Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Always curious about how my ancestors celebrated holidays I searched the Brownstown newspapers for Halloween news. Here is how they marked Halloween in Jackson County, Indiana in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. The Spider web social was kind of a mystery. You had to unwind your partner?

Paint the Town Red for Halloween 1885?

Halloween 1898

Halloween 1906

Halloween 1920's

Friday, October 26, 2012

Can't we separate all of the Johns, Georges, Davids?

Is it possible to match all of the Johns, Georges, Davids and a couple of James's to their correct parents? That is the game right now.
We begin looking in Western Pennsylvania and neighboring West Virginia where our John Owens I, the Indian Trader, planted this family in the mid to late 18th Century. Early on we only have John Owens I.and his brothers David I and George I so it's not that challenging. We also have a James Owens on Booth's Creek in Virginia. He settles there in about 1770 so he may also be a son of John Owens I. This date comes from a preemption land warrant later granted to his son John Owens. An Owen Owens also lived in the area don't know how he is related?
We may have one John son of James living in the Virginia area in the late 1700's or we may have two? We have one we know to be the son of James, as named in a land record. There are two purchases of land under the name of  John Owens in 1786. Might be two different men or the same John son of James? I have not been able to locate John Owens Jr. son of John Owens Sr. and Susanna. He may have settled in the West Virginia area? Some say he settled in Ohio?
John Owens deceased 1829 Greene County, PA
We also have a John Owens who died in 1829 in Greene County, Pennsylvania which might be John Owens son of James and Susannah? I also found a John on the 1810 Census for Ohio County, VA. Don't know if this is the same person? He was under 45 in 1810.

David Owens Ohio County, Virginia
In Ohio County, VA we also find David. I assume it is David Owens son of John Owens I. He first settles in that area about 1770. He transferred his warrant to David Jones in 1773 and remained on the property several years. I have also found a David Owens to the east of there on the 1800 Census for Washington County, PA. This may be David Owens I. He is over 45 years old. May have returned to area. 

1800 Census Washington County, PA

I matched a few of these men while doing some research for this post. I went back to Virginia Memory and found a couple of databases I had not used before. When I tried the Revolutionary War rejected claims database I found 31 documents for George Owings aka Owens. This answered so many questions, and provided more details of his death. Sadly he was slowly burned to death by Indians.

George Owens family as described by Nephew
1784 Commissioned as an Interpreter
These documents identified George Owens I children who were alive in 1840. They were identified as Thomas and George C. Owens. Their father was a Captain in the Army when they were born. He was stationed in what is now Southern Indiana. I believe George I's wife's name was Charity Casteel.
Georges Owen's half brother David I was sent from Pennsylvania to Fort Nelson in Louisville as a Native American language interpreter. As his son David II explained he met his Uncle George in April 1782 which is supported by a letter mentioning his presence at Fort Nelson. It appears that George Owens I's sons left Indiana after their father's death and joined their relatives in the more peaceful Bracken County, KY area. George and Thomas appear on Taxlists for Bracken County up until 1811 when they probably return to Indiana. So now we have George son of John II and Susanna plus George Casteel Owens son of George I and Charity Casteel. So we have the two Georges identified but still can't place the two Jameses on the taxlists?
1811 Taxlist Bracken County, KY

John and David Owens Indiana 1820
So George I and David I both lived in what is now Southern Indiana in the area that is now Clarksville. I now believe that the John and David mentioned in the History of Clark County, Indiana in 1783 may actually be George I and David I. Later there were brothers, likely David's sons, named John and David living in the area. I think someone may have gotten the names mixed up? 
Now we may be able to deduce that Willis Callaway Owens who was a DNA with my line is likely the grandson of David Owens, since George and David's families are the only early Owens families in that area. His son John Owens is probably the man who married Sarah Jackson in 1787. And their son John in turn married a Callaway. Not positive but the most likely scenario. Still need to work on finding the proper families for the two Jameses. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

When lines connect! Breaking down a brickwall!

