Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since 1907.


JULY 15, 1921

A state official says work on the new road up Sandlick Creek will be stopped immediately if Letcher County’s government doesn’t come up with $10,000 it owes the contractor. The road is estimated to cost $80,000, with the state paying 65 percent of the cost and the county paying 35 percent. However, the state is not obligated to pay any part of its cost until after the county pays its cost. The state highway commission said it advanced $85,000 to Letcher County to pay the June construction bill but will not advance the $10,000 needed to pay for July.

Judge Fess Whitaker has appointed five negroes as patrolmen in Letcher County. The appointment of the five — Walter Zigler, D.C. Embry, John Robinson, Will Porter, and Oscar Harvie — marks the first time in Letcher County’s history that negroes have been authorized by law to bear arms and make arrests.

Bill Keathley of Burdine has withdrawn from the race for Letcher County sheriff in the August 6 election.

Word from Benham in neighboring Harlan County says Will Holcomb and Jim Coldiron, brothers-in-law, were shot and killed in a fight yesterday. It is said that another man was killed by them at the time.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson walked from the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas a free man on July 11 after a stay of 10 months following conviction for violating the Mann Act because he drove his white girlfriend, who would later become his wife, across state lines. [Note: Jackson was pardoned in May 2018 by then-President Donald Trump.]


JULY 16, 1931

A road through Kingscreek may not be dead yet, even though the Letcher Fiscal Court voted 6-0 last week to abandon plans to purchase right-of-way. Magistrate John D. Huff, who was ill at his Linefork home and unable to attend last week’s meeting, has persuaded County Judge Sergent to revisit the issue during a special meeting to be held Saturday.

Jenkins City Police Officer D.S. Taylor shot and killed 22-year-old Garland Donnels of Dorchester, Virginia, last Friday night after Donnels and another man, 18-year-old Gene Lunsford, attempted to flee after the car the two suspected car thieves were driving wrecked in Dunham. The shooting occurred after Taylor and Constable Trigg Mullins pursued the stolen car as it passed through Jenkins and headed toward Dunham. Apparently, one of the three or four bullets Taylor fired toward the two fleeing suspects glanced off the concrete pavement and struck Donnels in the back. Taylor was transported to the Wise County, Virginia jail after the incident. The body of Donnels was taken to Norton for burial.

Anderson Isaac, who is accused of shooting and wounding Ira Collins and his young son, is still at large and is believed to be hiding in the Beaver Creek area of Knott and Floyd counties. Collins and his son are on their way to recovery in the Seco Hospital.

The Whitesburg Businessmen’s Club has agreed to pay $400 for 22 acres of land atop Pine Mountain for use as a park to become known as Pine Mountain Park. The property features a stream of pure and almost ice-cold water that bursts from the heart of the earth and goes leaping and bounding down the mountainside.


JULY 17, 1941

The new branch post office in East Jenkins will be working within the next few days to the accommodation of many business interests and others in East Jenkins. Mrs. Louise Gillenwater, wife of Dr. Gillenwater, will have charge, and its location will be in the front of the doctor’s office.

An annual financial statement is published in this issue of The Mountain Eagle by the Bank of Whitesburg. The statement of the bank’s condition at the close of business June 30 shows resources of $1,072,871.10 with deposits of $969,578.68, the largest in the history of the institution.

Within the past week there have been several cases of hog cholera reported. If there is anyone interested in having his hogs vaccinated, please report it to the Whitesburg Future Farmers Chapter and the vaccination will be done.

Unemployed workers of Letcher County received $3,682 in jobless benefits during June. During this month 370 claims were filed by residents of the county; 75 of these were initial claims and 295 were continued claims. Unemployed workers, eligible to draw unemployment insurance, have received approximately one-half of their regular wage up to $16 a week for not more than 16 weeks.

From The Eagle’s sister publication The Neon News:


JULY 18, 1941

A telegram was sent to Dr. Brown, State Highway Commissioner, by Squire Haynes. The telegram said, “Bridge from U.S. 119 to Neon, more than 200 people per day travel this route, and bridge has been out for six months or more. Could County Officials cooperate and have this bridge reconstructed in the near future?” Dr. Brown replied, “The Bridge Department made the survey shortly after your bridge went out and designed the bridge to be built of structural steel, but owing to defense priorities we have been unable to get delivery on the steel. I am advised by the Frankfort Office that if we cannot get delivery in the near future the bridge will be re-designed for concrete.”

Undersecretary Robert P. Patterson reported today that the War Department broke all records for American military expenditures in June by obligating a total of $4,986,300,310 of national defense funds.

