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                                                   SUBMITTED BY MARCIA McCLURE 


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 Eleanor.  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 in Texas.  (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, 1840-41.


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 of education  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 John Prince  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 twice.  The first time in February 1836, she died in December ____.  The second in January 1839.  I have three children by my last wife:  Augustin, Catherine 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.  Write often.


Jonathan Owen (son of Augustine and Catherine Owen MAM)

Martha Sarah Ann Owen (second wife MAM)

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 Augustine)  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 Oct.)  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 this state.  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 apiece.  Jonathan has been married twice.  I was married in the Summer of 1842 have 2 children son & daughter.  Sister Sarah has 2 daughters married.  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 in 1844)  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 anyhow.  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.


RBS Owen



Summerville GA

July 12

                        Jno P Coles, SQ

            Independence, Texas

Henry County Family Biographies Index

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This page was last updated on -02/04/2016

Compilation Copyright 2004-Present

 by Linda Blum-Barton