citizens and businessmen who are upset the building will only have one story. The Whitesburg City Council has asked Hobbs officials to build the structure taller, but the request was refused. There is no city ordinance on the books that would require a taller building, but members of the council believe the one-story building on Main Street will hurt the look of the town.

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The Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Whitesburg used 600 gallons of syrup when B.P. Sergent and J.G. Gault established it in 1918. During the past year, the bottling plant used 33,000 gallons of syrup, current owner G.D. Polly told members of the Whitesburg Rotary Club and their wives who were visiting the plant Tuesday night.

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The Letcher County Health Department is preparing to move shortly from its quarters in the Frazier Building to the basement of the Letcher County Courthouse.

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Letcher County Schools Superintendent Martha Jane Potter this week announced plans for a new 20-room brick school building in Fleming that will house a new consolidated elementary school for students now attending schools in Neon, Fleming and Haymond.

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Letcher County’s leading coal producer for the first three months of 1949 is Consolidation Coal Company’s Mine 214, which put out 104,000 tons during the period. Cosol’s Mine 204 was second in production with 77,114 tons mined during the three months.

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A safe stolen from Letcher Grocery Company’s wholesale operation in east Whitesburg was found at noon today in the North Fork of the Kentucky River at Mayking, near the school. The safe contained $4,588 in cash and checks when it was stolen from Letcher Grocery on Monday night or early Tuesday morning. The door was removed from the safe before it was thrown into the river. Two young men are being held in connection with the burglary, but no charges had been filed at press time.

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John Wayne and Gail Russell star in “Wake of the Red Witch,” showing May 8 through May 14 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

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The Haymond Roller Rink is now open. The cost for skaters is 50 cents for a 90-minute session.

THURSDAY, MAY 7, 1959

National Guard troops left eastern Kentucky this week after a federal judge continued indefinitely a temporary restraining order preventing the United Mine Workers of America from interfering with the operation of coal mines.

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Several exchanges between school board members and Superintendent of Schools W.B. Hall marked Saturday’s meeting of the Letcher County Board of Education. After Hall read the minutes of the board’s April meeting, Board Chairman B.F. Wright told him, “You are very adept at coloring your own minutes to suit yourself.” After the meeting, Board Member Arnold Hall, whose intelligence had been insulted by Supt. Hall a short time earlier, told the superintendent he would hit him if he would remove his glasses. Supt. Hall refused the board member’s request.

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The Whitesburg City Council has authorized City Attorney LeRoy W. Fields to prepare an ordinance expressing the city’s interest in obtaining an airport and creating an airport board.

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A new 12-table picnic area near the top of Pine Mountain will be open to the public after May 15. The roadside park is being developed by the state Department of Highways. Crews have been working on the park under an emergency declared by Governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler, who directed highway department officials here to put men to work on pubic projects wherever possible.

THURSDAY, MAY 1, 1969

Despite widespread national publicity and the prodding of several Congressmen, the Nixon administration has apparently decided to postpone any major effort to eradicate hunger in the United States. The President promised “vigorous and innovative” new anti-hunger programs in an April 14 speech, but top White House officials told a reporter from the Washington Post that “the hunger program is on the shelf.”

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“The Nixon administration’s decision this week to do nothing new about the growing problems of hunger and malnutrition in American can be described, without exaggeration, as shortsighted, simpleminded, and potentially disastrous,” says an editorial in The Mountain Eagle. “The off-the-record explanation from White House officials — ‘There isn’t any dough’ — is ludicrous. If there’s dough for anti-ballistic missiles there’s dough for food. It’s a matter of who lobbies hardest for the dough, and defense contractors are better lobbyists than school children.”

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The Commonwealth of Kentucky has obtained an option to purchase Lilley Cornett Wood. The Wood generally is regarded as the last remaining stand of virgin woodland in eastern Kentucky. It is located in the Linefork section of Letcher County and originally was purchased and preserved by Lilley Cornett. The option covers 438 acres of virgin timber, another 20 acres of land that has been cut over, 88.5 acres of bottom land, and 134.9 acres of coal. The total price is $271,900.

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Army Private First Class Larry D. Hampton, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Hampton of Whitesburg, was assigned on February 18 to the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam as a cannoneer.

THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 1979

Miners from the strikebound Justus Mine in McCreary County spread out this week across the central Appalachian coalfield in a last-ditch effort to save their 34-month-old strike against Blue Diamond Coal Co. from oblivion. As they shut down production, the United Mine Workers of America agreed to a new election — an election all concerned acknowledged will by lost by the union. The Justus miners are calling the union’s action a “sell out.”

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UMW miners in three Beth-Elkhorn mines returned to work Tuesday following 24-hour sympathy strikes supporting the miners at the Stearns’ Justus Mine in Mc- Creary County. Stearns’ parent company is Blue Diamond.

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More than 50 residents of the Pine Mountain Junction, Solomon, Caudilltown and West Whitesburg areas attended a public hearing to protest the proposed annexation of those areas by the City of Whitesburg.

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“National Lampoon’s Animal House” will play at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg Friday to Monday at 7:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, May 3, 1989

Victims of last week’s flash flooding here apparently will receive little or no assistance from the state and federal governments. At least six homes — most of them in the Mayking area — were badly damaged or destroyed by unexpected flooding. Also destroyed were six bridges on Pine Creek. According to Judge/Executive Ruben Watts, officials with the state Division of Disaster and Emergency Services and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not declare the county a disaster area because only one area of the county was damaged by the flood.

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Production will begin in Letcher County this month on a short film starring Ned Beatty. The movie, entitled “Fat Monroe”, is based on the first chapter of Kinfolks, a novel by Appalachian writer Gurney Norman, and is being made by Appalshop.

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A third major accident in four months occurred Saturday in a half-mile straight stretch on KY 15 near Van. Two pickup trucks collided Saturday, about a month ago two other vehicles hit there, and a 23-year-old social worker was killed in a two-vehicle collision at the same spot just before Christmas. State police blamed all three accidents on water pooled in ruts worn in the asphalt.

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“It’s house cleaning time again,” writes Sergent correspondent Vendetta Fields. “So far I have about cleaned all my dresser drawers and eliminated some of the accumulated junk of several years. It’s a hard decision to make so I just shut my eyes and throw it in the garbage.”

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 1999

Letcher County officials have obtained juvenile petitions against five high school students for making threats to teachers and other students after the Colorado school shooting that left 13 dead and 23 wounded. Two other incidents involving elementary and middle school students aged 10 and 13 are still being investigated.

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Several school system jobs escaped the budget cutting ax Monday, but others were cut that were not expected, including those of many employees on the bottom end of the Letcher County School System’s pay scale. Board members warned that the cuts that were made might not be enough to balance the budget and other cuts might be made later.

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Nineteen plaintiffs have sued Golden Oak Mining Co., asking that the company build a public water system to their homes and pay for damages they say were caused by mining under their homes. The families are residents of Indian Creek and Camp Branch, where Golden Oak has extensive underground mining operations.

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Jenkins will hold a citywide spring cleanup May 10 to June 19. The City of Jenkins will provide a truck to pick up large items such as old furniture, stoves, and refrigerators. There will be no charge for these extra items being picked up.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 2009

Former Letcher County Sheriff Raymond “Tip” Warf and two deputy sheriffs who died in the line of duty were among 28 fallen police officers who names were added this week to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial in Richmond. The Letcher County deputy sheriffs named to the memorial are William S. Wright and James Andrew Webb. Their names will also be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1970, Warf confronted a group of people who had gathered to do damage to a bridge. Warf began having chest pains and he was taken to a hospital where he died. Wright was murdered by two members of the Ku Klux Klan in 1900. His grandson said Wright, who was a magistrate and a school trustee, did not approve of things the KKK was doing in the county. Webb died on December 24, 1931 after he was ambushed near his home by Arias Polly, whom Webb had arrested a few days prior on a whiskey charge.

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A high-flying airplane pilot was able to alert officials to a large forest fire at Dunham. The air traffic control center in Indianapolis called Kentucky State Police on Monday to report that a pilot had notified them about a large forest fire he spotted while flying about 10,000 feet in the air over Dunham. Jenkins Police Chief Jim Stephens said the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department and the Kentucky Division of Forestry spent much of the day Monday controlling the fire. The pilot gave the exact longitude and latitude of the fire’s location.

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Letcher County had more people with jobs in March than in February, and its unemployment rate remains the lowest on the eight-county Kentucky River Area Development District.

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The Jenkins Lady Cavaliers softball team has advanced to the All “A” State Tournament in Jefferson County after winning the 14th Region All “A” Tournament for the second year in a row.

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