Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

 

When Goose Creek was home toBig Chief’ 

This 1950s-era photo shows a then-modern coal loading facility at South-East Coal Company’s Big Chief Mine on Goose Creek, located between Neon and Hemphill. The photo is the property of longtime South-East engineer Bill Combs of Craft’s Colly, who helped design the facility, which was unique for its time. After South-East closed its Goose Creek operations in the 1960s to concentrate on newer mines at Polly and Linefork, the LaViers family, which owned South-East, donated the property to the old Eastern Kentucky Housing Development Corporation. EKHDC used the mine’s repair shop as a factory that produced prefabricated panels for houses built by the federally-funded organization, many of which remain in good condition today. The property now belongs to HOMES (Housing Oriented Ministries Established for Service Inc.), a faith-based organization that continues to work to provide affordable housing to eastern Kentucky residents. The Goose Creek site now serves as “Volunteer Headquarters” for HOMES Inc.


THURSDAY 
JANUARY 4, 1940 

In its first edition of the New Year, The Mountain Eagle lists “several things we would like to see accomplished” during 1940. Some of them are:

• Completion of the Hemphill-to-Wayland road.

• Construction of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) road “up Rockhouse to join the Hemphill-to-Wayland road.”

• The erection of a U.S. Post Office and mine rescue station at Jenkins.

• A new telephone system for the towns of Neon, Fleming and Jenkins.

• A new gymnasium to serve Whitesburg High School and Whitesburg Grade School.

• Electric lights for the Lewis Football Field [that serves the Whitesburg schools].

• Completion of the road up Cowan.

• Completion of the Ulvah bridge and opening of the Blackey-to-Jeff road.

• The starting of construction on the much-publicized dam on Cumberland River.

• A publicity campaign for Pine Mountain Park.

• A publicity campaign for the shipping and selling of coal mined in Letcher County.

• The painting and repairing of all buildings and houses in all coal mining camps.

• Completion of the Cumberland Road to Flat Gap, Virginia.

• Completion of the Thornton-to-Camp Branch Road.

• Completion of the Bottom Fork Road to Laurel Branch and intersecting with the Pound, Virginia-road at Payne Gap.

“Of course there are dozens and dozens of other public- and civic-needed improvements,” The Eagle observes, “but if only a portion of above-mentioned improvements could be made it would make our county — which is already a great one — a much greater place in which to live.”

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The January term of Letcher Circuit Court opened on New Year’s Day with Judge R. Monroe Fields being sworn in to another six-year term of office by Letcher County Judge J.M. Crase. Judge Fields then administered oaths of office to county officials, after which he empaneled a new grand jury and instructed its members to investigate “roadhouses, unlicensed liquor stores, fee-grabbing constables and deputy constables, child desertions and all other cases where warranted.”

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Judy Garland and Frank Morgan star in “The Wizard of Oz,” showing continuously from noon Sunday until 5 p.m. Monday at the Bentley Theatre in Neon.

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THURSDAY 
JANUARY 5, 1950 

The Neon-Fleming Lions Club secured 111 food baskets for the needy during an eight-day fundraising event that ended December 23. Money and grocery staples for the baskets, each containing a picnic ham, were collected at a booth the Lions Club set up on Main Street in Neon December 15 and delivered to selected families on the 23rd.

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New officials taking office in Neon this week are Mayor Bill Tucker and Councilmen Hugh Strunk, Robert Burns, Sherman Cox, Bennie Robinson, Clarence Harlow, and Ralph Bates. Adolph Phipps is the new police chief and Sam Webb is the clerk.

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Hemphill police officer John Belcher is being credited with stopping a burglary at the Hemphill Store on the night of January 2. When Belcher saw the burglary in progress he fired two shots and the burglar fled before anything could be taken from the store.

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Kentucky’s lieutenant governor, A. Joe Asher, was in Jenkins December 29 to officiate the installation ceremony for new officers in the Jenkins Kiwanis Club, including 1950 club president E. Paul Lyon. The event was held at the Lakeside Hotel.

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Fleming-Neon High School teachers and students started off the spring semester with extra enthusiasm on Monday, January 2 when they were permitted to listen in to the radio broadcast of the Orange Bowl college football game being played that day in Miami, Florida. The show of enthusiasm by the students and teachers was dimmed somewhat when Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s No. 11-ranked Kentucky Wildcats fell to the Santa Clara Broncos, ranked No. 15, by the score of 21 to 13.

