Owen County is located in west central Indiana. The first settlers arrived in Owen County in 1816. The county was organized in 1818, and was authorized as a county by the state in 1819.
Owen County was named for Abraham Owen, a member of the Kentucky Militia, who was killed in the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.
Owen County has a population of approximately 24,500 people.
The population of Spencer, the county seat, is about 2,700.
The Fire Station-Town Hall was built in 1898.
The Fire Station was downstairs and the city offices and the library were upstairs.
In 1975, the city offices moved to their present location. The building is now the law office of
The Spencer-Owen Library opened in January of 1912. The library was built with funds provided by Andrew Carnegie.
Recently the library relocated to a larger building.
The "World Famous Owen County Chicken" used to sit on Highway 231 outside of the Frosty Restaurant.
When the restaurant closed, the people of Owen County wanted to save this landmark, so they moved it to the Owen County Fairgrounds.
The Ten O'clock Treaty Marker carved by Fredrick Hollis, commemorates the treaty negotiations of 1809 between William Henry Harrison and Chief Little Turtle.
The marker is located on Highway 67 in Gosport.
The Cataract Covered Bridge was built in 1876 and was open to traffic until 1988.
History of Owen County
was established by an act of the Indiana Legislature, 1818-1819, but was
being settled as early as 1816. Indiana
became a state in 1816, and was settled from the bottom up by land-hungry,
adamantly independent Scotch-Irish, German and English folk with
Appalachian frontier roots, including veterans of the American Revolution
and the War of 1812. Comrades
of Kentuckian Abraham Owen, who dies in the Battle of Tippecanoe, named
the county in his honor.
today many parcels of land which have been in the same families since the
original homesteaders purchases from the U.S. Government. Congress lands, they were called, bought at $2 an acre
Countys first residents were prehistoric Indians evidenced by mounds,
campsites and workshops for making stone implements, the relics of
which exist in nearly every township.
At some time
or another in their lives, the county was the home of Hoosier poet William
Herschell (Aint God Good to Indiana?); playwright William Vaughn
Moody; Nellie Belles, mother of former British Prime Minister Harold
MacMillan; T.C. Steele, founder of Herron Art School and Brown Countys
art colony; Horace Hickam for whom Hickam Field, Hawaii was named; Byron
Ban Johnson, baseballs American League founder; James Babe
Pierce, son-in-law of Edgar Rice Burroughs and an actor in silent
and a host of other people who have made names for themselves in
various fields. Several
artists, photographers, and writers (including James Alexander Thom) live
and work in the county.
Creek State Park near Spencer was the first in Indianas State Park
system (1916). Owen County
was noted for many years for its extensive printing and quarrying
detailed reading, the following are recommended:
Blanchards History of Owen County, 1884; The New
Purchase, Baynard Hall, published in the 1840s; Glen Blacks
survey of Archeology of Owen County in the 1930s.
As I Remember It, by Carl Anderson in the 1940s; Fact
& Folklore of Owen County, 1976 and 1982, and Owen County
History, 1994 by former Owen County Historian, Dixie Kline.
Owen County Historic and Genealogical Society have many public
services and publications available.
These are available at the Spencer-Owen Public Library where there
is a growing collection of local history and genealogical materials, and
works by Owen County authors.
exhibits are available in the county including those at the public library
in Spencer, Gosport Museum ( a new facility), and on the second floor of
Pioneers first found their way to Owen County around 1816, the year of statehood. Most were of Scotch-Irish, German and English decent, migrating north from Virginia and the Carolinas. Many were veterans of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The county was named in honor of a Kentuckian, Abraham Owen, who died in the Battle of Tippecanoe, by fellow soldiers who settled in Owen County.
Owen County's ancestors left a legacy rich in both the arts and business, a heritage of creativity and hard work that is still prevalent today. Ban Johnson, founder of American League Baseball, and E. M. Visquesney, sculptor of the bronze "Spirit of the American Doughboy", were residents of Owen County. Hickam Field in Hawaii is named after Owen County native Horace Hickam, a pioneer in aviation. Samuel Ralston practiced law in Spencer before becoming governor of Indiana. Owen County has been the springboard for governors and prime-ministers, authors and actors, aviators and entrepreneurs.
Two pioneers companies in Owen county were H. B. Laymon's World's Products and Spencer Wood Products. Laymon's was once the largest distributor of counter display cards in the country and employed over one hundred and twenty-five local people during the depression, as well as hundreds of salesmen. Spencer Wood Products was one of the leading manufactures of wooden clothes pins in the country.
The county was also once a major supplier of coal and limestone. Long abandoned, the pits where coal and stone were pulled from the earth now offer some of the best fishing in the southern Indiana.