Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since 1907.


JULY 29, 1921

The Mint Cola Bottling Company of Hazard has purchased advertising space in The Mountain Eagle warning people against the illegal use of 6-1/2-ounce soft drink bottles bearing the engravings “Mint Cola, Hazard, Ky.” and beer bottles bearing the engravings “Huebner, Toledo, Ohio.”

“A carload of surprises and disappointments mingled with broken promises and reputations laid bare will arrive here on Monday, August 8,” Mountain Eagle editor N.M. Webb observes in a front-page commentary about the coming primary election for Letcher County offices and what will happen to the losing candidates. “These will all be strung around the necks of those who ran and lost and dumped into the Bullhole. It will be a sad precession as it wends its way up the Booker Road toward that memorable hole.”

Partridge resident Willie Creech was in Whitesburg this week trying to get county officials to support his effort to get mail service established between Eolia and Poor Fork [now Cumberland], a distance of about 15 miles.


JULY 30, 1931

A wreck at the bridge now being constructed at Ermine, at the mouth of Craft’s Colly, has claimed the life of well-known Letcher County resident Bud Spurgeon. Also injured in the wreck were his wife and two children, and his brother, John Spurgeon. Bud Spurgeon was driving the car when he missed a turn and the vehicle crashed into a new concrete wall that will be part of the bridge. The impact threw all four of the occupants into the river.

Only two buildings from the original town of Whitesburg still stand more than 50 years later. The oldest is a boxed building by the river on Railroad Street. The other is the red brick home of James H. Frazier on Main Street, opposite the Letcher County Courthouse. This was the second brick structure built in Whitesburg, the old courthouse being the first. It was built by Dock Gibson for Henderson Nickels in 1878-79.

Karl Cottengen caught 10 fine bass in a small manmade lake at Seco. Not one of them weighed less than one pound.

People from all sections of the United States can be seen on top of Pine Mountain almost every day of the week and especially on Sunday. The view at the fire tower is grand, and a carpet of huckleberries on the mountaintop extends in all directions. The berries are now getting into full ripeness.

The National Guard is no longer on duty in Harlan County. Their stay there during the coal strike cost Kentucky’s taxpayers $55,000.

U.S. Route 23, known as the Mayo Trail, is now open to all traffic between Pound, Virginia and Ashland, Kentucky. While business is still far behind normal in Neon, one of Letcher County’s best trade centers, the businessmen there still hold onto the star of hope. New buildings are being erected and a new Standard Oil filling station is being installed.


JULY 31 1941

Morgan B. Combs has been promoted to the grade of corporal in the Infantry. This news release was sent to the Eagle from Fort Clayton, Canal Zone.

Isaac W. Fields and Phebe Jane Caudill Fields are spending their 62nd wedding anniversary at Cumberland at the home of their daughter. They were married on July 24,1879 in what is now Blackey. He is 81 and she is 78.

Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Kiser, of Millstone, are announcing the birth of a son, Arnold Edward, on July 25. Arnold Edward, born at Seco Hospital, already has two teeth.

A $5 reward is being offered for return of a Goodman black and white female foxhound. The dog was last seen near Dunham.

From The Eagle’s sister publication The Neon News:


AUGUST 1, 1941

The Mountain Eagle’s Eolia correspondent reports, “Mr. Bill Shepherd came upon a large rattlesnake the past week while picking blackberries. The snake had eight rattlers and was about four feet long.”

Flo Ingram a citizen of Linefork, lost his life in a collision between cars near Charleston, Ind. The accident occurred late in the afternoon when thousands of workers were on the highway and cars were jammed for several miles. His brothers, Kirby and Ottis Frazier of Defeated Creek, were by his side at the time but they escaped with slight injuries.

An advertisement by the Kentucky Brewers & Beer Distributors Committee says, “’Jook-joints’, ‘honky-tonks’, ‘dives’, and other lawbreaking retail beer outlets are not wanted by Kentucky’s $20,000,000 legalized beer industry! Beer is a wholesome beverage, and the makers of beer insist that it be sold under equally wholesome conditions.”

The Marx Brothers star in “The Big Store” to be presented at the Jenkins Theatre.


AUGUST 2, 1951

A hearing has been set for August 20 at the Letcher County Courthouse on a complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the United Mine Workers of America of trying to force employees of the Consolidated Coal Co. in Letcher County into joining the union.

An estimated one hundred persons gathered at Uncle Jim Wes Collins’s home at Bath in Knott County July 28 for the third annual Collins reunion at the old homeplace. Letcher County was represented at the gathering by S.A. Collins, Judge Robert Collins, and Dr. R. Dow Collins, all of Whitesburg.

Delmas Freeman, 29, all KIAC and OVC guard with the Eastern State Maroons a few seasons back, has been appointed to coach the Jenkins High School Cavaliers through the 1951 season.

“Bedtime for Bonzo,” starring Ronald Reagan, and “ Texans Never Cry,” starring Gene Autry, will play this weekend at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.


AUGUST 3, 1961

The mobile X-ray unit from the State Health Department will be in Letcher County this month. Health Officer R. Dow Collins says all school employees, teachers, lunchroom workers and other school employees should be Xrayed. Persons who have had close encounters with tuberculosis cases and have positive skin tests are especially urged to have X-rays made, he said.

Eldon Davidson, a teacher at Hindman High School, appeared likely today to get the job of principal of Jenkins High School. Superintendent of Schools Lee Johnson said as of today Davidson has the highest qualifications of any applicant for the job. Unless someone better qualified applies within the next two to three days, Davidson will be employed, Johnson said.

