Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
A Ford Model A Tudor is shown in this undated photo. This week in 1931, models of the Model A Tudor were for sale at Letcher County dealers for prices ranging from $435 to $660. A successor to the famous Model T, the Model A Tudor, first introduced on December 2, 1928, was powered by a 40 horsepower four-cylinder engine and was capable of speeds of 55 to 60 miles per hour. Production of the car was ended in March 1931, just a few weeks after the ad appeared in The Mountain Eagle. In all, more than 4.8 million of the cars were produced in nine body styles before the Tudor was replaced by the four-cylinder Model B and later the eight-cylinder Model 18 in 1932. (AP Photo)

A Ford Model A Tudor is shown in this undated photo. This week in 1931, models of the Model A Tudor were for sale at Letcher County dealers for prices ranging from $435 to $660. A successor to the famous Model T, the Model A Tudor, first introduced on December 2, 1928, was powered by a 40 horsepower four-cylinder engine and was capable of speeds of 55 to 60 miles per hour. Production of the car was ended in March 1931, just a few weeks after the ad appeared in The Mountain Eagle. In all, more than 4.8 million of the cars were produced in nine body styles before the Tudor was replaced by the four-cylinder Model B and later the eight-cylinder Model 18 in 1932. (AP Photo)


The basketball team of Male High School of Louisville left Whitesburg by train Sunday morning after a hard-fought, 24 to 20, victory over the homestanding Whitesburg team the night before. While the game was tied 20 to 20 with only seconds remaining, the Male High team scored the final four points to seal the win. “Excitement and interest began raging long before the battle began and hundreds were flocking to see the sport,” The Mountain Eagle reports. By the time the game started, the big gym building was overcrowded. Our boys went at the Male boys with fire and grim determination in their eyes, while their antagonists met them with the same defiance.”

“Business is still on the drag, but a great many folks of this section are still hoping the mines will start soon,” reports The Eagle’s Elsiecoal correspondent. “Several of our boys and girls attend high school at Whitesburg through the aid of the L&N Railroad.”

An 18-year-old Jenkins man was killed Saturday evening when the Jenkins Dairy milk truck he was driving collided with a large Blue and Gray bus at Potters Fork, Haymond. Alfred Cox, 18, was driving the truck toward Jenkins when it collided with the bus headed toward Whitesburg. A 12-year-old passenger in the milk truck was seriously injured.

The recently organized Woman’s Club of Fleming held its first meeting January 7 at its clubhouse in Fleming. Those present were Mesdames T.S. Haymond, G.E. Cecil, C.T. Posten, B.R. Conley, Angelina Pelizzari, Ross Cutshaw, E.P. Wolf, J.M. Smith, A. Blevins, and E.P. Reed.

James Caudill, a young son of Letcher County Clerk Cro Caudill, died Wednesday night at the Seco Hospital, where he had been rushed to Sunday after being stricken with appendicitis.

The new Ford Tudor Sedan is now available for sale in models ranging from $435 to $660. “The new Ford accelerates quickly, and it will do 55 to 60 miles an hour,” Ford says in an advertisement appearing in The Mountain Eagle.


Amon Whitaker, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Whitaker of Hot Spot, was killed in the Acorn Coal Mine at Black Fox, at the former Elk Creek mine. He was 22 years old, and was graduated from Whitesburg High School in 1938. According to the information we have received, young Whitaker obtained his education by walking from Hot Spot to Blackey for four years, to catch the school bus to the Whitesburg City School. Young Whitaker, we are informed, was to have been married on the night of the accident.

The Health Office has just completed the tabulating and filing of births and deaths that occurred in the county for the calendar year of 1940 and we find that there were 1,369 lives births, 44 stillbirths, and 294 other deaths.

Mr. Marion Johnson was found burned to death at Cumberland on Christmas Day. At first it was thought that the death was an accident but later developments proved otherwise. Young Marion had spent the evening with a girlfriend who had given him a nice wristwatch for a Christmas gift. It was found that the watch was missing, also a billfold which was thought to contain a large sum of money.

“Bitter Sweet” with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald and “Gallant Sons” starring Jackie Cooper and Bonita Granville are playing this week at the Kentucky Theatre.

From The Neon News: FRIDAY JANUARY 17, 1941

Announcement was made by the Consolidation Coal Company of the appointment of Herbert B. Husband as manager of the Kentucky division of the Consolidation properties, embracing operations at Jenkins and Van Lear.

