Preserving his community’s history is a passion for 69-year-old Smith resident Ed McArthur. When the topic turns to people who once lived in the community or he runs upon old photographs or books about former residents, McArthur is all ears.
“In 1961 me, my wife, Mary and our daughter went to Chicago (Ill.) to live where I had found work,” said McArthur. “We stayed there about five years before making the decision to return to Harlan County. We just wasn’t happy there. It was during the riot years and we longed for home.”
McArthur said he drove a Harlan County school bus for several years before going to work at Chappell’s Dairy.
“I drove a truck and delivered milk throughout the county,” said McArthur. “I was delivering up in the Cumberland area on a house route and found out about a job opening at U.S. Steel. I worked approximately 20 years as a coal miner in several different mines in the county.”
Suffering in a rock fall accident at a coal mine in Lenarue, McArthur was forced to work outside the mines instead of going underground.
“I later had a bad fall and had to retire in 1992,” said McArthur.
After retiring, McArthur dedicated his time to collecting information about the Smith area. Having lived most of his life in the area, he is familiar with a lot of families who once lived in the community.
“I go to used book stores and search for community history,” said McArthur. “I’ve collected a number of old photographs and would like to see this information passed on to the younger generations so our history can be preserved. I love to read and write. I also like to work with bees. I’ve sold a lot of honey in the past, but the last few years it hasn’t been good for the bee population.”
McArthur said he also has an interest in herbs and tries to maintain a garden plot each year.
“I love being outdoors and especially in the mountains,” said McArthur. “I love spending time with my grandchildren. My wife and I are very blessed with good children and grandchildren. We have two children, four grandchildren and our first great-grandson is due to be born in June.”
McArthur said he hopes the information he has collected throughout the years can be preserved.
“I love the Smith area,” said McArthur. “It’s some of the prettiest countryside in this county. Not only do we have a rich history, but we have the Martins Fork Lake, hiking trails and so much more.”
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org