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Since ancient times they have offered us transportation, companionship, and at times served as food. They worked tirelessly, expecting very little in return, and they have created a special place in the hearts of mankind.
Through the years, the importance of animals cannot be denied, especially in rural areas such as Owen County.
Early settlers depended on their horses and mules to pull wagons, plow fields, and transport their owners to visit families and friends.
With the advent of tractor and other farm machinery, the horse took on the new role of a traveling companion.
Quite likely relishing this new adventure, the horse and his rider are now free to gallop across fields and travel up and down windy trails of Owen County.
Many early families in Owen County owned milk cows to provide them with nourishing milk, cream, butter, and cheese. Some had enough milk to sell, and soon dairies dotted the landscape of the area.
Today Bruce and Pat True are one of the few remaining dairy farmers.
Bruce inherited his farm and diary business from his father; and both he and his slender petite wife Pat exhibit the hard-working pioneer spirit upon which our land was founded.
Many Owen countians recall the importance of the hog and relate stories of fall hog killings which supplied the family with meat during the winter months.
Of course, there were times when a pig was a family pet. Such was the case of the Gibson piglet. The three girls of historical society members Bobby and Stella Gibson enjoyed raising one of their pigs from the time it was born.
One day their father informed them the pig was ready for slaughter, and despite the pleas and tears of his children, Bobby knew the meat was needed. However, for a time when a succulent piece of pork was cooked in the Gibson household the sad trio refused to eat it.
Sheep was also an Owen County tradition.
Today, Brian Forsee keeps that heritage alive as he raises a large flock of quality Southdown sheep on his farm on 127.
At one time, chickens were part of most every family household in Owen County. They not only laid nutritious eggs but were the guest of honor at most Sunday dinners.
Early in the morning the housewife would go out, wring the necks of a few chickens, pluck them, and fry them up. One had to be fast to catch a chicken darting here and there around the yard.
For those of you who might wonder about the speed of a chicken. It can run up to nine miles an hour, which is three miles faster than the first roller coaster built in America.
Cats not only provide companionship but are great mousers and keep the prolific mouse population on the farm from multiplying too quickly.
But perhaps the best loved animal not only in Owen County but around the world is the dog.
There has always been a long-standing working relationship between dogs and humans.
In ancient times, dogs were used as draft animals, and today the dog remains the best animal for hunting, herding, tracking and curling up at the foot of their owner’s bed at night.
According to Darcy Moray, zoo archaeologist from the University of Tennessee, the oldest case of a dog being buried with his master occurred in Germany about 14,000 years ago.
Many graves from the earliest times in North America reveal the remains of dogs and their owners lying side by side.
Perhaps the most poignant story of the faithfulness of an Owen County dog is recorded in “The Owen County Family History Book.”
Margaret Duvall McCowen wrote of her father, William Duvall, and his constant companion Butch. William was the son of Frank and Mary Duvall and spent his childhood watching boats traveling through the locks on the Kentucky River. His father was a lock master and as a young man, William worked on the “Falls City.”
After his marriage, he became a farmer and he and his wife, Mary, raised 11 children.
William’s dog, Butch, followed him everywhere, and was with him one day in 1947 when William was caught between his truck and a scantling.
William died and Butch laid by the grave refusing food and water.
It wasn’t long before faithful Butch, grieving over his lost master, joined William in death.
For Owen countians, our animals not only provide entertaining moments but are the central figures in many of our family stories. They will always remain an integral part of our lives.
The Owen County Historical Society will enter a float in the Christmas parade this year thanks to Bobby and Stella Gibson.
With their vast supply of props and enthusiasm, the duo will be assisted by several historical-society members who plan on riding atop the float in historic costume. The museum will be open and our hostess Peggy Trinkle will offer the crowd hot chocolate, cookies, and greetings.
The Owen County Primary School is partnering with the historical society this year. The children are making homemade ornaments to decorate our Christmas tree in the parlor. It’s an old fashioned Christmas at the museum so be sure to stop by and reminisce with us.