Corporal Harry G. Brewer, son of Mrs. Bertha Brewer of McRoberts, has been promoted to the grade of sergeant in Battery G, 70th Coastal Artillery. He is now stationed at Camp Stewart, the new antiaircraft training center near Savannah, Ga.

One of the largest merchandising houses in our county, the Jackson House Furnishing Company, Neon, reports another very successful business year for 1940. This business is a great asset to our county and we want to congratulate their management and we hope their business grows and prospers each year.


About 83 percent of underground output of coal was hand-loaded into mine cars as recently as 1936, but today 67 percent of the deep-mined coal — and 75 percent of all bituminous coal including the surface-mined product — is mechanically loaded. Over 90 percent of U.S. coal is now cut by machines.

Deputy Sheriff Alonzo Sizemore, charged with the murder of Burnace Bates, was found not guilty at 12 p.m. today, 45 minutes after the jury had received the case.

Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who recently signed an unprecedented 12-year contract with the University of Kentucky, will receive the “Outstanding Kentuckian Award of 1950” from Gov. Lawrence Wetherby at the Kentucky Press Association banquet.

Recently promoted to the grade of staff sergeant was Edgar L. Gibson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Monroe Gibson of Neon. He is now serving in Japan.


Letcher County may be in the center of a chain of lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers recently recommended construction of a lake in Knott County, and Buckhorn Dam recently was completed in Perry County. The Eisenhower Administration recommended to Congress this week that money be appropriated to initiate construction of Fishtrap Reservoir in eastern Kentucky and to start the preconstruction planning of the Laurel River Reservoir in southern Kentucky.

Twenty-five employees of Bethlehem Mines Corporation received awards at the company’s annual safety banquet Saturday. M.E. Prunty, Safety Director, reviewed the Division’s Safety Record for 1960. He complimented the men on their outstanding records and the significant reduction in frequency and severity of injuries during the year. H.E. Childers, Superintendent of Mine No. 22, and members of his organization received special recognition for their achievement of operating a full year without a lost-time accident.

Three more classrooms will become available on the Whitesburg school campus as a result of moves now in progress. Supt. Sanford Adams told the Board of Education that the State Department of Education would not approve construction of new classrooms until existing facilities are put to best possible use. The local school system is make the following moves: the supply room is moving to new quarters behind the maintenance shops and the bookstore will move to the former supply room, thus freeing one classroom; the attendance offices, now in the gym building, will move to the basement; and the supervisor’s office, now in the English building, will move to offices in the gym basement.

Whitesburg Attorney Harry M. Caudill was elected this week to a four-year term on the Board of Curators of the Kentucky Historical Society. He was also named a member of the executive committee of the Board.


Some of the men who died in the Finley Coal Company explosion in Leslie County December 30 may have lived for a few moments after the blast and might have survived longer if they had been provided with emergency breathing equipment required by law, writes Tom Bethell in The Mountain Eagle. Despite statements from federal and state officials that all 38 victims died immediately, the one physician who examined the bodies as they were brought from the mine found indication that four or five of the men died from carbide monoxide poisoning. To die from carbon monoxide they would have to have breathed it into their lungs, which they could not have done if they had been killed instantly by the blast.

The Whitesburg City Council has authorized purchase of two downtown lots to be used for parking. The council expects to provide 75 parking spaces in the two lots.

Members of the Citizens League to Protect Surface Rights took their case against strip mines and gas companies to the Letcher County Grand Jury. The jury would hear only one spokesman, and Joe Begley, a leader of the group, talked with the grand jury for about half an hour. He was pessimistic when he left the jury room.

Coal operator Harry LaViers Jr. is proposing that the state Department of Mines and Minerals drop its inspection functions and concentrate entirely on training and education. He suggests that the federal Bureau of Mines have full responsibility for all mine inspections in the United States and it should train a vastly increased force of inspectors to do the job.

Several huge landslides have resulted from stripping and auguring by Valley Coal Co. on Little Colley Creek at Isom.


Seven Letcher County officials have been indicted by the Letcher County Grand Jury after a year-long state and local investigation into the county’s financial affairs. The February 1980 regular Letcher County Grand Jury was dismissed this week after being impaneled for almost a year while the Kentucky Attorney General’s office conducted an investigation into the county’s finances. The jury returned indictments against County Judge/Executive Robert Collins, County Treasurer Ray Collins, former Judge/Executive Pro Tem Garnett Ruth Webb, Magistrates George Arthur Adams, Charles Dixon, Lee Hogg, Billy Keel and Add Polly; and Wayne Fleming and Alvin Webb, two men connected with a county road-paving project. Letcher County Judge Robert Collins says the charges are politically motivated.

