Owen County, Kentucky

Owen County, Kentucky

Owen County courthouse in Owenton
Map of Kentucky highlighting Owen County
Location in the U.S. state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location in the U.S.
Founded 1819
Named for Abraham Owen
Seat Owenton
Largest city Owenton
  Total 354 sq mi (917 km2)
  Land 351 sq mi (909 km2)
  Water 3.1 sq mi (8 km2), 0.9%
  (2010) 10,841
  Density 31/sq mi (12/km²)
Congressional district 4th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.owencountyky.us

Owen County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,841.[1] Its county seat is Owenton.[2] The county is named for Colonel Abraham Owen.[3] It is a prohibition or dry county, with the exception of a winery (Elk Creek Vineyards) that is authorized to sell its product to the public,[4] and limited sales within the incorporated city limits of Owenton.[5]


Numerous Native American burial mounds were located in Owen County.[6] Many pioneers made their homes on land grants along the many streams which flow through the county.

Owen County was formed as the 63rd county by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and approved February 6, 1819.[7] It was formed from the counties of Franklin, Scott, Gallatin, and Pendleton. Hesler (Heslerville) was the first county seat. Owen County was named after Abraham Owen, an Indian fighter and Kentucky legislator, who was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Colonel Owen also surveyed and mapped the region that became Owen County.[6] On November 16, 1820, the legislature passed another act which restored to Franklin County part or all of what was taken from it under the 1819 act. To compensate for this, the legislature took some more land from Gallatin County and gave it to Owen by act dated December 26, 1820.[7] Therefore, Hesler was no longer in the center of the county. Accordingly, on January 15, 1822, the county court ordered that the seat of justice be removed to land owned by Andrew Parker, James Hess, and William H. Forsee. The town Owenton was developed. Court was held at the new county seat on February 11, 1822.[7]

In 1844, after Kentucky began to construct locks and dams on the Kentucky River, packet boats on regular trips between Frankfort and Louisville made stops in Owen County at Monterey, Moxley, Gratz, and other towns. New Liberty was founded before 1800 and was the site of one of the first churches.[7]

In the 1870s, Owen County produced Willis Russell, whose life story offers a harrowing account of Russell fighting against the Ku Klux Klan during the rise of violence against Black folks, and their white allies, after the Civil War, during Reconstruction.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 354 square miles (920 km2), of which 351 square miles (910 km2) is land and 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2) (0.9%) is water.[8]

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201510,730[9]−1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]
1790-1960[11] 1900-1990[12]
1990-2000[13] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census of 2010, there were 10,841 people, 4,296 households, and 3,023 families residing in the county. The population density was 30.9 per square mile (11.9/km2). There were 5,634 housing units at an average density of 16.05 per square mile (6.20/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.6% White, 0.8% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 1.2% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. 2.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 4,296 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.4% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.6% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.00.

The age distribution was 21.9% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 20 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 29.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.1 years. The population distribution for males was 49.7% and for females was 50.3%.[14]

The median income for a household in the county was $41,719 and the median income for a family was $59,242. Males had a median income of $41,563 versus $31,016 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,633. About 12.8% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 13.90% of those age 65 or over.[15]


Located in downtown Owenton, the Owen County Public Library was established in 1946 by the Owen County Woman's Club. It was housed in the front parlor of Elizabeth Holbrook Thomas's home on the same corner where the present library, built in 1973, now stands.

The library's collection comprises more than 25,000 items, including a genealogy collection. Among the services it provides are printing, fax sending, notaries, and access to a public meeting room.



Unincorporated communities

Owen County serves as the opening setting in the 1992 Paul Russell novel Boys of Life where it is referred to simply as Owen.[16] Though majority of the novel is set in early 1980s New York City, various points of interest within Owen and nearby areas such as Christian County are mentioned and referenced throughout the story.

See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 36.
  4. "Wet & Dry Counties in Kentucky" (PDF). Kentucky Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 15, 2007. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
  5. "Voters approve alcohol by the drink in Owenton". Owenton News Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  6. 1 2 Klebe, John E. The Kentucky Encyclopedia https://books.google.com/books?id=CcceBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA700&lpg=PA700&dq=owen+county+native+americans&source=bl&ots=9l2XwKZuBV&sig=BzYIMmg04WsZpeUgISoagIg0Ulc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=oW5vVfyTLcP3oAStiYCIBw&ved=0CF8Q6AEwCDgK#v=onepage&q=owen%20county%20native%20americans&f=false
  7. 1 2 3 4 Acts of 1818-1819 Chapter 287 page 702 http://www.myowencountyky.com/owen-county-history/
  8. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  9. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  11. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  12. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  13. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  14. "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics 2010: Owen County, Kentucky". United States Census. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  15. "Selected Economic Characteristics: Owen County, Kentucky". United States Census. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  16. Russell, Paul (1991). Boys of Life. New York, New York: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-93327-1.

Coordinates: 38°32′N 84°50′W / 38.53°N 84.83°W / 38.53; -84.83

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