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Letcher County’s new jailer, Harve Hall, has reappointed the husband and wife team of W.H. and Myrtle Dyer as deputy jailers, positions both held under former Jailer John Gose.

Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan star in “I Was a Male War Bride,” showing January 8 and 9 at Isaac’s Kentucky Theatre in downtown Whitesburg.

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“The Isom Livestock Sale is doing nicely,” writes Isom news correspondent Neucedia Ison. “The opening show sells everything from a cracker to a sawmill. Medicine men from Texas to Main often have their tents up, and many other stands are in operation.”

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The Lower Rockhouse community is deeply saddened by the death young Wayne Pridemore. The sophomore student at the Stuart Robinson School near Blackey fell dead while visiting former classmates during his Christmas vacation.

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A group of Whitesburg men attended the Orange Bowl football game between the University of Kentucky and Santa Clara University. Archie Craft, Floyd Mercer, Rolan Price, Stamper Collins and Otis Mohn drove to the airport in Knoxville, Tennessee, then boarded a flight to Miami, Florida.

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THURSDAY 
JANUARY 7, 1960 

Mailman Pearl Dixon is enjoying retirement, two months after turning the Blackey-Cornettsville-Bull Creek Star Route over to his son-in-law, Curt Williams. “After receiving the first eighthgrade diploma ever granted by Stuart Robinson School in Blackey in 1914, Pearl became a teacher in 1916, for a decade,” Mountain Eagle columnist Larry Caudill writes in a feature about Dixon. “He worked for Kentucky & West Virginia Power Company for 15-1/2 years, then was with Carbon Glow Mining Company until 1952. He has been a star route carrier ever since.” Dixon, notes Caudill, 65, has also served as a member of the Letcher County Board of Education for 18 years.

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“There have been estimates that near Kingdom Come Settlement School, James Whitaker’s mule named Jule traveled some 30,000 miles transporting school children.” These words are written by Mountain Eagle columnist Larry Caudill, who this week is using the openings of the new Letcher High and Elementary School at Jeremiah and the new Fleming-Neon High School to compare and contrast the earliest days of public education in Letcher County with what is available here today. Writes Caudill: “Whereas now the teacher feels he can’t get four blocks to school without the family car, in those days only the luckiest youngsters had transportation — on the family mule. The teacher didn’t have it so good in those days, either. In 1866, the teachers for 28 [schools] drew pay in the munificent sum of $1,413.29 from Letcher County. It’s just a little better now.”

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Willie Quillen, 71, widely known merchant in Neon, died at the home of his son, Dr. Sam Quillen, on Wednesday afternoon (January 6) at 2:06 p.m. Funeral services will be held Friday at 2 p.m.

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Liz Smith, daughter of Irene and Raymond Smith, had a slumber party on December 29. Guests included Martha Frazier, Sandra Pesis, and Jean Ann Cox. “Each one reported that she never closed her eyes all night,” Whitesburg columnist Virginia Combs reports.

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The Whitesburg City Council has voted to discontinue providing garbage service to the Letcher County Jail until a $400 bill for three years of service is paid.

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Taxi cab drivers in the City of Whitesburg will no longer be permitted to park facing the wrong way on either side of the street in front of the A&P Store. The Whitesburg City Council said it took the action Tuesday night after hearing complaints that cab drivers have been cutting across Main Street in the wrong direction to park in the wrong lane.

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Six inches of snow and three and onehalf inches of rain fell on Letcher County during the month of December, reports Dr. J. Huston Westover, official observer for the U.S. Weather Bureau. The highest temperature recorded during the month was 64 degrees on December 28. The lowest temperature, 17 degrees, was recorded on both December 8 and December 22.

THURSDAY
JANUARY 1, 1970

Last week’s white Christmas turned into this week’s flood for many eastern Kentucky residents, as heavy rain washed a three- or four-inch accumulation of snow into mountain streams and forced them out of their banks. At Whitesburg the North Fork of the Kentucky River crested at about 7-1/2 feet on the river gauge. Flood stage here is 10 feet and the weather bureau predicted it would be reached.

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“We share the concern expressed this week by Louisville columnist Joe Creason over the dangers built into the Mountain Parkway,” says a Mountain Eagle editorial. “No one who has driven the road can fail to know that what Creason says is true … Creason did not mention, however, the even worse dangers of the extension of the parkway from Campton to Whitesburg. Every time we drive along that part of the road we are dismayed at the danger of it and angered all over again that eastern Kentucky has been victimized once more by people at Frankfort who don’t care and people in Washington who listen to them.”

