Letcher County Historical and Genealogical Society:
Twelve Years of Progress

Tab The following article is from the March 2002 issue of the Letcher Heritage News (Pages 2-8):


As we start our twelfth year, we felt a review of the last eleven years would be appropriate. If you have never visited the Genealogy Room, we invite you to come by and visit with us. We think you will be impressed with what this Society, your Society, has done. Keep in mind we have never received a grant or public money. All work is done by volunteers who donate their time and talents, be it copying cemeteries, school records, marriage records, typing, or preparing material for the newsletter. To everyone who is a member, has purchased books, made donations, donated their time and talents to this Society, we thank you. Without your support we would not be where we are today.

The Letcher County Historical and Genealogical Society was formed in June, 1990. The main goal of the Society was to preserve the history of Letcher County and its people. The first newsletter came out in September 1990 and consisted of 30 pages. This was due to the donations of the following people and/or organizations: Apple Tree Mining Company, Sharon Aldrich Niece, Bank of Whitesburg, Linda Addington Clark, Golden Oak Mining Company, William Lewis Collins, and Marsha Kincer Banks.

Officers for 1990-1991 were:

President - Creda Isaacs
Vice-President - Lonnie Frazier
Recording Secretary - Betty Horn
Corresponding Secretary - Zandra Perry
Treasurer - Paula Pratt
Archivist - Anne Caudill

Of the above Creda and Betty have held their offices for the entire twelve years.

The first project we undertook to do was a pictorial. This covered the years from 1842 through 1930. We had problems obtaining the first pictures but after the book came out we received enough pictures to do five more pictorials. The Volume I Pictorial has been the most popular and has been reprinted twice.

Another project was a Family History which resulted in a two volume set. This listed the man, wife, and all the children, birth, death and marriage dates. This was a very popular book and is now out of print.

We started copying cemeteries which lead to a project that I feel is the best thing we have done. It is called "Mark a Grave Project." As we were copying cemeteries, we saw the need to mark graves. There were many graves that the stone was either missing, broken, or almost unreadable. To date we have seven cemetery books and have marked over 200 graves for a cost of $17,045. This is an ongoing project as funds become available. All copying is done by members. However, one member has gone above and beyond the call of duty and that is Buford Caudill. Without his efforts in this project we probably would have half the cemetery books that we now have, which is seven, and the eighth is now being typed. Thank you Buford for your dedication to this project!!

Some of the other books we have done are: 1850/80 Letcher County Census; a 1870 Letcher County Annotated Census; 1880 Letcher County Annotated Census; 1910 Letcher County Census; 1920 Letcher County Census; 1900, 1910, and 1920 Knott County Census, 1870 Scott County, Virginia Census; 1850 and 1870 Combined Breathitt County Census; four Letcher County Marriage Books; and three Letcher County School Census. All of the above have been done by members either copying or typing and all is volunteer work. No one receives a salary for work done. We have a group of hard working dedicated people.

Our latest book is the Veterans Book to honor Letcher County Veterans from the Spanish-American War through Desert Storm. While this book contains over 400 veterans we know this is just a small portion of the men and women from Letcher County who have served their country. The book was dedicated to ALL veterans. If there is enough interest we may do another book. While we would like to include every man and woman that served, we know this would be a monumental task. There were 11 books of discharges in the courthouse. One book had over 900 discharges. There were also many in the book we produced whose discharge was not in the courthouse. We appreciate everyone who contributed to this book. As we face a "new war" after the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center we realize how precious our freedom is and how fortunate we are to live in a free society. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who gave the ultimate price and to their families who must face the future without their love ones. We pray for our military personnel and our leaders who must make hard decisions in the days ahead.

In 1992 the Society obtained and set a Historical Highway Marker to honor Letcher County's only Congressional Medal of Honor winner - Lt. Darwin K. Kyle. Lt. Kyle was born in Jenkins, Kentucky, on June 1, 1918. He was a veteran of World War II and was awarded the Soldier's Medal, Silver Star and Bronze Star for his bravery in battle. He was also a veteran of the Korean War. In February of 1951, near Kanil-Ni, Korea, he and the men under his command were attack in the battle of Pork Chop Hill. He charged the hostile machine gun encampment alone, engaged the crew in hand to hand combat, killing all three enemy gunners. He then led his men into a daring charge, killing four more of the enemy. He was then hit by a submarine gun and killed. He was only 33 years old. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously, for his extraordinary heroism, outstanding leadership and gallant self-sacrifice. We were able to find two of Lt. Kyle's sisters and they along with their families were able to come to the dedication.

In May of 1995, the Letcher County Historical and Genealogical Society in conjunction with The Pine Mountain Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution met at the Watty Caudill Cemetery, Dry Fork, Kentucky, for the dedication and marking of the graves of Stephen Caudill, a Revolutionary War Soldier, Sarah Adams Caudill, his wife, Elizabeth Caudill Brown, his daughter, and seventeen other descendants of Stephen Caudill who are buried in the Watty Caudill Cemetery. The DAR purchased the stones for Stephen Caudill and his wife and the Letcher County Historical and Genealogical Society purchased the other stones.

