This week in local history

Published 10:10 am Monday, March 25, 2019

By the Bell County Historical Society

The following events occurred during the week of March 24-30 in Bell County:

1891: There was a lynching in Cumberland Gap. Thomas Hunter was accused of murdering J. A. Burks in the Gap. Hunter was found in Middlesboro in the area known as “over the Rhine.” He was taken to city jail and then handed over to the authorities from Tennessee. A mob took him from these authorities and lynched him.

1899: Policeman Charlie Cecil purchased a full blooded bloodhound for $100. The newspaper warned, “Criminals, fugitives and all bad men had better beware now.”

1900: Someone shot several bullet holes in the City Hall building, which was located on the southeast corner of 20th and Lothbury.

1908: One hundred and seventeen trees were planted on the grounds of the public schools in Middlesboro.

1911: The Middlesboro Town Council voted to buy two lots adjoining the Presbyterian Church for a Carnegie Library.

1929: Flood waters were receding, but Middlesboro was covered by three to six inches of mud.

1955: Phone cables were cut in the Bell County area. This was the first act of violence connected with the strike of phone company employees.

1957: Middlesboro High School took top honors at the Regional Speech Festival held at Union College. Miss Gladys DeMarcus was the speech coach.

1960: Public health official were distributing 4,000 packages of rat poison. They said the canal was not only an eyesore because of the trash, but also a public health hazard as rats were attracted to the garbage.

1965: The Appalachian Regional Commission approved a $2.7 million dollar loan to Tenn-Flake. The total cost was expected to be $3.6 million with financing arranged through the city of Middlesboro and financial institutions in the city. The project was expected to create 324 new jobs. (It was located on property that is currently used by the Street Department and Recycling Center.)

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.