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The Way We Were

IN EARLIER DAYS — According to column appearing in the June 23, 1949 edition of The Mountain Eagle, the newspaper was preparing to celebrate its 43rd birthday on June 30, 1949. The Eagle will finish its 112th year of operation on Sunday, June 30, 2019. In the photo above, discarded pages of newsprint litter the floor in what was then The Mountain Eagle’s new home. The Eagle moved into the “Jail Street” location, behind the Letcher County Courthouse, now known as Broadway Street, sometime in the early 1930s. The column, a birthday-related history of the paper, appears below right.

IN EARLIER DAYS — According to column appearing in the June 23, 1949 edition of The Mountain Eagle, the newspaper was preparing to celebrate its 43rd birthday on June 30, 1949. The Eagle will finish its 112th year of operation on Sunday, June 30, 2019. In the photo above, discarded pages of newsprint litter the floor in what was then The Mountain Eagle’s new home. The Eagle moved into the “Jail Street” location, behind the Letcher County Courthouse, now known as Broadway Street, sometime in the early 1930s. The column, a birthday-related history of the paper, appears below right.

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 1909

Advocates of public education scored a major victory a few days ago when the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld a state law authorizing a school tax to be set by county boards of education. The ruling also upholds the law requiring fiscal courts to collect the levy.

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John Fox Jr., the well-known author from New York City and Big Stone Gap, Virginia, was registered at the Mountain View Hotel in Whitesburg on Monday night. He left Tuesday, headed in the direction of Kingdom Come. It is said he is preparing to write another book.

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A 45-year-old Linefork woman writes the editor of The Mountain Eagle this week asking for friends and family to visit her home and to remember her only son, who is serving in the Philippine Islands, a territory governed by the United States. “I hope the Lord will take care of him and send him home to his anxious mother,” writes Katie Holcomb. She also adds that she wishes a long a prosperous life for The Mountain Eagle, which was founded nearly two years ago. “About all the comfort I get is in reading it,” Mrs. Holcomb writes. “I do hope that everybody in the land will read it every week.”

Reprinted from June 23, 1949:

Reprinted from June 23, 1949:

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Dongola resident Fayette Banks saw a large wildcat up on the ridge a few days ago.

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It still rains most of the time in Letcher County, but the sun peeps out occasionally and helps the farmers.

THURSDAY, JUNE 20, 1929

Only five of 30 applicants for teaching certificates in Letcher County passed the required examination, says a report from the state superintendent’s office in Frankfort. Those who did have passing scores are Chester Hogg, H.D. Caudill, E.H. Johnson, Hiram Mitchell, and Miss Sudie Knight. A number of those who failed the exam are said to be former teachers.

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Isom Adams, 30, of Colly, was killed in a coal mine at Bastin, on Thornton Creek, when he came into contact with a cutting machine. He was married and the father of several young children.

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A badly-wrecked car remains upside down in the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Whitesburg, where it was wrecked Sunday night around 10 o’clock. The sedan, which carries a Pike County license tag, was driving at a high rate of speed when it ran over a 15-foot embankment and into the river. Residents of the Collins-Harvie Addition rescued the occupants of the car — two young men — after hearing their screams. The men are said to have been drunk and on their way home to Pike County from a trip to Vicco in Perry County.

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A black man’s decision to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for the office of jailer marks the first time in history that a person of color is seeking elected office in Letcher County. “A new angle was created in political circles Tuesday, when a [black] man came down from McRoberts and filed for the Republican nomination for jailer,” The Mountain Eagle reports on its front page. “Letcher County has never had a [black] candidate for any office before. It is claimed there are about 1,500 [black] voters in the county, enough to nominate the [black] man in case all the other candidates continue in the race and the [black] voters support him.” [Editor’s note: Sadly, The Mountain Eagle chose not to include the candidate’s name when this story originally appeared on June 20, 1929.]

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Old Jim, a 41-year-old mule belonging to Wilburn Dixon of Elk Creek, died a few days ago of old age.

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The Letcher County Fiscal Court has approved resolutions urging the Kentucky State Highway Commission to build highway bridges at Blackey, Roxana, and Ulvah with the first funds available from “flood relief.”

THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 1949

Work on a new building on Main Street in downtown Jenkins is back underway after a contract agreement between the construction company in charge of the project and the United Construction Workers Union. About 30 workers with May-Bilt Inc. were kept off their jobs since June 10 by UCW pickets from Wheelwright. The new building will house a movie theater and serve as the new offices for Consolidation Coal Company.

