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Bonnie Strassell - Owen County Historical Society

  • Owen County was caught in the crossfire of the Civil War

    Owen County was caught in the crossfire of the Civil War. Though occupied by the Union Army by 1862, most county residents sympathized with the Southern cause, and although some Owen countians joined Union forces, a great number joined the Confederate Army.
    Civil War stories are entrenched in family histories, and many have been recorded. Historian and riverman, Charlie Johnson, has written many Civil War articles featuring Owen countians and many are included in a new book currently being published by the Owen County Historical Society.

  • Remembering the ‘pie ladies’ of Dog Hill

    They were called “the pie ladies,” and a child living on Dog Hill (East Adair) in the late 1950s and early 1960s most likely purchased one of the flaky muffin-size pies that the pie ladies sold for a quarter.

  • Business directories provide insight to early Owen County

    As they migrated from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the Carolinas, early settlers to the Owen County area brought with them the knowledge and the tools of their trade.
    Many were farmers, whose stalwart endurance provided a viable, productive and stable economy. Others possessed skills that were instrumental in creating thriving communities, and by the 1880s, these Owen County villages boasted undeniable prosperity.

  • Early churches pivotal to Owen history

    The first pioneers to settle in Kentucky believed it was as important to bring their spiritual beliefs as it was to bring rifles and muskets for defense and tools to clear the land.
    Early churches met in forts, stations, family cabins and log buildings and as towns were established, churches became the spiritual and social center of community life.

  • ‘Free Frank’ sold gunpowder to free himself, family

    He came to Kentucky as a slave in the 1790s. After his daily work, his master leased him to other farmers and permitted the young man to earn a little of his own money. This young slave, Frank, was also an entrepreneur. He explored local Kentucky caves, collected niter, boiled it down to make salt peter and combined it with sulfur and charcoal to produce gunpowder.
    Frank sold his gunpowder on the streets of Lexington, and was able to make enough cash to not only buy his freedom but that of his wife and a son.

  • Owen Co. remains ‘home’ for those who have traveled far and wide

    Perhaps it’s memories of the lay of the land or reminisces of our childhood that evoke a longing for the place of our birth. Maybe it’s the remembrance of parents and grandparents whose daily lives reflected an era of the hardworking folks that helped create a prosperous and enduring America.
    Whatever the reason for our nostalgia, the stories of our lives give insight into our past and are treasures to share with future generations.

  • Ky. caves aided in gunpowder production during War of 1812

    The War of 1812 saw Kentuckians volunteering by the hundred of thousands. Many would never set their sights on home again; yet the dream of a nation, unfettered by the yoke of the British crown and free from the constant harassment of Indians, compelled them to fight.

  • 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.