Owen Historical Society News: Remember the winding roads along Caney Creek

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The roads twist and turn and create a maze that at times leaves one wondering if he is coming or going.
According to Owen County Property Value Administrator Jimmy Coyle, it’s easy to get lost if one is not familiar with the area. Doris Riley can attest to this fact. Three times, she visited a friend who lived in a community along Caney Creek and although she had no trouble finding her way in, all three times she got lost trying to find her way out.
Caney Creek comes out of Scott County and  empties into Eagle Creek.
Gary Duvall of Southern States recalls the times when he was young and did a lot of frog gigging on Caney. When asked why he favored this particular creek to spear those bulbous, croaking creatures with the much sought after legs, he answered that the water level was low enough in Caney to assure frog gigging success.
Gary has ridden his horses all over Owen County and I inquired if it was easy to get lost in the Caney Creek area. As laughter rang out beneath his ample mustache Gary replied, “Not if you know the difference between up and down.” I wasn’t sure if Gary meant up and down the roads or up and down the creek but then neither am I sure when Gary is serious or telling me one of his tall tales.
In December of 1883, the Owen County Democrat reported an explosion at Thomas Hampton’s saw and grist mill in the Caney precinct.
According to the article, “The boiler exploded, and the country around felt the earth quaking, like that accompanying an earthquake. The people rushed to the place of disaster and found a condition of things painful to behold. There were 13 people in the mill and only one escaped injury. The boiler passed out through the roof and fell seventy-five yards from its fastenings. The escaping steam and boiling water scalded those near the explosion.”
A Mr. Taylor had his clothing blown off and a young boy of 12 sustained fatal injuries. It seems that an inexperienced hand was running the engine and he allowed the water in the boiler to exhaust itself. Adding fresh water into the red hot boiler created an explosion sending the boiler through the roof which collapsed on the unconscious people and inflicted additional injuries.
Early names along Caney Creek included Gaines, Glass, Hill, Smith and White.
In a 1903 article in the News-Herald, George Hill of Caney who came to America when he was 4 years old tells of his life. His family moved from Boston to Michigan and then on to Illinois. When George’s health failed he was told to move south and so he traveled to Kentucky. He relates his journey to Caney in Owen County:
“On the 19th of October, 1847, I started for Old Kentucky with a very small capital, a horse and buggy and $26 in money, and when I landed in Kentucky I had $10 left, so I made up my mind that I got to work, it was ‘root hog or die.’ I concluded that I could teach school and I taught three months in Scott County, ten miles below Georgetown on the Cincinnati pike, near the crossing of the little Eagle. This was in the winter of ‘47 and ‘48 and in February ‘49 I came to Owen County locating near Caney church.The good old people of that community made me a school at $16 per month for three months and board free. At the close of the first three months term, they gave me a second at $18 per month.
I will never forget the kindness of those good old people conferred upon me taking me in as a stranger, for I did not know one person in the county. There are some who sent children to my school: Cad Glass, Harry Glass, Dr. Joseph Lee, Jarret Smith, Charlie Warnock, Pres Butter, Daniel Gaines, Mrs. Powell, Mrs. Peggy Jackson and others that I can’t recollect just now. All those old people have passed away and are trying the realities of that unknown world to us.
On November 1, 1848 I went to Owenton and obtained license of Rankin Reveil to marry Mahala Smith, and was married on the fifth by Rev. John Lee. I served your county as Justice of the Peace for twelve years, four years with Cad Glass and eight years with Ben Lewis Glass, now living on Caney Creek. The fees in those days were quite small when we had to go to Owenton to attend the Court at Claims for one dollar per day and pay 50 cents for dinner and the same for horse feed, so if we took a toddy while there we came out that much in debt.
The first vote I ever cast in Owen County was for Lewis Cass, of Michigan and Billy O. Butler of Kentucky, for President in 1848. They were defeated by Zachariah Taylor, and I have voted for every Democratic President ever since.”
George Hill died in 1913 and is buried in the Owenton Cemetery. His story of the people along Caney Creek where winding roads seem endless and frog gigging is serious business serves as a legacy for those of us who read his words and are inspired by the life of George Hill.
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the historical society will hold its Thanksgiving gala at the IOOF hall.
Turkey, dressing, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy and drinks will be provided but please bring a covered dish to share. Our special guest is Matt Merrill, pastor of First United Methodist Church.
We want to thank all the faithful supporters who continue to help the Owen County Historical Society preserve our history. Their donations are vital in our goal to share Owen County genealogy, artifacts and traditions with others.