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President Richard Nixon this week signed the new federal mine safety bill, considered the most far-reaching and significant in history in terms of its potential benefits to men who work in the mines. Nixon had delayed signing the measure — and there had been rumors of a veto — because he felt the provisions giving compensation to victims of “black lung” were too expensive.

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“Love God” starring Don Knotts and “Death of a Gunfighter” are playing this week at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

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THURSDAY 
JANUARY 3, 1980 

Customers in Letcher and 19 other eastern Kentucky counties may be able to save money under two new Kentucky Power Co. rate structures, which have been approved by the state. One rate structure offers savings to households willing to shift significant amounts of electrical use, like doing laundry and dishes, to non-peak hours. The other structure is reduced rates for new space-heating furnaces and water heaters.

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Joint funeral services were held for Mildred “Midge” Shepherd, 31, and her husband, Charles Leon Shepherd, 28. The two were fatally shot Christmas Day while they were in their car on KY 160 at Gordon in Letcher County.

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“I guess Christmas is over and most everyone is getting back to their regular routine,” writes Cowan correspondent Elsie C. Banks, “but it would be nice to keep a portion of the Christmas spirit in our hearts throughout the coming year. We could be having a happy peaceful time all year long.”

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“North Dallas Forty” starring Nick Nolte and Mac Davis is playing this weekend at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

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WEDNESDAY 
JANUARY 3, 1990 

No murders occurred in Letcher County during 1989, the first time in more than 50 years the county has gone a calendar year without an intentional homicide.

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The state Supreme Court decision declaring the state’s public school system unconstitutional, which prompted a massive school-reform effort, was selected as Kentucky’s top news story of 1989 in a survey of newspaper editors and broadcasters. The historic ruling urged the General Assembly to “launch this commonwealth into a new era of educational opportunity.”

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The Kentucky River began to thaw over the weekend after temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees kept it frozen solid for nearly a week. Though temperatures were warmer over the weekend, the latest 30- day outlook calls for a colder than normal January.

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Officials announced a tentative agreement this week to end a violence-plagued, nine-month-old strike against the Pittston Co. by 1,700 coal miners in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. United Mine Workers President Richard Trumka said it is unclear when miners will return to work, but he said the agreement would be placed before the rank and file for ratification within eight to 10 days.

WEDNESDAY
DECEMBER 29, 1999

An early-morning fire Christmas Day gutted Messenger Florist’s 85-year-old building on Main Street in Whitesburg. The building suffered heavy damage from the fire that started around 4:30 a.m.

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If you are a little leery of what might happen when the clock strikes midnight and the calendar switches to January 1, 2000, you’re not alone. Kentucky state government is cautious enough that Kentucky State Police will increase manpower for three days at the beginning of the new millennium just in case the so-called Y-2 bug really does strike computers and paralyze the power grid or some other essential part of day-to-day lives.

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The top five stories of 1999 according to state newspapers and broadcasters were: 1. Months-long drought is worst in a decade; produces water shortages and forest fires that scorch 120,000 acres. 2. Gov. Paul Patton elected to historic second term. 3. Defections of two former Democratic state senators give GOP control. 4. Railroad killer tracked through Kentucky, charged in death of UK student. 5. Whistleblower suit raises safety concerns at Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

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“Bicentennial Man” and “Galaxy Quest” are playing at Whitesburg Cinema.

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WEDNESDAY 
DECEMBER 30, 2009 

Letcher County residents affected by last week’s widespread power outage are being given a chance to tell a grand jury about their hardships while living without electricity. Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks is considering allowing the county’s grand jury to investigate citizen complaints being levied against Kentucky Power Company in the wake of a snowstorm which left more than 7,000 households here without power.

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An editorial in The Mountain Eagle questions the power outage that recently hit more than 7,000 Letcher County households and asks why Kentucky Power Company abandoned its cycle of trimming trees beneath and around its power lines every four to five years, and why the state Public Service Commission has remained silent while the power company’s parent company, AEP, has adopted a maintenance-be-damned policy that puts its shareholders above the health and safety of its eastern Kentucky customers.

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Kentucky Power Company, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, has filed a base rate case with the state Public Service Commission (PSC) seeking $123.6 million in rate relief from its customers. If approved by the PSC, the bill for a typical residential customer will rise from the current price of $114.57 a month to $154.62 — an increase of 34.95 percent.

One response to “The Way We Were”

  1. xnavsubman@gmail.com says:

    I really like to read the old news articles. A lot of them make you appreciate what you have now. Keep up the good work on the paper.

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