2016-01-13 / Columns

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, January 14, 1926 The town of Sergent is growing rapidly under the management of Imperial Elkhorn Coal Company.

. Whitesburg and Letcher County are mourning the death of Dr. Paschal Young Pursifull, a Bell County native who began practicing medicine and surgery here 20 years ago after graduating from the University of Louisville medical school.

. Federal Prohibition Agent Clark Day warns Letcher County residents that he will “show no favors to any men or set of men” while enforcing laws pertaining to the making, selling, transporting and drinking of liquor.” Day adds, “I am your friend, but not to the extent of permitting you to violate the law.”

. In annual “statements of condition,” First National Bank of Whitesburg reports resources of $1.015 million and liabilities of $1.015 million, report bank officers B.C. Bach, Lewis E. Harvie, and S.G. Fairchild. First National Bank of Jenkins, the county’s oldest bank, has resources of $763,390 and liabilities of the same amount, say bank directors C.S. Moss, G.W. Hay, and S.E. Looney. In its third year of operation, Letcher State Bank of Whitesburg has resources of $271,025 and liabilities of $271,025, says bank president Henry Pfening Jr. and cashier Herman Hale. Bank president Lewis E. Harvie reports that The Blackey State Bank has $116,204 in resources and $116,204 in liabilities. At the First National Bank at Fleming, bank directors Thomas S. Haymond, Henry Pfening Jr., and B.F. Wright report resources of $596.687 with liabilities listed at the same amount.

Thursday, January 17, 1946 Flood damage wasn’t as heavy as feared in Letcher County after the North Fork of the Kentucky, the Big Sandy and the Cumberland rivers surged out of their banks. Statewide, six persons were killed by floodwaters.

. Protests of homesick GI’s against demobilization delays continued piling up this week on the desks of Congressmen in Washington. In one cable to a senator, a soldier asks: “When the blazes is a tuba player considered essential for a fighting army?” Disgruntled doughboys are also complaining to their Congressmen here from London, Shanghai, and elsewhere. General Douglas MacArthur says the soldiers are aggravated by “acute homesickness due to cessation of hostilities” in World War II. General Dwight Eisenhower says the current criticism of the discharge policy cannot be allowed to force the Army to demobilize so fast that minimum requirements are forgotten.

. The Letcher County Courthouse has taken on new airs after a thorough painting job done by the Caudill boys from Cowan.

. Lewis Roberts, 56, of Seco, died in the Fleming hospital January 10, about nine hours after being injured in an accident at a South-East Coal Company mine, also at Seco. Formerly a timber seller, Roberts had been working for South-East for the past two years. He leaves behind his widow, Mrs. Grace Roberts, and the couple’s eight children.

. The 14th victim of an explosion in No. 9 Mine of the New River and Pocahontas Coal Company near Welch, West Virginia died Tuesday as federal inspectors prepared to enter the shaft to determine the cause of the blast. The explosion occurred near the surface of the mine, about two miles from where the main body of men were working, permitting those who were uninjured to escape through a 300-foot air shaft.

. At least half of the coal output of the Southern Appalachian Coal Operators will be mined in the future by workers protected by the employer with workman’s compensation insurance, reports say.

Thursday, January 12, 1956 The Smoot Creek Regular Baptist Orphanage has been reorganized and renamed the Mountain Haven Children’s Home. The home was originally organized by G. Bennett Adams, and has been operating continually since his death. The home now cares for 27 children.

. Funeral services were held in Ulvah Tuesday for Mrs. Jessie Bailey Caudill, 34, who was killed in an automobile accident last Friday in Marshal, Michigan, near where she and her husband and children were living.

. The Jenkins Fire Department hosted the Whitesburg Fire Department for dinner Monday at Johnny’s Dairy Bar in Jenkins.

. Plans have been announced to build a strawberry-processing plant in Hazard to serve seven counties, including Letcher.

. Plans are continuing to be made for the opening of a recreation center for teen-agers in Whitesburg. The Youth Council Administration, which is organizing the effort, is made up of representatives of all civic clubs, churches and schools in the area.

. Nearly two million U.S. citizens — half of them teenagers — need to be treated for the venereal disease syphilis. The rates of syphilis and gonorrhea have been increasing in 43 states, says the U.S. Public Health Service.

. In its report of condition for the year ending 1955, The Bank of Whitesburg says it has assets of $6.127 million, liabilities of $5.663 million, and capital accounts of $464,463 for total liabilities and capital accounts of $6.127 million. The report was prepared by bank vice-president Herman Hale and attested to by bank directors B.C. Bach, Stephen Combs Jr., and R.D. Collins.

Thursday, January 13, 1966 “A nauseous stench” in the Whitesburg school buildings was noted by the January grand jury, which found that sanitation facilities in the school are below standards set by the State Department of Health. Toilet facilities at the school “are grossly inadequate to serve the needs of the overcrowded school population,” the jury said.

