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Bonnie Strassell - Owen County Historical Society

  • Former News-Herald editor documented early Owen Co. life

    John Forsee, an early editor of the News-Herald and native Owen countian, wrote a history of the county in 1936 under the Federal Writers’ Project. This project was created in 1935 as part of the United States WPA program to provide employment for historians, teachers, writers, and librarians. Its purpose was not only to help these white collar workers but to focus on the historic and cultural resources of the United States.

  • Community correspondents played important role in history

    They migrated across the Appalachian mountains to Kentucky. Most hailed from Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Families and friends traveled together, and upon their arrival to a new land, they built homes, churches, schools and communities. Groceries, blacksmith shops and other businesses settled in these small towns that dotted the landscape of Kentucky in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; and communities, fueled by the efforts of close-knit and self-reliant people, grew and prospered.

  • Orphan Brigade has storied local history

    He was only 16, but a war was being fought, and in the 1860s his manhood was never questioned. He was born in Owenton, Ky., raised by his grandmother, and eventually was apprenticed as a cabinetmaker in Wheatley.
    When the Civil War touched Owen County, J.C. Hartsough joined the Confederate Army and became a soldier of the Orphan Brigade. Though Kentucky claimed neutrality at the beginning of the war, loyalties were divided throughout the state, and most Owen countians eventually chose to fight for the Southern cause.

  • Owen countians helped build, maintain toll roads

    He was perhaps best known for his stories of riverboat life on the Kentucky, but for decades Charlie Johnson preserved the history of Owen County in countless articles, which today give insight into our past.
    From river life to the Civil War to local lore, Charlie shared his vast knowledge of Owen County, its communities and the folks who settled its land.
    One of Johnson’s early articles, submitted to the News-Herald in the 1960s, described the rise and fall of Owen County toll roads, and the vital role they played in the development of the area.  

  • Owen County home to Purple Heart recipients

    Perhaps it was the letters written by her great-aunt Bea that inspired Marlene Browning-Wainscott to record stories of Owen County veterans. Aunt Bea had lost her husband in the war, and years later, her correspondence with Marlene provided a link to the past and a treasure of cherished memories
    Marlene Browning-Wainscott has devoted much of her life the past few years interviewing Owen countians who served in World War II. She felt an urgency to record the stories of these vital freedom-fighting Americans before they were lost.

  • Proper etiquette grandmother’s wish for young granddaughter

    The letter was tucked inside an old book in the historical society collections, and the book, titled “The Charm of Fine Manners,” illustrates the high regard placed upon proper etiquette in the 1900s.
    The letter, which was penned almost 100 years ago, was dated December 24, 1922, and was signed “Grandmother.”
    “Grandmother” was an Owen counitan who wrote this lovely note to her granddaughter, Helen; and its contents illustrates the significant impact of grandparents upon the lives of their grandchildren.

  • Entertaining tales of Owen County river men abound

    They were passed down through families, and their content ran from exhilarating to tragic, from rousingly humorous to almost unbelievable.
    They were the stories of life on the fire-belching mammoths that ruled the Kentucky River for over 100 years, and they have entertained Kentuckians for generations.

  • World War I veteran a charter member of local historical society

    They were a people stalwart of frame, hale and hearty, vigorous and strong, with muscles hardened under the strain of taming the sometimes cantankerous Kentucky River. They were the substance of river lore, and their stories have been preserved from the time the Kentucky made its debut on the stage of river history. They were the rivermen of the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Traditions define us as people, serve as cornerstone of nation

    Most cultures have customs that are passed from one generation to the next. Though many customs have vanished over the years, some of these traditions remain in the small towns and rural areas of Kentucky.
    Most customs were not considered a law but were just a matter of good manners instilled in a child, who honored them throughout life.
    Some old-time Kentucky customs included closing a screen door softly to keep it from slamming shut or never reaching for the last piece of chicken when company came to dinner.

  • Burial mounds painted image of prehistoric Ky.

    “A considerable number of artifacts have been found in Owen County, some of which are to be seen in local collections. Mr. W.O. Lowdenback of Pleasant Home had such a collection and good material has been found in the neighborhood of Gratz on the Kentucky River.”