|Owen County, 1889
Red lines are proposed railroads
|Owen County, Kentucky, 1935
red lines are roads,
black lines are railroads
|Owen County, Kentucky
Magisterial Districts in 1940
Maps of Owen County by B. Hardin, as a part of
The WPA Writer's Project in the 1930's
“Owenton would enjoy lively sensation
just now. Gossip languors from a depletion of
nutrition, but we predict the old gal will not die of starvation. Our frailties are many.”
The Owenton Democrat, April 1, 1887
Owen County was the 63rd county formed in Kentucky. The law enacting Owen County was passed on February 6, 1819 and the county was formed on April 1, 1819 from a parts of Franklin, Gallatin, Scott and Pendleton Counties. Its boundaries are unchanged since February 9, 1876. It has an area of 352.1 square miles, making it the 44th largest of Kentucky's 120 counties.
Chicago's Newberry Library has posted online a complete set of maps of American counties formations. They start with the date of county formation, and trace every little change to the boundaries after that. Owen County has had 4 such changes, and you can see the Owen maps here (pdf). To see the counties from which the county was formed, you'll have to download the entire Kentucky state pdf. There's also a feature that you can use to import all this data into Google maps. Good stuff!
“Aunt Polly Rogers, who has reached the good old age of 97 years, was in Owenton last Monday, the first time in thirty-five years, although she has lived within five miles of the town for more than half of a century. She had her picture taken for the first time in her life and visited the Herald office to see how newspapers are made. When asked if she had ever been to Louisville or Cincinnati, she replied 'Bless your life, no, and I wouldn't ride on a steam car for anything.'” from The Warsaw Independent, of 11-26-1898:
You'll not want to miss a 1923 Louisville Herald article
by Ralph Coghlan on the history of Owen County, here.
|USS W. A. Lee||Vice Admiral Lee|
Midshipman Lee went on to become Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee, one of Owen County's most famous sons.
He was born in Natlee. Find out more about him at this site. The ship the US Navy named after him - a destroyer - is at this site.
competition for three prizes for marksmanship was held at the Naval
Academy rifle range this afternoon, May 25th. Midshipman W. A. Lee (Wikipedia) of Owenton, Ky., captured the gold medal.”
New York Times, May 26, 1907.
As a part of the WPA Writers Project, one John Forsee wrote a history
of Owen County and Owenton in the 1930's. It's in six chapters, all pdf's.
|Part 1: History of Owen County||Part 4: Accommodations|
|Part 2: History of Owenton||Part 5: Miss Hill's History|
|Part 3: Story of the Civil War||Part 6: Game Refuges, Art, Literature, and Religion|
PS: If you can tell us anything more about John Forsee, please drop us an email.
A former slave living in Owen County,
John Forsee, has
dictated a narrative, written during the Federal Writers'
Project from around 1936, which gives a glimpse of life
in Owen County during his life. To read it, you must search
for the keyword “Forsee“ at the Library of Congress site, here.
The World War I list is here.
In WWI, Owenton's Frank Ford was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Read about him here.
|The Owen County Gen Web Page is here.||The Kentuckiana Digital Library has a number of Owen County images. Quality is erratic, but it's worth a look, here.|
“John Branham, a wife murderer of Owen county, Kentucky was taken out of jail by an armed mob yesterday and hanged by the neck until he was dead, dead. The frequent recurrence of these lynching affairs in Kentucky is disgraceful, yet there is some satisfaction in knowing that this one was conducted ‘quietly.’” Indianapolis Journal, May 31, 1872
“A negro was lynched in Owen county, Kentucky, on Wednesday last, for an attempt at rape on a respectable white girl. It was with great difficulty that the infuriated people were restrained from roasting him over a slow fire.” Indianapolis Daily Herald, October 12, 1866
|“Information wanted of two brothers and one sister, whose names are Ambrose Dudly Carroll, Phelix Gurry Carroll and Polina Carroll, respectively. Our former owner was Foster Mundy, whose sold them to the Negro trader. Any information concerning them will be thankfully received by Mrs. Adeline Sanders, Owenton, Ky.” The Christian Recorder, November 5, 1896||
“A slave in Owen Co. Ky. has been murdered by his master and another man, without any material provocation.” Freedom’s Journal, June 8, 1827
|1879 Jail escaped foiled.||Owen County Association of Baptists formed in 1953, details.|
|On July 7, 1915 a terrible tornado hit northern Kentucky. There's a story of the Owen County damage here, and here (“most destructive flood that ever visited Owen county“). For much more coverage on the Northern Kentucky damage, go here. And a week later, this storm hit Owen County.|
|In 1906, the Courier-Journal published a list of out-of-state residents who would come home to Owen County.||Advocating for a telegraph in 1860, here.|
A site that has post a lot of older high school yearbooks of Kentucky schools is here. They invite your scans.
