Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
Actor Billy Barty, who stood only 3 feet 9 inches tall, appeared in person at the old Kentucky Theatre in downtown Whitesburg on November 27, 1940. Barty, who began his acting career with Mickey Rooney on the “Mickey McGuire” comedy series in the 1920s, went on to appear in many movies and television shows until he died at age 76 in the year 2000.

Actor Billy Barty, who stood only 3 feet 9 inches tall, appeared in person at the old Kentucky Theatre in downtown Whitesburg on November 27, 1940. Barty, who began his acting career with Mickey Rooney on the “Mickey McGuire” comedy series in the 1920s, went on to appear in many movies and television shows until he died at age 76 in the year 2000.


The contract for building the section of the L&E Railroad from just above the mouth of Craft’s Colly to a point on Boone Fork was awarded Saturday to the Winston Construction Company of Richmond, Virginia. Work is to completed by January 1, 1911.

While an election was underway this past Tuesday, most visitors in the town of Whitesburg were here to see the 125 or so Negro men and women arriving here to work on the new L&E Railroad. The group, which included about 20 women who will work as cooks, will be housed in two camps, one above town on the Jenkins farm near the Dug Hill gap and the other below town. “Most of our people had only seen (Negros) occasionally and to see dozens of them along our streets was almost to them like going to a circus,” Mountain Eagle editor Nehemiah M. Webb writes.

A blasting accident on the public road leading across Pine Mountain has left two men clinging to life. John Maggard and Sam Maggard, both employed under Hiram Williams, were badly injured when dynamite ignited under a pile of rocks they were working on with a hammer and drill. The blast is said to have to have thrown the two workmen some 15 feet into the air.

In a front-page letter to the editor headlined “The Terrors of Typhoid” Mrs. S.C. Tyree urges her fellow Letcher County residents to follow the advice of doctors on how to fight the typhoid epidemic now sweeping through the region.

Accidental burnings have left one Letcher County child dead and another clinging to life. One accident happened at the home of Tom Day on Big Cowan after his little two-year-old boy somehow turned over kettle of boiling water that had been lifted from the fireplace. The boy’s chances for recovery are said to be improving. The other sad occurrence happened at the home of Jonah Cornett on Linefork, where his little four-year-old girl burned to death after her clothes caught fire when she came into contact with an open grate.

The Whitesburg City Council has appointed as the town’s new marshal John D.W. Collins. His appointment will last until the first Monday in January 1912.

“One very commendable feature of the election just passed is there was no vote selling or vote buying in the county so far as we have the least suspicion,” The Mountain Eagle observes.


Elisha Holbrook, son of Mr. and. Mrs. Miles M. Holbrook, was sentenced to one year in state prison this week after a jury found him guilty of stealing $24 (twenty-four dollars) from Spencer Harris.

The new gymnasium being built for the Neon-Fleming consolidated school is near completion.

If reports are true, a large canning factory will be located at Mayking next spring. The project will depend on the availability of 200 farmers and truck growers each growing at least one acre of tomatoes. The time has been long since ripe to start something besides coal mining. s

A former Letcher County man is in critical condition after being hit by a truck while hurrying across a highway to catch an interurban car near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Francis Bentley, 65, is clinging to life at the Sand Springs hospital near Tulsa. He is a brother of Judge Elberson Bentley of Whitesburg and Mrs. Jim Stallard of Craft’s Colly. He was here visiting just a few weeks ago.

Jerry Dixon of Roxana, one of Letcher County’s very finest old-time citizens, has renewed his subscription to The Mountain Eagle for another year. Mr. Dixon writes that The Eagle “is a great comfort and a pleasure when it comes into our humble home.”

Three Letcher County brothers were sentenced to prison terms this week after pleading guilty to breaking into railway cars. James Robinson was given five years in the state pen, while younger brothers Clay and Farris Robinson were each sentenced to two years. Blaming their crimes on “idleness,” The Mountain Eagle observes that, “Here are three bright boys badly handicapped for life, probably ruined. Let others who read or hear of this take warning.”

