Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since 1907.


MAY 13, 1921

Whitesburg High School is turning out only two graduates this year — William Astor Hayes and Sabina Elizabeth Caudill.

Citizens will now be able to recognize Whitesburg Police Officer Bill Williams in his new blue suit with a cap and a badge also.

The Letcher County Jail is empty of prisoners this week.

The new Pearl Theatre opens in Whitesburg this Saturday night with a seven-reel picture featuring Priscilla Dean in “The Virgin of Stamboul.” Admission is 15 cents and 25 cents.

Professor George Clark of Hindman is the new superintendent of the Letcher County School System. He will replace Professor E.B. Hale as superintendent on January 1, 1922. Clark, Hale, and Martha Potter Holcomb were vying to be selected for the job by the new five-member school board.

Former Letcher County Sheriff Wilson Sergent died unexpectedly Wednesday at his home on Colly. He was 76 years old.

Now that the 19th Amendment has been ratified, Mountain Eagle editor Nehemiah Webb looks forward to women having the right to vote for the first time later this year. “Some people say the men have done very poor work in saving the country and bringing about peace and sobriety,” Webb writes. “This year the women will change the entire program.”


MAY 14, 1931

Classes will end at Eolia High School on Friday, May 15 with a contest among nine pupils in declamation for a gold medal to be presented by Professor H.H. Harris and County Superintendent Arlie Boggs.

J.E. Isaac, new manager of the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg, announced this week that RCA Photophone of New York City is installing sound equipment in the theatre. s

Thirty-three students are graduating from Whitesburg High School.

A Letcher Circuit Court jury has acquitted Mrs. Ollie Salyers, who had been charged with murdering her brother-in-law, Ed Salyers. This week’s trial was ordered after Mrs. Salyer won appeal of an earlier conviction in the case, after which she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Arrangements are being made to open the Cavalier Junior Golf Course in Jenkins this week.


MAY 15, 1941

Local soft drink manufacturers are very much concerned about the proposal of the Treasury Department that a federal tax of one cent be placed on soft drinks, according to G.D. Polly of the Coca-Cola Bottling Works of Whitesburg. s

A spaghetti banquet will take place in the basement of the new Methodist Church on May 19. Tickets are 25 cents and the spaghetti will be cooked by Joe Romeo.

The Letcher County Band returned from the State Music Festival in Lexington last week. The band was well pleased with their rating of “Superior.” They received considerable favorable comment, and the most comment received was on their uniforms, which were called “very sensible, dressy and colorful.”

“Tugboat Annie Sails Again” will play this week at Isaac’s Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

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


MAY 16, 1941

McCelland Anderson Post No. 104, American Legion, went on record agreeing to report to proper authorities certain deserters from the Army and other arms of the Service.

The Kiwanis Club had a stag party Thursday, featuring a frog supper. Dr. Vaughan was the chef, and no ladies were present. Ninety-four frogs were eaten and the 23 members present wondered where that many could have been found.

The Beaver Gap correspondent reports that Beckham Bates came up to the head of Mill Creek buying timber this week.

Sliced bacon is 25 cents a pound at the A&P Store this week. A carton of cigarettes costs $1.20


MAY 17, 1951

An undetermined number of coal operators were told to quit running non-union mines or be killed if they returned to Kentucky. The ultimatum was reported to have been delivered by union organizers or miners. Complete facts of the affair have not been able to be verified and the contents of this story have been received by The Eagle from persons not connected with it but considered reliable sources. Sources said that approximately 150 union-connected men stopped the operators as they were driving to their Virginia mines from their homes in Kentucky. An estimated five to 25 operators were stopped.

The first Letcher Countian to arrive home under the Army’s new rotation system did so on last Saturday night in time for Mother’s Day. Pvt. Alferd Ramsey, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerry Ramsey of Seco, has seen nine months of combat duty in Korea and has been in the service for two years. Ramsey was wounded in August of 1950 and received the Bronze Star for valor. He will have 30 days leave.

Going against the odds and experts, a group of Jenkins families erected a community television antenna atop Pine Mountain and are now receiving top-notch TV reception. All three of the receiving sets are located in the Lakeside section of Jenkins. s

An advertisement in The Mountain Eagle promotes the Eagle’s printing business and the sale of office equipment including mimeograph paper, ledgers, time books, adding machines and wrapping paper.


MAY 18, 1961

A start on a skyline drive on top of Pine Mountain probably will be made this summer, Lt. Gov. Wilson W. Wyatt said. He told an audience he is “going to see if we can’t bring into being an idea born in Letcher County three years ago in a conversation with Tom and Pat Gish.” While the drive will not be the $100,000 highway Letcher County residents have hoped for, it will be at least a start Wyatt said. s

Mrs. Alice Fay Bias gave birth to identical triplet daughters Wednesday at Sharon Heights Hospital in Jenkins. Mrs. Bias is a twin herself. She was unaware she was going to give birth to triplets until a day or so before the babies arrived. The triplets were the first born at the Jenkins hospital. s Whitesburg garbage crews are making a special effort during the rest of May to help with the local clean-up campaign. The crews will make extra runs and will pick up just about anything if residents will place trash where the garbage men can get it.

“It Started in Naples” starring Sophia Loren and Clark Gable will play this week at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.


MAY 20, 1971

Representatives of the Millstone Sewing Center and the LKLP Community Action Council will visit the Atlanta office of the Office of Economic Opportunity next week to seek money to continue the operation of the sewing center at Millstone and expand the sewing center to the other three counties served by LKLP.