. Whitesburg attorney Harry M. Caudill charged — and the Kentucky strip-mining industry immediately denied — this week that the mine owners and others have amassed a million-dollar fund to defeat Governor Edward Breathitt’s proposed strip-mine control bill.

. The grand jury called for a countywide cleanup effort in Letcher County and asked that county officials form a committee to look into the possibility of a garbage pickup service all over the county.

. The January grand jury this week demanded immediate action to bring Whitesburg school buildings up to state standards for fire safety, even if the buildings have to be closed while repairs are being made.

Thursday, January 15, 1976 After Saturday night’s 55-44 win over a tough Russell High School team, the Jenkins Lady Cavaliers are 10-0. The five starters are Debra Oden, Kathy Mahan, Mitzi Combs, Tammy Adams and Carol Williams.

. A group of Whitesburg Middle School teachers asked the Letcher County Board of Education to change their students’ 50-minute lunch break from an “open” to a “closed” period. This designation, the teachers claimed Tuesday at the board’s monthly meeting, would both shorten the school day and keep the students from taking lunch in downtown Whitesburg. The teachers suggested a closed lunch would stop the problems they see in students spending almost an hour downtown. The teachers said many students were playing “pinball and pool” and, at times, staying the rest of the day in town instead of returning to school.

. Once again an effort is being made to weaken the broad-form deed, a contract widely used by strip miners in eastern Kentucky that permits them to virtually destroy a person’s land while extracting minerals. Representative Raymond Overstreet, R-Liberty, has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would require the “written consent” of landowners to the reclamation plan that strip miners must have approved by the state before they can begin mining.

Many broad-form deeds, under which landowners signed away their mining rights, were drawn up at the turn of the century before strip-mining technology was developed. The deed does not require a strip miner who owns or leased mineral rights to get the consent of a landowner before extracting coal from his property by any “reasonable method.” Overstreet’s bill would override the broad-form deed and prohibit the wholesale privileges of strip miners to tear up the owner’s land against his will.

Wednesday, January 22, 1986 Attorneys were scheduled to take the testimony of Dr. R.J. Acker this week to use in the trial of three men accused of murdering his 23-year-old daughter. Acker, 77, was scheduled to give a deposition on video in the Letcher Circuit Courtroom Tuesday afternoon. Judge F. Byrd Hogg agreed to permit the early testimony at the request of prosecutors, who say it is necessary because of Acker’s age and because he was the only eyewitness to a robbery which resulted in the slaying of his daughter Tammy, a University of Kentucky student.

. Whitesburg fire Chief Philmore Bowen has retired, and Patrolman Bradley Jones has resigned from the city’s police force, Mayor James Asher said.

. The City of Whitesburg apparently is serious about its newly developed “good neighbor” policy. At its January meeting, the council agreed at the recommendation of Councilman Bobby Pennington to come up with a plan to allow operators of septic tank services to dump waste into the city’s sewage department system. For years, the lack of a suitable place to dump raw sewage has been a complaint of septic tank cleaners in Letcher County. Most operators have been dumping the waste on strip mine sites, but some have been found emptying their trucks in isolated streams and hollows.

Wednesday, January 24, 1996 Letcher County does in fact have more power outages than it should, American Electric Power officials have told state and local investigators.

. Some employees who work for the Letcher County government will soon be subjected to random drug testing. At its January meeting last week, the Letcher Fiscal Court adopted a policy requiring county workers holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to be tested for drug and alcohol abuse.

. The Whitesburg Yellowjacket basketball team recently won the championship of the Coal Classic Tournament, which is held each year in Appalachia, Va. Whitesburg, coached by Eddie Whitaker, defeated Coeburn, Va., Wise County Christian, and Appalachia High School during the event. Those on the team are Thomas Gilbert, Willie Adams, Caleb Brock, Forrest Brock, Mickey McDougal, Jonathan Hatton, Charlie Wright, Ryan Whitaker, Patrick Damron, Scotty Reed, Josh Baker, Billy Stamper, and Shane Barker. Gerald Roberts is team manager. Damron was named the tourney’s most valuable player.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 An investigation into the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia, in which 12 miners were killed, is now taking place. A 13th miner, who was rescued after being trapped in the mine for 41 hours, is hospitalized in serious condition.

. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers this week endorsed proposal to build a new federal prison in Letcher County. Rogers said a prison would create about 400 jobs with an average salary of $35,000.

. City Attorney Jimmy Craft told the Whitesburg City Council that Letcher Fiscal Court is less than enthusiastic about entering into an inter-local agreement to build and operate a new city/county sewer plant under current circumstances. Craft said the fiscal court has serious doubts about the proposed plant’s capacity to service the needs of the county, and that county officials believe an order against the city for polluting the Kentucky River with raw sewage may cause problems in getting service to county customers.

. The names of two Letcher County police officers killed in the line of duty will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Deputy Sheriff Jesse Fulton, 39, died August 21, 1927, when he was shot trying to make an arrest. Deputy Constable Joe Martin Wright, 36, died August 4, 1916, when shot by the daughter of a man who Wright was arresting.

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