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

JOSEPH LEWIS OWEN. Scientific methods of farming disseminated through the medium of the agricultural schools throughout the country have come as a great blessing to those pursuing agricultural callings. Yet the farmers in the early days of this country had no such advantages. They had to depend upon their own judgment, their own foresight, their own intuition, as it were, to overcome many a perplexing problem in farming. And yet their success was more often than not almost phenomenal; and we can pardon the veteran tillers of the soil who yet remain among us if they look askance upon our newer methods. Joseph Lewis Owen, a creditable representative of the well- known old Owen family of Greene county, who owns a fine modern farm of large acreage in Wilson township, is making a pronounced success as a general farmer, employing such of the progressive methods as are consistent with this locality and climate, and his well-cultivated land and comfortable home would indicate to the observer that his efforts have been well rewarded.

Mr. Owen was born near what is now Battlefield, in the above named township and county, May 7, 1880. He is a son of Capt. C. Baker Owen and Nancy Caroline (McCroskey) Owen. Captain Owen was a native of Tennessee, born in Marshall county, February 28, 1827. He was a son of Solomon H. Owen, a native of eastern Tennessee, and of Welsh descent. Baker Owen was nine years old when he was brought by his parents to Greene county, Missouri, in 1836, his father entering four hundred acres of land from the government, four miles northwest of Springfield. He continued entering land until he owned about two thousand acres. He owned large numbers of slaves. He became one of the most extensive farmers and stock men in this section of the state, and remained on his farm until 1874, when he was seventy-seven years of age, when he removed to Springfield. His family consisted of six children, named as follows: Susanna A., George H., Pleasant B., Charles Baker, Jesse W., and William S.

Captain Owens, father of our subject, grew to manhood in Greene county and here devoted his life to farming and stock raising on a large scale. On September 18, 1856, he married Sarah E. Yarbrough, and two children were born to this union, John S., and Stephen A. D. After his marriage Captain Owen settled on a farm on the James river, however, he had previously spent a number of years engaged in buying and selling livestock, and, like his father before him, he became one of the most progressive agriculturists in Greene county, owing a vast estate on either side of the James river, aggregating over nineteen hundred acres. He cleared and improved about one-half of the entire tract, leaving a large portion of his land in timber and he kept large herds of various kinds of livestock on his large pastures. The first wife of Captain Owen died in the spring of 1862, and on January 31, 1865, he married Nancy Caroline McCroskey, to which union eight children were born, named as follows: Charles J., Rachael M., Margaret S. E., Alwilda M. J., George D., Francis W., W. E., and Joseph L. (subject of this sketch).

Captain Owen was a Democrat and was influential in local public affairs. He was elected sheriff of Greene county in 1870, and was reelected in 1874, serving two terms of two years each. He took a conspicuous part in the local military affairs during the Civil war. In May, 1861, he organized a militia company of Home Guards in Wilson township and was elected captain, but when his company was consolidated with another, he being the junior of the two captains, resigned and became a first lieutenant. When General Lyon's army marched out from Springfield on the night of August 9, 1861, to attack General Price and McCulloch on Wilson's creek, Captain Owen was appointed one of the guides; and he led the division under Col. Franz Sigel to the Confederate camp, he took part in the battle on the following day. The Union forces having retreated to Rolla, Phelps county, Captain Owen and his company were enrolled in United States service there, and was commissioned by the governor of Missouri as first lieutenant in the regular army. He saw considerable active service, was in a number of skirmishes in the southern part of the state and later fought against General Marmaduke in that part of the state and was also in minor engagements in Tennessee and different parts of his own state. At Columbus, Kentucky his company did guard duty on the ordnance boat "General Grant," and later was with General Sherman on his march through Mississippi; was with General Banks on the Red river expedition, also at the occupation of the city of Alexandria, and the battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, where his regiment lost all of its officers except the major, one 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. This company was in severe skirmishes, fighting from April 9th to May 16th, when the battle of Yellow Brow was fought. Later Captain Owen was in battle near Mineral Point, Missouri. He was sick in the Federal Hospital at Memphis, Tennessee, nine weeks. He was mustered out of the service in St. Louis, October 14, 1864. Soon thereafter he returned home and engaged in farming until his death.

Joseph L. Owen grew to manhood on the home farm and there he worked during the summer months and attended the district schools in the winter time. He has always lived on the old homestead, he having taken the old home place proper in the settlement of his father's estate, and he is owner of one of the choice farms of this part of Greene county, consisting of three hundred and twenty acres, two hundred acres of which is under cultivation and he is carrying on general farming and stock raising in a highly successful manner. He has carefully rotated his crops and otherwise skillfully managed the old farm so that it has not only retained its original fertility but the strength of soil has been increased.

Mr. Owen was married November 10, 1901, to Kate McConnell, a daughter of John and Nannie (Aven) McConnell, both born, reared and educated in Christian county, Missouri, and in that county Mrs. Owen was born January 25, 1883, and there grew to womanhood and received a common school education. Her father's death occurred June 3, 1909, but her mother is still living in Christian county. Ten children were born to Mr. and Mrs. McConnell, namely: Lindsay is the eldest; Mrs. Maggie Avery, wife of Ed Avery, of Christian county; Lucy is the wife of James Stewart, of Greene county; Gracey is the wife of Herbert Avan and they live in Christian county; Ross also lives in that county; Bertha, wife of Will Gooch, resides in the same county; Kate, wife of Mr. Owen, of this sketch; the other three children died in infancy.

To Mr. and Mrs. Owen. three children have been born, namely: Rosco died in infancy; Clarence, born February 7, 1903, and Homer, born October 12, 1909 are at home.

Politically, Mr. Owen has voted the Democratic ticket since attaining his majority. Mrs. Owen is a member of the Christian church. They are among the popular young people of this part of the county.


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