Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lee's Drug Store and the Flood of 1929

Lee's Drug Store
Fountain Square, Middlesboro, Kentucky
Before the March 1929 Flood
In mid March of 1929, a devastating flood swept through Middlesboro, Kentucky. Among the hardest hit were the businesses in downtown Middlesboro, including Lee's Drug Store.  My dad, Frank Welch Lee, who was sixteen at the time of the flood, recalled to me years later that almost the entire contents of the drug store were carried out into the street by the flood waters.

Lee's Drug Store
After the March 1929 Flood
A few days after the flood, The Middlesboro Daily News reported that the town was busy around the clock cleaning up the mess left by the flood waters.

Middlesboro today is recovering slowly from the effects of the most disasterous flood in the history of the city.  Three full days have passed since the waters receded late Saturday afternoon, after the entire business district and a large residential district were flooded, and the effects of the flood are rapidly disappearing.  A deep mud, ranging from three to six inches deep, still covers the city, but extra cleaning crews by the city are rapidly taking this away in the main business districts.  All of the business houses are still cleaning and mopping and drying, in a courageous effort to get back to normal and save whatever merchandise that is possible. Fully five hundred homes suffered terribly from the waters, ranging in depth in the first floors from a few inches to several feet.

My granddad, my dad, and the employees of Lee's were literally up to their ankles in mud for a time as they worked to clean out and rebuild the drug store.

Lee's Drug Store Employees
Cleaning Up After the Flood of 1929
Frank Welch Lee (my dad) is inside the store on the left

Frank Lewis Lee (far left) and Employees of Lee's Drug Store
Taking a Break From Cleaning Up After the Flood of 1929

The drug store, along with other downtown businesses, also took part in a big two-day sale of merchandise salvaged from the flood.

Advertisement for"Lee Has It" and Other Businesses
Middlesboro Daily News, March 28, 1929, p.6


"Middlesboro Is Quickly Recovering From Effects of Most Disastrous Flood," The Middlesboro Daily News, March 22, 1929, p. 1

The Middlesboro Daily News, March 28, 1929, p. 6


  1. My Father J.R. Bryant worked at Lee's Drug Store in 1945, for a couple of years!!! We were quite surprised to see this information posted here!! Thank you very much!!!!

    1. Awesome! I'd love to hear more about your dad and his time at the drug store. There are other photos and posts about Lee's Drug Store on the blog if you would like to see more. So glad to hear from you. Are you from Middlesboro, Jay?

  2. My Mom worked at Lee's for many years!! She was Phyllis Marsden (Partin). I remember hanging out at the grill after school. Very fond memories.

    1. That should've said Phyllis Marsee Partin.

    2. That should've said Phyllis Marsee Partin.

    3. Hi Sherri! I think I remember your mom--when did she work at the drug store? I loved hanging out there, too. Such a neat old place! Thanks for checking out the blog!