Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
THE WAY WE WERE AND ARE – These pictures of Whitesburg’s East Main Street (formerly Railroad Street) depict the east end of downtown as it was a century ago and today. At top, the streets of Whitesburg — first paved in 1924 — were still dirt when this picture was taken. In the background, far away and on the left of Main Street, is the Daniel Boone Hotel, on which construction began in 1919, and which opened Independence Day weekend of 1920. In the foreground is a building that appears to be the same one one that is still standing and was later used as Clara’s Diner, Carolyn’s Diner, Ramey’s Diner and the Railroad Street Merchantile. The L&N Railroad rails can be seen in the bottom edge of the photo.

THE WAY WE WERE AND ARE – These pictures of Whitesburg’s East Main Street (formerly Railroad Street) depict the east end of downtown as it was a century ago and today. At top, the streets of Whitesburg — first paved in 1924 — were still dirt when this picture was taken. In the background, far away and on the left of Main Street, is the Daniel Boone Hotel, on which construction began in 1919, and which opened Independence Day weekend of 1920. In the foreground is a building that appears to be the same one one that is still standing and was later used as Clara’s Diner, Carolyn’s Diner, Ramey’s Diner and the Railroad Street Merchantile. The L&N Railroad rails can be seen in the bottom edge of the photo.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 25, 1930

In an apparent crime that is being called “mysterious,” the bullet-riddled body of John Craft, 26, was found last Friday morning at the head of Stamper’s Branch, Rockhouse. When Craft’s 21-yearold brother, Quillen Craft, came to Whitesburg to report the shooting death, he told authorities that he and John had been preparing to go into the woods for a ’possum hunting trip when the two came upon an old house. Quillen said he left John standing while he went to the house for some unknown reason. He said than when he returned a short time later to the spot where he had left John standing, he yelled his name a number of times but got no answer. Tired of waiting, said Quillen, he returned to the house and stayed all night before finding John’s body the next morning near the spot he had last seen him. After a Letcher County coroner’s jury ruled that John Craft had been killed by multiple gunshot wounds, police arrested Quillen Craft and two of his cousins, Tilden and Corbin Craft. The three are being held in the Whitesburg jail pending an examination hearing.

 In the photo at right is the street as it appears appeared Nov. 17, 2020. The railroad is gone, the now-empty diner has been bricked and the Hunsaker apartments on the corner of Main and East Main, and Riverside Apartments (built as the Alene Theater in 1952) now block the view of much of town. The modern photo was taken from a secondfloor window of the old Lewis Wholesale Building, now City Hall. The old photo appears to have been taken from the roof of the same building, which was built in 1912.

In the photo at right is the street as it appears appeared Nov. 17, 2020. The railroad is gone, the now-empty diner has been bricked and the Hunsaker apartments on the corner of Main and East Main, and Riverside Apartments (built as the Alene Theater in 1952) now block the view of much of town. The modern photo was taken from a secondfloor window of the old Lewis Wholesale Building, now City Hall. The old photo appears to have been taken from the roof of the same building, which was built in 1912.

“We are proud that the closing of the Louisville banks did not affect us in the least, as we had no connection with them or Caldwell and Company in Tennessee,” The First National Bank of Whitesburg writes to The Mountain Eagle. “We did not have any connection or affiliations with any of the banks closed during the crash. At this particular season of the year, we are proud to say that we are in a splendid condition and, as we believe, thoroughly solvent.” (Note: After surviving the Great Depression the First National Bank became known as the Bank of Whitesburg.) s

The official population of the United States, as announced by the Census Bureau in Washington, is 122,775,046, a gain in 10 years of 17 million people. California leads all the other states in gain percentage, followed closely by Florida.

Ex-City of Neon police officer Melvin Bentley has been sentenced to a term of five years in the state penitentiary after being found guilty in the 1927 slaying of Charles Gibson. Bentley was still a police officer when the shooting occurred. The Letcher Circuit Court jury deliberated for about 15 minutes before returning the guilty verdict.

The Jenkins High School football lads chalked up another victory Saturday, this time defeating Fleming by the score of 13 to 0. The Fleming boys, led by Carl Ventura, showed they had fighting spirit. Jenkins was led in this game by halfback Tony Dann, who is the favorite to be captain of the team in 1931.

