This week in local history

By the Bell County Historical Society

The following events occurred during the week of April 14-20 in Bell County:

1890: Fire destroyed six businesses in Middlesboro’s downtown district and left 100 people homeless. The fire started by an explosion in the stove of H.C. Pigg’s store and spread quickly. The new fire engine was brought out, but the steamer gave out after a few minutes and the pumps would not work.

1891: A New York reporter wrote that he had talked to a farmer who had sold land in the Yellow Creek Valley for $30 an acre and “thought people were fools who paid it.” However a single lot was now worth a thousand times that amount.

1898: The smallpox quarantine in Middlesboro was completely lifted.

1900: Newspaper editorial entitled “When Will War End” lamented that Middlesboro was practically in a state of insurrection.

1904: Bell County has 4 inches of snow.

1911: The newspaper reported that Middlesboro had no general outcry against liquor, as there was in other areas, “because of the perfect regulation of the whiskey business by local government.”

1926: Dr. Adams of the First Baptist Church denounced the local theatre for sponsoring a Charleston dance contest for children.

1932: County Attorney Walter B. Smith warned that the American Civil Liberties Union would not be allowed to enter Bell County “for the purpose of sowing seeds of discontent and unrest among the people here.”

1936: The bath house and swimming pool at the Booneway Inn (previously The Middlesborough) were being dismantled.

1942: G.H. Talbott was appointed chair of a campaign to secure all the scrap iron possible for the war effort.

1954: Middlesboro was chosen as a test city in a nationwide program of community conferences on educational problems. It was the first city to be chosen in the 10 state southeastern region.

1965: Basketball players and cheerleaders were honored at a banquet hosted by the Lions Club. Speaking to the group was Lee Majors, a former MHS athlete and now a TV and movie star.

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.