Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in August 1907


FEBRUARY 19, 1931

A “tonsil clinic” will be scheduled during the next few weeks by Seco Hospital physicians B.F. Wright and John W. Moss. The two doctors will perform 20 tonsillectomies on deserving boys and girls for a fee of $5 each to help cover the cost to the hospital. The doctors will perform their services free of charge. s

The federal government’s failure to allocate any funds to the state’s Kentucky River valley counties for new post offices or other government building has drawn the ire of Mountain Eagle editor Nehemiah M. Webb. “And still there is not a hint of anything doing for the Kentucky River valley sections,” Webb writes. “Neglected by the national government, very little recognized by Kentucky’s highway department, cussed and abused by those who don’t know us — and yet ‘they’ shed crocodile tears when they need our votes.” s

Six large moonshine whiskey operations have been located and destroyed in Letcher County over the past six days. One was found on the head of the Cumberland River near the Kentucky- Virginia line. It was perhaps the largest ever operating in the county. The boiler would have held 400 gallons and the outfit would have the capacity of turning out 150 gallons of moonshine each day. Four hundred pounds of sugar, a quantity of meal, several five-gallon kegs of whiskey, and a large quantity of other materials were destroyed. s

Reports are current that meal and sugar furnished by the Red Cross to the poor people in Letcher County have been used in the manufacture of moonshine whiskey. The Eagle notes: “We do not believe anyone could be so heartless, but you never can tell.” s

The Buick Motor Company has announced it will continue producing its present line of 1931 Buick Straight Eights instead of replacing them with new models on August 1. s

The Kyva Motor Company of Millstone and Whitesburg says it has cut the wages of its employees so that it can pass those savings along to its automobile customers. In a statement headlined “1931 Policy of the Kyva Motor Company,” Wilson S. Renaker, who founded the dealership in 1922, says he wants to “assure” the public that “our remaining employees still live better than the average wage-earner and serve you more cheerful.”


FEBRUARY 20, 1941

The tragic slaying of Dr. G.W. Thornbury of Fleming remains a mystery. He was found shot to death last Thursday, three bullets piercing his body near the heart and two in the temple of his head, the body lying halfdressed on the floor of his dental office. E.M. Thornbury, father of Dr. Thornbury, is offering a $500 reward for the arrest of the slayer and Lonesome Pine Lodge is offering a similar award. s

Itonia Gibson, of McRoberts, has the distinction of being the first (Black) boy to be selected for induction by the draft board No. 101 at Whitesburg. Young Gibson will be sent to Fort Thomas for a year’s training in the U.S. Army. s

“Go West,” starring the Marx brothers, will play Friday and Saturday at the Jenkins Theatre. s

Stuart Robinson’s basketball team got revenge Saturday night when they defeated Hindman by a 29-17 score on the local floor. Hindman had handed them an eight-point defeat earlier in the season. The Stuart Robinson boys defeated Fleming 50-8 the week before.

From The Mountain Eagle’s sister publication The Neon News:


FEBRUARY 21, 1941

Miss June Short, popular operator in the Jenkins telephone exchange, came near meeting a horrible death in her home a few days ago. Miss Short’s dress caught fire from an open grate, and before the flames could be extinguished she was burned seriously about the body, largely in her arms and legs. s

Probably the best news of the week to Neon and vicinity is the fact that a temporary bridge is being constructed at Neon Junction, which will alleviate traffic until the state can replace it with a new concrete structure. According to authorities, the bridge will be open to the public on February 25 and this will save all the inconvenience of having to detour to Haymond and over the hill to Fleming. s

Duard Mullins, son of W.M. Mullins of Fleming, enlisted in the Army Air Corps and is now enroute for duty in the 51st Signal Co., Baringuen Field, Puerto Rico. s

“Seven Sinners,” starring Marlena Deitrich and John Wayne, will be showing at the McRoberts Theatre this week.


FEBRUARY 22, 1951

Sergeant Willard Kiger, formerly of Whitesburg, has been reported “missing in action” in Korea by the Army. Kiger reported for duty on Dec. 4 and was reported missing one month later. While in Whitesburg, he worked in the accounting service of Harrington & Adams. His wife, Mrs. Mary Kiger, was employed by The Mountain Eagle. s

Retail food handling establishments, both grocers and restaurants, were issued warnings by the Letcher County Health Office in regard to laws governing the sale of food. Grocery store owners and operators were told that it is against the law for them to prepare and serve sandwiches and other foods to the public. s

Lt. Colonel Klair Back, who is commander of the Third Rescue Squadron in Korea, received a Presidential Citation. He is the son of Mrs. C.H. Back of Letcher County.


FEBRUARY 23, 1961

Regional library service will begin in Letcher County in July, the Division of Library Extension announced. The program will mean for Letcher County a new bookmobile with more than double present bookmobile capacity, $45,000 worth of additional books, and introduction of a film and phonographic record library service. s

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Eastern Kentucky Toll Road will take place February 25 at Winchester. The event will initiate construction of the Winchester-Campton four-lane road. The Whitesburg Chamber of Commerce is organizing a motorcade to the groundbreaking. s

“Wess Banks and Charlie Banks killed a big fox that got in the chicken lot and couldn’t get out,” writes Ice correspondent Fred Hughes. “It killed four big hens. Charlie fired 23 shots and Wes 17 shots before they killed it.” s

A&P’s new supermarket on Main Street in Neon is in full operation today after a gala grand opening. Completion of the new building highlights more than 30 years of A&P business in Neon.


