MY OWEN ANCESTORS
The mystery of Jason Owen's ancestry troubled my father Edgar Lyle Owen for years, and it has troubled me as well. In spite of many hours of research on Ancestry.com and scanning many hundreds of early Virginia Owen family trees and records his father and mother and deeper ancestry remain unknown. There were apparently at least several hundred Owen/Owens/Owin families living in Virginia in the 1700's that could well have been Jason's ancestors or relatives but so far no links have been found. So if anyone comes up with convincing candidates I'm quite willing to offer a monetary reward.
Also the details of Jason's life remain sketchy. I have his birth date of March 12, 1792 but location only VA. I see the location on other trees given as Cumberland Co., VA. But what is the source for Cumberland? It does make sense as it's just north of Patrick where he was married. It also may be important as records show a cluster of just earlier Owens in Albemarle Co. (possible parents and relatives?) which is just two counties north of Cumberland. So would really like to confirm Cumberland as birth Co. to help pin down possible parents and relatives for Jason...
His marriage records are available on Ancestry.com as
Jason Owen m. Thompons, Betsy 3/13/1814 Patrick Co., VA
(Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940)
Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1740-1850
I've also found Jason in the 1820 and 1830 census in Gravson and Giles Co. VA respectively. And also a Jason Owen listed as a private in the Virginia Militia in the War of 1812 which I presume is him. However I haven't found any other public records for either Jason or Elizabeth (Betsy) Thompson. No birth, death, burial, land or court records. Land and court records from the mid 1830's place Jason in Lee Co. according to Linda Hall Marshall's piece below but I haven't been able to find any of these. If you have links to any of these records including land in Lee Co. and death in Grayson would love to have those as well.
Also Lee Co., VA is where the Wilderness Road traversed the Cumberland Pass into KY where Daniel Boone c. 1775 helped open the way into KY. Boone's son was killed by indians in Lee Co. 1773 on one of those trips when he got separated. Anyway it's also of interest that there were several fortified 'stations' along the Wilderness Road in Lee Co., one of which was Owen Station. So one surely has to wonder which Owens founded and ran Owen Station and if there wasn't some connection with Owen relatives that prompted Jason to settle there in the 1830's?
MAP OF VIRGINIA COUNTIES
JASON OWEN LIFE EVENTS
Age Date Event Location
0 3/12/1792 BORN Cumberland? Co, VA
18 1810 CENSUS Not in 1810 census so living with parents?
~20 c. 1812-1813 WAR OF 1812 A Jason Owen Private 7 Reg't (Saunder's) Virginia Militia
22 3/13/1814 MARRIED Patrick Co, VA (SW of Cumberland Co. half way to Lee Co.)
~23 c. 1815 Moved Patrick VA > Grayson Co.? VA
24 ~1816 PRESLEY (son) VA? (NOT in Carter Co 1850 census)
28 8/7/1820 CENSUS Grayson Co, VA (with Betsey & Presley 4 years old)
28 ~1820 JESS(E) (son) VA? (NOT in Carter Co 1850 census)
30 ~1822 HUGH (son) VA? (Hd household 1850 census in Carter?)
32 7/18/1824 WILLIAM (son) VA? (Hd household 1850 census in Carter?)
39 1830 CENSUS Giles Co., VA (with Betsey, Hugh 8, Presley 14, Jesse 10)
39 ~1831 JOHN (son) Lee Co., VA?
42 8/7/1834 ARCHIBALD (son) Lee co., VA (in KY 1850 census)
43 Oct, 1835 COURT Lee Co., VA Jason ordered to pay $11 & costs to Jacob Spencer2
44 May, 1836 COURT Lee Co., VA Appeal of above order quashed2
44 6/24/1836 JOSEPH (son) Lee Co., VA
45 11/1837 COURT Lee Co., VA Jason ordered to post $100 for 1 year for breach of peace against Jordan Nelson2
46 8/16/1838 HARVEY (son) Lee Co., VA
47 11/21/1839 LAND SALE to son Presley 23 in Lee Co, VA (likely prior to moving to KY with Presley staying behind)2
48? c. 1840 moved Lee, VA > Carter KY (with all but Presley & Jesse who stayed? in VA)
48 1840 CENSUS Not? in 1840 census in VA or KY so living with Hugh or ? on their land?
