Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since 1907.


Blackey defeated Marian in two games, 10 to 6 and 14 to 10, in the Soeken League baseball series.

‘One hundred and fifty thousand dollars per minute is a pretty good price,’ The Mountain Eagle observes in a front-page commentary. ‘We are speaking of the Jack Dempsey-Carpentier bulldog battle fought last Saturday. They fought just 10 minutes. $1,500,000 was at stake.’ [The commentary is in reference to a highly publicized boxing match between world heavyweight champion Jack Demsey and world light-heavyweight champion Georges Carpentier of France on July 2, 1921. Dempsey won the fight, held in Jersey City, New Jersey, after knocking out Carpentier in the fourth round. It was the first fight to produce more than $1 million in revenue.]

Drinking water is now scarce in the city of Hazard, where much sickness is reported.

Whitesburg resident Alfonso Polchetti has purchased a license to marry Anna Barba of Italy. The license will have to go to that faraway country and return here with her before the marriage can be solemnized.

S. Tilden Wright and C.C. Crawford have each filed for the Democratic nomination for the office of county judge in the August primary election.

The Bank of McRoberts, for years one of the leading state banking institutions in the coalfields, has been chartered by the U.S. government to do a national banking business under the name First National Bank of Fleming.

The town of Whitesburg was nearly empty on the Fourth of July as nearly all of its residents were attending festivities in Fleming, McRoberts or Seco.

Henry P. Blair is installing a new soda fountain and fresh drink stand on the first floor of the Daniel Boone Hotel in Whitesburg.

In a message to Congress, President Warren G. Harding says he regrets cutting the size of the Army from 220,000 to 150,000 men.


JULY 9, 1931

Demands for high prices for right-of-way has caused plans for a new state highway up Kingscreek to be abandoned. At present, the county would have to pay at least $20,000 for the right to cross private properties in question, a sum far beyond the county could reasonably pay.

The new Jenkins Inn will officially open next Saturday at 8 p.m. with a “big bang,” says manager Walker Jordan. A free dance with high-class music will be featured. The Inn’s owner, Consolidation Coal Company, says the facility has been remodeled to assure each of its patrons receive the finest food and service obtainable in eastern Kentucky. Consol says the Inn rejoins the Recreation Hotel, the Jenkins Clubhouse on Lakeside, and the Jenkins Theatre in “offering you and your friends the famous Jenkins hospitality.”

The Carcassonne Community Center will open July 20 at the head of Bull Creek. Dormitory charges are $7.50. For more information and reservations, contact H.H. Hadley, director, at Gander, Kentucky.

Cohen’s Department Store of Norton, Virginia is celebrating its 32nd anniversary with big sale this week.

The United States Civil Service Commission has announced an open competitive examination to fill the position of postmaster at McRoberts. Applications must be filed by July 24.

“A Godless teacher or even one indifferent to spiritual values may become a menace to the best interest of a rural community and a detriment to the welfare of its youth,” writes the Rev. O.V. Caudill.


JULY 10, 1941

Because the rainy weather on July 4 was such that the planned celebration could not be held, the entire program is postponed to Saturday, July 12. There will be speeches, contests, prizes, and games. Festivities will begin at 10 a.m., slow time, led by the Whitesburg Band.

Many changes have come to the section around No. 7, Jenkins — much moving, grade work, etc., having brought the change together with the removal of the old tipple, the old colored recreation building, and a number of residences, to make way for the new million-dollar Consolidation tipple, shortly to be under construction.

“Dave Blair, who sustained injuries in the Kona Mine, is now able to be out and see his many friends,” writes Ermine correspondent Cecil Stallard.

Five men have been selected to go for a year’s training at Fort Knox on July 15. These young men are Bob Pack, James Estell Mullins, John Bates, Carson Davis, and Victor Powers.

From The Eagle’s sister publication The Neon News:


JULY 11, 1941

Letcher Circuit Court convened on Monday with the Hon. Judge R. Monroe Fields presiding. As usual, a large crowd was in town to hear the opening address of Judge Fields, and as usual, the Judge urged that the Grand Jury which is now in session investigate all cases thoroughly and hear all witnesses coming before them. Judge Fields stated in his talk to the Jury that most all shooting and killing came when a person was under the influence of intoxicating drink or around roadhouses, which places generally sell drinks either legal or illegal.

The family of John C. Adams, lifelong citizen of the Rockhouse section, who lived and died at the mouth of Blair Branch, met in a family reunion at son Steve Adams’s home on July 2. The reason for the meeting on that date was that their father, John C. Adams, was born there at the same time on July 2, 1841, and had reared his family on the same farm.

