Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since 1907.


SEPTEMBER 23, 1921

Friendly roughhousing between two boys during a bean stringing on Big Cowan nearly turned into a tragedy Saturday night at the home of Dave Maggard. Charlie Banks, son of Floyd Banks, is said to be lucky to have survived serious cuts he suffered when he and another boy, C.C. Wampler, fell off a porch while they were engaged in a friendly scuffle. Banks, who was the first to fall over the porch and pulled Wampler with him, landed on fruit jar that broke and caused deep cuts, including one four inches wide to Banks’s left side. Luckily, Dr. Fitzpatrick and Dr. Bentley were able to close the wounds Banks suffered. The boys remain friends.

A railroad siding is being installed at the Hazard Lumber & Supply Company in Whitesburg.

The U.S. Post Office at Polly on Camp Branch has been discontinued.

A modern new school building is being erected at Mayking at a price of $1,8743. Wilson Franklin & Son received the contract for the building, which will be built on the Webb property overlooking the little city of Mayking.

Sergent now has a modern school building. It stands on Webb Branch, just below the old homeplace of Ben P. Webb.

George Tackett was killed in a mining accident at the Consolidation Coal Company mine in Dunham, where he was running a motor. Further details were not available at press time.

A meeting of persons who live along the proposed route of the Knoxville-Pound Gap-Ashland Highway will be held in Pikeville on October 4. The purpose of the meeting is to organize an association to promote construction of a paved highway that would begin at the Ohio River in Ashland, continue up the Big Sandy River Valley from Louisa to Jenkins, then from Pound Gap through southwest Virginia and east Tennessee to Knoxville.

Foddering is now the order of the day with farmers across Letcher County.

A new electric player piano has been installed at the Pearl Theatre in Whitesburg.

Prosecutors say they are ready to try silent film actor and comedian R.C. “Fatty” Arbuckle, who has been charged with manslaughter in the death of 26-year-old model and actress Virginia Rappe, who died September 9, five days after she and Arbuckle met at a Labor Day party in a San Francisco hotel.


SEPTEMBER 24, 1931

Jenkins Schools Superintendent C.V. Snapp was able to return to work Monday after recovering from serious injuries to his eyes that occurred on September 13. On that day, Snapp and his wife were returning to Letcher County from Carlisle, Ky., where they had visited Mr. Snapp’s ailing mother. They had just passed through West Liberty when they met a topless car with three men inside. As the two vehicles passed, one of the three men threw a large piece of watermelon at the Snapp vehicle, causing the windshield to shatter. Snapp suffered to his face and both of his eyes. No arrests have been made.

Young Henry Day, 25, died at his home on Big Cowan of injuries he suffered during an accident at the Speaks coal mine in Whitesburg about 10 days ago. He leaves behind a wife and two small children.

The Jenkins High School Cavaliers football team, led by Schafer, Baker, Dann, and Horner, walloped homestanding Wise High School, 40-0.

The Cameo Coal Corporation, which now has new equipment and an updated tipple, is expected to increase tonnage at its Mayking mine to 15 carloads a day.

The state highway department has taken over maintenance of the Blackey-to-Garner road.

Homeowners along the Cowan Street area of Whitesburg are being assessed at total of $5,937.50 to pay for the concrete paving work performed by Hart Construction Company. Among those being charged between $585.41 and $45 are George Hogg, John Palumbo, the Polchetti heirs, W.H. Lewis, William Reynolds Sr., August Codispoti, J.L. Hays, and the Hale heirs.

The Eden Coal Company of Blackey is now under receivership.

Sergent residents hope the Puritan Elk Horn Coal mine will be sold promptly on October 3, as advertised. The mine is currently under receivership. Residents are hopeful the mine will reopen and rehire Sergent men, many of whom are facing dire economic circumstances.


SEPTEMBER 25, 1941

Fletcher Turner, a black miner of McRoberts, about 34 years old, was fatally injured last Tuesday afternoon when he was caught in between coal cars. He was employed by the Consolidation Coal Co. as a mine motorman, a position he held for several years.

In the Local Option Election held September 22 in both precincts of Whitesburg, there was a victory of 201 for the “wet” faction. As in other elections, the majority rules, so by this decision whiskey and beer will be retailed in Whitesburg for a while longer.