The homestanding Jenkins High School football team defeated Stuart Robinson’s gridders on Saturday by the score of 25 to 0. “The score might indicate they (Jenkins) played real game, but on the contrary they played a punk game,” writes sports reporter Swede Johnson. s

The Van Lear Bank Mules will travel to Jenkins by special train for their annual Turkey Day game with the Jenkins Cavaliers. The train is also expected to carry more than 200 Van Lear fans


A fire of undetermined origin destroyed the Letcher County Country Club House in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The club house was situated on the beautiful golf course at Mayking and had only been completed for a short time.

According to information, the Hazard Water Company is in litigation over a dam across the Kentucky River which, it is said, obstructs the stream, keeping fish from migrating upstream in the springtime. If this be true, the head of the river is robbed of its proper amount of fish. The North Fork of the Kentucky River in this section of the state could be made a fine fishing stream if all the people would see to it that certain obstructions were removed and the streams not polluted with sawmills and mine water. s

The U.S. Navy has lowered from 18 to 17 years the minimum age for enlistments in the U.S. Navy. Secretary Knox announced that youth enlisted in the Navy would serve until their 21st birthday. Men enlisted between the ages of 18 and 31 must serve for six years.

Billy Barty, that 40-pound movie star who scampered about the sets in such pictures as “42nd Street” and “Roman Scandals”, is coming back to the Kentucky Theatre in person November 27, for matinee and evening appearances. The stage attraction is in addition to the screen feature, “My Love Came Back”.


Three Letcher County boys have enlisted in the U.S. Army. They are: Theodore R. Hammonds, son of Mr. and Mrs. Orban Hammonds, Isom; Douglas Maggard, son of Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Maggard, Isom; and Russell Maloney, son of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Maloney, McRoberts. They enlisted for three years and will receive their basic training at Fort Knox.

Three hundred Letcher County school children were blood-tested in a step-up campaign to find congenital syphilis. Congenital syphilis is the type passed on to unborn babies by their infected mothers. If untreated, it can cause the child to go blind, insane, become crippled, or develop heart disease.

“Rogues of Sherwood Forest” starring John Derek and Diana Lynn is the special Thanksgiving show at Isaac’s Kentucky Theatre.

An auction of a store building and four cabins located about seven miles from Neon will be held Thursday, November 3. Sam Collins in the auctioneer and the property is owned by Seland Quillen and Luther McCray.


The Presbyterian Church announced this week that it will not permit development of the Stuart Robinson High School property as a private college, because the church believes enough financial support would not be available for the proposed school.

The number of farms in Letcher County dropped more than half in the five-year period from 1954 to 1959, the United States census of agriculture shows. The total number of farms in the county dropped from 1,574 in 1954 to 620 in 1959.

An increase in the daily rate for inpatient care at Whitesburg Memorial Hospital was announced today. The new rate, $33 per day, represents a 10 percent increase over the $30 per day rate, which had been in effect since the hospital opened almost five years ago.

Pvt. Bob D. Spangler, son of Homer Spangler, Ermine, is undergoing basic combat training with the Third Training Regiment at the U.S. Army Training Center.


Coal production has passed the billion-dollar mark for the first time in Kentucky, and “the spiral points ever upward,” says Courier-Journal reporter Kyle Vance. The figure is based on the state’s record production of tons this year, at a projected average of $9 a ton, almost double last year’s average.

Current plans of South Central Bell Co. call for Whitesburg area residents to have use of direct distance dialing by August, 1971. Direct distance dialing will enable phone users in 28 cities and towns in eastern Kentucky to dial their own long distance calls. s

It appears that no tipple or coal-loading ramp will be built in Blackey. As a result of strong and nearly unanimous community opposition, most of the parties once thought to be involved in the effort aimed at locating such an operation in Blackey have decided to hold up any plans.

“Wednesday, November 11, my son Jimmy Banks called me from Lexington, Ky., to tell me he was on his way home from Vietnam,” writes Oscaloosa correspondent Mrs. Vernon Banks. “He came about two weeks earlier that we had expected, and I couldn’t believe my ears when he called me. I was so happy to see him. I have prayed so many times for God to send him home to me, and I know He has answered my prayers.”