A group of juvenile boys in Jenkins stole T.H. Green’s car from where it was parked on the street and took it for a joyride to Hazard, Pound, and other towns before they were caught near Lakeside late that Saturday night. The good news is that Mr. Green got his car back in time for his scheduled Thanksgiving trip to Knoxville, Tennessee with Miss Dorothy Pendergrass.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 28, 1940

Douglas Fields, son of Jim Fields of Cowan, is the third local boy to go into the army under the new draft regulations. Doug was eligible for the draft, and was a volunteer who left here for Fort Thomas. s

One of the most noticeable new improvements in the Town of Neon recently is the new stop sign placed at the junction of Fleming and Main Streets. Since this section of the town is almost always a congested area, it is believed the new signal will render valuable assistance to motorists as well as to prevent accidents.

Lieutenant Klair Bach and Mrs. Bach returned to Montgomery, Alabama, where Lieut. Bach is an instructor in the United States Army Flying School, following a visit with relatives during Thanksgiving holidays.

John Hall, son of Will Hall, Ermine, continues on a fair rate of improvement in the hospital. Mr. Hall was badly injured in a McRoberts mine accident some time ago, missing instant death by a hair’s breadth. In the serious mishap, Hall lost a leg.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 30, 1950

Despite 12 inches of snow which fell over a period of six days, Letcher Countians were hardly none the worse from the unexpected cold weather which struck here Thursday night. No deaths were reported in the county as a result of the weather which moved down from the North to blanket most of the East Coast, Midwest and South with sub-freezing temperatures and snow.

Damage estimated at $3,777 was suffered by the North Fork Unit of the Kentucky State Forestry during the 1950 spring fire season. The North Fork unit is composed of Letcher and Knott counties. Of the 264,458 acres protected in the North Fork unit, 2,325 were destroyed in 55 fires during the March to June season.

Arthur G. Fletcher, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Fletcher, Neon, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Re-enlisting in the U.S. Army is Pvt. Elvin Blair, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Blair of Letcher.

Five arrests, all connected with the theft of coal drills, motors and cables valued at around $1,000, were made in the past week by Sheriff Hassell Stamper.

THURSDAY DECEMBER 1, 1960

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the final tally of the 1960 census pegged Letcher County’s population at 30,102. The official census contained these figures on the population of Letcher County cities: Fleming 670, Neon 766, Jenkins 3,202, McRoberts 1,363, Seco 531, Whitesburg 1,774.

The Whitesburg Water Board had good news for users of the city’s water system. There shouldn’t be any water-pump troubles for at least six years. The reason: installation of a new submersible pump in one of the two wells which supply the city with water.

A full-scale battle for control of the Democratic Party in Letcher County apparently is shaping up. At issue is the office of county executive chairman for the party. One side is backing Floyd Mercer of Whitesburg and the other is backing Jenkins Police Judge Jesse Bates.

Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn star in “Heller in Pink Tights” playing this week at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 26, 1970

Fred Luigart, president of the Kentucky Coal Operators Association, addressed a conference on strip-mining and repeated his proposal for a joint committee of strip-mining opponents and representatives of the coal industry. If the response he got is any indication, such a committee is a long way off.

U.S. Shoe Corp., which two years ago disappointed Letcher County residents when it picked Jackson as the site for a shoe plant, has now also cancelled its Jackson plans. The firm said that the state of the national economy as well as the increasing competition of foreign shoe imports, particularly Italian, were the main reasons for its decision to cancel the plant.

