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JOHN OWEN, FRONTIERSMAN

John and James Owen were frontiersmen in the Virginia and Pennsylvania territory bordering on the Monongahela River, as early as 1740's. Both Virginia and Pennsylvania were claiming this area in the 1700's. It was finally resolved with the land being split between the two states.

John and James Owen were Indian Traders in the area early on, until ca. 1770, when they settled on farm land in Virginia (now West Virginia) on Booth's Creek near present day Boothesville, WV, which is a small town just north of Bridgeport, WV. This land was in the valley of Booth's Creek, with slightly rolling land near the creek, rising to mountainous terrain, heavily forested. Land grants were for 400 acres, so there was land for farming and ample land for hunting. This would prove to be a problem later on, when war with the Indians broke out. The Indians took refuge in the forest and would swoop down upon the settlers, kill and plunder, then retreat to the safety of the forests and mountains. The Indians, abetted by the French, did not want the settlers in their hunting grounds. The French, too, did not want English settlers as they were claiming Pennsylvania and Virginia for France. The Indians were very brutal in their attacks, scalping and killing whole families, including women and children. They also kidnapped boys, girls and young women, taking them back to their camps.

Both John and James Owen were killed by Indians, as well as James, Jr., age 16, whom we assume to be the son of James. We wonder if the Indians were some of the same Indians that John and James traded with in earlier times.

Frontiersmen have to be a special breed of people. They were not afraid to go into uncharted lands! They built their cabins, cleared the lands for farming, hunted and grew their food, and raised their families in this primitive existence. They usually had other family members, or friends, in their settlements and built forts for protection, as trouble with Indians and French developed. Through it all, they persevered and the wild lands across our country were conquered. Today, in our civilized, modern communities, we need to remember those brave souls, men and women, who went before us to establish America.

After his father, John Owen born ca.1720, was killed in 1778 by Indians, John, born ca.1750, stayed on, farming and raising his family of ten children. He married #1, ca. 1777_________________. We have no information, at this time, of the name of his wife and what happened to her. We do know that he had at least one other marriage to Mary Patrick, born in Massachusetts.

In 1806, John Owen, born ca. 1750, and wife Mary, sold their land in VA and moved to Ohio, buying 130 acres of land near Mechanicsburg, Ohio, on April 2, 1807. (Champaign County, Range 11, Township 6, Section 33). Records show name as John Owing. The ten children also came to Ohio.

John Owen, born ca. 1750, died 1808, less than a year after purchasing land in Ohio. His wife, Mary, administered his estate. She married again, in 1812, to Caleb Carter and moved, with her son, Ebenezer Owen, age 8, to Union County, Ohio.

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John's children remained in the area. Elizabeth and husband, Ebenezer Cheney, settled in Union County, Ohio. Mary Ann (Polly) and husband, Benjamin Carter, also settled in Union County, Ohio. (Benjamin is the son of Caleb Carter who married widow Mary Patrick Owen, Mary Ann's mother.) James lived in Union County and Champaign County. The remaining children stayed in, or near Mechanicsburg, Ohio. John was a merchant, opening one of the first stores in Mechanicsburg, and the first bank. He also was active in civic affairs and was appointed a Judge for Champaign County, Ohio. Warret built the second building in Mechanicsburg which was a hotel and tavern. Ebenezer was a physician in Mechanicsburg. Francis had remained at Booth's Creek, VA, but came to Mechanicsburg in 1810 with wife, Sarah and daughter, Mary Ann , born 1808 in Virginia. They lived on the old Ellsworth Farm in Rush Township at corner of Route 36 and Route 559. This was a very large farm with hired hands, many who lived in small homes on the farm. On May 31, 1813, John Owen (our family) was born. Francis died ca. July 13, 1813, just weeks after John's birth.

In 1819, widow Sarah Tucker Owen married Samuel Rodgers, who lived about a mile west of Ohio Route 559 on Ohio Route 36. He had a family of six children and his wife had died. Sarah took her son, John Owen, then six years old, with her and raised him with the Rodgers children .No mention is made of Mary Ann Owen., but we believe she went to live with John and Jane Owen. (See Ohio Census, Champaign County, Goshen Twp. In 1820) After Samuel Rodgers died in 1842, John Owen born 1813, and his friend, Calvin Dresser proceeded to buy out the Rodgers' children for the farm of 120 acres. This was the start of the Owen Homestead. Later, John bought out his friend, Calvin Dresser.

John Owen, born 1813, continued buying adjoining lands and the farm grew to 222 acres. With his son, Thomas, they had a successful farming operation, including raising and breaking horses. It is said of Thomas Owen that after raising and breaking his horses, he set a price for each one and would not take one penny more, or one penny less for that horse.

Several generations followed John, born 1813, in ownership of this land. It was a beautiful, fertile land, with a clear, cool well, fed by springs, in the back of the land. Indians living in the area would come to this well for water. A spacious home was built near the spring. It was necessary to go back a long lane through the woods to reach the home. In later years, this house was moved to the front, off Route 36, where it remains today. There were several woods and a pond on the farm, and as children, we loved exploring the woods, climbing the trees, and playing around the pond with its many tadpoles and frogs. We gathered mushrooms, and picked up walnuts and hickory nuts in season. Although no Owens own any of this land now, we all have fond memories of our lives on this farm.

Helen (Owen) Evans

Contact Helen at hevans4 at woh.rr.com  Please type in the @ for at.  Thanks!

May 1, 2001.