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!