Reading and Bates Coal Co. of Tulsa, Okla., has bought Golden Oak Mining Co. from William B. Sturgill. Golden Oak mined a million tons of coal last year at six stripmines in Letcher County. No purchase price was given but local sources say Sturgill had bought the firm for $4 million from Victor Hurley and sold it to Reading and Bates for $36 million. The new owner is one of the largest off-shore oil drilling firms in the country.

A German-owned coal operation has filed suit in federal court against two men and the firms they control, charging that the men and their companies created a conspiracy to defraud the European investors in USACO Coal Co. of $8.3 million. The charges are related to a proposed $10 million coal development originally scheduled for completion in the Rockhouse area of Letcher County in August of 1980.

After an 11-month investigation, the Letcher County Grand Jury charged that the county’s magistrates not only didn’t know what their duties are, but had “no apparent interest in learning.”


The Letcher County Board of Education has officially endorsed the idea of schools governing themselves, but has already changed to a policy governing school-based decision-making. The board voted 4-1 to take away the right of itinerant teachers to vote at each school where they teach.

Letcher County is planning to buy the old school bus garage on Bentley Avenue, remodel it into quarters for the Letcher County Public Library and rename the library the “Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library.” County Judge/Executive Ruben Watts announced that the county has begun negotiations with the county school board to buy the old school bus garage (formerly Ammerman Motor Co.) on Bentley Avenue.

A Mountain Eagle editorial on buying the old school bus garage building to house the Letcher County library says “While we appreciate the willingness of Letcher County Fiscal Court to seek out new facilities for the county library, we think the county will make a major mistake if it purchases the smaller, older school bus garage on Bentley Avenue in Whitesburg instead of the newer, larger, more suitable Hobbs Building — the difference between something first class vs. a third- or maybe even a fourth-class solution.”

“Are we finally going to have winter weather?” asks Colson correspondent Darlene Pettibone. “It has been cold and snowing and feels like winter. Old timers say if it doesn’t freeze hard it won’t kill the bugs and insects and there will be no crop next year. Also they are saying wet winter, dry summer. That could mean a bad year for gardens.”


The City of Whitesburg won’t seek additional money to go with a $500,000 state allocation for water line extensions. City officials told Nesbitt Engineering President Paul Nesbitt to stop looking for grants and loans to go with the money after Nesbitt told the city council any money the city received would probably include $750,000 of loans.

A new computer system in the Letcher County Clerk’s office is open for business, allowing searchers almost instant access to 186,057 pages of public records dating back to 1915. The system, called Virtual Courthouse, is open to the public with deeds dating back to November 5, 1915, and marriage records dating back 15 years. Wills, corporate records, mortgages and the remaining deed and marriage records will be added as money is available.

State regulators have suspended the licenses of two Letcher County ambulance services run by the same company. Jenkins Ambulance Service and ResQ Ambulance will not be allowed to operate until they resolve regulatory deficiencies.

“I guess all of you know by this time why I haven’t been writing,” says Sergent correspondent Vendetta Fields. “My house burned on December 6 at 6:30 in the morning. I am now living on Kingscreek but plan to rebuild back on Sergent.”


Letcher County officials are seeking legislative action to curb electric company rate increases which have sent monthly bills skyrocketing to the point they have more than doubled for many homeowners here. The Letcher Fiscal Court voted to send a letter to State Rep. Leslie Combs, State Rep. John Short, and State Sen. Johnny Ray Turner asking that legislative action be taken to address the rate increases. Letcher Judge/Executive Jim Ward and Magistrate Wayne Fleming both expressed fears that some among the county’s elderly and ill may freeze to death if their electricity is turned off because they are unable to pay the inflated bills.

A Lexington company hopes to be able to turn the old Jenkins High School building into an apartment complex for senior citizens. A.U. Associates has offered to buy the building to convert it into senior apartments. The company said it specializes in working with historic buildings to turn them into facilities that serve the community while maintaining the historic appearance of the property.

Drivers who lock their keys in their car will soon have to pay a fee to get the Whitesburg Police Department to perform an “unlock”. The city police officers average unlocking about two vehicles per day, or about 60 a month. The city council approved a $5 fee per unlock.

The Letcher County Extension Office is sponsoring a contest to name a female red-tailed hawk who was found here severely injured. Mitch Whitaker, Letcher County’s only master falconer, recently obtained a federal permit through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to become a licensed and permitted rehabber. Whitaker is the maintenance supervisor at the Extension office and will work closely with the 4-H program to teach students how to take care of fowl.

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