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Whitesburg’s newest five and ten cents store is located on the corner of Main and Railroad Streets. Marcum’s Variety Store is scheduled to open this week in the Kentucky Hotel under the management of Mrs. Oscar Marcum. In addition to a complete line of five and ten cents items, the store will include a lunch counter with a soda fountain and candies.

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Funeral services were held here yesterday for Stephen Hogg, 32, a former Fleming High School student and World War II veteran who drowned Friday while fishing at Belleville, Michigan. Hogg, who is survived by five sisters and three brothers, was fishing with friends when the boat capsized on a lake near Detroit. He was employed by Briggs Motor Company in Detroit. He is buried in Roxana.

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This week will end The Mountain Eagle’s 42nd year of publication. Next week’s edition will be Number 1, Volume 43. [Note: See related story, this page.]

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“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo, is showing Thursday and Friday at the Elinda Ann Drive-In Theatre in Whitesburg. Showing Saturday is “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” starring Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland. On Sunday, Johnny Weissmuller and Brenda Joyce star in “Tarzan and the Mermaids.”

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“An Innocent Affair (Don’t Trust Your Husband)” is the name of the movie showing June 26 and June 27 at the Haymond Theatre. It stars Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carrol.

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Humphrey Bogart stars in “Knock On Any Door,’ showing Sunday and Monday at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

Mrs. Homer Spangler is the new postmaster at Ermine.

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A drive is underway to raise funds to erect a monument honoring Archealus Craft, the first settler on Craft’s Colly in Letcher County. Craft is buried in an unmarked grave beside the road at the mouth of Pendleton Fork.

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A Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post was recently organized at Haymond, with 45 members having applied for charter membership cards. The post commander is Pat Mullins.

THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 1959

Funeral services were held this afternoon in Whitesburg for Roy Raymond Crawford Sr., a prominent Letcher County coal operator and land owner. The rites were conducted at Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church. Crawford, who was born in 1895 at Colson, was a son of former Letcher County Sheriff C.C. Crawford. He was a civil and mining engineer who practiced his profession in Letcher County, most of which he had surveyed while become an authority on the county’s geography. He was president and owner of Elkhorn-Hazard Coal Land Corporation, president of Carr Creek Fuel Company, and Little Shepherd Coal Company. His mineral holdings totaled some 12,000 acres.

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The salary of Letcher County Schools Superintendent W.B. Hall must be reduced $500 a year, from $7,700 to $7,200, under a ruling handing down by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Hall is one of 59 superintendents in Kentucky who face salary reductions as a result of the court’s ruling, which says that superintendents may not be classified as statewide officials, but must be considered local or district officers. The state constitution sets a salary limit of $7,200 on such local officials, the court ruled.

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Letcher County’s 17 tobacco farms are taking part in a program to check crop acreage and leaf sizes.

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Nine more coal companies are suing the United Mine Workers union for loss of markets and profits and for property damage resulting from a strike that began in eastern Kentucky on March 9. The suits, which seek a total of $4.18 million, were filed in federal court. The largest suit, totaling $2 million, was filed by Elkhorn Coal Company of Letcher County.

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The Kentucky Court of Appeals has cleared the way for Letcher County’s eight magistrates to continue drawing their $200 monthly salaries, provided they try a criminal case every now and then. By a vote of 5 to 1, the court upheld the constitutionality of the 1958 Magistrates’ Salary Act, under which the eight have been receiving pay. Prior to enactment of the Salary Act, Letcher County’s magistrates had received only $15 a month for attending court meetings. Some had supplemented that pay through fees earned by trying cases. However, the Appeals Court ruled in 1956 that magistrates could no longer receive such fees because it gave them a monetary interest in the outcome of the cases they tried.

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Families receiving surplus foods in Letcher County will find dried eggs added to the list of foods available on commodity distribution days in July. The government says the dry eggs are easily reconstituted with water and can be used just like fresh eggs in recipes for well-cooked dishes.

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A total of 14 deaths have occurred in Kentucky coal mines from January 1 through May 19. That statistic sets up a possible record low number of mining fatalities by the end of this year. The previous low for a full year was in 1913 with 38 fatalities, followed by last year’s death total of 49.

THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 1969

“Probably no man of the century has been more a part of the lives of eastern Kentuckians than John L. Lewis, who died last Wednesday at the age of 89,” says a Mountain Eagle editorial of the retired leader of the United Mine Workers of America. “For a quarter of a century, his was the voice most listened to, and he was the leader mountain men followed, as they have followed no other leader before or since. He lifted the coal miner from a state of absolute serfdom to their brief moment of glory when they could boast that theirs was the best paying job held by laboring men anywhere in the world.”

