Bonnie Strassell - Owen County Historical Society

  • Owen County's history rich with storytellers

    In early Kentucky they were found in the widely-scattered frontier cabins. As towns sprang up, they congregated at trading posts and taverns. By the 19th and 20th centuries, they patronized the local general stores, and as communities expanded, storytelling became a delightful pastime for folks who were hungry to escape the hum-drum of everyday life.

  • Inverness: A reminder of Scottish ancestry in Owen

    A small village located in the Scottish highlands boasts of a long history of castles, battles and the Loch Ness monster. Its name, “Inverness,” traveled with Scottish immigrants across the Atlantic, and was bestowed upon several towns and villages in the raw, new land of America.

    The Gowers immigrated from Inverness, Scotland, to Kentucky in the early 1800s. Their daughter, Lucy Harriet Gower, married an upcoming Owenton lawyer in 1824.

  • Preserving stories of Owen’s World War II vets

    “It was a most amazing generation. To say they changed the history of the world is an understatement.”

    With these words, Marlene Browning Wainscott described a moving chapter in the lives of six Owen county veterans.

    Marlene’s program, presented at the historical society meeting last week, brought to life the stories of these Owen County heroes.

  • Gibson left a treasured piece of family history

    Childhood memories leave a lasting imprint upon our souls, and sharing them with others create a picturesque journey into the past.

    These memories come to life in diaries and letters, and are captured and shared at family gatherings.

    In a 1975 News-Herald article, former Owen countian, Herbert Gibson, journeyed back to his youth and presented a colorfully vivid account of early Owen County.

    Herbert was born at Pleasant Home in 1893 and described his small community and its people who shared life together.

  • Owen's histroy rife with memories of old school houses

    Poised near the road and surrounded by a tangled web of weeds, it has staunchly stood its ground for many years. Though the elements have claimed the porch roof, the remainder of its structure survived, and today, the Greenup one-room school continues to whisper stories of long ago.

    In 1821 the Kentucky State Legislature passed a public school act for elementary schools. Local taxation was expected to provide for schools, and though the act was not compulsory, it did become the foundation for Kentucky’s educational system.

  • 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.