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Bonnie Strassell - Owen County Historical Society

  • Owen County women share same courageous stories of early settlers

    “Stalwart of frame no doubt they were, with muscles hardened under the strain of toil; hale and hearty, vigorous and strong, able to wield the axe against the trunk of a forest monarch or the head of an intruding savage; to aid their husbands and fathers to plow and plant, to reap and mow, to rake and bind and gather.”

    With these words 20th century historian, H.C. McCook, gave insight into the fortitude and enduring stamina of the early pioneer woman.

  • Tales from the steamboat era, as told by Owen residents

    Only a few Owen countians remain who remember those days, and sadly, those who are gone took with them many poignant, and at times hair-raising stories of the Kentucky steamboat era.

    By the 1820s, steamboat fever had struck Kentucky, and for the next 100 years it captured the economy and imagination of Kentuckians.

    In the 1850s, sidewheelers and sternwheelers on the Kentucky were transporting goods valued at more than $10,000,000 annually, giving a substantial boost to the state’s ecomony.

  • Pleasant Home mortsafes shrouded in mystery

    The iron cage surrounds the tombstone, and though grass and vines vie for a place beside the monument, the cage in the Pleasant Home Cemetery has steadfastly stood its ground for many years.

    The road to the cemetery still bears the name Lowdenback, in honor of the Lowdenback family who first put down roots in this small community located near Gratz.

  • Cecil's efforts bring historical watch to history center

    Its smooth, rounded face embraced over 140 years of history. Purchased in Liverpool, England, it became war plunder when it was removed from the body of a young Kentucky soldier at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

    Through the determined efforts of former Owen countian Jerry Cecil, the pocket watch of 2nd Lt. John J. Crittenden III, who died at Custer’s Last Stand, is on display at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort.

  • Local love stories have often involved sacrifice

    Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Marc Anthony, Robin Hood and Lady Marion, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. Love stories, some historic, others fictional, have always ignited the imagination, captured the heart and survived the test of time.

    Family love stories have entertained Owen countians for generations. Some create poignant memories of long ago, while others elicit skepticism at the thought of Papaw in the role of Romeo.

  • Letters carried tales of everyday life

    Author and storyteller Phyllis Theroux once wrote, “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”

    Letters presented opportunities to share with others significant pieces of a person’s life.

    After the Revolutionary War, Americans became part of the great westward expansion into Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and beyond.

    As families and friends were left behind, letters sent back home provided a bridge between the old life and the new.

  • 4-legged friends provide companionship

    “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” -- Roger Caras, author/photographer

    Though a bit blurry, the photo creates a poignant image of a man and his dog. Taken prior to his tragic death in 1947, William Duvall and Butch share a special moment together in a typical Owen County farm scene.

    William and Butch were inseparable until William died in 1947. When William was crushed between a truck and scantling at one of his barns, Butch tried to sound an alarm by constantly barking, but to no avail.

  • Locals known for practical jokes, lightheartedness

    Famous French poet and novelist, Victor Hugo, once wrote “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

    Hugo was very perceptive, for it is laughter that binds families and communities together and creates special moments in life.

    Owen countians are natural-born storytellers, and as they relate an amusing incident, at times accompanied by a bit of blarney, their eyes light up, and their soft chuckles explode into loud hearty guffaws of laughter.

  • Civil War encampments still lively even in the middle of wintertime

    As he cradled the concertina and coaxed it to sing, the strains of “Rosin The Bow” gallantly galloped across its pleated folds, and for one brief moment in time, the melodious instrument captured a piece of history.

    Brother Matt Merrill, his passion for history lighting up his bearded countenance, was the historical society’s special guest speaker last week.

    Matt is pastor of First Methodist in Owenton, a history teacher in Woodford county, a former historical reenactor, and a delightfully informative scholar of the Civil War.

  • News that did not make national headlines still relevant to local history

    After the treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, officially ending World War I, Owen countians looked forward to putting war memories behind them, and retuning to a life of normalcy.

    Though most folks in Owen County were more concerned with local happenings, remarkable events occurred across the country in 1919.

    On Jan. 15, 1919, 2.5 million gallons of hot crude molasses flooded the streets of Boston, taking the lives of 21 people.