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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


FRANK HENRI OWEN, city recorder and justice of the peace at Colton, is one of the old newspaper men of Oregon and California, who, until recently was connected with some of the most aggressive newspaper work of his time, and still does considerable writing for different newspapers, for it is a recognized fact that once a newspaper man, always one. The lure of gold is nothing compared to that of printer's ink, as any of the craft will confess, and Mr. Owen is no exception to the rule. Although he has had considerable experience in office, he has never desired public honors or solicited any of them.

The birth of Frank Henri Owen took place at Salem, Oregon, in 1855, and he is a son of Milton P. and Rachel E. Owen, pioneers of Oregon, to which they came in 1853, crossing the plains from La Porte, Indiana.

Mr. Owen was reared at Salem, and there attended the public schools and later the University of Oregon. In 1870 he was apprenticed as a printer to Upton and Powell, and finished his trade there with B. M. Waite, state printer, working nights and attending school in the daytime. When he was only twenty years old he went to Lafayette, Yamhill County, Or^on, and bought the Lafayette Courier, having at that time the courage of ambition and the optimism of youth. After acquiring experience in this venture he went to Salinas, California, where he lived during 1874 and 1875 and was married. He then went to Visalia, and was foreman of the Visalia Delta, where he made the record on a Washington hand press, printing sixteen quires and twenty papers in one hour, or 404 sheets. A token an hour, or 240 papers, was considered a good hour's work. As evidence of the process in printing machinery and equipment since then it is interesting to note that when Mr. Owen began work at his trade at Salem there were but four power presses in Oregon, two of them being hand-power at Salem, one of these being the first power press brought to the state.

Returning to Oregon in 1877, Mr. Owen was made foreman of the Daily Evening Telegram, and for eleven years served in that capacity, and also as city editor. Having saved some money, he embarked in the publishing business at Chehalis, county seat of Lewis County, in what was then Washington Territory, where he took a leading part in politics and was a member of the first republican convention at which candidates were nominated for the first set of state officers, which convention was held at Walla Walla.

In 1890 Mr. Owen moved to Aberdeen, Washington, and there joined the Washington State Militia, and entered the newspaper field of that region by buying the Aberdeen Bulletin. Leaving Washington, Mr. Owen came to California, and with his son Walter published the Winters Express at Winters, Yolo County, until 1907. Subsequently he and his son bought the Colton Courier, and published it from 1908 to 1921, when he sold out and assumed the duties of his present offices. All of his life he has taken an active and effective part in politics, always as a strong republican, but he has preferred newspaper work. For nine years he served Winters as postmaster, erecting in that town the first concrete building in the county for the postoffice and his printing office, and was appointed postmaster at Colton by President Taft, but only held that office for nine months, for the democratic Senate refused to confirm his appointment by a republican administration, as it did that of 3,000 other republican postmasters, and he was retired in favor of a democrat. For forty years Mr. Owen has been active as a member of the county and state central committees of his party. In 1890 he was raised in the Masonic fraternity. Originally he was a member of the Episcopal Church.

In 1875 Mr. Owen was united in marriage with Miss Flora Minnetta Hackett, at San Juan, San Benito County, California. The original Hacketts settled in Maine before its separation from Massachusetts. Mrs. Owen's mother was a member of the Thompson family that was established in Maine over 300 years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Owen have two sons, namely. Fred M., who married Gabrella Alexson, and Walter, who married Sallie Culton, daughter of Rev. and Mrs. H. C. Culton of Winters, California.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011