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Owen County, Kentucky facts for kids

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Owen County
Owen County courthouse in Owenton
Owen County courthouse in Owenton
Map of Kentucky highlighting Owen County
Location within the U.S. state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Kentucky
Founded 1819
Named for Abraham Owen
Seat Owenton
Largest city Owenton
 • Total 354 sq mi (920 km2)
 • Land 351 sq mi (910 km2)
 • Water 3.1 sq mi (8 km2)  0.9%
 • Total 11,278 Increase
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 4th

Owen County is a county located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Kentucky. Its county seat is Owenton. The county is named for Colonel Abraham Owen. 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, and limited sales within the incorporated city limits of Owenton.


Numerous Native American burial mounds were located in Owen County. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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.

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.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 2,031
1830 5,786 184.9%
1840 8,232 42.3%
1850 10,444 26.9%
1860 12,719 21.8%
1870 14,309 12.5%
1880 17,401 21.6%
1890 17,676 1.6%
1900 17,553 −0.7%
1910 14,248 −18.8%
1920 12,554 −11.9%
1930 10,710 −14.7%
1940 10,942 2.2%
1950 9,755 −10.8%
1960 8,237 −15.6%
1970 7,470 −9.3%
1980 8,924 19.5%
1990 9,035 1.2%
2000 10,547 16.7%
2010 10,841 2.8%
2020 11,278 4.0%
2021 (est.) 11,294 4.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2021

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%.

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.


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

In popular culture

Owen County serves as the opening setting in the 1992 Paul Russell novel Boys of Life where it is referred to simply as Owen. 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

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Owen (Kentucky) para niños

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