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Dust whirled about as buggies and farm wagons made their way along Owenton streets in the early 1900s. The occasion was County Court Day and the enthused Owen County crowd bought, bartered, and bargained for the best deals of the day.
Most looked forward to this event which was held on the fourth Monday of the month. Many who attended were farmers who came to town, transacted their business and returned home in time to milk.
If wives accompanied their husbands, they spent the day buying goods in the stores and then gathered with friends. The ladies would attempt to distance themselves from the scenes of rowdiness on the street which at times were a result of bootleg liquor and gambling.
Owenton was transformed into a picturesque scene on County Court Day. Hawkers and peddlers could be seen weaving their way among the crowd selling their wares. Merchants and businessmen promoted the event as they discovered their coffers were much fuller after Court Day than any other day of the year.
Horse traders and gypsies added excitement to the affair, and the medicine man guaranteed his “elixir” would compliment any housewife’s supply of medicinal remedies.
County Court Day also gave an opportunity to transact official business with the court and a chance to swap knives, guns, homemade items, and livestock.
According to John S. Forsee, horse jockeys would begin arriving on Sunday afternoon and pitched camp near town. They always had from two to a dozen “swapping” horses. Some of these horses were old and decrepit but others were of the very best stock. If a farmer was unsatisfied with his deal, there was always the next month to trade the undesirable horse to someone else.
It was common to see groups of men gathered in the narrow alleyways to gamble; and the players devised various ways to warn their friends of the approach of the sheriff or his deputies.
The tradition of County Court Day came to an end around 1916.
Some attribute its demise on WWI. Others declare it was the appearance of the automobile.
According to an early News-Herald article, “The new noisy motor contraptions (the automobiles) were scaring the livestock nearly to death, and traders got tired of chasing and recovering their animals scattered for miles around the county seat.”
In the early 21st century, the Owen County Court and others decided to hold a yearly event titled Sweet Owen Day.
While not exactly County Court Day, it gives opportunities for Owen countians and those in surrounding counties to display and sell items, eat a variety of food and join family and friends in a celebration.
For those who grew up in Owen but have moved to other areas, Sweet Owen Day offers a chance to return home and reminisce.
Mark your calendar for Sept. 15 and plan on attending this year’s Sweet Owen Day.
The Historical Society will be set up in front of the I.O.O.F. Hall selling ice cream to raise funds. We will also offer our books for sale. Stop by for a visit and a chance to enjoy a delicious taste of our frozen confection.
The historical society’s annual picnic is Thursday evening 6:30 p.m. on the pavilion in the backyard of the museum. Bring a covered dish and tune up your vocal cords. This may be an opportunity for you to sing along to melodies played on our famous calliope and preformed by the nimble fingers of Faye Shelton.
If it seems the museum is looking younger these days it’s due to repairs made on the upper story.
Darrin Wolford and his son have successfully accomplished a makeover, and although there’s work to be done on the lower half, the top of the museum is smiling once again.
Our new driveway is also poured and adds a wonderful new look to our museum.
Thanks to all our members who worked so hard to accomplish this task. Other repairs are needed and we would be grateful for any amount someone would like to contribute.
Remember to take a look at our website www.owencohistory.com.
The homepage picture depicts the preparations for a hanging. The last hanging in Owen County was that of Dick Shuck and Aunt Jennie Dunavent will be on hand at the Owen County Historical Society Cemetery Tour to relate the proceedings of that event. This is just one of the Owen countians you will meet as you journey through the Owenton I.O.O.F. Cemetery Sept. 29 from 2-4 p.m. in the afternoon. Tours will be given at 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Take this opportunity to bring your family and enjoy a bit of Owen County history as you meet the people who helped write it.