|Doris Shell Gill has compiled a listing of all of the Owen County tavern licenses from 1842 to 1853. Read it here. (pdf)||The Kentucky Department of Agriculture's assessment of agriculture in Owen County, in 1898-1899 can be found here. (pdf)|
|Judges in Owen County seem to run the gamut from eminent jurists to nut cases:|
|Judge Nutall. Nutall again.||Owen County's Judge Perry disappears, story here. (pdf)|
|In 1870, Judge Pryor, tells the grand jury, in no uncertain terms, to enforce the law, regardless, here.||In 1874, Judge McManama delivers an even more emphatic charge to the grand jury, here.|
“The Owen News has this item: ‘On last Saturday, a case coming up before our County Prosecutor, J. W. Perry, wherein the liberty of a white man was at stake, and where a portion of the witnesses were negroes, he refused to swear and take their testimony. He says he will not take the negro testimony where the liberties of white citizens are involved.’” Courier-Journal, April 6, 1872
Col. Thomas Buford assassinated Judge John Elliott in Henry County, but the trail was moved to Owen. It was a major event in Owenton, and got national press coverage. Story's here. (pdf)
|Owen County Resources, c. 1935|
|A List of the Owen County Historical Markers is at this site.||In 1879, New York Times calls Owen Countians “ignoramuses.” Here.||Provost Marshall Killed, 1864, here.||Racial insurrection in Owen County in 1861? Details, or maybe rumors, here.|
|Sparta citizen lynched, 1872. Story here. (It's gruesome)||The Owenton Chamber of Commerce's site is here.||Owen County bootlegger nabbed in 1874, here.||10,000 people attend Taft Highway opening. Story here. and follow-up here.|
|A List of men from Owen County who went to the Kentucky penitentiary, from 1798 through 1834, is here.||In 1919, there was a farm census, counting livestock, crops and farms. Owen County's is here.||
There are two Owen Counties in the US - the other one is Owen County, Indiana.
|The 1925 bus schedule from Owenton to Covington is here.|
|Citizens protest having to do their share of the roadwork, here.||Mrs. Florence Schoeffel (1860 - April 16, 1900) died at her residence, 69 Madison Avenue in New York City. She was married to General George Schoeffel, and was born and grew up in Owenton. She's the author of a number of novels she wrote under the pseudonym “Wenona Gilman.” Her most popular title was Saddle and Sentiment, a story of Kentucky life.||“The little town of Owenton, Ky., boasts of 121 men born within its limits who have become cashiers of banks. They are scattered through the States of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.” The New York Times, September 20, 1903.|
|Lawyers of Owen County, 1872, here.|
|“If Owen is not an open town for the sale of intoxicants, we have more generous “treaters” to the square inch than any town in the state.” News Herald, April 30, 1908||“Mrs. Field closed a series of temperance lectures Tuesday night. Two-hundred and sixty signed the pledge and put on the ribbon.” Owen County Democrat, March 11, 1886.|
|Courier-Journal's 1896 report on Owen Co Toll Roads, here.||In 1969, Edna Talbott Whitley compiled a list of Cabinetmakers in Kentucky. The Owen County portion of that list is here.||Leading Owen County Citizens of 1847, here.||A few words on the Greenup Fork Baptist Church can be found here. (pdf)|
|In 1930, Kentucky Progress Magazine ran a feature letting each of Kentucky's counties list their accomplishments for 1929. What Owen County came up with is here. (pdf)||The editor of the News-Herald takes a field trip to New Liberty and Wheatley in 1905. What he wrote about his trip is here.|
|Data on Owen County state banks of 1907 are here; national banks here.||Owen County Sheriff in shootout in Carrollton, here.||
“James P. Jump is the champion egg-eater of Owen county, Kentucky, and proved his right to the title the other day by devouring twenty-two eggs. He wants to eat eggs against any man in the State for $50.” Indianapolis News, March 5, 1895
|Lynching threatened in Owenton in 1903, here.||Camp Meeting in Dallasburg goes for three days, story here.||The failure of a 1902 lynch mob, here.||A site dedicated to the bridges of Owen County is here.|