Gary Lee Fields of Whitesburg is near completion of his training as a state trooper, and is expected to be assigned to one of the 16 State Police posts soon. Fields, the son of Clayton and Jeanette Fields of Whitesburg, was graduated from Whitesburg High School in 1966, and attended Alice Lloyd College and Calvary College before entering the state police.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 27, 1980

The Letcher County Senior Citizens Organization, the Mayking Area Volunteer Fire Department, the Appalachian Regional Ambulance Service, and the McRoberts Community Center all were named by Letcher Fiscal Court to receive portions of the $214,852 in coal severance money allotted to the county by the state. s

Letcher County has apparently taken its first step toward franchising cable television service here. Citing a growing number of complaints about poor service, the Letcher Fiscal Court voted unanimously Friday to advertise its intent to franchise all cable television territories in the county. s

Harold “Straighthair” Davis of Jenkins has resumed his old job as Letcher County trial commissioner after serving a six-month term as the mayor of Jenkins. Davis was named to the post Friday by Letcher District Judge Randal Bentley. Davis’s appointment apparently has laid to rest speculation that he would be a mayoral candidate at Jenkins in the 1981 primary election. s

“Coal Miner’s Daughter” starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones will play this week at Cinema 7 Drive-In Theater at Jeremiah.

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 28, 1990

Carroll Allen Smith of Sandlick is the first person to announce formally that he is a candidate for Letcher County judge/ executive in the 1993 election. Smith, 41, is a newcomer to politics. He says he will run for the Republican nomination. s

In a final attempt to stop the state from shutting the Letcher County Jail down to a 96-hour holding facility, the Letcher Fiscal Court has voted to include money in its next budget to build a new jail to state standards. s

Several vehicles were damaged and traffic was partly blocked for several hours after a tractor-trailer overturned near Jenkins. Deputy Eddie Wayne Back of the Letcher County Sheriff’s Department said the accident occurred Monday when a truck owned by First Choice Transit of Milford, Mich., was unable to make the turn from US 23 to US 119 at Payne Gap. s

Members of the Letcher County “Mothers Against Saddam Hussein” organization have sent 379 pounds of gum, breath mints, razors, soap, toothbrushes and powdered drink mix to Letcher County servicemen and women stationed in Saudi Arabia. They hope to be able to send boxes each month. The women are also starting a support group for persons who have loved ones in Saudi Arabia.

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 22, 2000

Residents fighting construction of a natural gas pipeline across Letcher and Knott counties believe they may have had their first big break in their battle against Columbia Natural Resources Inc. The Kentucky Rural Estate Commission is investigating a complaint that employees of Energy Management and Services Inc., the company that bought pipeline right-of-way for Columbia Natural Resources, did not have real estate licenses as required by Kentucky law. s

The Kentucky Division for Air Quality held a public hearing Nov. 16 on a proposed permit for EnviroPower’s Kentucky Mountain Power generating plant. Supporters and opponents agree that the company is proposing the best environmental technology available, but they disagree on what that means for the environment as a whole. Even with controls, the coal-fired power plant will emit more than 15,600 tons of pollutants a year. s

The Letcher County Clerk’s office will spend nearly $50,000 to modernize its system of recording deeds and put 60 years worth of deeds on computer. The money, $49,986, will come from excess fees generated by Clerk Winston Meade’s office. s

“On Nov. 13, Arlie Boggs Elementary had parents’ day for the kids to be joined at lunchtime by a parent or grandparent and enjoy the Thanksgiving lunch menu,” writes Eolia correspondent Lorie Rayburn.

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 24, 2010

The Letcher County Water and Sewer District’s governing board has voted to deny the request of Stotts Construction of Columbia to delay the start of construction of the Premium/Highway 160 Water Improvement Project until spring because of the chance of bad weather. Stotts made the request based on the large number of construction days the company missed while working of a project to bring water into Letcher County from Carr Creek Lake in Knott County. s

Letcher County native Jeffrey Wayne Collier, 45, of Somerset, died Nov. 21 from injuries received in an accident in Pulaski County. Collier, a former Kentucky state trooper, died when a woman attempted to cross KY 914 in a Mitsubishi and pulled into the path of Collier’s Harley Davidson motorcycle. s

Everett Vanover, a contributing writer to The Mountain Eagle, was recently featured in a Veterans Day section of the Fairfield, Calif., Daily Republic. Vanover, who retired from the U.S. Air Force as a master sergeant, was a printer during his military career, working on items including war plans and military forms, “everything the military wanted,” he said. s

“I got the surprise of my life Saturday night,” writes Whitesburg correspondent Oma Hatton. “My family had a surprise 80th birthday party for me at Parkway Restaurant and 82 people were there. It had been planned for four months and I never had a clue.”

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