Owen County Archives

These pages last updated March 3, 2010

The idea of creating an Owen County Archives occurred in 1991 when it was realized that Owen County’s official records, while in great disarray, were very complete and in amazingly good condition. These records date from the very first day of the county, January 1, 1819, when the first entries were made in a Circuit Court Order Book and in a County Commissioners Record Book. The first actual document is dated January 15, 1819 and is a political speech written by Joseph Freeland in his quest for the office of Associate Judge and which he misnamed as Assistant Judge. All the probate records have been indexed 1819 - 1900. Civil and criminal cases indexed 1819 - 1856. This latter index is still in progress with 1857-1865 now being entered into the database. It must be realized that probate was not uppermost in the minds of early residents. Only 200 wills were written in the first fifty years, that is four per year. Intestate estate records number about 1,000 during the same period.

Members of the Owen County Historical & Genealogical Society began the task of bringing order to the mass of books and documents by first sorting the books into categories, while at the same time, the office of Community Corrections provided manpower to remove the old unsuitable shelving, and the wire caged room in which the records were stored. When these items were gone, volunteers from the Society made new shelving and Community Corrections built new insulated walls.

When sufficient progress had been made in providing proper facilities it was time to start organizing the materials, the State of Indiana Commission of Public Records (Archives) sent a conservation specialist to give a one day course in how to humidify, open, clean and store paper records. About 15 volunteers attended this one day course. For the next two years this work continued. Only a few hundred dollars of the county’s funds were used. About $1,000 was provided by patrons. Records are now stored in archival quality boxes and , in the case of documents prior to 1860, in archival quality file folders. No public funds were used by the archives, all expenses for supplies and equipment come from copy fees and donations.

Some of the items held in the archives would be Wills, Probate Records, some of the older medical records, Guardianship papers, Court Proceedings, anything at all concerning these various areas. The Archives are currently undergoing a period of reorganization and they are not doing any searches for anyone. The work being done will result in a much better system of archiving and the availability of perhaps new unfound materials.