Get out the champagne the Owens Brickwall is coming down!!! It took two people working independantly then finally connecting our lines through the internet. Just like the meeting at Promontory Point we celebrated the extenstion of our lines!
I've been working on this line since 2001. In 2003, I believe it was, I made the connection which took me from Mattoon, Coles, Illinois to Bracken County, Kentucky. Looking at the other Owens family in the Bracken, Ky area I determined that my James D. Owens was likely related to them. As I've stated before his children shared some of the same names as the other Owens families. Most of the Bracken County, KY families were descended from John Owens 18th Century Indian Trader  in Pennsylvania. His life story is very interesting, and many researchers have posted info about the family on the Internet. I could not make the connection using traditional sources.I've exhausted most of the resources available at long distance. I don't have access to the old court records which may contain more info on the family.
Last week I found a DNA website for the Owens family. I noticed that a group of men who tested descended from John Owens Indian Trader. Having just about exhausted all the records currently available I was thinking that DNA might be my best hope of establishing a more solid connection. I had looked for male Owens descendants before with no success. William F. Owens, my ggg-grandfather had 3 sons. I wondered if the oldest may have died in the Civil War? I gave up on looking for them. Someone posted a tombstone picture at Find-a-grave that I had requested last week also. I decided to use Find-a-grave to locate a possible descendant of William F. Owens. Checking the memorial for his Mother Nancy I found that someone carrying the name Owens left virtual flowers and provided additional info about the whereabouts of the family. I contacted her and received a goldmine of info on every member of William's family. I was going to ask whether she knew someone who would take the Y DNA test. I was so surprised when she said her husband had already tested and matched the descendants of the Indian Trader. I had noticed there was a newer entry at the Owens DNA site with no additional info. I had wondered if that person might be in my line? Yes, they were!
So why couldn't I locate these men when this person did? It has to do with name changes. George Owens was identified as Joshua in the US Census. I was looking for a Joshua. The ancestral line of the husband of my contact went back to the eldest of William and Nancy's children, James H. Owens. I was looking for a man by that name but his year of birth didn't match. As it turns out James Owens was in the Civil War. He was under age when he joined. He changed his name from James H. Owens to Jame H. Hicks. Hicks was his mother's maiden name. He also disappears from records any records until he marries in 1888 in Kansas. He permanently changed his year of birth from 1848 to 1845. I guess he worried that he wouldn't get veterans benefits if they found out he lied about his age. I would have not been able to make this connection between my James H. Owens of Illinois and the one in Kansas and Nebraska on my own. Only a person from that line could do that. So both of us working independently got our research to the point where such a connection could be made.
In 1870 Josephine "Josie" Owens was living in the household of my ancestor Mary E. Owens/Mason, her sister. I had used Josie's marriage record to identify their parents. So I knew her married name was Durham. The James Owens descendant's family had found his Civil War related records. He had been placed in a home for old soldiers and he identified his closest living relative as Josephine Durham. Along with the use of the name Hicks as an alias I now knew he was the long lost James H. Owens. This did not, however, establish a link with the family who lived in Kansas and Nebraska. An application for a pension in 1894 Nebraska pulled everything together. We now had a James H. Hicks alias Owens living in Nebraska in 1894 when their family was known to live there. The 1900 US Census Kansas gives his year of birth as 1845 and James H. Hicks alias Owens also stated he was born in 1845.
We still  have more work to do on this line, but we've come a long way. It only took 12 years to get here!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pennsylvania Manuscripts on the Web

Pennsylvania Archives and Colonial Records at Fold3
I am finding a wealth of info online regarding Pennsylvania. I have been using the Pennsylvania Archives for years at Fold3. I've learned you can also access these records at or google books. Journals and personal papers of contemporaries of my ancestors have been very helpful too. Since some of my ancestors where indian traders in Pennsylvania accounts of the indian trade have been interesting and helpful. The book "Ohio Company Papers" is available at Heritage Quest online. I found a number of references to my ancestor John Owens Indian Trader in the Ohio Company Papers. If you can find a manuscript collection or a book containing transcripts or extracts from original manuscripts they can prove to be very helpful and may breakdown a brickwall. I need to locate these kinds of materials for Tennessee.

Here are some links to the Pennsylvania manuscripts I've found helpful

David Owens was brought to the attention of Benjamin Franklin several time unfortunately