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A photograph on the front page of The Mountain Eagle, which was taken in the 1930s, shows the surviving Letcher County veterans of the Civil War. They are John Jones, Noah Reedy, Hiram Mitchell, John Sexton, James Collins, Enoch Craft and Sam Webb. The photograph comes from N. Baxter Jenkins of Mercer Island, Wash.

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The Nixon administration has called for a two-year extension of the War on Poverty’s Office of Economic Opportunity at about its present funding level, and also called for continued operation of the Appalachian Regional Development program, basically at its present level of activity.

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The Whitesburg A&P parking lot was a swinging place Friday night as the Whitesburg Jaycees sponsored and chaperoned the first of a weekly series of dances designed to provide recreation for area youth. Admission is $1 per person.

THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 1979

The state highway department opened six bids last Friday on the Whitesburg bypass project. The special bidletting, requested by Gov. Julian Carroll last month, was the fourth time bids have been taken on the proposed 2.3-mile highway connecting KY 15 and US 119. Gov. Carroll said that even if no contract comes out of the special bid-letting, the department will continue to take bids until a contract is assigned.

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A grand jury investigating possible criminal violations in the 1976 Scotia mine disaster in which 26 men died will conclude by mid-July.

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Reports of bear sightings stirred the air in East Jenkins last week. A medium-sized bear first appeared in a backyard on US 119, and Jenkins Police Chief Ernest Wyatt went to East Jenkins when a woman called saying a bear was walking across her yard. William Tackett reported seeing two bears, a little one and a bigger one. The bears apparently came from the Camden area, then went down the railroad tracks and into an overgrown cemetery.

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A Letcher County reunion will be held at the Greenville Park in Indiana on July 1. A larger crowd than ever is expected this year.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 1989

The trial of seven men charged in connection with a stolen vehicle and parts operation at McRoberts was to enter its fifth day Wednesday. The trial of Vernon Andrew Mullins, Charles Edward Tackett, Timothy Neal Howard, Jeffery Neal Howard, Michael S. Mullins, David A. Fleming and Russell Dean Hall began in federal court in Pikeville last Thursday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Self charged in his opening statement to the jury that a “chop shop” — an auto theft and dismantling ring — run by the defendants evolved into an illegal supermarket for auto parts in rural eastern Kentucky.

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The Letcher County Board of Education has passed a policy that will allow it to fill job openings without advertising for applicants outside the school system. The board voted unanimously to adopt a policy that would allow jobs to be advertised in the schools, but would not allow them to be advertised elsewhere.

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The City of Whitesburg will combine the three phases of its proposed water system improvements into one project. The change could move ahead by several years the addition of Mayking and Whitco to the city system.

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The Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission has completed a new trail to Bad Branch Falls, taking hikers away from the cliffs where North American ravens are nesting. Where the old trail followed the cliff line, the new path swings closer to the stream and lower on the hillside, away from the cliffs where Kentucky’s only North American ravens nest.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16, 1999

The City of Jenkins is expecting development of more than 200 home lots and apartments off new US 23. TECO Inc., which owns much of the area around Jenkins, is developing 123-125 housing lots in and around the new golf course, and Mountain Outreach, a charity located at McRoberts, is planning 120 units of assisted living apartments and duplexes in Bear Hollow.

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Some Whitesburg city officials are considering annexing property east of the city limits toward Mayking. Councilman Frank Fleming told other members of the city council that he has been talking to residents in the Golf Course subdivision in Mayking and so far has found no opposition to the idea.

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A 15-year-old boy has been charged with e-mailing a bomb threat to Whitesburg High School. The threat caused the evacuation of the high school and state police brought in a dog to search for explosives. None was found.

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Playing at Whitesburg Cinema are “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”, “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”, and “Wild Wild West”.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17, 2009

The Letcher Fiscal Court has agreed to give $1 million in coal severance tax funds to the Letcher County school system to help build a new vocational and technical school and $100,000 in severance tax funds to Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital for a new addition and other renovations.

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Four men have been named in indictments in connection with the vandalism of a new home on property owned by Fleming-Neon Police Chief Henry Day.

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Teenagers from Letcher County middle schools and high schools have the chance to watch a live surgery being performed at the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Students attending summer health careers camps will view the surgery via “telemedicine.”

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Larry Maggard is the new football coach at Jenkins High School. He has been an assistant coach at Letcher County Central High School for the past four years.

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