Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
The photograph and accompanying story seen feature Letcher County and the town of Whitesburg as they were 134 years ago. The clipping comes from a darkened copy of The Courier-Journal of Louisville published on January 5, 1886. The story, which appeared 26 years before the railroad arrived here and 21 years before The Mountain Eagle was founded, describes Whitesburg as “one of the most picturesque of Kentucky mountain towns,” and also one of the most peaceful. The report also details an 1884 vote to move the county seat 2-1/2 miles from Whitesburg and how that vote was struck down by order of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

The photograph and accompanying story seen feature Letcher County and the town of Whitesburg as they were 134 years ago. The clipping comes from a darkened copy of The Courier-Journal of Louisville published on January 5, 1886. The story, which appeared 26 years before the railroad arrived here and 21 years before The Mountain Eagle was founded, describes Whitesburg as “one of the most picturesque of Kentucky mountain towns,” and also one of the most peaceful. The report also details an 1884 vote to move the county seat 2-1/2 miles from Whitesburg and how that vote was struck down by order of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1940

Kimmer Donalds, the coal miner who was shot last week at a Millstone store, died at the Seco Hospital Tuesday as a result of the wounds he suffered. Witnesses say Donalds was shot by a drunken Luther Johnson at the Jot-’Em-Down Store. The witnesses say Johnson, a liquor store proprietor who lives at Vicco in Perry County, walked into the store swinging a pistol and threatening to kill someone. Donalds was shot while trying to get Johnson to settle down. Johnson has been arrested and is being held under $10,000 cash bond pending his examining trial. Donalds, 31, is survived by his wife and three young children, ages three years through 11 months. Funeral services were held Wednesday at Seco Methodist Church.

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Final touches are underway in the remodeling of the Jenkins Theatre in downtown Jenkins. The work is being done by a Clarksburg, West Virginia firm. The movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” starring James Stewart, will show there Sunday and Monday. The movie is considered one of the best released during 1939.

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Work will begin March 1 on the new Jenkins Post Office building, which will also house the federal mine rescue station.

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Citizens of the Linefork area are demanding that Letcher County complete the 12 miles of new road needed to enable them to reach Whitesburg by way of Kingscreek, Cowan and Dry Fork or relinquish their area to Harlan County. A petition signed by nearly 100 percent of the residents of the Linefork area calls on Letcher County’s government to release the area located between the Harlan and Perry County lines, including Defeated Creek and Turkey Creek, if the road isn’t built soon. “The wide awake businessmen of Harlan are anxious and are willing and ready to pay off the present indebtedness against Letcher and build a highway over the (Pine) mountain so the people over there will have a better way out to the county seat of Harlan, where they do most of their business … because their only other rough motor trail goes by way of Cumberland, which is much closer to Harlan than to Whitesburg,” organizers of the petition say.

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The Letcher County Kiwanis Club celebrated its first birthday and the 25th birthday of Kiwanis International with a banquet January 29 at the Daniel Boone Hotel in Whitesburg.

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“Gone with the Wind,” released in December 1939, continues to sell out movie theaters — mostly in advance — wherever it shows.

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U.S. Representative A.J. May sent a telegram to The Mountain Eagle this week declaring that the Chief of Engineers for the U.S. War Department has approved the final survey of the Cumberland River Flood Control Project, apparently clearing way for construction of a dam on the Cumberland River in Letcher County.

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Whitesburg attorney Emmett G. Fields has been appointed Master Commissioner of Letcher Circuit Court for a period of four years.

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Work is scheduled to begin in April on a 9-mile section of the new Hemphill-to-Wayland road.

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Letcher Circuit Judge R. Monroe Fields has ordered Consolidation Coal Company, the Kentucky Unemployment Compensation Commission and others to pay salaries to members of the United Mine Workers union who were on strike for 45 days while the union and coal operators were trying to reach a working agreement.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1950

An Alabama man is being held in the Letcher County Jail this week on charges he murdered another man after an altercation during a poker game at Rockhouse. Both men involved in the incident were here installing tracks for the L&N Railroad at Rockhouse when one of them, 56-year-old Howard Emmett, shot and killed the other, Charles Radcliff, on Saturday night. Emmett fled the scene of the shooting and hid in the woods around Rockhouse before surrendering to Deputy Jailer W.H. Dyer about 8 a.m. Sunday.

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Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Ward this morning delayed his ruling on the recount of votes in the Letcher County Clerk’s race between Democrat Charlie Wright and Republican Troy W. Frazier. In announcing the delay, Judge Ward said he needs more time to study the case after the latest count shows Wright ahead of Frazier by 42 votes. Frazier had been declared the winner just after the election with a 59-vote margin.

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Contract talks between United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis and the nation’s bituminous coal operators resumed this week after a break of three months in negotiations to end the record coal strike. President Truman has threatened to intervene unless an agreement is reached by Saturday night.

