Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since 1907.


A young Linefork man has died after being hit by a coal train May 30. Hassel Roark, of Big Branch, died shortly after he was taken to the offices of Dr. Back and Dr. Pigman for treatment. Authorities are not sure what led to Roark being hit by the train but believe he may have fallen asleep on the railroad track here after arriving on the early train Friday morning. Roark had been working in Indiana and had come home to complete his military draft questionnaire. s

The Whitesburg chapter of the Royal Arch Masons met June 3 to confer degrees on Doyle Hogg, Rolan Price, Arthur Banks, William H. Blair, and Archie Craft. s

Joe Smith sent his son, Grant, to Whitesburg Tuesday to renew his subscription to The Mountain Eagle for the 30th consecutive year. Smith, of the community of Banks in Letcher County, has been a subscriber since 1911, when The Eagle was entering its fourth year of operation. s

Dr. B.F. Wright of Seco visited the offices of The Mountain Eagle this week to announce he will be candidate for the office of Letcher County judge on the Democrat Party ticket. Doyle Hogg is now actively seeking the Republican Party nomination for county judge. s

A nice three and one-half pound bass was caught Tuesday morning at Jenkins Lake by J.W. Goode, who works at Skaggs Electric Company in Neon. s

The battleship Bismarck, the most powerful warship in the German navy, was sunk Tuesday by Britain’s Royal Navy. The destruction of the 41,700-ton ship comes just several days after the Bismarck sank the Royal Navy’s 47,430-ton Hood, which had been the world’s largest warship. All but three of the Hood’s crew of 1,418 died in the German attack on May 24. s

A Mountain Eagle editorial calls on the Kentucky Department of Highways to immediately begin rebuilding the collapsed bridge near Neon Junction at the railroad crossing. The editorial says that not only is the temporary bridge “unsightly” and “hazardous” — it has caused at least “three motorists (to) run into the creek, badly damaging the cars” — it is only a matter of time until a fatality occurs there since the bridge carries the “heaviest traffic in Letcher County.” s

The men of Tolson have completed construction of the road to Big Branch. s

A feature story appearing in The Mountain Eagle says the month of June, named after the Roman goddess Juno, was once only 26 days long before Romulus, the first king of Rome, added four days. Later, Numa Pompilius, believed to have been the second king of Rome, took one day from June, leaving 29. Julius Caesar again lengthened the month to 30 days, and it has since remained unaltered. Before Caesar was in power, June was the fourth month of the calendar, which then only had 10 months. In 46 BC, Caesar added two months — now known as July and August — to the calendar, making June the sixth month.

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


According to the Pine Creek News, some hungry person walked into Uncle Mose Craft’s yard, and carried away 500 pounds of honey. “Not seeing any money left for this, we presume the robber is having plenty of honey to eat.” s

Sunnyfield sliced bacon is on sale at the A&P food store for 27 cents a pound. Chuck beef roast is 21 cents a pound.


Arthur Thompson, 62, driver for the Jenkins City Cab Co., and Mrs. Jason Blevin, 42, of Payne Gap, are dead in what was apparently a murder and suicide. Thompson evidently shot Mrs. Blevin and then killed himself. s

The last remaining utility of the Consolidation Coal Co. changed hands Friday when Consol turned over the Jenkins telephone system to the Universal Telephone and Telegraph Corp. The sale brought to an end an era of company-owned utilities and housing projects in Jenkins.

Three stills were confiscated and four men arrested in liquor and moonshine cases last week. Arrested were Blaine Taylor for possessing and selling moonshine, Tandy Craft for operating a still and selling moonshine, Fred Kiser for possessing and selling whiskey, and Carlice Combs for possessing and selling whiskey. s

Pvt. First Class Ben B. Taylor, son of Mrs. Mattie Taylor of Millstone, has qualified as one of the finest soldiers in the U.S. Army — a hard-hitting paratrooper. Taylor has received his parachute jumper’s wings after a grueling four-week course.


Construction of the Whitesburg Municipal Airport got underway this week, and officials appeared confident the strip will be ready for use in a matter of weeks. The airport is located on top of a mountain near Colson on land purchased from N.L. Combs. Initial construction plans call for a landing strip 3,000 feet long, which eventually could be lengthened to 5,000 feet. s

The property on which the Harlow Motor Company garage at Neon is situated is not a part of the city of Neon, Letcher Circuit Court has ruled. The ruling came in a suit filed by the city to compel the firm to pay $563.23 in property taxes for the years 1957, 1958 and 1959. Judge J.L. Hays said a 1940 ordinance on which the city relied to prove the Harlow property was within the city limits was invalid because it had not been published in a newspaper as required by law.

Salaries of county officials to be elected in November have been set by Letcher Fiscal Court. Under Kentucky law, the salaries must be set before the primary election and may not be changed during the four-year term. The salaries set by the court are county judge $6,000 a year, judge’s secretary $3,000 a year, county attorney $1,800 a year, attorney’s secretary $1,800 a year, county clerk $125 a month, jailer $1,500 a year, and magistrates $2,400 a year. s

The Letcher County Board of Education will take bids June 22 on remodeling projects at Blackey Elementary School and Fleming-Neon Elementary School. At Blackey, the old auditorium will be renovated to provide two science classrooms, a mathematics classroom, and a language classroom. At Fleming- Neon, a projection room will be converted to a science room and a math room.