|Report from Owen County Kentucky By J. W. Cammack from the Handbook of Kentucky by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, 1908, here. (pdf)||“A woman has been presented to the grand jury of Owen county on the charge of being a witch.” Courier Journal, May 18, 1869||“The Owen News reports the passage though Owenton of a Mormon elder named Smoot, to visit cousin G. W. Smoot, near Pleasant Home, Owen county. Elder Smoot was born in Owen county and emigrated to Utah forty years ago. He has five wives and twenty-two children and is very rich. It is also said that he has a wife yet living in Owen county, to whom he was married before he left.” Courier-Journal, December 18, 1880|
|The Sponsors of the 1907 Tri-County (Carroll, Gallatin, Owen) Fair in Sanders are listed here. (pdf)60 Pages of ads from merchants of those three counties, plus Vevay. Thanks to Dale Samuel for the images.||A status report from the Superintendent of Schools in Owen from 1900 is here. The 1907 report is here.|
|Auntie Gross turns 103, here.||In 1944, a California newspaper sent a reporter around the country to write feature articles on various towns. He found Owenton, and wrote this piece.||Accounts of the 1876 lynching of Henry Smith and Squire Hammond are here, and here.||An Overview of Kentucky River Locks and Dams, here.|
|“The Legislature should certainly give their attention to some necessary laws if they would escape the everlasting condemnation of the people. They should by all means make provision for the negro school tax to go for their education. The should provide for the Vienna Exposition and aid the emigration movement, so as to gain a new class of laborers in the State, coming from Europe.” Courier-Journal, April 4, 1873, quoting the Owen News.||Politics. 1892. Here.||An 1835 auction to settled an estate has items sold and prices brought. It's a pdf, here.|
“Dr. Newton passed 27 rebels near Knoxville, [Pendleton County] Ky., at 8 o'clock this morning. A force of 400 rebels under Major Van Hook, of Morgan's staff were following them. They crossed the turnpike at Tucker, six miles north of Williamstown, at 6:30 P. M. yesterday. They said their destination was Owen county , where they expect to be largely reinforced. Dr. Newton saw a good many more en route to join this force.” The Weekly Vincennes Western Sun, June 18, 1864
|Col. J. D. Morris reports (pdf) on his experiences in Owen County.|
|The account of the 1892 lynching of Lego Gibson is here.||The Geological Survey of Kentucky did a geological analysis of Owen County in 1856. Read it here. (pdf)||In 1937 UK released surveys of known archaeological sites by county. Owen County’s is here (pdf).||An account of the Eagle Valley Hotel, near Sanders, is here.|
|“TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD. TWO NEGROES. Ran away from the subscriber, living in Louisville, on the 2nd, one negro man and girl. The man's name is MILES. He is about 5 feet, 8 inches high, dark brown colour, with a large scar upon his head, as if caused from a burn; about 25 years; and had with him two carpet sacks, one of cloth, the other enameled leather; also a pass from Louisville to Owenton, Owen County, Ky., and back. The girl's name is Julia, and she is of light brown colour, short and heavy set, rather good-looking, with a scar upon her forehead; had on a plain silk dress when she left, and took the other clothes with her; looks to be about 16 years of age. The above reward will be paid for the man, if taken out of state, or 100 dollars for the girl; 100 dollars for the man if taken in the State, or 50 dollars for the girl. In either event they are to be secured, so I get them. John W. Lynn.” from the Louisville Daily Journal, October 23, 1852||“In Kentucky more men are killed in six days than in eight years in Vermont. In a village in Connecticut a death from homicide has never occurred from its foundation, while in one graveyard in Owen county, Kentucky, the majority are murdered men.” The Mariposa (California) Gazette, August 7, 1881|
|True love equals getting the measles? Here.||There are some Owen County cemetery records are at a site here.||A 1917 view of Owen County is here. (pdf)||Owen County related excerpts from Collins' History of Kentucky are here.|
|“Owenton, Ky., June 8 - Surveyors are at work in the route of the new railroad from Worthville to Carrollton. The new road will be a continuation of the Worthville and Carrollton Road. All of the right-of-way has been donated and the money is insight to build the road. The road, after leaving Worthville, Continues up Eagle Creek until it strikes Twin Creek, following that stream to New Liberty, and thence by way of Harrisburg to Owenton. The cost of construction is figured at $20,000 per mile. The distance is 17 miles.” from the Cincinnati Enquirer, June 9, 1906|
