This week in local history

The following events occurred during the week of Oct. 21-27 in Bell County:

1890: The American Association Building was nearing completion. The architect was George Wood. (This building is now the home of our Tourism Center and the Arthur Museum. Recently the Bell County Chamber of Commerce and Middlesboro Main Street have moved into offices there.)

1893: Frank L. Cowan was the first African-American candidate to run for a seat on the Middlesboro City Council. The newspaper endorsed him: “He is steady, hardworking, and reliable and has the confidence of all who know him…if elected we believe he will make a good councilman.”

1903: Patrons drinking at the bar of the Keg House were horrified to find blood dripping on them from the ceiling. In the room above the bar, they discovered the body of Alice Lamb, her head almost completely severed from her body.

1918: The Elks made their 3 story home on Cumberland Avenue available for use as a community emergency hospital for those suffering from Spanish Influenza. Volunteers were solicited to serve as nurses and to prepare meals. There was also a request for donations of food. (This later became the Middlesboro Hospital.)

1924: John Philip Souza was at the Manring Theatre for a band concert.

1925: The Colored Women’s Improvement Club held a silver tea at the home of Mary Swagerty on Lake Hill. Halloween decorations and yellow chrysanthemums were used and the ladies serving dressed in yellow and black costumes. A salad course was served to about forty women.

1939: Robert L. Kincaid was elected president of the Cumberland Ggap National Historic Park Association.

1946: Pupils from all the schools in Middlesboro participated in a music festival. There was a 1000 voice chorus made up of students from the 3rd grade through high school. A pageant, “Middlesboro and the Wilderness Trail,” was followed by fireworks and the release of gas filled balloons.

1953: A committee to push for a change to the council type of government for Middlesboro was formed by William Laymon, Homer Hoe, Joe Iovine and a number of other prominent citizens who were convinced the commissioner form of city government (a mayor and 2 commissioners) had led to widespread corruption and a deserved reputation as a “wide-open” city.

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.