Numerous coal company officials and employees are turning a friendly eye toward Washington and President-elect Ronald Reagan in the belief that a change in the White House will bring back the boom days of the pre-Carter era. There is an assumption that Reagan and a business oriented cabinet will greatly relax enforcement of environmental laws. s

Letcher County has received an initial $214,852 allotment from a new coal severance tax fund which one state official has called the most beneficial state program ever created for eastern Kentucky development. County officials said the allotment will be set up in a separate bank account and be used similar to the way federal revenue sharing is now used. s

The Letcher County Grand Jury has returned a murder indictment against the two men accused in the 1975 shooting death of William Harvey Johnson, a Letcher County coal operator. Larry “Jughead” Taylor, 32, and Frank Wayne Jenkins, 35, were arrested in early September after Taylor confessed that it was he and Jenkins who shot and killed Johnson. s

The paintings and watercolors of Letcher County native Doug Adams will be on display in the county for the first time next week. Adams is a son of Bill Adams of Jeremiah and the late Janie Adams. His work will be on exhibit at the Cozy Corner in Whitesburg.


United Mine Workers President Richard Trumka isn’t expected to approve a strike against South East Coal Co. unless the company refuses to negotiate a labor contract in good faith. About 300 miners who make up Local 3007 in Letcher and Knott counties unanimously agreed by a voice vote this week to strike South East. But picketing can’t begin unless it is approved by Trumka.

Letcher Countians probably wouldn’t have much to worry about if an earthquake were to strike along the New Madrid fault in western Kentucky, disaster officials say. However, they also say residents should be prepared for an earthquake even after December 2 or 3, the dates predicted for an earthquake. Several residents have contacted The Mountain Eagle to find out what to do in case of an earthquake, but officials say residents of Letcher County probably have little to worry about.

About 25 Letcher County soldiers who are now serving in Saudi Arabia might be getting care packages from home. Letcher District Judge Larry D. Collins is asking county residents to “draft a soldier” and send them a package containing a Christmas gift, greeting cards and reading materials.


Two Harlan County brothers were arrested at the Whitesburg Post Office and charged with theft of mail matter and several other felonies. The arrests of Fred Eldridge, 48, and Anthony Eldridge were the result of an investigation that began after the father-in-law of Kentucky State Police Detective Chuck Bledsoe called a credit card company to tell them his bill was late getting to his rural mailbox.

Letcher Fiscal Court has denied a request by Columbia Natural Resources Inc. to cross Loves Branch Road with a 2-inch gas line, citing a threatened lawsuit over the court’s previous action to cross county roads with an 8-inch pipeline. The court refused the request, saying it might cloud the issue of whether the company can cross other roads with a larger pipeline.

The old Jenkins High School could house a collection of shops and offices ranging from a senior citizens center to hotel rooms to a Country Music Highway museum. Those are among the uses proposed by a committee appointed to look at possible uses for the 40,000-square-foot building.

Letcher County service veterans and JROTC students recited the Pledge of Allegiance during Veterans Day ceremonies in Whitesburg Saturday.


Ongoing problems with collecting from delinquent water customers and slow deliberations by the Kentucky Public Service Commission have caused the City of Whitesburg to fall behind in paying an outstanding debt to Veolia Water. Veolia representative John Stallard told the Whitesburg City Council the city has fallen behind and asked how the matter can be addressed. Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft told Stallard that there are delinquencies he hopes will be collected soon.

Headwaters Inc. is organizing a river cleanup at Campbell’s Branch. “The river at Campbell’s Branch has suffered a high level of pollution within the past few decades and it has left the stream toxic and unsuitable to drink from, fish in and can only support a very minimal amount of life,” said Clary Estes, project director of Headwaters Inc.

Connie Hall Fields realized the dream of a lifetime when she traveled to China to care for giant pandas. She spent 10 days in China, with at least half being dedicated to taking care of pandas. She and four other people had traveled to the Bifengzia Panda Center where at least 80 pandas live.

East KY Tyme, a country/bluegrass band, will play Nov. 19 at the Hemphill Community Center. Those attending should bring a covered dish for a potluck dinner.

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