The Mechanical Department of the L&N Railroad at Corbin, including 700 employees, on April 29 completed an entire year without a reportable injury to an employee.

The boxing contest sponsored by the Jenkins post of the American Legion for Jenkins arena did not take place on July 4 because of the incessant rain. Now it is scheduled for July 19. At that time a record crowd will be expected to crowd the arena.


JULY 12, 1951

The Kentucky Water Company filed an answer and counterclaim in open court July 7 to the suit brought forth before the Letcher County Circuit Court by the City of Jenkins to compel the water company to remove all its mains, pipes, and other equipment from under Jenkins streets. The suit was authorized by the City of Jenkins to compel the water company to bid with other companies for a franchise. The Kentucky Water Company claimed that it had, in March 1947, presented its written bid to the City of Jenkins for the purchase of a franchise and the bid was accepted by the city.

Sgt. James H. Roberts, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hudson Roberts of Dongola, has returned from Korea, where he served 11 months with the 27th Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division. Sgt. Roberts, who entered the Army April 6, 1948, was presented with the Bronze Star for gallantry in action. Sgt. Roberts was wounded for the first time at Hywang, Korea, and was wounded a second time at Yongduk, Korea.

“A ‘pony party’ given by Janice Combs July 4 in honor of her pony, Bill, was a success,” writes Letcher correspondent Betty Jo Asher. “Some of the gifts received were sugar, hay, salt, and corn. The children enjoyed riding the pony and feeding it.”

Rod Cameron stars in “Cavalry Scout” to be shown at the Elinda Ann Drive-In this weekend.


JULY 13, 1961

Members of state commission studying the possibility of new state junior colleges visited the Stuart Robinson campus Wednesday and looked over the property as a possible college site. The commission will recommend to the 1962 General Assembly whether state college facilities should be expanded and if so, how.

Lee Johnson of Dorton, Pike County, took over this week as superintendent of the Jenkins Independent School System. The Board of Education signed him to a two-year contract. He replaces C.V. Snapp, who ended 31 years as superintendent of the Jenkins system when the board failed to renew his contract last week.

A new mail dispatch leaves Whitesburg daily at 4:40 p.m. with mail for all points north, southeast and west. It provides excellent service to Lexington, Cincinnati, and Louisville by making possible next morning delivery.

An excursion train, sponsored by the Whitesburg Jaycees, will go to Cincinnati for a major league baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tickets are $15 and include transportation and a ticket to the ballgame.


JULY 15, 1971

The growing control of the nation’s coal reserves by large oil companies has drawn the attention of Congressional probers, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC announced that it is reviewing all oil company acquisitions of coal companies and reserves. The possibility of anti-trust actions against such actions is apparently being considered.

Speeches decrying the “irreparable damage” done by strip-mining to Letcher County and eastern Kentucky as a whole marked an anti-strip-mine rally held last Saturday at the Letcher County Courthouse. Nearly 50 people attended the event, which also featured a color slideshow depicting stripping. Most of the pictures were taken in the Letcher County area.

Specialist 4 Delmas Dean Webb, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Webb of Mayking, has been nominated for Soldier of the Month at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He has been stationed at Fort Sam Houston since September 1970, where he received medic training. Since he completed his training in December, he has been a member of the Demonstration Company where his duties are to train incoming officials of medical tactics on the combat field.

Lexie Potter of Whitesburg has been named to replace Herb Maggard of Isom as state highway foreman for Letcher County. Potter had been the bridge maintenance foreman for the county.


JULY 16, 1981

The Letcher County Board of Education is expected to select a site for the proposed new Whitesburg High School in a special meeting next Thursday night. The board agreed Tuesday night to hold the special meeting July 23 to review the recommendations of the board’s site-selection committee and decide where the new plant will be located.

The trial of a suit filed by two losing candidates in the May primary was scheduled to begin today in Letcher Circuit Court. Jenkins Mayor James F. “Chum” Tackett and Robert V. Adams of Neon filed suit just after the election seeking to void all votes cast in the Dunham precinct and to have themselves declared winners of their races. Tackett sought nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for mayor of Jenkins, and Adams was a candidate for Democratic nomination for magistrate from District 5.

Bill Stamper has been named by the Letcher County Board of Education to replace Dr. Robert L. Gatton as principal of Cowan Elementary School. Gatton resigned last month to accept the principal’s job at the new McCreary County Central High School. s “Members of Troop No. 9, Whitesburg, went camping the week of July 5-11, at Boy Scout Camp Blanton, Harlan,” writes Cowan correspondent Elsie C. Banks. “They were Jay Ramsey, Clay Mullins, John Hayes, Chris Carroll, Rod Day, Billy Taylor, Charles “Chuck” Wagner, Jimmy Joe Chatman, and Phillip Bentley. … These boys earned a total of 21 merit badges and learned a lot of camping and hiking skills.”


