Our subject was born in Tennessee, coming of good pioneer stock, that was among the earliest settlers of that State. His paternal ancestry was born in North Carolina, his grandfather, William Owen, being of Welsh descent, his father coming to America from Wales, before the Revolution and settling in Anson County, N.C. The grandfather was reared and married in the place of his nativity, Elizabeth Fare becoming his wife. In 1789, they removed to Hawkins County, Tenn., their son, James, father of our subject, being a babe of six months at that time. In that region they reared their family of four sons and three daughters, and there spent the last years of a busy, useful life. The grandfather became very prosperous and was a large land owner, having a tract on the Tennessee River four miles square.
The father of our subject was reared in the pleasant pioneer home of his parents, and after attaining man's estate was married to Miss Sarah, daughter of Mordecai Lanter. She was born in Virginia near the famous natural bridge over Cedar Creek. To her and her husband came the following children: Elizabeth, who married Abraham Rinehart; Nancy the wife of Archibald Houston; William C., of whom we write; and James L. Feb. 6, 1830, the parents with their family started for the wilderness of Floyd County, Ind., our subject then being eleven years old. The father took up land, thirty acres of which had been cleared in the heavy timber, and vigorously entered upon the pioneer task of improving a farm. The mother died in that home Aug. 8, 1835, before she had scarcely passed the meridian of life. The father died in Henderson County, Ill., Oct. 20, 1845, he having removed to that county a few years before.
In the spring of 1840, our subject came to Morgan County, and on the 28th day of the following June he took one of the most important steps of his life by his marriage on that date to Miss Mary J., a daughter of Z. W. and Elizabeth Flinn, whereby, he gained one of the most helpful of wives. In the fall of that year he and his wife went to McDonough County, where they lived eighteen months, and returning to this locality in 1842, have resided here ever since. Our subject has met with more than ordinary success in the prosecution of his calling, and owns a good deal of valuable property. He paid $50,000 for a farm in Sangamon County for his son, James, and also presented his daughter Almarinda, now Mrs. Andrew Harris, with a fine farm of 270 acres near Virginia, in Cass County. Sic children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Owen. Their daughter, Damaris, lives with her brother James, both being unmarried. Their son Josiah W., lives near Ashland, in Cass County. Anna E. is the widow of Charles Butler, who was drowned in a fish pond in this county, nearly fourteen years ago, and she with her two sons Robert and Leonard, live with our subject and his wife. Their daughter Mary, is now Mrs. Edward Goff, of this township. Mr. Owen makes a specialty of cattle feeding, shipping about 200 head a year, and his farm is well stocked with cattle, horses and hogs of good grades.
As pioneers, though not among the earliest settlers of Morgan County, it has been the good fortune of our subject and his wife to contribute largely to the development of its agricultural resources, and so to its material advancement in other directions, and it gives us pleasure to represent them in this Biographical Album. Mr. Owen is a man of broad public spirit, and his hand is felt in all enterprises that will in any way benefit the community. He and his wife have nearly reached the golden mile-stone that marks a wedded life of half a century, and the most of that time has been passed in this county and among these people who know them well and hold them in true regard and veneration for the rectitude of their course and for characters unblemished by acts unworthy of them as kind neighbors and true friends.