On Monday night, the Pine Mountain Chapter No. 36 of the Daughters of America met at the new Coca-Cola Bottling Plant for their regular meeting. This was the first meeting of any kind to be held in this splendid new building.

An advertisement in the Neon News offers a $5 reward for the return of a large male black and tan hound lost from his owner’s home in West Whitesburg. The dog is described as timid and friendly.


JULY 19, 1951

The Millstone mine returned to work July 10, to end a period of idleness which began February 1 of this year. R.P. Price said that the Pittsburgh Consolidated Coal Co., which processes the coal from the Millstone mine, allowed four or five mines to resume operation after the recent vacation. How long the Millstone operation works is up to Consol, Price said.

Two Letcher Countians, Ted Collins, 47, and Val Dez, 22, both of Van, were killed July 12 in a slate fall at the Willis Soward Company coal mine, near Pound, Virginia. Ted Collins, the son of Allen and Frances Collins, was born on Smoot Creek. He was married to Sarah Adams in 1921. They had no children. Mariano Hernandez Val Dez, the son of Juan Val Dez, was born in Mexico. He was married to Victoria Hager, and leaves three children, Linda Ann, 2; Miarione, 15 months, and Val Joseph, two weeks old.

W. H. Heermans, who has owned the Whitesburg Department Store on Main Street in Whitesburg for the past 15 years, has sold his entire stock to Mr. C.A. Jarvis of Charleston, W.Va. Mr. Jarvis does not have a lease on the store building and, after August 1, if the stock is sold, the Whitesburg Department Store will be no more. Dr. D.V. Bentley, Neon, owns the property.

Dr. Neff will appear in person in “Madhouse of Mystery” at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg this week.


JULY 20, 1961

The State of Kentucky will locate a state park in Letcher and Harlan counties in the area of the caves in Pine Mountain on Linefork. Cumberland residents have been working to persuade the Department of Parks to put a park in the area, known as Raven’s Rock, since 1959. Most of the 640- acre site of the park is in Letcher County, but the area is reached more easily from Harlan County, by way of Kentucky 160 through Hurricane Gap.

C.V. Snapp accepted a job as superintendent of the Pikeville City School System this week. Snapp will receive the same salary he drew as superintendent of Jenkins city schools, a position he held for 31 years until the board of education failed to renew his contract earlier this month.

Pfc. Ronald L. Holbrook, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett Holbrook, Mayking, recently became a member of the Seventh U.S. Army’s Order of Gold Patriots while serving with the 37th Armor in Germany. Members of this voluntary movement have pledged their support of President John F. Kennedy in reducing the outflow of gold from the U.S. In doing so they have agreed to save a certain percentage of their pay each month.

Hiram and Annie Vermillion Caudill celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary last Sunday at their home on Little Cowan.


JULY 22, 1971

Three young Clay County coal miners were crushed to death last Friday as the roof of their mine collapsed, pinning them under tons of shale and rock. The tragedy occurred at the Hilmar mine on Ashers Fork, about 20 miles from Manchester. The dead men were Oscar Saylor, 19, and Frankie Gibson, both of Horse Creek, and Ernest Harris, 26, of Bright Shade. For Saylor and Harris, it was only their second day working in the mines.

A 10 percent increase in federal Social Security payments went into effect June 1. It was intended to help recipients offset the soaring cost of living. But in what appears to be a disturbingly large number of cases, public assistance recipients have actually netted far less than a 10 percent increase. In fact, a lot of people have ended up losing income on the development. What has happened is the state has decreased its public assistance payments to those who got the 10 percent increase.

“The Millstone Sewing Center was proud to have a group from Massachusetts visit their center,” writes Millstone correspondent Mabel Kiser. “They were here visiting Rev. Bert Carmichael, Pastor of the Sandlick Presbyterian Church. We were glad to see this group of youngsters and feel that Rev. Carmichael is doing a good job with them.”

Rodney L. Sexton, 23, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Sexton, Letcher, recently was promoted to Army Sergeant in Germany while assigned with the 2D armored cavalry regiment.


JULY 23, 1981

The Letcher County Health Department would be forced out of operation if Letcher Fiscal Court goes through with its decision to lift the county health tax, Larry A. McCarthy, an official with the state Department for Human Resources, says. McCarthy says the court’s failure to continue collecting the tax would make the health department ineligible for all state funding and most federal funding. The fiscal court voted 3-2 at its June meeting to lift the tax — which amounts to 2.9 cents on every $100 of assessed property — after County Judge/Executive Robert B. Collins said the move was needed to help “the poor taxpayers.”

