Friday, March 27, 2015

Breaking My Owens Brickwall Down After 11 Years

That seemingly intractable brickwall on my Owens line finally came down this week. Many thanks have to go to the Cornerstone Genealogy Society in Greene County, PA. The researcher there, Thelma Yeager, provided me with more information than I requested. She followed up on the clues she found as she was doing the research for me and sent additional documents. I really appreciate her expert researching skills!

My research goal has been to determine which of two James Owens of Bracken County, KY was the son of John Owens II and Susannah of Washington County, PA (a.k.a Monongalia County, VA). One of these men was only referred to as James Owens or James Owens Sr.; and the other was referred to as James D. Owens and James Owens Jr., at various times. More on that later.

I have finally identified the ancestral lines for all the Owens DNA participants. We have two who believe they descend from David Owens son of John Owens I, and one who claims to be descended from George Owens, another son of John I. We have two from the Tyler County WV Owens line, who believe they descend from John II's son John III. There seems to be a branch marker for the supposed descendants of David Owens. That would be would be the 10 in the chart above. We appear to have a branch marker for the supposed descendants of David which is the purple 10 in the chart above. George's descendant also mismatches the others on a single marker. John of Tyler West Virginia also has a unique mismatch. Since his cousin only tested 25 markers we're not sure if this was a mutation unique to John of Tyler's family? My line matches John of Tyler the best so far, with no mismatches at 25 markers. I would like to upgrade and see if our line continues to match perfectly at 37 markers.

I had also requested a couple deeds from Clark County, Indiana for James Owens and Sally Broshears, which I received before the documents from Greene County, PA. The deeds confirmed what another Owens family researcher had found regarding the fact that James and Sally were said to be from Bracken County, KY, and the fact they sold their land in Clark County, now Indiana in 1803. Actually James purchased that property previous to their marriage in 1802. I also received a deed
confirming he did witness a deed in 1800, proving he was there at that time. All of this points to James Owens married to Sally Broshears being a descendant of David Owens instead of John Owens and Susannah as was believed. This James witnessed a deed for his likely brother John Owens in Clark County in 1800, and was married a day after his likely brother David in the same church, White Oak Presbyterian in Bracken County, KY. James and David lived in different states for many years, but reunited in about 1824 when they both lived in Washington County, IN.

The Clark County area is closely associated with Capt. George Owens and David Owens who were some of the earliest settlers of that area.

I'm not very patient so while I was waiting for my request for copies of the Deeds Index, and the 1806 Court Case, from the "Cornerstone Genealogy Society" I kept researching and exchanging information at our "We're Descendants of John Owens the Indian Trader" group at Facebook. A group member was looking at old posts and noticed a pdf was posted which mentioned a deed for the heirs of John Owens. I took a look and saw the book number and page number. I believe that was on a Sunday night. I couldn't phone to ask about getting a copy so I Googled the County Clerk's office for Greene County, and found out you can obtain deed copies online for a fee. This site is impossible to use without specific information, but is usable if you have the book number and page. I was thrilled when I saw a transcript of the indenture which actually wasn't technically a deed. It was a transfer of interest in the estate of John Owens and a power of attorney for Francis Wells. It did involve the property inherited by John Owens III, on Tenmile Creek, PA.  Unfortunately it didn't answer the question regarding which James Owens was John II's son. It just said James Owens, no other identifying info. I could not access the second page which would have been 571? This page didn't contain a continuation of the heirs indenture as it should have. I needed to locate that page ( I later found out page 571 is 570a in their system). I had no idea at that point what great information this page contained.

On Tuesday the awaited for envelope from the "Cornerstone Genealogy Society" arrived. Not only did it contain an index of Owens deeds it also contained the actual deeds. Plus additional  documents regarding the estate of John Owens. There was so much it took me time to sort through it all.  I just happened to quickly glance through the pages and discovered pages 1 and 2 of the document I found at the County Clerk's website were included. During this quick look I failed to notice an important bit of information. I was exchanging some of this information with the Facebook Owens group when I finally noticed page two included a reference to the signature of James Owens. He signed it James D. Owens, which caused me to gasp and nearly faint. After 11 years I finally had documentary evidence that James D. Owens was the son of John Owens and Susannah, and not James Owens husband of Sally Borshears, as was thought by some other researchers. I don't have the original clerks copy of the indenture but hope to get that. I've written to Greene County for a copy. I just have a transcript. Hopefully book 2 page 571 is still available for copying?

An 1806 Court Case involving John and Susannah's estate was not found. It's possible they intended to sue in 1806 but something prevented it from happening at that time; or it was filed in a unknown location?

I have to say I didn't expect James to sign with the middle initial D. I should have because he signed his mother-in-law's marriage bond with a middle initial.

Lucky James Owens Jr. started referring to himself as James D. Owens around 1810. Maybe he felt Junior was too juvenile for him?  Also, he wasn't a Junior, that was apparently how they separated two James cousins in the local records. It's odd that this technique was not often used for others of the same name. Although at about the same time George, son of David, began to be referred to as George C. Owens. Maybe a new clerk suggested the addition of middle initials? I'm wondering if the D refers to James' mother's surname?

I certainly lucked out because James used the D when he signed the heirs release. I believe a mistake I made with this line was concentrating so much of my research in Bracken County, Kentucky where he lived during his adult life. I didn't expect to find the information I was looking for in 1811 Greene County, PA. The take away is branch out as much as possible. You never know where you'll find the solution to your problem. Could be in an expected place.

I still need to sort through the information I received and analyze it. I plan on continuing my research on the line. Still many unknowns. When did John I die, what were his wives exact names, and when did they die? Still need to prove some of his children and grandchildren's lines.

When I began researching this family in 2004 I found James Owens husband of Sally Borshears named as John and Susannah's son, exclusively. No trees suggesting James D. Owens of the same place was their son. When I noticed James D. and Fanny had a son named David V. I thought it was possible he might be their son instead. I believed this because they had a son named David V.. I believed Vincent might be this sons middle name. John II and Susannah had a son named David and a son Vincent. After a cousin matched a descendant in John I 's line it supported my hypothesis that my James could also have been their son. Without the DNA match I probably wouldn't have invested as much time in researching this family. The DNA is confirming our relationship plus it provided me the incentive to continue. We have more people in this line testing and hopefully we will find branch tags to separate the families. We are also doing autosomal testing to find out if some of John Owens I's children were part Native American, and to see if any of the distant cousins still share DNA. So far no one in John Owens I's line is showing Native American admixture in any appreciable amount.

One Wall gone several more to go.

A little tough to read but proof that James D. Owens was the husband of Fanny (Francis Watkins.).
Deed for James Owens and Sally Broshears from Clark County, IN

1 comment:

Pamela Owens said...


I've been reading some of the Owens lineage notes and evidence this past week, and I enjoy your deductive reasoning. I am wondering if there is any evidence to refute that James D. Owens was married twice, to both Sally Broshears, and then a few years later to Fanny?

Also, I think John I and Maths may have "married" at Aughwick Creek, since John owned land there and traded for Croghan, and her father died there a short time after this. I have comments in notes somewhere but not organized enough to mail you now. I also have a lead that Josias Owens, who married Marillo Reese and had kids in KY and then IN, his kids ended up with grandma Francis, aka Fanny Owens.
That would complicate matters some but show that our line was actively going back and forth to IN KY IN in the early 1800s, so perhaps James and Sally and James and Fanny are just second marriages....

Pam Owens
(please use my other email, as my gmail collects mostly junk mail, pamela ras feld at y a ya ho o (edit as needed to keep the webcrawling computers out of this one too!)