This week in local history

Published 6:10 am Monday, January 21, 2019

The following events occurred during the week of Jan. 20-26 in Bell County:

1891: The Exhibition Hall was opened to the public. Attractions included a large topographical map of the Cumberland mineral region and samples of various minerals and woods. Library rooms were on the second floor. (This building on 20th is now the home of the Masons.)

1891: The Jewish community was discussing the possibility of building a synagogue. There were seven or eight families of German Jews and another eight families or so of Polish Jews in town.

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1893: The Alford Light Artillery (part of Kentucky State Guard) was giving a charity concert at the Opera House.

1895: There were five dances held in Middlesboro over the weekend. The first was on Arthur Heights and attended mostly by the “English establishment.” The Maverick Club had a ball at the Knights of Pythias Hall and Huber gave a birthday party for himself at the Tyler Hotel. The African-American community held two “old fashioned dances and cakewalks,” one on Cumberland Avenue and the other Over the Rhine.

1897: A large finback whale was being exhibited in a railroad car at the railroad yard. It weighed 80,000 pounds when captured, but had lost 20,000 pounds while on the road being exhibited. A large number of residents paid the admission price of ten cents to see it.

1906: The National Opera Company gave selections from grand operas to “a large and appreciative audience.”

1921: The first violator of the Compulsory Education Law pleaded guilty and was given a minimum fine of $5. Middlesboro had recently hired a truant officer to see that the law was enforced.

1925: The Middlesboro Merchants. Association formed with the object of increasing the town’s trade area. The merchants were encouraged by the large number of bus lines into Middlesboro.

1948: Trial started in Pineville to recover more than $86,000 in Middlesboro city funds. Shortages were for the six years from 1940 through 1945. Eventual decision was against the city clerk and tax collector, Herndon Hutchinson.

1952: Mr. and Mrs. Joe Williford of Noetown received a letter from their son Troy, who was a prisoner in North Korea.

1952: Raids made by the FBI in cooperation with the local police department netted 108 slot machines in Bell County.

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.