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Owen County Historical Society News: Saturday is a day to celebrate and reflect

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By Bonnie Strassell

A stone bench, engraved with a frontier scene, rests beneath a dogwood tree — both are new acquisitions that grace the yard at the Owen County Historical Society Museum. Given in honor of Scott Hardin, the dogwood tree was provided by Pat and Emerson Jones; and the bench was given by Scott’s son, Michael Hardin. Our thanks to both parties.
The picnic pavilion in the backyard was also made possible by the many donations sent to the historical society in memory of Scott. We are planning to dedicate the pavilion in Scott’s honor on our Owen County History Day, Saturday. A free lunch will be provided to those who tour the museum. And plans to entertain Owen countians include music, singing, storytelling, children’s games (sack and rolling hoop races), and quite a few surprises. So mark your calendars and join the Owen County Historical Society in the celebration of our history.
On the subject of history, President John F. Kennedy once said: “There is little that is more important for an American citizen to know than the history and tradition of his country. With such knowledge, he is no longer alone but draws strength far greater than his own from the cumulative experience of the past and a cumulative vision of the future. ... History is a memory of a nation and the means by which a nation establishes its sense of identity and purpose. The future arises out of the past, and a country’s history is a statement of the values and hopes which, having forged what has gone before, will now forecast what is to come.”
Stage coach stops in Owen County are part of history of which many may not be aware. One such station stood near Bethany, where highways 607 and 227 intersect. This was known as the old Frankfort-Cincinnati stage coach road. It was a six-room building fashioned of 12-inch, squared poplar logs, with two dog trots. All rooms were large, each equipped with its own fireplace. During the winters, two men were hired whose only job was to cut and haul firewood for fuel. It is thought that the grandfather of “Boy” Sidebottom, who was once sheriff of Owen County, built the inn when he settled in the county. It was operated by Major Benjamin Haydon, and later his son, John. The inn was an overnight stop and there were times when cots had to be set up in the halls to accommodate guests. Always equipped to take care of the wants of man or beast — especially after a hard day of bouncing on the springless stage coaches or riding in the saddle — food and rest were a welcome respite. Lodging with clean sheets was 10 cents and meals were extra. I presume the 10 cents was waived if the sheets had not been changed. One favored drink was hot buttered rum, made by adding spices and butter to a cup of Jamaica rum, then heated by stirring with the red hot tip of a poker kept in the embers of the fireplace for that purpose. Among the papers of two visitors from England, Charles Dickens and Mrs. Trollope, is mention of the fact that American travelers slept very well, for as both stated, American snoring was the most vociferous known.
During the Civil War, Mit Greene, Bill Jewett, and Jim Kemper were out looking for their oxen that had strayed, and rode up to the back of the inn. The cook, Old Aunt Bess, ran out and told them Yankee soldiers were there, so the three took off. Amid a fusillade of shots fired by the soldiers, Mit Greene was hit, but all escaped and lived to tell their story to future generations.
New Liberty resident Tilden Gibson tore down the old Haydon “stand” in 1903, and according to Tilden, “The logs were as sound as they were the day they were laid.” Today, the old Haydon coach stop is just a memory, but a memory that calls for the preservation of a piece of rich Owen County history to be passed on to our progeny.