FEBRUARY 18, 1971

A $75 million conspiracy damage trial continuing in Washington has heard top United Mine Workers of America officials explain their roles in allegedly illegal activities involving the union’s pension fund. The UMW, along with National Bank of Washington which the union controls, and the trustees of the UMW’s Welfare Fund, has been charged by more than 70 members of coal-mining families with conspiring to milk the Welfare Fund at the expense of retired and disabled miners. The trial involves the deposit of millions of the Welfare Fund’s dollars in non-interest bearing accounts at National Bank. s

Officials of the Island Creek Coal Co. have denied that they have any immediate plans to open a shaft mine in Jeremiah, despite persistent rumors in the county to the contrary. s

Meetings of Letcher County miners seeking black lung relief will be held this weekend in Neon and in Millstone. A meeting was held Saturday in the Neon school gymnasium, attracting nearly 100 miners. s

The U.S. Bureau of the Census released the official 1970 count of Letcher County, and reported the county’s population at 23,165, down 23 percent from the 1960 figure of 30,102.


FEBRUARY 19, 1981

Spokesmen for community groups say the Reagan administration is creating a disaster with its proposal to combine many federal programs aimed at poor people into block grants for states. Rep. Carl D. Perkins of Hindman said the proposal and administration cuts in general are particularly disastrous for the Appalachian area which he represents. Perkins noted that past experience from handing programs over to states has not been good. s

The Letcher County medical profession is embroiled in a dispute over the use of federal money to support some doctors and health services in the county. The issue has erupted over plans of Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC) to build a 20,000-foot clinic building in Whitesburg and to install services which the local medical society says are already available at Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital and in private physicians’ offices. The medical society is accusing MCHC of unfair competition and of failing to live up to its original purpose of caring for the poor in rural areas. MCHC says the agency was not designed as a poverty program but as a program to provide comprehensive health care to all residents of the area, regardless of income.

Five persons were killed in Knott County when the Dodge Ram Charger in which they and 10 others were riding collided with an empty fuel tanker truck from Matewan, W.Va. The dead included four children four years old or less and a woman. Those in the Ram Charger were members of two families who had just returned to eastern Kentucky from Ohio and were on their way to ready two houses for occupancy.


FEBRUARY 20, 1991

A federal bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of South East Coal Co. mining operations despite objections from a United Mine Workers representative. Greg Horn, representing miners from the United Mine Workers’ Local 3007 of Whitesburg, asked Judge Joe Lee to delay approval from 30 to 60 days to give miners an opportunity to put together an offer for the property. Horn also testified that 125 miners at the Knott County mining operation were laid off about the time that the union was voted in by employees. South East President Harry LaViers Jr. testified that he was selling the mine, with its 3.5 million tons of coal, to pay off debts on leases at his larger mining operation. s

An alternative to paddling has been put in place in every Letcher County elementary school and the system is working, elementary supervisor Truman Halcomb told the school board members. Assertive discipline rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior by placing the offending student’s name on the blackboard, sending the student to detention after school, sending the student to Saturday school, and eventually expelling the student from school for continued bad behavior. s

Senator Wendell Ford has vowed to fight a $70 million budget cut President Bush has proposed for the Appalachian Regional Commission. “I simply cannot understand why the past two administrations have continued to target the Appalachian Regional Commission for budget cuts,” Ford said. “Targeting such a successful program with a proven track record for assisting economically depressed areas defies common sense.” s

The Whitesburg Lady Yellowjackets defeated the Buckhorn Lady Wildcats, 106-41. The Lady ’Jackets close out their season Thursday when No. 1-ranked Clark County visits Whitesburg.


FEBRUARY 21, 2001

State mine inspectors have cited Premier-Elkhorn Coal Co. for five violations related to a mudslide that forced about a million gallons of water and mud out of a silt pond and down Elkhorn Creek through the community of Dunham. Regulators have ordered the company to build a new pond and stop dumping mining spoil into the hollowfill where the slide occurred. They also ordered the company to stop mining in the Elkhorn Creek watershed while corrections are being made. s

NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt died in a crash while trying to win his second Daytona 500 Sunday. Omer Champion, of Sergent, is one of scores of Letcher County residents who are mourning the loss of their favorite racecar driver. s

An explosion and fire at one of the nation’s largest particleboard manufacturing facilities killed two workers and injured eight others, including a former Letcher County man. The explosion occurred February 15 at the Temple-Inland Forest Product Corp. plant about 75 miles southeast of Erie, Penn. Steve Meade, 40, formerly of Kingscreek, was in serious condition this week at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was being treated for burns to about 50 percent of his body. s

“After the rain we had a very cold weekend, but time is passing fast and pretty soon it will be springtime again,” writes Cowan correspondent Elsie Banks. “Some of the spring flowers are already in bloom. The cold, freezing weather and rains are good for the soil.”


FEBRUARY 23, 2011

The old Jenkins High School building may soon be turned into senior citizen housing. The Letcher County Fiscal Court has entered into a 35-year lease with AU Associates of Lexington that will allow the old Jenkins School to be converted into apartments for senior citizens. At its February meeting, the court voted unanimously to lease the old school to AU for $220 a month for 35 years, at which time ownership will remain with the county. s

Tri-State Rail Services workers laid railroad tracks to move a caboose parked near the Letcher County Veterans Museum in downtown Whitesburg Tuesday. A 30-foot expansion will be added to the museum. Wayne Collins, foreman of the Sapphire Coal Co. prep plant at Thornton, rode aboard the caboose and controlled the brake. The rail services and coal companies donated materials and labor for the move. s

Former Letcher County Judge/Executive Ruben Watts, 87, died February 15. Watts was a U.S Army veteran of World War II, and was a teacher, principal, and administrator in the Letcher County School System. He was the sheriff of Letcher County from 1973 to 1977, and worked for the Department of Labor from 1978 to 1979 before being elected county judge/executive, an office he held for 12 years.

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