JULY 10, 1991

The 77-year-old building intended to become the new Whitesburg City Hall received minor damage Sunday when a fluorescent light apparently malfunctioned and set the building on fire. Whitesburg Fire Chief Roy Benge said Kathy Collins of Whitesburg was jogging near the old Lewis Wholesale Building, saw smoke, and called the fire department. Sixteen firefighters spent an hour dowsing the fire, which was confined between some floor joists on the second floor.

Nearly six years after they murdered a young Fleming-Neon woman, Roger Dale Epperson and Benny Lee Hodge are staring at their own date with death. A mandate issued by the state Supreme Court sets August 2 as the date the two men will be put to death in the electric chair. The two have been on Death Row at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville since June 1986, when they were convicted in the August 8, 1985 stabbing death of Tammy Dee Acker.

Letcher County officials say that at least some of the people who have sued the county claiming they were illegally fired were never legally hired. Molly Hall, Arlie Bolling, and John Adams, all former or present county employees, filed the suit last month. The former and present employees claim they were fired by County Judge/Executive Ruben Watts without consulting the fiscal court. State law requires that the court approve hirings and firings of most employees. Though the employees say they were fired illegally, County Attorney Harold Bolling says that “some or all” of them were never legally hired.

Letcher County’s official May unemployment rate was the fourth highest in the state. The unemployment rate here was 17.3 percent, up from 13.4 percent in April.


JULY 11, 2001

Kids attending the summer reading program at the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library in Whitesburg got up close and personal with Julius, a live, 12-footlong, 70-pound albino Burmese python. Julius was at the library for a show July 6 by Jared Baker, a naturalist with the Natural History Education Co. at Mayfield.

Letcher County employees will get a bigger raise than expected and apparently, a bigger raise than intended after members of the fiscal court voted not to correct a mistake in an earlier action. Magistrate Robert Lewis made a motion to give all hourly county workers a 25-cent a hour pay raise, a motion the court-approved unanimously. But Judge/Executive Carroll Smith later cautioned magistrates to be careful of spending too much money because the unbudgeted 25-cent raise, plus the 1 percent raise the court-approved two weeks ago in the annual budget would be difficult to pay for. Lewis said he didn’t intend to give employees both raises and insisted the court check to tape recording of the meeting. Smith declined to check the tape, but asked court stenographer Sue Dunn to read back the motion Lewis made. The motion read did not include eliminating the 1 percent raise. Lewis made another motion to eliminate the 1 percent raise and the substitute a 25-cent raise. Lewis and Wayne Fleming were the only two to vote for the correction. Smith, Mack Fultz, and Nolan “Junior” Banks voted against it. Homer Rose had left the meeting and did not vote.

Construction should begin this fall on a water line from Jeremiah to Isom. The Letcher County Water and Sewer District should get the first money from the state for the project any day now. The line would be the first in what the commission envisions as a countywide water system.

Afton Nicole Blair, a junior at Whitesburg High School, and Megan Blair Johnson, a junior at Fleming Neon High School, have been chosen as 2001 participants in The Center for Rural Development’s Rogers Scholars program.


JULY 13, 2011

A Letcher County Fiscal Court meeting called to look at ways to balance the new budget turned into a discussion about privatizing the county’s garbage service. Several magistrates threw out the possibility of franchising the county’s sanitation system and bringing in an outside company to pick up and dispose of garbage in Letcher County. Court members say the county’s Sanitation Department continues to lose more than $100,000 a year. Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward told the court that the Sanitation Department’s equipment is new and in good shape and all paid for. Ward said if the court does decide to enter into a franchise agreement, he hopes whomever it contracts with will consider purchasing the equipment.

The issue of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on city streets was raised again at the July meeting of the Fleming-Neon City Council when Councilman Tom Haynes asked if Fleming- Neon was an “ATV friendly” city. Mayor Susie Polis replied that the city has yet to adopt an ordinance to regulate the use of ATVs in the city and is not connected to the network of trails being developed in Letcher County.

Funeral services were held in Burdine Tuesday for a Jenkins native who played fiddle with “Father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe for more than 25 years. Kenneth Clayton “Kenny” Baker, 85, of Cottontown, Tenn., died July 8. He was considered one of the most influential fiddlers in the history of bluegrass music, and played with Monroe in his group The Bluegrass Boys long than any other musician.

The Mountain Heritage Festival Committee has announced the theme for the 2011 festival. The theme is “Letcher County, A Novel Destination.”

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