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The Whitesburg Motor Service opened this week in the building formerly occupied by Reed Motor Company on Webb Avenue. The new business is owned and operated by Howard Combs, formerly with the Combs Motor Company, V.B. Crowell, and Douglas Cook.

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A 52-year-old Whitesburg man was killed Saturday when a tree he was cutting fell on him in the back yard of his home at the mouth of Solomon. The victim, Eddie Middleton, was buried Monday in Harlan. He had worked in Whitesburg as a salesman for the Jellico Grocery Company, his employer of 28 years.

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A 22-year-old disabled coal miner from Letcher County was married this week to a nurse who has been treating him in New Jersey. Ben Combs, who lost both of his legs in a mine cave-in, married Elizabeth Krutel on Monday in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The new Mrs. Combs is a nurse at Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation, where Mr. Combs has been undergoing treatment for the past year.

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Jennie Combs, a Whitesburg High School senior and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Herman C. Combs, won the title of “Miss Windsock of 1950” in a beauty contest held at Marine Corps Air Station Cheery Point in North Carolina. She was sponsored by Marine Ballard Morgan of Whitesburg.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1960

Letcher County would have its own circuit court and would elect its own circuit judge and commonwealth’s attorney under a bill passed this week by the Kentucky House of Representatives. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Harry M. Caudill, would separate Perry and Letcher counties into separate judicial districts. The circuit judge’s post would pay a salary of $8,400 a year, and the commonwealth’s attorney’s job would pay $500 per month.

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The Whitesburg City Council this week accepted “with regret” the resignation of City Attorney Leroy Fields, who quit rather than accept a cut in salary from $75 per month plus $25 for stenographic expense to a straight $25 monthly.

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“We hollered, we cried, we even prayed you would find us,” said one of the three young boys who became lost in the woods Sunday near their homes in the Lewis Harvie Addition of Whitesburg. A searching party was able to locate Stuart Lewis, 8; Paul Blair, 6; and Mark Caudill, 5, after dark Sunday.

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Independent merchants appeared before the Whitesburg City Council this week to complain they bear an unfair share of the city’s tax burden when compared to larger businesses such as the A&P Food Store and Whitesburg Memorial Hospital. Wholesaler Lawrence Lewis and grocer Kermit Combs told the council they pay more taxes on their homes each year than the A&P does for its entire operation.

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Kentucky Power Company has received final approval from the state Public Service Commission to include a fuel clause in its residential and commercial rate and to change the monthly minimum bill from $1 to $2.

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Members of Girl Scout Troop 49 are surveying residents of the Whitesburg area to see if the town has the 2,000 residents needed to qualify for home mail delivery. Acting Postmaster Sam Collins Jr. has authorized the survey.

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Samuel L. Warf, seaman USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond C. Warf of Cromona, is scheduled to return to San Diego, California on February 16 aboard the destroyer USS Porterfield. Seaman Warf has been on a five-month tour of duty with the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Western Pacific, where the Porterfield and her crew operated as members of an anti-submarine “hunter killer” group, visiting along the way Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

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“The beribboned officer of Infantry on the bus to Jenkins was Captain Thomas Oaks, home on emergency leave from far-off Korea to be at the side in his last days of his father, Edward Oaks, 77, of Payne Gap, victim of cancer.” Those words are written by Mountain Eagle contributor Larry Caudill in a detailed account of Captain Oaks’s two decades in the service. Captain Oaks, a teacher of infantrymen, is presently stationed on the famed 38th Parallel on the Yalu River in Korea, where, Oaks says, “we look through the binoculars right into the eyes of the communist world” immediately across the truce line into North Korea. Captain Oaks’s brother Robert was killed in Germany near the end of World War II, in April of 1945, in a tank of Patton’s Third Army. He is buried in Luxembourg.

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Fay Brashears, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Pack, is the Whitesburg High School 1960 Homemaker of Tomorrow after receiving the highest score locally in a 50-minute written examination on homemaking knowledge and attitudes taken by graduating senior girls. She moves on to state and national competition.

THURSDAY JANUARY 29, 1970

Three men, one an eastern Kentucky native, have been charged with the New Year’s Eve killing of United Mine Workers official Joseph A. Yablonski and his wife and daughter in Pennsylvania, but no motive for the crime has yet emerged. Yablonski had been defeated Dec. 9 in his attempt to win the presidency of the UMW from W.A. “Tony” Boyle. Yablonski’s sons, Kenneth and Joseph Jr., have charged that the murders were a “political assassination.” Paul Eugene Gilly, a native of Defiance in Perry County, Aubran Wayne Martin and Claude Edward Vealey have been charged with the murders.

