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Owen Historical Society News: Cemeteries are part of a family’s legacy to the future

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By Bonnie Strassell

Age does not deter 80-year-old Don Crugger and his 76-year-old brother, Clay, from their dedication to the preservation of the Smith Cemetery in Breck. Breck was always a small community in Owen County, originally comprised  of several homes and a grocery. Today, all that remains of Breck is a couple houses, the Smith Cemetery, and some who are determined to keep alive the history of the people who lived, died and are buried there.
The Crugger brothers, both born Oct. 12, mow the Smith Cemetery and try to keep ahead of the weeds. Many of the larger, more elaborate gravestones bear the names of Smith, Davis, Barber, Simpson, and Waldrop. Others are just small flat rocks erected over the graves of loved ones with family names etched in the stone by a nail or knife. Don Crugger reminisced about Breck and its place in Owen County many years ago. “It sat at the crossroads of 845 and 330. And near the graveyard was a large plantation style home built before the Civil War by Elisha and Nancy Jackson Smith.” This 14-room home served as the local funeral parlor for the community, and Don remembers paying his respects there when his grandfather, Smith Davis, died.
There are other Owen countians, who like Don and Clay Crugger, don’t receive funds or help for their efforts in preserving this bit of Owen County history. They don’t expect any accolades, although they are deserving of them. Dedicated people like the Crugger brothers just go about the daily business of clearing brush, mowing grass, and providing a suitable resting place for their ancestors. “Clay and I can handle things now,” said Don. But he admitted he wasn’t sure what would happen to the Smith Cemetery once he and his brother are gone.
Historical society member Christina Rice is spearheading an effort to preserve Owen County’s family cemeteries. Currently, she’s concentrating on the Claxon Ridge Cemetery and has set up the Claxon Ridge Cemetery Fund. Donations can be mailed to Claxon Ridge Cemetery Fund, 1864 Indian Gap Road, Frankfort, Ky., 40601. If you would like to volunteer with the clean-up you can contact Christina at (502) 226-1019.
Owen County is replete with the blessings of rich traditions passed from generation to generation. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on those blessings and give thanks to God. This was the intent of our Pilgrim fathers and mothers who struggled to survive that first year in this country. The Owen County Historical Society continues this tradition of giving thanks as we gather at our annual Thanksgiving Dinner to be held at 6:30 Thursday evening at the I.O.O.F. hall. Meat, dressing, and gravy are provided, but everyone is asked to bring a favorite covered dish to complete the meal. Todd Toole, pastor of Burlington Baptist Church in Florence, will be our guest speaker. Todd lived in Poplar Grove from 1963-66 when his father, Gayle Todd Sr., was the pastor at Poplar Grove Baptist Church. Todd’s father grew up in Beech Grove and his mother, JoAnn Rowlett Todd, was born in Hesler. Please join us as we celebrate our blessings and traditions and listen to an inspiring Thanksgiving message from Brother Todd Toole.
Nestled between a residence and Peoples Bank, Saveway Supermarket has served Owen County for fifty years. Some declare it has the best meat one can find anywhere. On any given day, its owner, Malone Bourne, can be seen walking the aisles, occasionally stopping to rearrange products on the shelves. Malone’s ready smile and friendly handshake are as much a part of the history of Saveway as the store itself. Saturday will be the last day Saveway Supermarket will open its doors to customers. Due to the economy and health concerns, Malone is closing the store and selling everything, including all the equipment. A wave of sadness sweeps across Malone’s eyes as the slender, soft-spoken gentleman reminisces about his many years in the grocery business. Goodbyes are never easy, especially when they involve a business that has been a vital part of Owen County history. If you get a chance, stop by Saveway in the next few days and offer your thanks to Malone Bourne, a dedicated man, who has spent a good part of his life serving the people of Owen County.
Five volunteers have graciously offered to help clean up Claxon Cemtery. Please meet at the cemetery at 9 a.m. Saturday. We are in need of chain saws, so if you are able to bring one, we would appreciate it. If anyone else would like to volunteer, we would be most grateful for the help.