Bonnie Strassell - Owen County Historical Society

  • Blacksmiths played a variety of roles in community

    In early America, one didn’t pick a fight with the village blacksmith, for everyone knew his trade produced the muscular, sinewy arms of a prized fighter.
    The blacksmith shop was at the heart of most communities in the early 1900s. Inside the dim interior of the building, a powerfully rugged blacksmith would shoe horses and make iron implements. He was often called upon to act as a dentist, doctor, undertaker and horse dealer; and many blacksmiths held the position of magistrate or churchwarden.

  • Butchering hogs and chickens once a part of every day Owen Co. life

    Thomas Jefferson once said, “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.”
    Jefferson’s statement is perhaps best illustrated in the ebb and flow of life on a farm.
    As the passionate heat of summer gives way to crisp autumn days, the farm family makes preparation for winter. In earlier days, apples, potatoes, cushaws, and onions were stored in root cellars, and inventory was taken of the wood supply that guaranteed satisfaction of a ravenous wood stove.

  • The value of a dollar during the 19th and 20th centuries

    Before coins and paper money were used as a means of exchange, bartering for goods was a common practice on the American frontier. This practice continued in rural Kentucky into the 20th century when local hucksters would trade staples for anything from chickens, eggs, freshly caught fish or a fine snapping turtle.
    Bartering dates back to 6,000 BC when tribes introduced it in Mesopotamia. The Babylonians developed an improved bartering system and exchanged goods for food, tea, weapons, and spices. At times, human skulls were bartered as well.

  • Owen County Historical Society | Sept. 21, 2016

    In early America, inns offered overnight places of rest to weary travelers. Many of these stops were built along stagecoach routes and provided for the needs of travelers, including food, lodging, stabling, fodder for the traveler’s horse and fresh mounts for the mail couch.

  • Old camp meeting sometimes lasted from several days to weeks

    As the oppressive heat of August bears down upon Owen County, local churches make preparations for their annual revivals.
    Revivals, or camp meetings as they were called in early Kentucky, beckoned the faithful and the penitent and presented the opportunity to listen to sermons, enjoy fellowship with other believers, partake in communion, and renew one’s Christian walk.
    An entry in Mariam Houchens’ book, “The History of Owen County, Kentucky,” written by Mrs. Ira L. Arnold, described a Squiresville Baptist revival in August 1900.

  • Alfred Cobb's narrative provides glimpse into frontier life

    In the 1830s the Second Great Awakening spread like wildfire across frontier Kentucky planting deep religious roots along the way.
    During the same decade, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, was reelected president, the Oregon Trail beckoned the out to the western frontier and staunch American patriots were slaughtered at the Battle of the Alamo.

  • Stafford presents engaging program for historical society

    She’s a home-grown girl and her down-home humor danced about the room like a tonic.
    Owen County Mother of the Year is just one of her titles, but on any given day, whatever hat Melody Stafford wears is sure to be overflowing with love and laughter, at times accompanied by lively antics.

  • Local grandmothers leave lasting memories

    Some seem to be made up of all angles and sharp turns, and they never forget good manners. Others are pillow-soft, whose laps are wide and inviting and whose deep laughter somersaults from one end of a room to the other.

    They are known as grandmother, grandma, granny, mamaw, nana or some other term of endearment, and they fill our bellies with treats, our hearts with joy and our lives with a touch of magic.

  • Entertainment in abundance for early Owen countians

    Early Kentucky settlers had little time to socialize. The arduous work of building cabins in the wilderness, providing food for their families and battling Indians and the elements provided limited opportunities for quilting bees, rifle frolics and square dances.

    By the middle 1800s communities had sprung up in the Owen County area, and churches were formed to provide folks a place to hear the Word of God. Church gatherings also gave countians the opportunity to socialize with neighbors and friends.

  • Traveling preachers proved influential in local church history

    After the Revolutionary War until well into the 19th century, a group of dedicated stalwart men traveled the wilderness of America to spread the Gospel throughout the newly formed republic.

    With Bible in pocket and gun in hand, early circuit riding preachers left an indelible mark upon America and the American people; and through their untiring efforts they fanned the flames of religious fervor that spread across the land like a wildfire.