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History is an account of events in either a written or narrative form. But what makes history exciting is the character of the people involved who enhance those events with their own personality, adding a dimension of life, color and movement.
Owen countians have always been intrinsically intertwined with the past, and many have recorded their hopes, dreams and sorrows in diaries and books or have passed them down in family stories.
One of these folks such as Alfred Cobb may be familiar to you. Alfred of Owenton, wrote the autobiographical temperance story titled “Liffy Leman.” Liffy didn’t own slaves but was talked into joining the Confederate Army and described his long journey back home to Owen County after one of the battles.
In one chapter Liffy told of the scarcity of salt during the Civil War and how some folks boiled the dirt from the smokehouse floors to extract the salt which had dripped down in better years.
Perhaps the story of John Guill has been heard by some of you. John was born in Virginia and after fighting in the Revolutionary War he settled in the area of what is now Owen County. He built his home on a small stream that emptied into Big Eagle Creek and named that little stream Guill’s Branch. John drowned while attempting to cross Guill’s Branch during a flash flood. He was carrying two children who were rescued. John Guill was buried in a cemetery nearby and this cemetery became the resting place for the rest of the family.
In a hollow that drains into Mussel Shoals Creek lived Fred True. Fred was the husband of three wives and the father of 21 children. Owen County was no stranger to large families, and at some of the reunions kinfolk would spill outside the house, into the yard and down to the pasture and barn.
Stories of wildcats and panthers in the area were told by grandparents, some of whom came face to face with one of these wily, unpredictable animals.
Mrs. Mahala Dearinger Adams lived in Monterey and one evening she, her husband, and their two little boys were traveling from Monterey to Owenton in a horse and buggy. Suddenly their horse gave a snort and reared. Looking to the side of the road, a great cat was poised on a fallen tree. Her husband shouted to Mahala, “You hold the boys, and I’ll try to hold the horse.” According to Mrs. Adams that horse galloped all the rest of the way to Owenton “like demons were after it.”
Maybe some remember Dan Lilly who had his leg amputated to save his life. He was fitted with a wooden leg which served as a striker for his tuning fork as he led the singing in his church.
Neither could one forget Peddler Black who made his rounds in Owen County in the early 1900’s, his two packs bulging with an assortment of laces, needles, threads, tablecloths, and a bit of sweet confection for the youngun’s.
The famous Owenton butcher, Joe Lee Smith, always sported a ready smile and invariably quoted one of his favorite sayings. If one complained about his meat prices Joe Lee would quip: “ Lady, you buy the land, you buy the stone. You buy the meat, you pay for the bone.”
Owen County preachers, farmers, authors, hucksters, mothers, librarians, and all the others make an indelible mark on the pages of our history. However, it is our responsibility to preserve that history so future generations will have the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and stories of the past.
Thanks to Darrel Baker and Larry Dale Perry our calliope is up and running. Now we will be able to enjoy its lively melodies at the historical society picnic Sept. 13. All members and their families are invited. The society will furnish the meat, rolls, and drinks. Everyone is asked to bring along a covered dish. The fun begins at 6:30 so don’t be late.
To complete the tea time display in our museum parlor we are currently searching for a small matching sugar bowl and creamer. If anyone would like to donate or loan these items to us we would be most appreciative.
If you would like to solve a mystery and receive a gift in the process, please stop by the museum on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. We are displaying pictures of Owen countians we can’t identify and if you know them you will receive a free gift. You must be an adult to take a guess, but don’t worry young ‘uns if you bring mom and daddy in maybe they’ll share their prize with you.