The mining classes now being conducted in Whitesburg by the State Department of Mines and Minerals will end August 10. The department will hold an examination for foremen in Hazard August 17 and 18. The location of the examination will be decided when the number interested in taking it is known.

The water ballet which proved such a success at McRoberts a few weeks ago will be shown at the Whitesburg Municipal Swimming Pool Tuesday night. Admission will be 35 cents and 50 cents.


AUGUST 5, 1971

No contract has been awarded for construction of an addition to Kingdom Come School because the lowest bid received exceeded preliminary estimates by nearly $150,000. Letcher County School Superintendent Kendall Boggs said he is working with the architect, the state Department of Education and the low bidder in an attempt to bring down the cost of the building to the amount the school system has available for construction.

“It is a good time now to get our fall and winter greens planted before it turns dry,” says Roxana correspondent Alma Whitaker. “Plant your turnips, mustard greens, seven top lettuce and also radishes. These should mature before cold weather. Seven top hardly ever freezes out — it will come in the spring for early greens.”

Mrs. Marilyn Y. Sumpter has been appointed postmaster at Oven Fork, the Postal Service announced this week.

John Lyle Eads has been hired as head basketball coach for Whitesburg High School. He succeeds Darrell Bell.


AUGUST 6, 1981

Bethlehem Steel Corp. said this week there is “no foundation at all” to reports circulating in Letcher County that the company plans to sell its eastern Kentucky coal properties to the giant Exxon oil conglomerate. An Exxon representative said also that his company is not buying or planning to buy any land or coal rights in Kentucky. Bethlehem owns more than 31,757 acres of coal lands in Letcher, Floyd, Pike, and Knott counties and is the second-largest land and mineral owner in Letcher County, with 16,821 surface acres and 18,226 mineral acres. Both school systems in Letcher County expect to be hard hit by the latest in a series of cuts in education spending by the Brown administration. The $40.2 million, or 11.3 percent, cutback in secondary and elementary education spending has left “public education in a critical period,” according to Alex Eversole, superintendent of the Jenkins Independent School System.

Letcher County Schools will officially open Monday, August 17, with an all-certified staff meeting at West Whitesburg Elementary School. The first day for students will be August 18.

Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, and Dom DeLuise star in “Cannonball Run,” playing at the Cinema 7 Drive-In Theatre this week.


JULY 31, 1991

A House of Representatives subcommittee has approved a black lung reform bill, the first congressional action on black lung laws in 10 years. Under the legislation, a miner will be presumed totally disabled by black lung and eligible for benefits if he or she presents a single piece of medical evidence such as a positive X-ray, blood gas studies or a medical opinion. Under the reform bill, the U.S. Secretary of Labor could reject the claim only if he shows the miner is doing coal mine work or could actually do coal mine work. It would apply the new standards to all new claims, all pending claims, and all claims previously denied.

The Letcher County Library Board and Letcher Fiscal Court are seeking a $350,000 federal grant to buy the old Hobbs building in Whitesburg for use as a central county library. The library board plans to name the building the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library in honor of the widely known historian.

Antique and custom cars lined the track at the Jenkins football field recently for the Jenkins Kiwanis Club’s summer car show. Entries ranged from fully restored collectors’ items, to radically modified custom street machines.

An advertisement from Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation announces the return home of Dr. Van Stanley Breeding to practice medicine. The ad says Dr. Breeding will practice family medicine in the Whitesburg Medical Clinic, and that he has completed a three-year residency in family practice at the University of Kentucky.


AUGUST 1, 2001

Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held August 6 for the new Jenkins Public Library in downtown Jenkins. The building will be located on East Main Street next to the David A. Zegeer Coal Railroad Museum.

The Letcher County Mountain Heritage Festival will feature home canning and baking contests, sponsored by the Extension Homemakers Clubs. The categories for home-canned foods are: jellies, jams, preserves, fruits, vegetables, pickles, relishes, butters, and sweets. The categories for home-baked goods are: yeast breads, quick breads, cookies, cakes, and pies.

Unemployment in both Letcher and Perry counties fell to 5.1 percent in June. Local unemployment officials said the lower rate was the result of new coal mining jobs.

The Whitesburg Yellowjackets are at football camp this week in London after having completed two weeks of conditioning drills. Meanwhile the Fleming-Neon Pirates play Friday against Mc- Creary Central High School.


AUGUST 3, 2011

Jenkins residents used to seeing a mural of a Cavalier mascot emblazoned on a railroad overpass wall near Jenkins High School were surprised when they saw the image is no longer there. Members of the Jenkins Independent Board of Education also said they were shocked to see the image had been painted over. JHS graduate Jarred Tackett painted the mural in 2004. At a Jenkins City Council meeting, Councilman Terry Braddock said he had painted over the mural at the direction of Don Amburgey, who runs the Little Shepherd Amphitheater. Amburgey said he hadn’t anticipated the furor, apologized, and said the Cavalier would be repainted.

Unemployment rose slightly in Letcher County between May and June but is still lower than it was at this time last year. Letcher County’s jobless rate rose to 10.5 percent in June, up from 9.9 percent in May.

The Jenkins City Council honored former Mayor Robert “Pud” Shubert for his 21 years of service as mayor at its August meeting and presented him with a gavel that had originally been given to him by Jenkins political icon Jesse Bates when Shubert was first elected mayor in 1986.

The Kids Day Back to School Bash was held at River Park in Whitesburg July 28. Among the animals seen at the bash were a four-month-old camel calf and an eight-month-old kangaroo.

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