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A Mountain Eagle editorial says, “It takes tragedy in this country to produce reform. Without the Mannington disaster of 1968 there would have been no new mine health-safety legislation passed in Congress. And it seems clear that without the murder of Joseph Yablonski there would be no serious attempt to clean house in the United Mine Workers. But it is not yet clear that any such reform is in the wind. All through the bitter campaign between Yablonski and Tony Boyle for the presidency of the UMW, evidence piled up — of misuse of union funds; of influence peddling; of deals; of a rigged election in several of the union’s districts. The Labor Department, empowered to act under the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959, did nothing. The Justice Department did nothing. … the Labor Department has done nothing but sit back and watch as unions became less and less responsive to their membership, and more and more corrupted by the enormous power they hold.”

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Sp/5 Ray Lewis is serving in Qui Nhon, Vietnam as a clerk typist with the 184th Ordinance Battalion. He has been in Vietnam since May, 1969. He is the son of Mrs. Mary Lewis of Gordon.

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Pork chops are on sale at the A&P food store for 79 cents a pound. Sirloin steak is $1.18 a pound.

THURSDAY JANUARY 31, 1980

Patience and unity was the message heard by concerned parents and teachers at a meeting held to discuss the situation Whitesburg Middle School’s 360 students and 15 teachers face after fire destroyed their classroom building last week. For the remainder of the school year middle school classes will be held in the First Baptist Church in Whitesburg and in West Whitesburg Elementary School.

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Postmaster R.C. Day Jr. will become postmaster at Somerset. Day has served as postmaster at Whitesburg for 19 years. He is a graduate of Berea College and has done advanced work at Eastern Kentucky University.

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“And Justice For All” starring Al Pacino is playing at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 31, 1990

The Letcher Fiscal Court has dodged the issue of the National Flood Insurance Program by asking the county attorney if it can be placed on the next election ballot. The court voted unanimously last week to have County Attorney Harold Bolling decide if it is legal to place the question on the ballot.

The flu outbreak, which has reached epidemic proportions in Kentucky and the nation, has affected Letcher County but not sufficiently to close schools or public events. Local medical clinics have been taxed to near capacity and schools have reported absences of up to 13 percent of their enrollment, but the actual number of cases of flu-like illness here is not known. Hospitals were also crowded to capacity.

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Rep. Paul Mason of Whitesburg will face opposition from three other Democratic candidates in the May primary election for the 91st District seat in the state House of Representatives. Mason is being challenged by Steve Brewer and Eddie Howard, both of Whitesburg, and Larry Crutcher of Jeff.

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The Letcher Elementary Invitational tournament wound up January 23 with Cowan Elementary taking the championship over host Letcher Elementary and Whitesburg Middle School claiming the consolation trophy over Campbells Branch.

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 26, 2000

Declining enrollment will continue to drain money from Letcher County schools next year. The state Department of Education estimates that the county school district will lose at least $339,000 and perhaps as much as $692,000 in state SEEK money next year. In addition, the system is facing another $300,000 in increased salary expenses because of a state-required 1.9 percent pay increase coupled with increases in teacher experience and rank.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court has agreed to go on record as being seriously interested in setting up a tire recycling sub-plant in Letcher County. The court voted unanimously to authorize Letcher County Attorney Harold Bolling to draft a resolution that will permit Judge/Executive Carroll A. Smith to work with officials of GPERS Inc. on a “feasibility study” to determine if the county is a suitable location for a facility that must recycle at least 700,000 tires a year to pay for itself.

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County Clerk Winston Meade came to the Letcher Fiscal Court meeting bearing a gift — $40,000 in excess fees from his office. Meade told the court he believed his office owed the court a total of $46,000, but the Kentucky State Auditor hasn’t audited the accounts yet. He made the partial payment pending completion of the audit.

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The Jenkins Lady Cavs broke open a close game by pulling away from Elkhorn City in the second half for the victory in their match-up. The final score was Jenkins 55, Elkhorn City 44.

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 27, 2010

More than 250 people crowded into the Letcher District Courtroom for a meeting on the subject of Kentucky Power Co. Kentucky Power officials heard many statements saying the company negligence in keeping rightsof way cut contributed greatly to the devastating power outages that kept many county residents in the cold and dark through the Christmas holiday and caused thousands of people to lose the entire contents of refrigerators and freezers. The power company also drew harsh criticism for its proposed 35-percent residential rate increase.

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Students in Jenkins Independent Schools could have their last day of school on May 19, providing there are no more days missed due to bad weather or other circumstances.

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The Letcher County Board of Education approved schools being in session during the first three days of spring break after the district has missed 12 days because of illness and inclement weather. In addition to having class April 5-7, the board approved being in session on Feb. 15, which is Presidents’ Day.

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“For the angler that can stand the cold weather, there is a world of fishing opportunity,” writes Greg “Gabby” Caudill. “Several fish are active during the winter months, and some fish like smallmouth bass and stripper are fished for in the cooler months because this is considered trophy fish time.”

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