Bill Kincer, former football star of the Whitesburg Yellowjackets, is making good at the University of Kentucky. Last Saturday he played with the first team against the reserves, himself accounting for part of the 46-0 score.

The final boxing contest of the season is set for the local arena, Post 66, American Legion, on September 27. At that time in a 10-round encounter, Lloyd Pine, Akron, Ohio, is aligned against Chino Lopez, Chicago.

From The Eagle’s sister publication The Neon News:


SEPTEMBER 26, 1941

George Webb, well known merchant of Mayking, was critically injured while working in the mines at Slemp. Little hope was held for his recovery in the beginning, but at this time it is believed that he might live.

There was church up on the mountain at Uncle B. Nease’s Saturday and Sunday. There were several in attendance and the Revs. Baker and John Sexton preached.

Buddy Webb, the son of Mrs. Stella Webb, has returned home from the Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Montana where he had been stationed for the past six months. With him were Arthur Spangler, Daniel Adams and Junior Cockerham, who have also been stationed in Montana. We are glad to have the boys with us again.

The Rev. Alex J. Reid, for 10 years a minister in the Belgian Congo, will speak here while itinerating the Barbourville District. Rev. and Mrs. Reid have a most interesting story of their experiences.


SEPTEMBER 27, 1951

Bootleggers and moonshiners laid low the past weekend as Sheriff Hassel Stamper and his party of raiding deputies continued their relentless search for illegal whiskey dealings in the county. Raids in the past week turned up one still which showed signs of recent operations. The still, 50 gallons capacity, was found on Craft’s Colly.

Seventy Letcher County men have been ordered to report for pre-induction in two separate calls issued for the first week of October, while 15 other youths are scheduled for induction into the armed services October 24.

Venory B. Dyer of Eolia, now serving as a bow gunner in one of the 73rd Heavy Tank Battalion’s “General Patton” tanks in Korea, has been promoted from private first class to corporal. Corporal Dyer entered the Army in December 1950. He joined the 73rd in Korea last spring.

The 16th annual Letcher County School and 4-H Fair began a three-day session here today with exhibits by various club members throughout the county in Whitesburg store windows.


SEPTEMBER 28, 1961

A giant motorcade is being organized this week to meet Gov. Bert Combs when he comes to Letcher County next week. A committee is trying to get all cars possible from every section of Letcher County to join the motorcade, which will meet the governor and his party at the Letcher-Pike County line and go with them to Jenkins and on into Whitesburg

Neon’s Army Reserve Unit, Company K. 397th Regiment, saluted during a parade Wednesday afternoon at Neon in observance of the unit’s departure for active duty at Fort Chaffee, Ark.

The U.S. Public Health Service has warned that outbreaks of Asian and Type B influenza are expected this fall. Dr. R.D. Collins, Health Officer of the Letcher County Health Department, recommends immediate flu vaccinations for all Letcher Countians.

Marlon Brando and Karl Malden star in “One Eyed Jacks” playing this week at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.


OCTOBER 7, 1971

The strike by the United Mine Workers of America against the nation’s soft-coal industry continues, idling an estimated 80,000 coal miners in 20 states. The only Letcher County operation reported affected is Beth-Elkhorn, which employs about 1,000 men.

The status of the proposed bypass around Whitesburg is still unclear, with the state highway department waiting for clearance from the federal government to begin work. However, a highway department spokesman said there’s a chance the entire effort might be scrapped if there are more obstacles put in its way.

The town of Neon has written the Kentucky Public Service Commission and the Kentucky Water Company asking permission for Neon to purchase the water system for Fleming-Neon and McRoberts. Mayor Durward Banks explained that the town’s 20-year bond indebtedness to the water company expires this month.

A group calling itself “Our Common Heritage” has been incorporated to work for the return home of eastern Kentuckians who have migrated to urban areas in search of employment. A prime purpose of the new group will be to prepare a computerized list of skills of eastern Kentuckians who would return to work here if they had employment opportunities. That list will be given to industry in the hope that it would encourage businesses to settle here.


OCTOBER 1, 1981

At least 455 Letcher Countians will lose their welfare benefits effective today because of the Reagan administration’s cutbacks. At least 244 county residents have been notified they are no longer eligible for cash benefits from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, and 189 people have been told they no longer will receive Medicaid benefits. In addition, 320 Letcher County families are scheduled to lose their food stamps over the next few months. The cuts, along with the abolishment of two state programs, will mean a loss of $908,000 to the county.

