Owen County is proud to acknowledge role of our women

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By Bonnie Strassell

Since the beginning of time, women have played a vital role in the affairs of the world. March is “Women in History” month and we reminisce and celebrate the resilient fortitude and achievements of the women of Owen County.
Some worked the farms all their lives. Others were teachers, librarians, or involved in the city or county governments. Owen County claims artists, poets, authors, genealogists, and historians. Whatever their calling, the women of Owen County continue to leave a rich tradition of womanhood to be cherished by future generations.
 History has bequeathed to us stories of strong women who overcame obstacles to leave an indelible mark on society. Boudicca, described as a giant, red-haired queen of early Britain, led an uprising against Roman overlords and inflicted upon them one of the worst defeats in Roman history. Cleopatra became queen of Egypt at the age of 17. She had an imperious will, and great ambition. She surprised her generation by being able to speak the many different languages of her subjects.
 The early women pioneers of Kentucky displayed this same fortitude. They were hale and hearty, able to cook, spin, weave, work alongside their husbands in the fields, and defend their homes against intruders. Owen County is proud to claim its women, who like their ancestors before them, make a difference in the home, in the county, in the state of Kentucky, and in this country of America. Their stories vary, but their contributions are many, and their legacy is one of inspiration.
The fame of several Owen County authors and poets has spread throughout Kentucky and beyond. Many recall Snowdye Lee Harrison’s “Revival Circuit Memories,” and Rena Lusby Yancey’s “Kentucky Trails.” Mrs. L.L. Arnold reminisced of the earlier days in Owen County, and these timely articles were recorded in books and newspapers.
Margaret Murphy of Monterey has finished nine books and is working on her 10th. She and Owen countian Doris Riley are genealogists and historians.
Several Owen County women hold public office. Our county judge-executive is Carolyn Keith, county clerk is Joan Kincaid, circuit clerk is Leigh New, and county jailer is Cindy Bruce-Walker.
There are many others who diligently work to preserve the rich history of Owen County including: Jeannie Baker, historical society president; Peggy Trinkle, DAR regent; Owen County Public Library Director Jennifer Nippert; and Owenton resident Glenna Clifton.
Educator Jo Ella Wallace is currently principal at Maurice Bowling Middle School, and teachers such as Verna Katharine Payne and Lela Maude Hawkins have inspired many Owen countians.
Darla Baker is Owenton’s postmaster, and News-Herald columnists Dana Burke and Bee Spicer draw communities together with lively stories of people and places of the county.
 Many women throughout Owen keep family and county history alive through their storytelling. Lela Maude Hawkins related a story about an industrious woman by the name of Della Sparks who lived in Monterey in the early 1900s. Her husband died and because there was no government aid at this time, she took in wash to support herself and her young son. One could watch Della’s tall figure carefully transporting two three-gallon buckets of water down the streets of Monterey. She filled her buckets from the cistern at Monterey Baptist Church, then took them home where she heated the water and washed clothes on a wash board. Using hot irons heated on the stove, Della dedicated many hours to the task of guaranteeing that the end result of her endeavors would be smooth, crisp clothing.
 Most importantly, the month of March is a time to recall the sacrifices of mothers, who many times are overlooked, but whose dedication to the upbringing of tomorrow’s leaders leaves us with this poignant reminder: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”  
 The historical society continues to be grateful for the support of the community. Thanks to all those who bring us empty ink cartridges, which we can recycle. Our membership is increasing and soon we will begin spring cleanup. If you have not done so, please take time to visit the museum. In these uncertain times, our history remains a vital component in the vision for our future.