EDITOR’S NOTE: The July 15, 1954 edition of The Mountain Eagle carried news of the death of Colonel Thomas S. Haymond, one of the most influential men involved in the development of the coal industry in Letcher County.
Haymond had been born in Fairmont, W.Va. exactly 85 years earlier, on July 15, 1869. He died July 14, 1959 at a retirement home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Haymond came to Letcher County around 1912, when the Louisville & Nashville Railroad extended its rail line into the Wright’s Fork and Boone Fork areas to take advantage of the rich Elkhorn No. 3 coal seam that was developed for commercial mining purposes. Haymond, an employee of Elk Horn Mining’s Mineral Fuel Company, was in charge of developing the town of Fleming and its two large mining operations.
After the town of Fleming (named for Elk Horn Mining President George Fleming) was built and its mines were operating in 1914, Haymond was named to oversee construction of another nearby coal town, this one to be named in his honor.
Construction of the town of Haymond, located between Dunham and Neon, was completed by 1916. The town, also known today as Cromona, was then composed of a large wooden coal tipple, more than 250 miners’ homes and two company stores.
In 1915, Mineral Fuel was absorbed into Elk Horn Mining Corporation and two other companies to form Elk Horn Coal Corporation. Haymond became general manager and later vice president of Elk Horn’s two mining operations in Floyd County and four in Letcher County.
When built, the town of Haymond, which extends two miles along the Potters Fork of the Boone Fork of the North Fork of the Kentucky River to the mouth of Ramey Fork, was expected to last only for about eight years but didn’t slow considerably until after Elk Horn declared bankruptcy in 1937.
Throughout his long career in Letcher County, Thomas Haymond was also a strong advocate for bringing better roads into the area. Among the roads he is credited with helping get built is the two-lane highway between Hemphill and the junction of Kentucky Highway 7 at Deane. Construction of the road began in September 1940.
When news of Haymond’s death reached Letcher County, one reader who wished to remain anonymous wrote a tribute for the former coal boss. It appears below.
“We are all inclined to enjoy the present day conditions of our community and county, such as the good roads, schools, electric lights, telephone — even the coal mine and railroad development — without ever stopping to think how it all came about or who it was that pioneered this almost overnight gigantic development of our community, transforming these little valleys from the quiet mountain farm houses to busy coal mining towns.
Many are still able to remember the days before the railroad and coal mines when the whole countryside was made up of mountain farm homes and the automobile was a curiosity or had never been seen because there were no roads, only trails or creeks.
Many remember how that in 1913 and 1914 all was changed, especially in our part of the county, where the valleys were changed into the mining towns of Fleming, Haymond, Hemphill and Neon, and how the mass migration of workers and their families poured into our county. All of [this] required the hand of a mastermind, a genius in coal mine development, and the activities that go with such a great movement.
I am writing about none other than Thomas S. Haymond, who came into our county in 1913 and broke the ground and stuck to the task until it was finished and stands head and shoulders above all others in this pioneer era of rapid development in our section of Letcher County.
[Thomas Haymond] was a man of stern qualities, sterling character and unusual ability to handle an army of workmen and the duties thrust upon him with such lightning rapidity. He was also a great humanitarian, welfare and civic minded, spending long hours at his office daily in order to promote the building of good roads and schools, continuously striving for good county government and the election of good, clean county officials.
[Haymond] was always ready to listen to the plea of those in trouble or seeking his endorsement, and wherever merit existed, willing to plead with the governor for pardons, the judge for justice, and giving commendation to the ambitious as is constantly being testified to wherever his name is mentioned today in any group or gathering in our county.
Even though he has been absent from our community for several years, he has a living memorial in the hearts of our people who remember him as a great benefactor to our section of Kentucky.
— A Friend”