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Bonnie Strassell - Owen County Historical Society

  • Medical care began with house calls

    In 1864 a Congressional Act set up the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. Each state contributed two statues of deceased citizens who had performed distinguished services.

    By 1929 all the states had sent statues, and the two from Kentucky included the famous Henry Clay and the little-known Dr. Ephraim McDowell.

    Many had never heard of this amazing doctor, who in the year 1809 performed a rare surgical procedure to remove a 22-pound ovarian tumor from a Green County woman.

  • Turnpikes: The earliest highways of Owen County

    The constant movement of horses, wagons and immigrants, making their way across the Appalachian mountain chain into the wilderness of Kentucky, created visible paths from  previously indiscernible buffalo trails. However, it would take over 50 or more years before the mucky, muddy roads in Owen County became more navigable . Even then, Owen’s outlying communities found themselves quite isolated during the spring rains.

  • Ky's first newspaper west of Pittsburgh published in 1787

    “Without him tyrants and humbugs in all countries would have their own way. Of all inventions, of all discoveries in science and art, of all the great results in the wonderful progress of mechanical energy and skill, the printer is the only product of civilization necessary to the existence of free men.” (Charles Dickens, circa 1850)

    Tom Strassell of Poplar Grove has spent a lifetime amid the magic of historic printing, and at the historical society meeting last week he took the audience on an enlightening journey into Kentucky’s past.

  • 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.