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It all began in Kentucky.
Rowan County lies amid steep hills, and its hollows are nestled deep within their folds. In 1911, before electricity came to shed light on the area, the night was navigable only when the moon was visible.
It was in the Rowan community of Farmers that a young woman’s dream was fulfilled as she concentrated her efforts in fighting adult illiteracy.
Cora Wilson Stewart waged a tireless campaign to eradicate this problem among the mostly poor families in her community; and her success earned her recognition as the founder of the adult literacy movement in the United States.
Volunteer teachers helped Cora in those first one-room schoolhouses.
Classes were held only when the moon was up, for no light was available for travel. Thus, these first schools for adult education were known as “Moonlight Schools.” Unsure how many would show up that first evening in 1911, the teachers were amazed that in the 50 schools in the area, 1,200 people came.
Along moonlit roads they rode in buggies, astride horses, or walked the dirt roads with their children in tow for no babysitting was available. All were hungry for the chance to read, write, and cipher.
Owen County Adult Learning Center Coordinator Veronica Gayle, was the historical society’s special guest last week. She easily slips into the vital role of teacher, mentor, and friend as she opens the door of literacy to many adult Owen countians. More importantly Veronica offers her students a reason to hope; and her passion for her vocation is evident in her ready smile and her emotion filled voice.
Forty years ago, FaDana Bramlett brought adult education to Owen County. She traveled in her car along county roads offering adults educational opportunities they had missed.
In doing so, FaDana also instilled in these Owen countians a renewed determination to succeed.
Today, Veronica Gayle carries on the vision of Cora Wilson Stewart and FaDana Bramlett.
However, she faces many challenges, including the need for volunteers and community involvement. She has learned to reach out to other organizations in a joint effort to accomplish goals.
Her endeavors have raised awareness of the plight of Owen County adults who need only the opportunity to achieve and the encouragement to do so.
The success stories of Veronica’s students illustrate the life changing impact the Owen County Adult Learning Center and Veronica Gayle have upon the people they so selflessly serve.
Etsel, Cadillac Jones, and Stinky will be three of the many special guests on hand at the Owen County Historical Society History Day, June 22 from 10-4. Etsel is an owl, Cadillac a red tail hawk, and Sinky (probably appropriately named) is a vulture.
The three will be accompanied by their side kick Michael Harmon.
Michael holds a state captive wildlife permit and is a falconer.
Other celebrities will include Senior Olympic archery champion Michael Niedwick. Michael has won many championships in archery on both state and national levels. He will demonstrate the art of archery and give the public the opportunity to try their skills with the bow and arrow.
Tomahawk throwing contests were featured at all frontier gatherings. Some will be amazed at the identity of several of our historical society members as they show off their tomahawk throwing skills. If anyone is hankering to give it a try, join us at the tomahawk block.
Musicians Ron Devore and John Harrod will be on hand to entertain with a variety of music which will include songs of the Civil War.
Food will be available to appease any appetite, so bring the whole family and join us in our celebration of Owen county history.