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T. S. Elliot once wrote: “ For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
Making a new beginning is what each new year offers to all of us. A blank page on which to record the daily joys, sorrows, mistakes, and accomplishments that define us as individuals.
As we reflect on the past year, the Owen County Historical Society has much for which to be thankful.
Our membership continues to grow as people realize the importance of preserving Owen County history.
We have devoted much time and energy to producing an excellent account of the families of Owen County in the Owen County, Kentucky Family History Book, which will be available soon.
Historical society member Doris Riley continues to work with the schools to expand the Owen County Junior Historical Society, with the result that our history will not be relegated to some musty corner of an attic, but rather will come alive in the hearts and minds of our children.
This past year, the historical society joined with the library to present programming outlining methods to preserve those vital memories of Owen. The library, which houses much of our history due to the limited space in the museum, has been an instrumental partner as its helpful staff continues to be a vital component in achieving our common goals.
A new beginning does not nullify the past, rather, it embraces it as a necessary bridge to the future; and when we recall those early years of struggle, as Owen emerged from the vision of its first settlers, let us embed those memories in our hearts, resolving that we will indeed pass that legacy on to the next generation.
Some might ask if what I write is news. My answer is a resounding yes.
The dictionary defines news as: lately discovered or becoming well-known, recurring afresh.
Not having lived here very long, much of what I write about Owen County has only been recently discovered by myself, but it has always been a treasure of the Owen County communities where it has been stored in the minds of the people whose families have lived here for generations. These memories include stories of when the town of Owenton was settled around 1810 and its first store established in 1820 by a Virginian named Burce, who stocked bolts of cloth, tea, coffee, sugar, flour, candles, and candle molds; stories of the first physician in town, Dr. Farmer Rees, who practiced medicine here from 1822 until his death in 1854 – he married twice and was the father of 19 children; stories of the year 1868 when the courthouse was described as a “huge pile of brick and mortar, unpainted and unsightly – with its barn of a courtroom below and vast and useless barns of rooms above.” – contrast that to the lovely courthouse of today, centered on the square and overshadowed by a canopy of shade trees; stories of the 1860s when people went to Long Ridge to worship or met in the courthouse for Union prayer meeting – at this time there wasn’t a single turnpike in the county, and Owenton received only two mails a week, carried on horseback by Uncle Allen Jacobs; and stories of the communities of Gratz, Monterey, Cedar Hill, Eagle Hill, Ep, Cull, Jonesville, Lusby’s Mill, and others.
These stories are remembered by many, but beg to be retold to our children and grandchildren.
In 2010, as each of you in Owen county contemplate the blank page on which to record the events of this year of your life, be sure to include on that page stories of the past – stories to be interwoven with the present, producing a strong, viable bridge to the future.