A number of meetings of frustrated miners have been held as the miners meet to discuss the black lung program and try to figure out why the promises have fallen flat. Keller Whitaker, head of the state black lung program, says, “93 percent of all claims filed before our board for total disability have been approved.” In numbers he estimated that means about 1,200 approved. To be eligible for the state aid, the applicant must have been an active miner within the past five years; many former miners have been forced out of work by black lung as long as 15 to 20 years ago.

Mr. and Mrs. Myrel Brown of Whitesburg recently spent some time in the Bahamas, enjoying a trip he won through his work.


MAY 21, 1981

A record 135 candidates are appealing for the support of voters in the county primary election, set for May 27. Hotly contested races for county judge/ executive and sheriff are drawing the most attention, but races for county attorney, circuit court clerk and county court clerk also are expected to be tight. Incumbent Robert B. Collins is being challenged by former Sheriff Ruben Watts and Bobby G. Sandlin, a Vietnam War veteran, for the Democratic nomination for county judge/executive. Front runners for the sheriff’s race are considered to be Lonzo Collins, Ben B. Taylor, Roy Hall, and Lawrence Sumpter. s

Teresa Nichols is valedictorian and Victoria Johnson is salutatorian of the graduating class at Whitesburg High School.

The State School Building Authority has approved a request from the Letcher County Board of Education for funds for a new building to house Whitesburg High School, but the money is not enough to build the type of plant the board wants. The state awarded $1.8 million, which brings the money available to the board to $4 million. Supt. Jack Burkich said the board hopes to build a $5 million plant and added that it would take $7 million to build a building the board could be “proud of.”

Unemployment in Letcher County was 14.4 percent in March, according to figures released this week. Figures showed that Letcher County’s civilian workforce totaled 7,020 persons. Eastern Kentucky as a whole had an 11.1 jobless rate.

For the first time in many years, employees at Benham Coal Co. in Harlan County are on strike. They are represented by the Progressive Mine Workers of America.


MAY 15, 1991

Letcher County native Morgan Sexton, an 81-year-old two-fingered style banjo picker whose repertoire of hundreds of traditional songs as old as the Appalachian hills, is one of 16 American folk artists to be honored this year as National Heritage Fellows by the National Endowment for the Arts. Sexton will be honored in Washington, D.C. in September, where he will be presented with a formal citation in recognition of his work. He will also receive a $5,000 grant from NEA.

The Letcher County School System has hired one new high school basketball coach and is still searching for two others. Supt. Jack M. Burkich said Darry Burkett has been hired as boys’ head basketball coach at Fleming Neon High School. Burkich also said he is expecting to name someone soon to fill the boys’ coaching position at Whitesburg High School, and that a search is underway for a new head coach at Letcher High School.

Westmoreland Coal Co. has announced it reached an agreement in principle to acquire the Letcher County-based Golden Oak Mining Co. Westmore said it would acquire substantially all of Golden Oak’s assets including 11 deep mines in Letcher and Knott counties, a cleaning plant at Camp Branch, and two other road loading facilities in Letcher County.

The ears of many Letcher County residents have been ringing with some sounds that might remind them of 1974. For the past several days cicadas, which are commonly misclassified as 17-year locusts, have been emitting an eerie sound all across eastern Kentucky that has caused some people to believe that their homes were being invaded by a bulldozer.


MAY 16, 2001

The state’s Appalachian Advisory Council, a citizens’ group formed to advise the Kentucky Appalachian Commission, may push for a living wage law in Kentucky. Council Chairman David Lillis said during a meeting of the commission that the council plans to take a much more active role in lobbying the General Assembly for laws that will benefit eastern Kentucky. A living wage is one of five areas the council is considering as a focal point for next year.

The Letcher Fiscal Court has an $8,000 bill for bulldozer work at its ballpark in Whitesburg that no one will acknowledge authorizing. The court voted Monday not to pay the bill to Cowell Mining Co. which is connected to Cook and Sons Mining Co., until someone can explain who authorized the work to be done.

Hugh Holbrook, a Whitesburg coal operator, has been indicted on charges that he and a business associate stole coal from Consol Inc., trucked it to Virginia and sold it. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Holbrook operated the Indian Creek Mine in Letcher County under contract with Consol in 1995 and 1996. During that time, prosecutors allege, Holbrook diverted at least 45 partial loads of coal from Consol to a coal yard operated by Denver Curtis Boggs at Mayking. Prosecutors say Holbrook and Boggs then mixed the stolen coal with other coal and transported at least 60 loads from Mayking to buyers in Wise County, Va., and other locations in Virginia.

Cassel Caudill will celebrate his 100th birthday on May 26 at the Little Cowan Church.


MAY 18, 2011

The Kentucky Division of Water is working to identify the source from which a soap-like substance entered a branch of Elkhorn Creek in Jenkins last week. Foamy bubbles light gray in color covered the two-footwide stream at Smokey Row. “It poisoned the water all the way down to the fire station,” said Jenkins Mayor G.C. Kincer. About 100 minnows died after the spill. Kincer said frogs and snakes also died.

Residents in the City of Jenkins voted overwhelmingly to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants that seat at least 50 people. With 247 yes and 129 no votes, the majority of Jenkins voters are in favor of limited alcohol sales in restaurants. Jenkins is the 26th location in Kentucky to approve restaurantonly sales since the Kentucky General Assembly passed a law allowing such local option elections in 2000. Whitesburg was the 21st location to approve restaurant-only sales in 2007. s

Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams and his running mate Richie Farmer won the primary election. Williams will face Democratic incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear in the general election.

The Letcher Volunteer Squad Fire and Rescue Department has a new fire truck. The truck is being paid for with coal and natural gas severance tax money and is dedicated to late firefighter Jerry Eversole.

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