Owsley County, Kentucky, and the Perpetuation of Poverty


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About the Book

Owsley County, Kentucky, is well known by journalists, academics, and local historians as a quintessential example of rural poverty in Appalachia. This study identifies several reasons behind Owsley County’s ongoing struggle with poverty, including the county’s lack of natural resources, a poor transportation system, and a centralized socio-political power structure controlled by the entrenched elite. The author asserts that Owsley County’s economic hardships are far from unique, but rather are representative of a significant number of Appalachian counties and towns. Several tables and appendices provide useful demographic, legislative, and agricultural data.

About the Author(s)

The late John R. Burch, Jr., was the Library Director and a professor at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Bibliographic Details

John R. Burch, Jr.

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 235
Bibliographic Info: maps, tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3264-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0694-1
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Introduction      1

1 The Creation of Owsley and Lee Counties      23
2 The Raw Deal      53
3 The War on the Poor      91
4 Lake Daniel Boone      119
5 Moments of Development      147

A. Individuals Involved in Coal Mining Within Owsley County in 1850      157
B. Individuals Involved in Coal Mining Within Owsley County in 1860      158
C. Gubernatorial Election Returns for Owsley County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky 1844–1859      158
D. Presidential Election Returns for Owsley County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky 1844–1860      159
E. Road Mileage in a Small Sample of Kentucky Counties Circa 1923      159
F. Rainfall and River Level in Lee County During the Flood of 1937      160
G. Population Trends in Counties with Representation in the KRDA      160
H. Population of Counties in the Vicinity of the Proposed Booneville Reservoir      161

Appendices      163
A. Farms in Owsley County, 1909–1974      163
B. Burley Tobacco Production in Owsley County, 1935–1975      163
C. Corn Production in Owsley County, 1930–1970      164
D. Transcription of Specific Charges Asserted Against Ms. Treva Howell and the MKRADC      164
E. Responses to Claims Made by Sierra Club Members at the Public Real Estate Hearing Held in Stanton on August 16, 1967      168
F. Statement of Senator John Sherman Cooper      170
G. Attendees of the Lake Daniel Boone Development Committee Meeting, April 26, 1966      172

Notes      173
Bibliography      197
Index      215

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A valuable and entertaining local history”—The Journal of Southern History
  • “Fascinating”—Journal of Appalachian Studies
  • “Opens a new window into Appalachian studies…an excellent work”—The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society.