In 1997 we obtained ownership of the Old Indian Bottom Church at Frog Pond, Jeremiah, Kentucky. The church had disbanded and had sat empty and unused for several years. Because of this, the first thing that needed to be done was to replace the roof. Materials were purchased and the roof was repaired for a cost of approximately $8,000. The next thing that needed to be done was to paint the Church. The Society purchased paint and other supplies and the Sons of the Confederacy painted the church. We thank the Sons of the Confederacy for their donated time on this project. We also had dirt removed from the back of the building and other minor repairs have been done. We have held two "dinner on the grounds" at the church. Everyone was invited to attend, bring a covered dish, chairs and enjoy the day. We had singing. It was much like the "days of old" where everyone could enjoy good food and good fellowship. Three of our members have gone above and beyond the call of duty with this project and they are Doriesa, Ray and Jason Adams. They have given of their time, money and talents in helping with the church. During the summer, they mow the grass, dust the inside of the church and do minor repairs. They are available to take visitors up to view the church. They have a special place in their hearts for the church and have shown it by all they have done since the Society has obtained ownership of the church. Thank you Doriesa, Ray and Jason for all your efforts in this project!!

In May of 1999, the Letcher County Historical and Genealogical Society in conjunction with The Pine Mountain Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Sons of the Confederacy had a dedication ceremony to honor and mark the graves of James Caudill, Edward Polly and Archealous Craft. Also honored at the ceremony was Elizabeth Adams Craft, the wife of Archealous Craft. A very moving ceremony was conducted for each soldier.

Two other members that we would like to single out are Donald and Dudley Webb. They have helped us in two projects. They put together a video of Whitesburg and the Pine Mountain Area in the early 1950's and gave this to us to sell to raise money with all proceeds going to the Society. They also put together a booklet about the Hot Spot School and donated all proceeds from this booklet to the Society. They laminated some early Mt. Eagles to protect them and enable the public to use them. We thank them both for their efforts in these projects.

Another member who has gone above and beyond for the Society is Brian Caudill of Malabar, Florida. Mr. Caudill designed a Web Page for the Society so those on the Internet would know that Letcher County has a Historical Society. He has listed the books we have for sale on the Web Site and this has enabled those that are not members to know what we have for sale and through this Web Site we have acquired a number of new members. Mr. Caudill also transcribed from microfilm the birth index for the years of 1911 through 1920 for Letcher County. This is listed alphabetically by the child's name and also by the mother's maiden name. He donated this book to the Society to publish and sell with all proceeds going to the Society. We appreciate the time that he spent on both of the these projects. Thank you Brian!!!

One other person that we would like to single out is our president, Creda Isaacs. Creda has been president for all 12 years. She is quite knowledgeable of not only her families but many other families. She is very generous in the sharing of her material and works many long hours helping people find their roots. Thank you Creda for your untiring work and dedication to the Society!!

While we have singled out several members this is not to diminish the contributions of all the members who help in the Society. We have a good group of hard working, dedicated members. Each gives according to their time and talents. We have members who still work that donate their days off and week-ends to help the Society. Other members are retired but are taking care of elderly parents. They give their time as they can. We have members who copy marriage books, school census records, cemeteries, etc. We have members who type. All of this is volunteer effort. We thank each and every one who has contributed to this Society.

As you can see, this Society has been an active Society. All of the above has been done with no grants and no public money. No one, officers nor members, receive any Society money for what they do. It is all volunteer effort because we wish to preserve the history of this county and its people for future generations. To those of you that live away, we thank you for your membership, the books you purchase, your donations, your kind words and your support.

To date this Society has purchased with our own money, $27,188 worth of books and microfilm that are in the Genealogy Room of the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library. We have received many letters from people who have visited the Genealogy Room stating that this is one of the finest collections they have ever seen. We have done this through our own efforts and work. We feel that each and every member of this Society should be proud of what has been accomplished in the past eleven years. We have also, as funds became available, donated to the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library $6,616.50. We gave $2000 to help purchase a new copier; $437.56 to have tables remodeled; $911 to purchase shelves for the Genealogy Room; $2,042.94 for a security camera system; $500 for the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library Fund; and the rest for paper and toner.

Projects that are ongoing or in the works starting our twelfth year are: The "Mark A Grave Project"; Volume 8 Cemetery Book; Volume 5 Marriage Book; Volume 3 Family History Book; and further renovation on the the Old Indian Bottom Church. If you would like to donate to any of the above, please make your check payable to the Letcher County Historical and Genealogical Society and specify which of the above projects you would like the money to go to. We also need family group sheets for the Volume 3 Family History Book. The Two Volume set was a very popular set of books. If your family was not in the first set, please send your information now so we can start work on Volume Three.

As we start our twelfth year, we look forward to adding to our collection and future projects. We feel that we have only begun. With this article we felt that those that do not live nearby and maybe have never seen the collection would like to know that we have not been idle for the past eleven years. We invite everyone to come see our collection. We would like to meet those we know only by names and addresses.

Officers for the Year 2002

President - Creda Isaacs
Vice-President - Ella Sparks
Treasurer - Zandra Perry
Recording Secretary - Betty C. Horn
Corresponding Secretary - Jean Cook

Tab Tab Tab Tab Tab Submitted by Jean Cook

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