50 3/29/1842 GEORGE (son) Carter Co. VA
54 11/11/1846 SOLD TO Carter Co. KY: Sold to Hiram Damron bay mare, 10 hogs, cow and feed corn to repay security bond of $20 8c.2
55 9/6/1847 DIED Carter Co. KY
- 11/18/1847 SONS Carter Co. KY: 7 sons together bought 100 acres for $100 perhaps from their inheritance from Jason
~ birth estimates Lyle Owen 6/1989 from Harvey Owen Bible & 1850 Carter Co., KY census.
History --- George Owens
by Linda Hall Marshall
George Owens was born 29 March, 1842 probably in Kentucky, although the bible records of Harvey Owen, George's brother, say George was born 28 March 1841 and the 1850 census for Carter County Kentucky lists George's birthplace as Ohio. However, the 1870 and 1880 census gives Kentucky as place of birth as does George's Civil War records and his death certificate.
George's father, Jason Owen, was presumably born in Virginia 12 March 1792. There are land records and court orders showing Jason living in Lee County, VA in the mid 1830's. He appears to have been a farmer; not a prosperous one. Around 1840 Jason and his family migrated to Carter County, Kentucky apparently leaving behind his eldest sons, Jess and Presley. Land records show they lived about ten miles south east of Grayson, Kentucky. Jason died 6 September, 1847 at age 55 and is buried near Grayson.
Jason's wife, Elizabeth (Thompson) Owen was also presumable born in Virginia 19 Nov, 1798. She lived 55 years having died 23 September, 1853 and is buried near Grayson, Kentucky.
George had eight brothers, all of whom appear to have been born in Virginia. They are as follows:
Born Died Wife
Presley 1818/1819 ?
Jess 1819/1820 ?
Hugh 1821/1822 ? Agnes
William B. 18 July, 1824 Sarah
John 1830/1831 Samantha
Archibald 7 Aug 1834 18 Sept. 1910 Rhoda Jane
Joseph A. 24 June 1836 23 March 1925 Elizabeth C. Jones
Harvey 16 Aug 1838 12 Oct 1889 Catharine Hannah
George* 28 Mar 1841 15 Nov 1919 Margaret A Smith
There is some evidence there may have also been one daughter named
Elizabeth who died in infancy and who was born early in the marriage, but
this is not proved.
Elizabeth (Thompson) Owens was 43 when George, her ninth and last known child was born. George was 5 and one half when his father died and 11 and one half when his mother died; he then probably lived with one of his older brothers for a time there in Kentucky. 1850 census records show brothers William and Hugh living near by.
George seems to have been close to his brother, Harvey, who was closest to him in age. After the death of his parents it is not known exactly what became of George, but by 1855 he migrated to Illinois with brother Harvey. Brothers John and William were already in Illinois by August, 1854 where a deed shows William as being in McLean County. In 1857 a letter was sent to Harvey Owen addressed to him at the Independence Post Office, McLean county, Illinois from William who was then in Kansas Territory. It is very likely George was with Harvey at this time as he would have only been 15 years old.
It was said by Minnie Owen (a daughter) that George and Harvey farmed together for a time on a rented place one and one half miles south, and one mile west, another one and one-half miles south of the Baird's "Twin Maples Farm", near the Elba Center Post Office, Knox county, Illinois.
A sworn affidavit from a James Catterton in Knox County, Illinois dated January 1880, states that George worked on Mr. Catterton's farm for four years before the Civil War, and that he had known George since 1857.
Records show that George and his brother, Harvey, enlisted together in the Civil War (Union) on 5 August, 1862 under Capt. L. D. Shinn in Company H 102 Infantry as volunteers. This enlistment was in Elba Township, Knox County, Illinois. Minnie stated that George, and probably Harvey, attended a picnic at "Twin Maples Farm" in Knox County before going off to the war. This farm was then owned by a Rhinerson family.
Brother Harvey was given a medical discharge a year later on 7 October, 1863 at Louisville, Kentucky. Harvey had a heart disease.
