Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

CHARLES J. OWEN. It does not necessarily require a farm expert to look over some of the older farms of the locality of which this history treats and see that the soil has become thin very largely from the fact that proper attention has not been paid to rotation of crops. The land has been "grained" too much, the same fields sometimes for years having been successively sown to wheat or planted to corn, with never a seed of grass or other good "cover crops." The same methods were followed in a number of older states of the East with the results that one now finds thousands of abandoned farms there, the owners being compelled to remove to the newer agricultural sections of the West where the soil has not been ruined by improper tillage. But many of our farmers are awakening to the true situation, some of them after it is practically too late. It used to be the desire of most farmers to own large tracts of land. Their chief desire seemed to be to buy "the land adjoining." This many of them have done and spent the rest of their lives trying to keep the interest paid on borrowed capital and a little paid on the principal. The same men are now understanding how they can live easier and happier on fewer acres and by more intensive farming methods.

One of the successful farmers and stockmen of Wilson township, Greene county, is Charles. J. Owen, who is a student of all that pertains to his vocation and is thus avoiding some of the mistakes that others are making in handling their farms. He is a member of one of the well-known old families of Greene county, and his birth occurred here on April 15, 1866. He is a son of Charles B. and Nancy C. (McCroskey) Owen.

Capt. Charles B. Owen, who, was for many years one of the most extensive farmers of Greene county, was born in Marshall county, Tennessee, February 28, 1827. He was a son of Solomon H. Owen, who was born in eastern Tennessee, December 12, 1797, in Sullivan county, near the Virginia line. He was a son of Joseph Owen, who was reared in Pennsylvania, was of Welsh stock, and married a Pennsylvania Dutch woman, two years, and moved to Sullivan county, Tennessee, in an early day. He was a farmer and died when only thirty-five years of age, and was the father of Charles, Jesse, Solomon H., Hannah, Mary and Elizabeth. Solomon H., grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was married in Sullivan county, Tennessee to Mary E. Bushong, of Pennsylvania and German stock. After their marriage they moved to the middle part of Tennessee and Mr. Owen purchased a farm of one hundred and seventy acres in Marshall county. In 1836 he moved with his wife and five children to Greene county, Missouri, and settled on four hundred acres which he entered four miles northwest of Springfield. He entered in all about two thousand acres in southwest Missouri. He gave all his children land. Like most of the early settlers from Tennessee, he was the owner of slaves. During the Civil war much of his personal property was destroyed. He removed to Springfield in 1874 at seventy-seven years of age. His family consisted of six children, namely: Susanna A., George H., who died at the age of twenty-one years; Pleasant B., Charles B., father of our subject; Jesse W., and William S. Solomon H. Owen was a Democrat but was a Union sympathizer; he and his wife wire members of the Presbyterian church.

Captain Charles B. Owen was nine years old when he accompanied his parents from Tennessee to Greene county and here he grew to manhood and received a common school education. On September 18, 1856, he married Sarah E. Yarbrough, and to them were born two children, John S. and Stephen A. Douglas Owen. After his marriage, Mr. Owen settled on a farm on the James river, after having spent several years engaged in buying and selling live stock. He became one of the most prosperous and best-known general farmers and. stockmen in Greene, county. He finally became owner of thirteen hundred and ten acres, in one body, and three hundred and ninety-five acres besides, two hundred acres of which were entered from the government by his father. The land lay on either side of the James river, was well watered not only by the river but by six springs on various parts of the place. He cleared and improved about half of the entire tract, using much of it for pasturage, and a large portion of the place was kept in timber. His place was always stocked with large numbers of horses, mules, cattle, hogs and sheep.

The first wife of Captain Owen died March 18, 1862, and on January 31, 1865, he married Nancy C. McCroskey, and to this union eight children were born, namely: Charles J., subject of this sketch; Mary Elizabeth is deceased; Mrs. Margaret S. Martin; Mrs. Alwilda Madora Jane Garton; George D., Francis W., Wm. E., and Joseph L. are all living in Wilson township.