Testimony was expected to resume today in a case involving the Democratic primary election results for mayor of the City of Jenkins and Fifth District Letcher County magistrate. Jenkins Mayor James C. “Chum” Tackett and candidate for magistrate Robert V. Adams are seeking to have the election results overturned. The suit filed by the two men says that people who vote in the Dunham precinct but who do not live in the Jenkins city limits were allowed to vote in the city race anyway, because of a human error or a voting machine malfunction.

“ Marvin Adams caught a 22-pound catfish in the Kentucky River,” writes Blackey correspondent Grace Caudill. “Marvin lives in Woodrock. He’s very proud of his catch.”

Letcher County Judge/Executive Robert B. Collins was in Frankfort this week to receive a check for $55,368.30. representing receipts from the state’s new minerals tax revenue sharing program.


JULY 17, 1991

Westmoreland Coal Co. is no longer interested in acquiring Golden Oak Mining Co.’s operations in Letcher and Knott counties. Westmoreland announced this week that “acquisition negotiations” between it and Golden Oak have been suspended.

Whitesburg officials are refusing to comment on reports that they may trade the Whitesburg Industrial Site for an undeveloped tract of land nearby. Mayor James Asher declined to comment directly, saying that “if anything happens it will be on Friday the 19th,” when the city council has set its next meeting.

Federal records show that injury rates at Kentucky coal mines have nearly doubled in the last decade, a finding that has drawn mixed reactions. From 1981 to 1990, the accident rate in Kentucky rose from 5.71 for every 200,000 employee hours to 10.65 and the number of coal-related injuries rose than 1,000 — from 2,380 to 3,444, according to federal records. Meanwhile, Kentucky miners worked 22.5 million fewer hours last year than in 1981.

“Point Break” and “Terminator 2” are playing at Whitesburg I and II this week.


JULY 18, 2001

Police have charged two men arrested earlier in a chop shop investigation with insurance fraud after officers caught them burying a car at Neon. Fleming-Neon Police contacted Kentucky State Police for assistance July 11, saying they had caught Vernon Andrew Mullins, 66, of Millstone, and his stepson, Timothy Howard, 33, with a stripped vehicle on a roll-back truck. Police say the two men were attempting to bury it in a large hole.

The road over Pine Mountain may become the road under Pine Mountain. Members of a task force appointed to help the Kentucky Department of Transportation decide how US 119 should cross Pine Mountain voted 22-2 for a tunnel. The other option was to rebuild the existing road across the mountain. The tunnel is expected to cost about $188 million.

With the free parking lots packed and the pay parking lots empty, Whitesburg City Councilman Gary Mullins is calling for the city to lay off policemen if they don’t start writing parking tickets. The city expects to lose more than $10,000 this year on its pay lot, according to the city

A ban on vehicles over 30 feet hasn’t stopped large trucks from crossing Pine Mountain on US 119. Kentucky State Police investigated another accident on the mountain July 9 involving a 68-foot tractor-trailer and a BellSouth Telephone pickup. Police charged the truck driver, David Walsh of Rosedale, Va., with disregarding the size restrictions on the mountain.


JULY 20, 2011

The Letcher Fiscal Court voted 5-1 this week to take some delinquent garbage customers to court to force them to pay their overdue bills. The court took the measure after District Two Magistrate Terry Adams asked about efforts to collect delinquent garbage bills. Letcher County Judge/ Executive Jim Ward said the Sanitation Department has been successful in collecting late payments and has about a 90-percent collection rate at present, but agreed that it would be a good idea to have County Attorney Jamie Hatton file suit against those delinquents with large outstanding balances.

Convicted murderer Jerome Boggs has filed another lawsuit seeking to have judgment vacated in the 2002 shooting deaths of a four-year-old boy and his father. Boggs pleaded guilty in November 2002 to the murders nine months earlier of Timothy Cook and his son, T.J., during a robbery at the elder Cook’s mobile home in West Whitesburg. Boggs is serving as his own attorney in the case, which is expected to stand little chance of moving forward. s

The City of Jenkins is expected to join in a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a hotel near the Gateway Industrial Park located adjacent to US Hwy. 23. Mayor G.C. Kincer told the Jenkins City Council that Lexington hotelier Lloyd Abdoo, formerly of Neon, will pay half of the $3,500 cost for conducting the study.

Country music star Buddy Jewell will headline the three-day regional Riverside Days Festival in Whitesburg August 11-August 13. Riverside Days will also feature the Mountain Outreach Idol All Stars, and the Whitesburg Rubber Duck Race.

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