Shortly after enlisting George was stricken with typhoid fever at Frankfort, Kentucky. That was between the eighth and the twelfth of October, 1862. He was ill there for about two weeks then was moved on a cot to the hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana where he remained until the later part of November. He then returned to his company in Scottsville, Kentucky but apparently not really fit for duty for some three months. He also suffered from chronic diarrhea and in December of the same year he contracted measles. George's friends, Orange Daniel and James Catterton looked after him for much of this time, and remained his lifelong friends. Another trusted friend of George's was Ira E. Mott, also a member of the same company.
George remained a private throughout his service days. He was discharged 6 June, 1865 near Washington, D.C. He then returned to Knox County, Illinois to resume farming.
George was never to fully recover from the affects of his wartime illnesses and in even later years he received a government pension which began around 1880 or 1883. He was unable to do the labor required for farming; as he grew older he was a semi-invalid. The last six years of his life he was confined to his room, requiring much care provided by Margaret.
George had coal black hair, grey eyes and stood 5 foot 9 inches tall and was of medium build. A later photo of him taken around 1900, making him around 60 years old, shows him as having thin white hair and white beard. This writer notes that he looked very old and feeble for his sixty years. One of George's daughters, Minnie, stated in a 1953 interview that George was a "soft-haired" man. George could not write, always "making his mark" on the various legal documents requiring signatures. It appears neither George nor his father, Jason, were ever to be considered prosperous men. This writer rather imagines life was not easy for these men.
Three years after the Civil War George married Margaret Ann Smith. They were married 18 March, 1868 by Justice of the Peace, Henry Smith, in Knox County, Illinois.
Margaret stated in a 1934 affidavit that she came to Illinois in 1859 at age eleven with her parents, Peter Smith and Susan (Householder) Smith. They came from Pennsylvania where she said she had been born near Hancock, Maryland, but that she was born in Pennsylvania. Margaret had no brothers or sisters. Margaret's obituary lists two half-brothers, Joseph and Jacob Light. apparently Margaret's own father died or divorced before she came to Illinois as the 1860 census shows Margaret as living with her mother, then Susan Lite, and her step-father John W. Lite in Elba Township, Eugene post office. Her step-brothers and sisters are listed as John W. - 9 years, Peter - 6 years, R___an - 4 years (a female), and Joseph W. - 1 yr. Gayle Lubar, a grand-daughter of George's, spoke of a Mary Swartz as also being a half-sister. Margaret Ann Smith was born 18 January, 1848.
It is said Margaret admired Abraham Lincoln and owned many books about him. It is also said that she attended the Lincoln-Douglas debates as a young girl. Since they lived in Gilson (IL) which is close to Galesburg, Illinois, this is very possible. Those debates were held in August through October, 1858 and Margaret came to Illinois in 1859, so there is room for doubt on this point, although Lawrence Hall, a grandson, insists he remembers her speaking of it; since this gentlemen is my father, I believe Margaret heard the debates!! (Or at least one debate which was held in Galesburg on 7 October, 1858.)
A photo of Margaret showing her seated with some of her family around 1900, at the approximate age of 52, shows her to be a nicely built woman with brown hair parted in the center and pulled tightly back. She is wearing glasses and her ears stick out a little farther than would be desirable. For a mother of twelve, she has worn her years well, looking proud and stately. In a 1981 interview Margaret's daughter-in-law, Hazel (Sund) Owens, spoke very kindly of Margaret saying she was a small woman but a hard worker and good cook. Hazel called Margaret a "busy little soul who kept her house nice and clean." She mentioned that Margaret was a good baker and with twelve children, who could doubt that? Hazel stated she never had any trouble with her in-laws and that she liked them both.
George and Margaret's twelve children were born over a twenty year span.
George was 28 when the first child was born and 48 when the last two, twin boys, arrived. There were six boys and six girls --- equality prevailing; although the 1870 census shows there was an infant boy, Mathew F., four months of age, born after Minnie. Apparently this infant died. Thus, counting him, there were thirteen children in all. All of the children except the twins were born before George was able to purchase his own farm. This writer does not know where this large family lived during these twenty years; perhaps they rented a farm or lived with Margaret's family. But it is known that they lived in Knox County, Illinois for this time, the best guess being that they were tenant farmers.
The children (are now listed in a table) are as follows:
In the 1870 census George had $500 of personal property. In 1880 he applied for a military disability pension which he began receiving. In 1888, at age 57, George and Margaret bought their own 40 acre farm in Elba Township, Knox County, Illinois. On February 14, 1888 they paid $2000 for this 40 acres from one A. J. Warner and his wife, Marion. I think it is safe to assume they saved this money from the pension.