|J. W. Waldrop's 1914 description of Owenton in 1854 is here.||The end of one-room schools in Owen Co. in 1937. Story here.||In Owenton in 1891, Dr. James L. Massie shoots and kills J. L. Kenakee over a slander. More here.||Owen County sites placed on the National Places of Historical Places are at a site here.|
|Gratz' Otto Smithers talks about Kentucky River steamers, here. (pdf)||Mexican General Santa Ana born in Owen County?|
“Owenton, Ky., Sept. 25 – Gov. Beckham was given an ovation here today by the
largest crowd that has gathered in Owen county for a long while. He spoke at
the Fair Grounds this afternoon, and was heard by no less than 5,000 people.
In the vast audience there was scarce a man, woman, or child who did not wear a
[William Jennings] Bryan and Beckham button, and the reception given the nominee
could not have been more cordial.”
||Sparta, Ky., Sept. 25 – Gov. Beckham and Representatives Trimble and Cantrill arrived here at 6 o’clock from Owenton and spoke tonight to a crowd of about 500 people from the porch of the Kelly Hotel. The speakers had no appointment here, and the meeting was an impromptu affair. Voters in the vicinity heard that Gov. Beckham was to come here on his way to Louisville, and they turned out to meet him.” Courier-Journal, September 29, 1900.|
|The Rev. Albert Ruschman wrote a history of the Catholic Churches of Owen County. Read it here (pdf).||“Only $2,500 is lacking in subscriptions to the Owenton and Stamping Ground turnpike. It will be constructed.” Courier-Journal, June 16, 1877|
|Detailed Presidential voting statistics from Owen County are here.||A little gallows humor – no, really – from 1886 is here.||Bio of Physician Robert Hardin Gale is here. (pdf)||Bio of Lawyer James A. Violett, here.|
|Mobs attack Kentucky River boats in Civil War.|
|A. P. Grover's southern sympathies and the attack of a Kentucky River steamer were the subjects of a hearing in 1867. Some excerpts here. (pdf)||Theophilus Steele arrested in Owenton as a Civil War criminal.|
|“Confederates in Owen County. - A gentleman who arrived in this city Tuesday from Carrollton, states that about two hundred Confederates, under Captain Jessee, crossed the Kentucky River at Gratz, on Tuesday afternoon. They had been to New Castle, Henry county, and were going to Henry County.” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 16, 1864 (Jessee was a leader of the “Home Guard,” in this case, a band of thugs and thieves who terrorized in the name of defending. Jessee was notorious in the Henry/Carroll/Owen area.|
|Ohio National Guard troops ambushed in Owen County, here.|
|It says here that bushwhacking is a problem in Owen County.||How bayonets controlled the elections of 1863, here.|
|“Parties from Gallatin county. who were in this city, state that Mose Webster, the famed guerrilla leader, was captured near Owenton, Owen county, Ky., on Saturday, after desperate resistance.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, December 6, 1864.|
|Summary of Civil War Operations in Owen County in October, 1864, here.||Civil War prisoners from Owen County, here.|
|Civil War news from Owen County, 1861, here; from 1864, here.||Rebels tend to go to Owen county, “a sanctuary for thieves and vagabonds” according to this item.|
More on Capt. Jessee and Mose Webster on our Civil War page, here.
|The New York Times printed the US Marshal's account of Bill Smoot and the Kentucky Kuklux, operating in Owen County in 1874. Read it here. The Times story is true, but there's a novelized account of the events, The Courage Place, by Thomas Fiske a grandson of one of the victims of the Klan. Get it from Amazon at the left.||“A band of Kuklux made an attack upon the farm of Mrs. Mason Brown, mother of Hon. B. Gratz Brown, in Owen County, Kentucky, on Friday night, killed Louis Wilson, colored, burned his house, and damaged other farm property. The farm contains large growing crops of tobacco and corn, which will be difficult to harvest in the absence of labor driven off by Kuklux. Other farms were also visited and warned not to employ negroes as workmen. It is said the Kuklux came from Henry County.” - New York Times, July 29, 1873.|
|A news account of the Smoot affair is here.|
In 1870, Judge Pryor, tells the grand jury to enforce the law, regardless, here.
