This week in local history

Published 6:10 am Monday, January 28, 2019

The following events occurred during the week of Jan. 27 though Feb. 2 in Bell County:

1891: The electric street car was taken out on a trial run. This was the first electric street car west of Washington, D.C.

1893: Alexander Arthur, the founder of Middlesborough, was threatening to sue the editor of the “Middlesborough News” for criminal libel due to an editorial in which he cast “unsavory reflections upon Arthur and his management.”

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1898: David Colson, U.S. Congressman from the 11th Kentucky district and a native of Bell County, gave a fiery speech in Congress urging involvement in the Cuban belligerency (Spanish-American War).

1899: The Cumberland Comedy Club was presenting “The Commercial Drummer” at the Opera House. The production was to benefit the school library.

1916: T.H. Campbell and Brothers purchased from the Brewery a two-story brick building near the corner of 20th and Cumberland, which they planned to remodel into a store. Prior to the county going “dry” the previous year, it had been the Palace Saloon.

1922: Unemployment was a serious problem as local coal mines, which formerly hired 12,000 men in the area, had been closed for 13 months. Big Ben Overall Company in Middlesboro had 10 to 20 applicants for every job. Yellow Creek mine had opened that week with eight to 10 men working at less than union wage; however, they were fired on from an ambush. About 60 shots were fired but there were no serious injuries.

1935: Middlesboro acquired the deed to Bartlett Park. (The 78-acre tract is now part of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.)

1937: Chief Ridings led a raid on Kentucky Café on Lothbury and arrested Allie Sandifer for selling liquor. In another raid on the Busy Bee Café, Louie Kidd was arrested on the same charge.

1957: Mrs. Sam Flowers, wife of a Bell County doctor and president of the Kentucky Federated Garden Clubs, was the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Local Health Departments.

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.