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Though most Owen countians know someone by the name of Elizabeth or Margaret, many may not realize that at one time these were the names of two communities in the county. While examining old copies of the News-Herald, Doris Riley — a historical society member, historian, and genealogist — discovered Margaret and Elizabeth in the “Community News.” Elizabeth was somewhere around Lusby’s Mill, but Margaret seems to be lost somewhere in the past, her whereabouts unknown.
Perhaps one of the most unusual names given to an Owen County community was “Pink Ridge.” The name might conjure up visions of the sunrise casting shades of pink shadows along a ridge top; or maybe its name reflected an array of pink wildflowers covering its landscape. Whatever the case, Pink Ridge is another community that has met its demise.
Vignettes of Owen County history will be highlighted at the historical society dinner tomorrow evening at the I.O.O.F. Hall. Members who have made reservations, and their guests, will enjoy a full-course meal prepared by our chief cook, Jim Acton, and his faithful crew. Everyone is encouraged to bring a bit of Owen County history to share. It could include little known facts about the county such as lost communities; or perhaps some will recall poignant memories of ancestors. But historical society members are not the only Owen countians who keep their history alive. Many do so through stories, and it should be emphasized that history is not just a record of dates and places; but rather an account of the love, laughter, tears, sorrows and an aggregate of the events of families and communities who live and work together.
Perhaps what defines Owen County most is its agricultural heritage, and people throughout the county are a testimony to the richness of that legacy. Though the farming of tobacco has declined tremendously, stories still abound of the labor-intensive but rewarding work involved in its production.
Recently, I received some hand-tied tobacco from a kind farmer by the name of Billy Bell, who helps his son, Alan, harvest his tobacco. Occasionally, as I open the bag and moisten the leaves, the pungent smell of tobacco wafts upward and brings to mind the character of the men and women who remain the backbone of our country.
Men and women who originally plowed fields with horses and mules; and who today take great pride in their tractors which have made farming easier and more productive.
Life-long farmer David Chappell, and Southern States agent Gary Duvall, recited the tractor dealers who at one time were located in Owen County: Billy McDaniel owned the Massey-Ferguson dealership; Mr. Kincaid owned Allis-Chalmers in Wheatley; the International Tractor dealership in Owenton was owned by Kendall-Riley; and the Ford Tractor dealers in Owen were Davis and Gaines. It seems that the Ford 8N was one of the most popular models.
Farming with tractors remains a vital part of Owen County history, and one Owen countian, Johnny Stewart, is determined to keep that history alive. Last year Johnny held the first Owen County Tractor Show.
This year the show will be held May 13-15 at the Owen County Fairgrounds. Johnny donates all the proceeds to Relay for Life in honor of his mother who died of cancer. He also is greatly concerned that our children have the opportunity to see and experience a piece of Owen County history, which, if not preserved, will someday be lost.