Politically, Captain Owen was a Democrat and was active and influential in the affairs of his county. He was elected sheriff in 1870 and served two years, and was re-elected in 1874, serving two years more. He was one of the most efficient sheriffs Greene county ever had. In those days, during the reconstruction period after the Civil war, it took a man of courage and stability to fill that office. In May, 1861, he organized a militia company of Home Guards in his township and was elected captain, and then he consolidated his company with another, and being younger than the other captain, accepted the position of first lieutenant. When the Union troops occupied Springfield, General Lyon appointed him as guide to the troops under Col. Franz Sigel, and he led the army at night, August 9, 1861, to the Confederate camp on Wilson's creek where the great battle was fought the following day, and he took part in that engagement. The Union troops having retreated to Rolla, Lieutenant Owen was enrolled at that place with his company in the United States service and was commissioned by the governor of Missouri as first lieutenant in the United States army. He was mustered into the service at Benton Barracks. He was in a series of skirmishes with the bushwhackers in southeastern Missouri and was afterward in service against Marmaduke in that part of the state, and in skirmishes in different parts of Missouri and western Tennessee. At Columbus, Kentucky, his company did guard duty on the ordnance boat General Grant and later was on the march with General Sherman through Mississippi; was with Banks on the ill-fated Red river expedition, and at the occupation of Alexandria, also at the battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, where his regiment lost all of its officers except the major, captain and one lieutenant, in killed and wounded, and lost one-third of the men. His own company lost one-half of its number in killed and wounded, and was then in severe skirmish fighting from April 9th to May 16th, where the battle of Yellow Brow was fought. Later he was in a battle near Mineral Point, Missouri. He was sick in a hospital in Memphis nine weeks, and was mustered out and honorably discharged in St. Louis, October 14, 1864, and returned home and took up farming again, which he continued until his death, March 15, 1907. His wife, mother of our subject, died on September 22, 1887.

Charles J. Owen, of this sketch, grew to manhood on the home farm and there he assisted with the general work when a boy. He received his education in the local schools in Wilson township. He remained on the farm with his father until he was thirty-five years old, then, having previously purchased one hundred acres in this township, he removed thereto and has since resided here, engaged in general farming and stock raising. He also owns one hundred acres south of his original farm which he rents out. He pays considerable attention to raising a good grade of live stock, does an extensive horse and mule business, and maintains a popular breeding barn. He has three jacks--one a fine jack named Chief Benton, register number 3522, 14 ¾ hands; weight, nine hundred and fifty pounds; large-boned and one of the best in Greene county. One extra large and fine jack named "Bill Wilson," No. 20415; black, 15 ½ hands; extra large; weight, one thousand pounds; a fine animal. Also Mr. Owen has one young jack named "Woodrow Wilson," which has great promise. Besides the above, Mr. Owen keeps two stallions, Percheron and one saddle horse. Mr. Owen's breeding barns are in the front rank in the entire county.

He was married, August 18, 1889, to Margaret C. Payne, a daughter of Lewis and Margaret Payne, of Greene county. The death of Mrs. Owen occurred January 16, 1904, and on April 29th.of the same year he married Annie Beierle, a native of Newton county. The second union has been without issue, but the following children were born to Mr. Owen by his first wife: Roy Edward, born May 29, 1890, is deceased; Lewis Baker, born November 6, 1891, is assisting his father on the home farm, married Ester Campbell, a native of Greene county have one child, Ralph Eugene, born September 26, 1914; Grace, born March 31, 1893, died in infancy; Earl Stephen, born December 1, 1896, deceased; and Bennie Sterling, born May 16, 1898, are all three deceased, and Charles Arthur, born February 14, 1903, who is living at home.

Politically, Mr. Owen is a Democrat, and he is a member of the Anti-Horse Thief Association. He is regarded as a man of good judgment, especially in reference to live stock and is a good citizen in every respect.


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