It is said they all lived in the woods while the farm house was being built. They seemed to have been very poor. Daughter Minnie said in a 1953 interview that some of the sons, Smith and Edson, did chores for neighbors, Rhinerson's in return for board and room to help make ends meet.
Minnie also told of little Nora, who as a youngster would pull George's beard and tell him she wanted to "see the moon man" whereupon George would take her out to see the stars and the moon. So although poor, George appears to have been rich of heart.
In 1874 George and Margaret sold their share of the 105 acres left to seven of the Owen brothers jointly by their father, Jason Owen. This property was in Carter County Kentucky and George sold his share to his brother, Joseph Owen for $25.
On December 14, 1919 at age 74 (and four years before he died) George turned the farm over ty quit claim to his wife, Margaret, for one dollar. George and Margaret continued living there and George died 15 November, 1919 at age 77 of bronco pneumonia. He was buried 18 November, 1919 at Williamsfield, Knox County Illinois. Funeral services were held in the M.E. Church of Williamsfield conducted by pastor Rev. J. T. Bliss. Young soldiers of the community and the G.A.R. were present also. In George's obituary it speaks of his "march with Sherman to the sea, he and his comrades were under continuous fire from the enemy for 114 days. They met peril of every kind suffering for food in a county of abject poverty." ... With his parents dying when he was so young and then being in the Civil War, leaving him a weak man physically, unable to write, one wonders how much happiness this man found in life. Unable to record his thoughts, they remain buried with him forever; all we can do is speculate.
Margaret continued to live at the farm. Jay lived with her since he never married and helped farm the place as he had done for many years. On 25 September, 1925 Margaret, at age 77, sold the farm to Samuel A. Duncan for one dollar and "other good valuable considerations". Samuel Duncan was a son-in-law, married to daughter Blanche Owen. One wonders why she "sold" the farm to Samuel and not to Jay ... Margaret eventually moved from the farm to a rented house in Elmwood owned by a Craig family and lived there for a year at least, maybe longer. Her grandson, Lawrence Hall, well remembers carrying in the coal for her in the winter; the year was 1930.
Margaret then probably moved to Haw Creek Township, Knox County, Illinois where she died on 27 July, 1939 at age 91. She died of acute enteritis and senility arteriosclerosis. She is buried beside George in Williamsfield, Illinois; A few of their other children are nearby.
George and Margaret had 24 grandchildren and 45 great-grandchildren.
Note: As often happens with family names, spellings are changed over the years and it is interesting to note that George's father was an Owen. Thus we can see a change in this generation as George's name appears on all legal documents as Owens. It appears that this was just a naturally occurring event ... George could not write his name and people around referred to the family as Owens and it more or less just happened. So be it ... Owen or Owens ... George was our forefather and the legacy he left was more lasting and meaningful than the simple addition of an S.
As written in the genealogy of the Scott family prepared by Diana Kay Scott
in August 1, 1982 ..
She says that George Owens (Kay's father) died Nov 18, 1919 at age 77 1/2 of pneumonia and is buried in the Williamsburg, Illinois cemetary.
FOOTNOTES (Numbers match those in my Owen Documents file)
1. Obituary of Edgar Owen written by Edgar Lyle Owen
2. Lee Co, VA documents with letter by Edgar Lyle Owen
3. Marriage Bond - Jason Owen March 13, 1814 signed by 22 year old Jason Owen and Mitchel Thompson, the apparent father of bride Betsy Thompson his 16 year old daughter. There is a Mitchell Thompson in Carroll and Grayson Co's, VA b. 1766 (https://www.ancestry.com/search/?name=Mitchell_Thompson&event=_virginia-usa_49&birth=1765&birth_x=10-0-0&count=50&event_x=_1-0-a&location=2&name_x=s_s&priority=usa) who had 2 wives the right age but can find no mention of an Elizabeth Betsy Thompson b. 1798 among the listed children. If this is her father she would probably be a daughter by first wife Mary (J?) Griffin 1773-1840 (married 10/13/1784 Amherst Co, VA) as second wife Nancy Catherine McCraw marriage was in 1810.