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She discovered the old picture in her mother’s closet, but no one seemed to know the identity of the distinguished looking man. It was surmised that he was an Owen countian and the picture had a date of 1867 penciled on the back. Historical society member Christina Rice hung the picture in her home and every time she passed it she would ask, “Who are you?” Knowing he was related to her, Christina was determined to solve the mystery of his identity. She is not superstitious, but one day while walking by the picture, Christina related that it was as if the stately gentleman gazing out at her declared his name to be Daniel Stevens Clark, known by many of his descendants as “Pa” Clark. After further research and comparing his image with other pictures in her possession, Christina Rice solved the enigma. It was her great-great-grandfather.
Stories like this one and many others were told at the historical society dinner held Thursday at the I.O.O.F. Hall. Although we missed President Jeannie Baker who had become ill that afternoon, a prime rib dinner was enjoyed by all. Our thanks to Jim Acton, Darrel Baker, Larry Dale Perry, Ruth Ann Hazlett, Stella Gibson, Mary Lou Morrison, and all the others whose efforts resulted in a memorable meal.
Linda Swystun visited us from California. She is researching her roots in Owen County and related an entertaining story about her great-grandfather, John Richard Spires. The Spires family is one of the oldest in the county and Joshua Spires served in the Revolutionary War.
John Richard was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War and one day stopped to visit his family whose plantation was situated on the banks of the Kentucky River in Monterey. Because Union soldiers were canvassing the area, John had to accomplish his mission by stealth. However, he was seen, and the information was reported to a Union contingent in the area. A patrol was sent to the plantation and an extended search ensued. John couldn’t be found, for his hiding place was most unusual. In later years, John Richard Spires claims he almost suffocated for he had concealed himself under his mother’s hooped skirts as she stood watching the proceedings. The plantation was burned to the ground, and several years later, this branch of the Joshua Spires family moved West.
Doris Riley brought an old kerosene fire starter to donate to the museum and told a hilarious story as written down by Lulu Orr. Years before there were roads in Owen County, Mr. and Mrs. Orr moved from Sweet Owen to Long Ridge. The trip took the whole day, and at sunset Lulu found her husband loudly laughing at their rooster. Mr. Orr had penned the hens in one cage and the rooster in another. All their belongings were piled onto a wagon and it seems that Mr. Rooster had discovered the mash (Lulu called it “mush”) placed nearby his cage. When he was released, the rooster would take a few steps forward, fall down on his side, stand up and fluff his feathers, and take another few steps forward before falling over again.
Christie Kennedy brought a couple of hand-carved pipes whose faces were intricately fashioned by Christie’s father, Robert (Sonny) Ray Combs. While most men and boys in Owen County whittled, Robert executed art in wood. His finished works were awesome.
Verna Katherine Payne read several touching notes that were written by children to God. Their words reflected an innocence and complete trust exhibited in the young and brought to mind memories of our own childhood.
Needless to say, for a few hours last week, Owen County history was center stage. And its stories remain a vital piece of our heritage.
The Owen County Historical Society offers our thanks to Nancy Kahmann who donated an extensive history of the Kemper family to the museum and to Sherry Chandler who gave us copy of her new book, “Weaving a New Eden.”
We are also grateful to all of you who continue to donate used ink cartridges to the museum for they help with our expenses.