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Bonnie Strassell - Owen County Historical Society

  • 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.”

  • Fond memories of one-room schoolhouses

    The little girl hadn’t quite reached school age when her mother, a school teacher, suggested she join the students for lunch at the school next door. The child was ecstatic at the prospect of not only attending school but of spending cherished moments with her mother.
    Monterey historian and genealogist, Margaret Murphy, lost her mother, Mattie Smith Karsner, at a young age but continues to treasure those early school day memories.

  • Several unique root cellars nestled in Owen hills

    They were a common sight on most Owen County farms in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some were built below the ground, but it wasn’t unusual to see many on ground level with dirt mounded up to form a roof.
    Before the age of refrigeration and canning, root cellars were built under homes or in a separate structure on the property; and into the mid-1900s they played a vital role in American life.

  • Many early Owen countians called New Columbus home

     The stream was named after Revolutionary War veteran John Guill. It emptied into Big Eagle Creek, and although most of the time it displayed a serene demeanor, torrential rainfalls could transform its sleepy countenance into a rugged raging deluge.
    John Guill settled in the New Columbus area in 1780, and it was here he built his cabin and raised his family near the stream that bore his name.

  • Many centenarians have called Owen Co. home

    What is the secret to a long life?
    According to one recent study there are currently over 500 centenarians in the state of Kentucky, and when many were asked the secret for their longevity, their answers varied.
    Some declared long life was the result of good food and exercises, while others proclaimed it was their deep abiding faith. One Kentuckian, who at the age of 104 walked two miles a day, attributed three daily beers as the special ingredient that provided her with a long life.

  • Remembering Verna Kathryn Payne, 1916-2017

      Her slight frame suggested fragility, yet beneath a delicate outward appearance was an undeniable strength of character and indefatigable spirit that inspired those who came to know and love Verna Kathryn Kemper Payne.