This week in local history

Published 10:10 am Monday, August 13, 2018

The following events occurred during the week of Aug. 12-18 in Bell County:

1870: Death of Joshua Fry Bell, the man for whom Bell County was named. He was a lineal descendent of Dr. Thomas Walker (explorer who named and publicized the Cumberland Gap), and was renowned as an educator, lawyer, legislator, and writer. A magnificent public speaker, he was known as “Bell of the Silver Tongue.”

1890: The Middlesboro Council issued a building permit to A.D. Campbell. (This as their second building, the one they presently occupy. Their first frame store was begun in late 1888 took 8 months to complete due to having to haul all the materials over the mountain by wagon. It was destroyed in the huge fire of May, 1890.)

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1891: The grand opening of the Crescent Saloon, a “Palace of Pleasures.” The main bar was 26’ long with a rail of solid marble. The wine closet had 100’ of shelf space. Walls were antique oak paneling and the ceiling was dark blue and guilt. An archway was graced by a statue of Eve “in snowy whiteness.”

1893: Under the headline, “Kissed and Made Up,” the local paper reported: “The American Association and Alex A. Arthur have agreed to make peace and not tell the world what each knows about the other. In other words, Mr. Arthur withdraws his suit concerning the Belt Railroad stock and the American Association withdraws its suit about alleged land speculation in Tennessee…The public will miss some rich and racy reading.”

1894: There was a grand reunion of Union and Confederate veterans at the Gap. Two excursion trains brought 5000 people for the event. Soldiers from both sides reminisced about their time stationed at the Gap.

1911: Announcement that Andrew Carnegie would give $15,000 to construct a library in the Middlesboro. The City was to provide the lot and pledge funds for maintenance and operation.

1914: King’s Daughters Hospital in Middlesboro was sold by the Master Commissioner for $5,355 to the First Baptist Church. It was to be used as classrooms and an annex to the church.

1917: A strike in this district affected 25,000 miners.

1927: Barbara Bisceglia was a guest at a dinner in Cincinnati given in honor of the famous pilot Col. Charles A. Lindbergh.

1931: There was a movement afoot to place a historical monument at the old Green Meetinghouse and Cemetery at Fords Woods. The church was started in the 1840s by the Methodists and was a large log building. It was thought that there were at least 50 graves in the cemetery, but only three still had markers.

1944: Known prisoners of war from Middlesboro were Lt. Raymond Hubbard, who was in Rumania, and Lt. Charles E. Morrison, Lt. Robert E. Patterson, Cpl. Robert E. Quillen, Isaac James Sharp, Ulys G. Seals and Clarr Morris, who were all thought to be held in Germany.

1946: A city audit for the years 1942-5 uncovered a shortage of approximately $40,000.

1965: The windows of all the downtown stores were decorated in celebration of Middlesboro’s Diamond Jubilee.

To learn more about local history, visit the Bell County Museum, located just north of the Middlesboro Post Office, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.