Many Kentucky mountain families who moved away during the past 20 years now are moving back in significant numbers. School enrollment figures are perhaps the best measure, and both the Letcher County and the Jenkins Independent school systems cite figures pointing to what well may be an historic change. An increasing number of job openings here apparently is the clue to much of the return migration. Coal mine employment has jumped substantially. Beth- Elkhorn Coal Corp., the area’s largest employer, estimated its present direct employment at about 1,000, up some 200 from a year ago. s

Fishpond Lake at Payne Gap has been vandalized, contaminated, and polluted and is unswimmable, and both the state and the county deny responsibility for it. The land for the lake was donated by Beth-Elkhorn Corp., and the deed for the site passed from Beth-Elkhorn to the county and then to the state. It is a dispute over who now holds the title that has made Fishpond the orphan it is now. s

Workmen have razed the old Public Square Service Station on Main Street in Whitesburg to make room for parking space and other needs of the new Public Square being constructed on an adjacent lot. Station operator Phillip Back expects to resume business in a few days. s

Steve Yonts, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ted Yonts of Whitesburg, has been promoted to staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. He was graduated from Whitesburg High School in the Class of 1974, and received his bachelor’s degree in English from Berea College.


The jobless rate fell slightly in Letcher County in April to 14.3 percent from 14.9 percent in March. State unemployment figures showed that 994 Letcher County residents were without jobs in April and 5,953 persons were employed. s

Rain is causing strawberries to rot on the vines, reports McRoberts correspondent Madelyn Combs. s Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital is planning an open house to celebrate its 25 years in Letcher County. s

Nationally known chairmaker Chester Cornett, a native of Kingscreek, died at the age of 69 after a long illness. Cornett began making chairs at the age of 10, under the direction of his uncle, Linden Foutch, and his maternal grandfather, Cal Foutch. The family lived on top of Pine Mountain in an area known as the doubles. After military service, Cornett lived in the Dwarf area of Perry County, where he made chairs until 1970. He then moved to Cincinnati and continued to make chairs until he became unable to work in 1978. In 1973 he presented a rocking chair to President Nixon at the White House. Writers Gurney Norman and Mike Clark brought his work to nationwide attention and Herb E. Smith and Elizabeth Barret made a film about him for Appalshop, which was widely acclaimed.


Sixty-five laid-off coal miners have taken Scotia Coal Co. to federal court on charges of violating the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The miners — 43 of whom are from Letcher County — charge that Scotia violated federal employment laws when the company laid them off May 23, 1990 without giving them the 60-day notice that is required for such a mass furlough. s

State insurance officials are taking steps to begin clearing the confusion surrounding the sudden closing of the Gilbert and Combs Insurance Agency.The state Department of Insurance is notifying the customers of the Whitesburg agency that their files have been moved to the offices of another local agency. Customers with Gilbert and Combs began to be concerned about their policies after a sign was placed on the door of the agency announcing it would be closed for a two-week vacation.That was in April, and the closed sign was still on the door early this week.


Eddie Dean Taylor, 20, of Littcarr, who was just home from military service in Saudi Arabia, drowned while swimming with friends at Carr Creek Lake. Taylor had apparently only learned to swim about a year ago.


Lt. Gov. Brereton Jones and U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins staved off stiff opposition to win their parties’ nominations for governor in the 1991 primary election.


James Chapman, a tractor-trailer driver, was cited for driving an over-length vehicle and ignoring a traffic signal after his truck collided with a car on a section of Pine Mountain closed to vehicles more than 30 feet in length. Kentucky State Police say Chapman drove the 67-foot-long truck past the flashing yellow lights on signs announcing the 30-foot length limit on US 119 and continued up Pine Mountain. The truck was hit by a car driven by William Caudill, who was coming down the mountain.


State conservation officers have charged three Leslie County men with killing an elk calf, part of a herd that the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is trying to re-establish in the Appalachian area. Sgt. Jamon Halvaksz, an officer with the state agency, said the men purposely ran over a 150-pound elk calf with a four-wheeler, then dragged the calf away to be butchered, leaving a vivid trail for officers to follow.


The Letcher County Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Anna Caudill Craft as the next superintendent of Letcher County’s school system. Craft, the district’s director of special programs, will take over as supervisor July 1.


Ferdinand Moore, who served as Whitesburg mayor for 26 years, has died. He was named mayor by the Whitesburg City Council in 1959 after Mayor Arthur Banks resigned to move to Louisville.


Preliminary hearings for three men accused of receiving 4,507 pounds of stolen copper from AT&T phone lines are set for June 9 in Letcher District Court. According to an arrest warrant, Preston Halcomb Jr. disposed of 2,259 pounds of stolen copper at Southern Steel in Isom, knowing that the copper, valued at $6,777, had recently been stolen from AT&T phone lines. James D. Warren went to the same scrap yard with 1,691 pounds of stolen copper valued at $5,364 and taken from AT&T phone lines, according to his arrest warrant. According to police, David Jason Bowling disposed of 557 pounds of copper at Southern Steel. The copper, taken from AT&T phone lines, is valued at $1,671.


A committee of the Jenkins City Council has been formed to draft an ordinance to follow up on the city’s May vote to allow for alcohol sales in restaurants. A second committee was formed to look at implementing an occupational tax to add revenue for the city.


Letcher County residents have raised more than $155,000 this year to benefit the American Cancer Society. This is the third year in a row that more than $100,000 was raised during Letcher County Relay for Life events.


Contemporary musicians The Seldom Scene, Ben Sollee, and Woody Pines will join traditional and old-time music artists Lee Sexton, Jimmy and Ada McCown, Paul David Smith, and others at the Seedtime on the Cumberland festival in downtown Whitesburg June 9-11.

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