Mary Helen Commissary, Harlan County, Kentucky

I have covered this building in this blog and on Facebook before.  I am quite frankly obsessed with this building.  I got concerned over the past couple of weeks we have had nearly 30 inches of snow, and its all been very heavy and wet snow, buildings have collapsed under the weight, including my granny’s old house.  I went to check on this building, which isnt very far from my house, and as you can tell she weathered the storm just fine.

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12 thoughts on “Mary Helen Commissary, Harlan County, Kentucky”

      1. Jamie, I do genealogy and have been working on a lot research from there. I understand how things become distorted, but I read a book called in their own words and it was an oral history project from Harlan. I enjoyed it because it wasn’t stereotypical. There was a bit of folklore in it, but it was mostly personal histories.

      2. Might I suggest a book called Generations by John Egerton. Its probably 35 or 30 years old, but it is a very fascinating read and from what my parents and grand parents have told me a very accurate one.

    1. If you want to learn a bit of everything about Harlan, I would suggest A History of Harlan County by Mable Green Condon. That is, if you can find a copy. Everything about Harlan before 1940’s is in that book. Before the coal mines, before the strike, everything. I have a personal copy of it and it is what got me interested in my family genealogy. I was born and raised in Harlan.

  1. These pictures brought back lots of dad,Jesse Russell, worked in the mine for years. We lived up macaroni holler.
    When I was about five years old, I went to the commissary one day and bought some king been twist for my grandpa.I took some and hid under the house to chew it. Well I didn’t remember to spit.I come running out from under the house throwing up. My mom was hanging out clothes and when I told her what was wrong, she took a switch and was chasing me while I was throwing up. It wasn’t funny then but it is a great memory…

  2. i was still in loyall when these storms blew through. all that snow! wild stuff. our heat went out overnight that coldest night, and i had to get it fixed – blew a fuse. then finally i got cabin fever and had someone dig the driveway out so i could get out of there!!

  3. My name is George Estes we lived up macaroni holler . Later in life I worked at the grill. I have the fondest memories of Mary Helen and the many friends. I think of the old home place quite often, I am now 84 and it seems like just yesterday I was loafing on the porch of the commissary store. My three brothers and my son visited the commissary and the church in 2016. Visited the grave yard on the hill next to the church which is now over grown with large oak trees, what a shame several of my friends were buried there couldn’t find any of their graves large trees growing up through the graves. If I were younger I would purchase the old store renovate it and develop a historical site . Its a shame to see the building in disrepair.
    The entrance to Macaroni holler is now an earthen dam and all the homes are gone breaks my hart.

    1. Mr Estes, do you remember my grandfather, Lee “Butch” Haynes? He ran the store part for many years,with a lady, I believe her name was Dorothy, right up until he passed away in 1980.

    2. Harlan today is not like what it use to be. Back in the old days, people had respect for places and kept things clean and trimmed down. When driving through and showing my husband where I grew up, I told him that everything in Loyall was so overgrown and rotted looking. When I was growing up (born in 1982), everything was kept trimmed, streets cleaned up, yards were clean, flower beds were planted, etc. Now, its just a big eyesore.

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