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Bonnie Strassell - Owen County Historical Society

  • Cemetery tour tells stories of past Owen countians

    The small granite marker seemed insignificant surrounded by larger, more elaborately carved tombstones. The name etched on top of the stone, Colorado Grant, was unknown to most, yet the man buried beneath the gravestone truly touched the lives of Owen countians in the early 1900s, for he gave them a glimpse of the western frontier.

    On a hot day a few weeks ago, as sunlight bounced off tombstones and baked visitors, the Owen County Historical Society and the Owen County Public Library joined together to visit Owen County’s past.

  • Blue Wing Inn shines light on Ky. history

    Though seemingly endless, the narrow winding road eventually reaches its destination at Browns Bottom, where the historic  Blue Wing Inn welcomes visitors.

    Formerly the summer home of Mason Brown, the inn was built circa 1850. Its Greek Revival architecture is punctuated by  gingerbread trim galloping delightfully around the house, adding character to the exterior.

  • Young Owen countians overcome early childhood struggle

    In the 1800s famine hit Ireland and more than 2 million Irish immigrated to America. The Brown family was part of this seemingly unending wave of starving yet determined people who looked to a new life and a new land of opportunity.

    The Browns settled in Virginia, and not long after the births of their children, both died, leaving behind four young orphans.

  • Farm-fresh biscuits were cornerstone of Owen's cuisine

    “Certainly no bread in America has been more popular over a longer time than baking powder biscuits. In fact, in many homes they were baked three times a day in great quantities, and were eaten hot, with butter and honey or preserves, along with every meal.” James Beard, 1881.

  • Owen's confederate soldiers faced large battles, capture

    With dogged and unflinching determination they met the enemy, and many gave their lives for a cause in which they believed.

    A great tragedy unfolded when the enemy was a member of a soldier’s own family, and during the Civil War, this scenario was played out between more Kentuckians than any other people of the United States.

  • Severn Valley once grounds for ancient burial sites

    Early Owen County settlers called it “locust and pawpaw” land. Its rich loamy soil nourished a great number of locust and pawpaw trees and provided bumper crops of tobacco and produce.

    There was a time when Severn Creek Valley was home to mills, a school, a church and a number of households. By 1958 only a few families lived along the five-mile stretch from the mouth of Severn to where it crossed by Highway 35.

  • The old school might be gone but the memories remain

    Perhaps it was nostalgia that bound the people together, or maybe it was the innumerable reminisces, recounted by the elegant white-haired figure standing before them, that linked them to the past.

    Thelma Olds Gibson was the special guest speaker at the historical society meeting last week, and she captured the audience with poignant and sometimes hilariously funny episodes of her school days that led up to her graduation in 1952.

  • Peddler Black once a favorite visitor among locals

    His stooped figure was a familiar sight among the hills of Owen County in the early 1900s. At times he would exit the road and stroll through fields to visit an isolated family. His age was unknown, but his deeply-lined weathered face acknowledged years of exposure to the elements.

    Two heavily-laden packs settled themselves comfortably on his shoulders and boasted of small necessities, along with a few frivolities that brought pleasure to young and old alike.

  • Owen County's history rich with storytellers

    In early Kentucky they were found in the widely-scattered frontier cabins. As towns sprang up, they congregated at trading posts and taverns. By the 19th and 20th centuries, they patronized the local general stores, and as communities expanded, storytelling became a delightful pastime for folks who were hungry to escape the hum-drum of everyday life.

  • Inverness: A reminder of Scottish ancestry in Owen

    A small village located in the Scottish highlands boasts of a long history of castles, battles and the Loch Ness monster. Its name, “Inverness,” traveled with Scottish immigrants across the Atlantic, and was bestowed upon several towns and villages in the raw, new land of America.

    The Gowers immigrated from Inverness, Scotland, to Kentucky in the early 1800s. Their daughter, Lucy Harriet Gower, married an upcoming Owenton lawyer in 1824.