In 1874, Judge McManama delivers an even more emphatic charge to the grand jury, here.
|“Governor Leslie offers a reward of $500 each for the lawless men engaged in the murder of Lewis Wilson, a colored man, on Mrs. Brown's plantation, in Owen county, some weeks ago.” Courier-Journal, August 18, 1873|
On September 1, 1870, the Post Office Department listed these towns in Owen County as having Post Offices:
Eagle Hill, Gratz, Harmony Hills, Lusby's Mill, Monterey, New Columbus, New Liberty, Owenton, Rock Dale,
Pleasant Home, Poplar Grove, and West Union.
Owenton, Sparta, and Warsaw Stage Line Ticket
1877 on the left, and 1880's on the right
In 1876-1877 the R. L. Polk Co
published a directory of
businesses in Kentucky communities. The ad above is
from that gazetteer. Owen places listed are:
|Owenton||New Columbus||Monterey||Rock Dale||New Liberty|
|Gratz||Poplar Grove||Lusby's Mill||Pleasant Home||Lone Oak|
|( We did NOT make up the name of the Lusby's Mill's wagon maker!! )|
In 1883-84, Polk issued a new edition of their Gazetteer, which included these Owen County communities:
|Jonesville||Lusby's Mill||Monterey||New Columbus||New Liberty|
|Owenton||Poplar Grove||Squiresville||Sweet Owen||Truesville|
|Membership Rolls for the 1911 Masonic Lodges in Owen County: (all pdf's)|
|Pleasant Home||Owenton||New Columbus|
|Caney Fork Church|
Who's who in Owen County, in 1840
The steam packet Sonoma hit a snag and sank, June 27, 1913, at Marshall’s Landing, between Gratz and Perry Park.
We're unclear on the location of this picture.
|The New Hanover||The Revonah||The New Hanover|
|While these three pictures were all taken at Louisville, the boats were in regular packet service from Louisville to Monterey. The Revonah ran in the 1920's, followed by the New Hanover in the early 1930's. Both boats were gas powered stern-wheelers. Notice that “Revonah” is “Hanover” spelled backwards.|
An earlier Gazetteer published in Louisville, was George W. Hawes’ Kentucky
State Gazetteer and Business Directory, for 1859 and 1860. It's pre-Civil
War, but is erratic in its coverage. In Owen Co., it had detail on:
from Trow's Legal Directory of Lawyers in the United States, 1875
The Owen County Historical Society's YouTube Video
In a letter to the May 30, 1908 Frankfort Weekly News
and Roundabout, W. Len Hardin, the postmaster in Monterey,
says “No cause exists for night riders in Owen county. There is not a tobacco bed in the county; not a pound
of tobacco will be raised in the season of 1908.” Why not? Details here.
On the other hand, a tobacco barn in Poplar Grove, which held Equity tobacco is burned, here.
More details on Night Riders in Owen County are here.
|“Carrollton, Ky., Nov. 13. - The big tobacco barn of A. A.
Lee, at Poplar Grove was destroyed by fire. Seventy-five hogsheads of fine
tobacco belonging to the American Society of Equity were burned. The fire
was incendiary in its origin, Officers are on the trail of the guilty
from the Hopkinsville Republican, November 16, 1907
|“The Owen News says: Mr. John D. White, a short time ago, caught at Herndon’s Mill, on Eagle Creek, two very fine large otters. One of them whipped seven dogs it was killed.” from the Covington Journal, March 2, 1872|
|Kentucky River Navigation charts, with some nice details. These are continued from the Carroll County pages, here.|
Additional Links that apply to all of Northern Kentucky Views, and may or may not
be related to Owen County, are on the main Links & Miscellany page, here.