Sharing the music of our heritage

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Owen County Historical Society

By Bonnie Strassell

As his lean, nimble fingers glided effortlessly along the dulcimer strings, Ron Devore coaxed a variety of melodious songs from his instrument. The soft-spoken gentleman, dressed in bibbed overalls, delighted his audience Thursday at the monthly historical society meeting.
At times, the strings jumped as they danced lively to Bluegrass tunes or Appalachian clogging; then would soften to the wailful love songs of 16th-century England. In either case, there was plenty of toe-tapping, hand-clapping accompaniment from appreciative spectators.
Ron Devore and his wife, Shannon, are natives of Frankfort but moved to Perry Park several years ago. Ron claims that their house is home to about 20 dulcimers, each of which are uniquely constructed from a variety of woods including: black walnut, cherry, and curly maple. Laughing, Shannon declares she thinks there are certainly more than 20 dulcimers in their home. “Sometimes, he brings out a dulcimer that I’ve never seen and Ron will say, ‘Oh, I’ve had this one for awhile.’ “
Mr. Devore, who plays music by ear, is also an accomplished musician on the hammer dulcimer, although, it is the lap dulcimer which he takes to performances. He plays for churches, libraries, historical societies, and just about any organization you can imagine. His final selection of songs, which Ron emphasized is his favorite music, included several hymns, and was dedicated to Verna Catherine Payne, Ron and Shannon’s fellow parishioner at New Liberty Christian Church. Before Sunday services, Ron will take out one of his dulcimers and play at least one verse of about 50 hymns. Ron Devore’s love of music and dedication to Christ was reflected in his gentle manner as his songs of praise drifted throughout the I.O.O.F. hall.
But music is not Ron Devore’s only accomplishment. He is also a talented artist and brought to the meeting many of his paintings of Owen County barns. All of his paintings are for sale for those of you who are interested in displaying a piece of Owen County history in your home. Shannon takes pictures and Ron paints from the images.
Horses were once one of Ron’s favorite subjects to paint until Shannon was bit. “That,” she said, “ended our horse picture-taking and painting.”
One piece of art, created with chalk, was a covered bridge on Cull Road. Historical society member, Gene Allen Thomas, recalls when the bridge was constructed by a gentleman about 10 years ago. It spans Panther Lick Creek, and Jean related the legend of Panther Lick. The story goes that when the first settlers came to the area, there were many salt licks along the creek. One day a mother happened to hear her baby cry in one room of their cabin. Hurrying to the child she discovered a panther crouched beside the baby. The mother’s screams brought her husband to the room with his rifle, and he quickly killed the panther.
Our pulled pork barbecue dinner was a great success and we want to thank everyone who attended and helped support our historical society. Also, we are deeply grateful to everyone who donated money to the historical society in memory of Scott Hardin. After talking with his wife, Joyce, it was decided to use the money for either a new driveway for the museum or for one of the much-needed repairs. At our May meeting, a dinner will be offered to members for $10. RSVP and prepayment are required.
There is no scheduled speaker, but it is suggested that everyone bring a bit of Owen County history to discuss. It will be a time to relax, relive, relate, and rejoice over the opportunity to serve Owen County by preserving its rich history and traditions.