Images of America: Letcher County

Author: Deborah Adams Cooper

Since 1795, when Peter Whitaker built the first known settlement on what is now Linefork Creek, Letcher Countians have demonstrated the perseverance and fortitude for which Appalachian people are known. The majesty of Pine Mountain in the south of the county or the rare beauty of old-growth forests that became Lilley Cornett Woods must have brought Daniel Boone to seek a paradise in “Kanta-

Ke.” Whitesburg and Letcher County have seen their resources of timber, oil, and coal brings growth, as well as decline. With the rise of the coal industry before World War I came a steady flow of Eastern European immigrants who contributed a new and exciting perspective on life, business, and art. It was Italian stonemason Jon Palumbo Sr. who led other Italians to Whitesburg because of the beauty of it reminded him of his home in the Campania region of Southern Italy. The churches, homes, and buildings they established stand in homage to their energy and skill.

Deborah Adams Cooper enjoys writing and photography. She lives in Cynthiana, Kentucky, and maintains a passionate interest in the history of her native Letcher County. Some of her fondest memories include the Kentucky River and its hills, which proved an enchanting childhood playground.

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