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The Civil War tore at the very fiber of America. And though the state of Kentucky initially declared neutral, it soon found itself embroiled in the battle, with loyalties dividing families, friends, and neighbors.
The majority of Owen countians supported the South, sympathizing with the stance of “states rights.” Many joined the Orphan Brigade, but others signed up farther south in Kentucky when the Union army set up camp around Owen County. John Hunt Morgan, who conducted raids on the Union troops, earned the admiration of many a Southern sympathizer in Owen County; and after an escape in 1863, he was welcomed in the county at the home of J.J. Alexander near New Liberty. An Owen countian, Levi Doty, who rode with Morgan, was described in a 1909 memorial written by Owenton attorney, H.G. Botts: “Yet with all his fidelity to the cause and his fixed purpose that the Confederacy should win, he was and at all times maintained all that a true soldier should be.” To illustrate this fact, Doty came upon a dying Union officer in one of the battles, and though he fought on the opposite side, Levi picked up the man, carried him to a fence corner, and placed a bundle of wheat under his head, affording him some comfort in his last moments on earth.
Not all Owen countians fought on the side of the Confederacy, and several served with distinction. David Bales of Squiresville joined the 18th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, U.S.A. He fought in the battle of Chickamauga, and was with Sherman on his “March to the Sea.” William Henry Bobb of Ball’s Landing served in the 53rd Kentucky Infantry, U.S.A., as did his brother, Nicholas, and John S. Morgan of Squiresville.
If you have read the “Owen County, Kentucky Family History Book,” you will know the pride of many Owen countians who wrote about their Civil War ancestors. Thomas Jefferson Hardin of Monterey was captain of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry, fighting in many battles and serving the Confederacy with honor. Joseph Dillender served in the 3rd Infantry of the Union Army, and when he was captured by Confederates he was taken to the infamous prison at Andersonville. Upon returning home, Joseph carried the mail between Moxley and Eagle Station in a covered freight wagon for many years.
Many other stories of Owen County Civil War heroes are in the family history book, and if you haven’t purchased one yet, they are still available at the historical society museum. Just stop in or write us: P.O. Box 84, Owenton, Ky. 40359, (502) 484-2529. They will make wonderful gifts for the fast approaching holiday season.
We want to extend our thanks to Ron Wainscott, who loaned the Civil War dress uniform of Pvt. James Hervey Dorman for display at the historical society museum. James was the son of Peter and Lucy (Kemper) Dorman of Owenton and fought for the Confederacy in the 4th Kentucky Cavalry. Later he served as a Kentucky state senator and a Owen County judge.
The Owen County Historical Society will hold its annual Thanksgiving dinner Thursday at the I.O.O.F. Hall. The society will furnish the meat and everyone is asked to bring a covered dish. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and special guest is the pastor of Old Cedar Baptist Church, James Bondurant.
The meeting is open to the public and everyone is invited to attend.