OWEN FAMILY LETTERS
The following are transcriptions
of 2 letters sent to John Prince and Mary Eleanor Owen
Coles of Independence, Washington Co, TX.
These letters are from
Jonathan Owen, then residing in Henry Co, GA, and Robert
Bailor Samples Owen of Morgan Co, GA, brothers of Mary
The Owen children were
born and raised in Morgan Co, GA.
John and Mary Eleanor left
Morgan Co, GA about 1820.
They spent some time
in Alabama and stopped to plant a crop in Arkansas.
It was in Arkansas
that they met Stephen Austin.
He must have persuaded
them to go to Texas as John Price and Mary Eleanor Owen
Coles were among Austinís ďOld 300Ē, the first families
(See short bio on Stephen
F Austin at
Their daughter, Maria Louise
Coles Hill was the first white child born west of the
Brazos in 1823.
The Coles founded Colesí
Settlement, which later became Independence, TX.
After a shaky start, debts
mentioned by Jonathan below, John and Mary Eleanor went
on to become quite prosperous.
In 1850 the widow Mary
Eleanor lists her property value as $50,000.
During the Texas Revolution
Coles moved his family east of the Neches and then joined
William Warner Hillís company, in which he served from
July to October 1836.
(Hill married Colesí
daughter Maria Louise)
Coles was elected chief
justice of Washington County in December 1836 and represented
the county in the Senate of the Fifth Texas Congress,
You will notice that there
are very few misspellings in the letters and that the
grammar is excellent.
The Owen family must
have valued education.
In the 1850 Census
of GA, 2 of the families have teachers living with them.
John and Mary Eleanor
founded the Independence Academy in Washington Co, TX
that later became a part of Baylor University.
I donít know what kind
John and Mary Eleanor
had, but I do know that Stephen Austin was sent to school
in Connecticut at age 11 and graduated with distinction
from Transylvania University in Kentucky.
Perhaps mutual feelings
of the importance of education is one of the things
that lead to Austin inviting the Coles to become part
of his settlement.
The Coles original cabin was
in good restored condition as of 2003 and is maintained
by the Historical Society.
Mary Lou Gibson Appel
of Texas who is the Great Great Granddaughter of John
and Mary Eleanor sent these copies to me.
I am descended from
sister Catherine mentioned in the letters and her husband,
James M Green.
Marcia McClure ([email protected])
Letter from Jonathan Owen,
Martha Sarah Ann Owen, Austin Owen, Catherine Owen to
John Prince and
Jonathanís sister Mary
Eleanor Owen Coles
June _____( I believe 1845
because of subject matter and letter from RBS Owen to
and Mary Eleanor Owen
Coles dated 7/1845 MAM)
Dear Brother and _____
Letter yesterday from _____
of us that he had _____ informing him ____ were ___
family and ____ who have been unwell for several days
with a fever.
(parts of the letter
are missing, but my guess is that he says that he got
a letter from RBS Owen informing him that he had gotten
a letter from Mary Eleanor.
RBS says in his letter
7/1845 to Mary Eleanor that he had written to Jonathan
and to Shirley MAM)
Sister Sarah is very
low health indeed.
She has a cancer on
her upper lip which pains her very much.
She has also got consumption
and some breast complaints which I fear will take her
off before two long without a_____ the better she_____
the land of ____ know not whether we ____ not _____shallever_____
wrote in your letter you wished him to write you whatever
any of the brothers or sisters were dead or not and
which ones were living and sent me a copy of your letter.
______ it our brother
Augustin is dead.
He died August 8, 1830,
our mother departed this life 26th October thereafter.
The others are yet
in the land of the living.
I have been married
The first time in February
1836, she died in December ____.
The second in January
I have three children
by my last wife:
Shirley and William Henry Owen____ is now living
Two daughters ____
Eleanor has one child, Ason____ James M Green who was
living ____ you left Morgan she _____ oldest Louisa
died ____ Eliza married a _____ scarcely get ____ to
____ any ____ who have been _____ brother Elliot (Robert
Henry Elliot, husband of Sarah Beeman Owen MAM) _____
for a year with ____ his ____ lower extremities is all
___ get about at times by the help ___ says if Sarah
takes on very much about _____ one daughter ____ is
____ is married and got three children ___ have children.
RBS Owen two children.
Myself and sister are
all living in Phi_non, Alabamor, Chambers Co.
Mother married about
five years before she died to a man by the name of Wm
T___ly (William TinsleyMAM) _____ property ____ brother
Elliot ____ on Augustinís ____ and paid your part of
this same over to your creditor Longstreet of Augusta
who called on him for it by law and he has a receipt
from him for this same____
has been very much
afflicted for the last ___ as I fear she will soon go
hence where parting with friends will be over nothing
more but remains your loving brother.
Jonathan Owen (son of Augustine
and Catherine Owen MAM)
Martha Sarah Ann Owen (second
Austin Owen (son MAM)
Catherine Owen (daughter MAM)
Letter from Robert Bailor Samples
Owen to John Prince and Mary Eleanor Owen Coles
July 9, 1845
Dear Brother and Sister,
I received your letter some
three weeks ago and would have written to you sooner
but I wrote to Jonathan & Shirley to write to me
and let me know how all of our relations were.
I received a letter
from Jonathan on yesterday.
We were all truly glad
to hear that you were living.
For my own part I never
had anything to give me so much pleasure in my life.
I will now proceed
to give you some information of our family which are
dead and of those that still lives in the first place.
I will inform you of
the Death of Augustine.
(This is their brother
He has been dead about
13 years and our dear mother died soon after. (Augustine
died in Aug of 1830 and his mother Catherine died in
Both died in Morgan
County at our old place.
Sister Sarah is very
low with the consumption.
Jonathan states that
he donít think she will live long.
Jonathan, Sister Sarah,
Elizur and Catherine all lives in Henny (Henry) County
Sister Catherine married
a man by the name of Green.
(James M Green)
They are getting along
in the world very well.
Sister Elizah married
a man by the name of Brannan (Wiley Brannan) they are
doing very well.
Shirley (brother Philemon
Shirley) is living in Alabama, Chambers County.
Jonathan & Shirley
are both married.
They have 3 children
Jonathan has been married
I was married in the
Summer of 1842 have 2 children son & daughter.
Sister Sarah has 2
She has 10 children
of boys and 3 daughters.
Sister Elizur has one
daughter married, has 4 boys & 1 daughter.
Sister Catherine has
4 boys & 1 daughter.
( I have 7 males and
1 female born by this date.
1 male unknown name
died young, 1 of the others must be dead by this time,
and Bail might not have known about the birth of Crafford
We are all farming.
I would be the gladest
in the world to visit Texas and if I ever leave this
country I will come to Texas.
If I can make my arrangements
to suit me I will visit the country in a year or two
I wish you to answer
this letter & give me some description of the country
where you live what kind of land and water whether sickely
or not ____
I would give everything
I possess in the world to see you all.
I will close.
Your brother till death.
Jno P Coles, SQ