A leaking, nine-year-old water tank in the Dunham area has been drained. The tank won’t be filled again until it is repaired. Dunham residents were fearful the 100,000-gallon tank might burst, with the result being a repeat performance of the disaster of a burst water tank which happened in the city two years ago.

Adams Construction Corp., Pikeville, has been awarded a $162,210 contract to resurface 4.4 miles of US 23 in Letcher County. The company will resurface US 23 from its junction with KY 805 at Jenkins to the Pike County line.

“Red Fox/Second Hangin’” will be adapted for television by the play’s producer, Roadside Theater of Whitesburg and Norton, Va. Roadside is one of three theaters in the United States to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to pioneer the professional theater’s re-entry into television.


SEPTEMBER 25, 1991

Gov. Wallace Wilkinson has inducted State Rep. Paul Mason into the Letcher County Hall of Fame. The governor lauded Mason as a friend and said that with the exception of members of his family there is no one in Kentucky he would be more honored to speak for. Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were Gladys Stallard Berchtold, Raymond Smith and George Washington Fugate.

Factories and other businesses wishing to locate or expand in Letcher County will no longer qualify for financial help from the East Kentucky Corp. if the Letcher Fiscal Court doesn’t become a dues-paying member of the organization. Jenkins is Letcher County’s largest city and a duespaying member of the corporation, but the loan application of Capricorn Corp., which hopes to start a 25-employee plant in Jenkins, won’t be considered until the fiscal court also becomes active in the group.

Bill Collins of Whitesburg and his three-month-old Shar Pei Chloe won the look-alike contest in the Graham Memorial Presbyterian Youth Group’s annual Mountain Heritage Dog Show. Collins has won the division three years in a row.

Sheriff Steve Banks has been chosen Man of the Year and Marsha K. Banks has been chosen Woman of the Year by the Mountain Heritage Hall of Fame committee. The two are not related.


SEPTEMBER 26, 2001

The Letcher County Board of Education has chosen a site for a new central high school. But now one of the owners of the site says he doesn’t want to sell, and some of the parents of the students who attend Letcher High School are questioning why the site is so far from the west end of the county. The board voted 4-1 to buy the Reynolds property off US 119 at Ermine. But J.C. Reynolds, who along with his brother and sister own most of the site, said that he had changed his mind about selling. Reynolds said he had been offered only a third of what he believes the property is worth, and board attorney Darrell Hall told him the board would condemn the property if he didn’t accept the offer.

Letcher County native Major Tim Blair was in the Pentagon when it was hit by a terrorist plane on September 11, 2001 and helped evacuate the building. “Myself and another person started going room to room to make sure everybody got out,” Blair said. More than 190 people died when the plane crashed into the side of the building, just around the corner from Blair’s office.

The Letcher County Water and Sewer District still has some hurdles to clear before beginning construction of water lines from Jeremiah to Isom. An environmental impact study that held up the project for 45 days is complete, but the water commission now has to choose a contractor and get a certificate of necessity from the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

Brutus, a mastiff owned by Charlotte Adams Hall of Kona, won the best dressed category in the Mountain Heritage Dog Show in Whitesburg.


SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

The Letcher County Board of Education is going paperless at its monthly meetings. The board says it will experiment with using laptop computers and Apple iPad tablets to access agenda and other documents necessary during meetings. “I guess the question is do we want to go to the technology age or stay in the Stone Age?” asked Board Chairman Will Smith.

The Jenkins City Council met for the final reading of two resolutions required before work on the city’s water and sewer line rehabilitation project could move forward. One allows the city to apply for a Kentucky Community Development Block Grant to fund Phase II of the city’s water line replacement project, and the other allows the city seek funding through the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority for the sewer line rehabilitation.

Police are still looking for a robber who took prescription drugs from Family Drug Store in Neon at gunpoint last week. Kentucky State Police said a man armed with a semi-automatic handgun enter the pharmacy and demanded pharmacy employees place the painkiller Lortab and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in a bag.

Winners of the Mountain Heritage Festival window display contest are Community Trust Bank, first place; The Looking Glass Hair Salon, second place; and Letcher County Attorney Jamie Hatton’s office, crowd pleaser.

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