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Posted By: County Coordinator (email)
Date: 10/10/2020 at 23:04:22

CAPT. ROBERT S. OWEN is one of the pioneer boatmen of the Mississippi, having plied the rapids between Keokuk and Montrose for the last thirty-nine years, and is part owner of the steamboat “Park Bluff,” belonging to the Des Moines Rapids Towing Company, and the steamer “Prescott.” He also has an interest in other river craft, and among the members of his calling occupies a prominent and enviable position. He is skillful and popular, and is well and favorably known for miles up and down the river.

Capt. Owen is a native of Indiana, and was born at Point Commerce, Greene County, Oct. 9, 1830. He is the son of Ephraim and Mary (Kern) Owen, natives of Ohio and New Jersey respectively. Ephraim Owen removed from his native State to Iowa while it was yet a Territory, in 1839, and in that year his life terminated, at the age of fifty years. He was a farmer by occupation, and connected with the church of the Latter-Day Saints. His wife came with him to this State, and survived him until 1845 or 1846. She was reared in the faith of the Christian Church, but after her marriage went with her husband to the church of his choice.

The parental family of our subject consisted of two sons and three daughters, the record of whom is as follows: Robert S., our subject; Camara O., went to Utah Territory, and died there in 1865; Fermina V., became the wife of George Powers; Persilla, died in about 1840, in the spring of the year; Ephraim F., also a steamboat Captain and pilot on the lower Mississippi, was married in 1867, to Miss Mary Barnett, of Mobile, Ala.; he died in St. Louis on the 18th day of September, 1867, of yellow fever. He had started from St. Louis in command of the steamer “Bee,” belonging to the Mississippi Valley Transportation Company, made his trip in safety, and was stricken with the plague in Baton Rouge, La., and brought to St. Louis. His first trip up the river as pilot was to St. Paul in 1854, and he followed the Upper Mississippi as pilot until 1863, when he went below and followed the Lower Mississippi trade for the following two years, then purchased an interest in the steamer “War Eagle,” running her as Captain one year. He then became employed by the above-named transportation company, and secured a life insurance to the extent of $5,000, which after his death was paid to his widow.

Capt. Owen of this sketch was united in marriage with Miss Eliza A. Peck, Nov. 5, 1856. Mrs. Owen is a native of South Adams, Mass., born June 11, 1835. Her parents were Cyrus and Ruth T. (Hoxie) Peck, natives of New York and Massachusetts respectively, and she was their only child. Her father was born Feb. 21 1804, and departed this life Nov. 12, 1858, in Hancock County, Ill. Mrs. Peck died Oct. 28, 1835, in Massachusetts.

Of the union of Capt. And Mrs. Owen there has been only one child, a son, Zack, born Aug. 28, 1857. He has received a fine education, and is an intelligent and successful business man. Mrs. Owen is a highly cultivated lady, and of remarkably attractive personal appearance. She comes of an excellent family, and is a cousin of the late H. M. Hoxie, of St. Louis. Capt. Owen and his family occupy a fine residence in Montrose, and are surrounded by the evidences of a refined and cultivated taste.

Besides his town property, Capt. Owen is the proprietor of 350 acres of land in Montrose Township. He is a gentleman of pleasing manners, a great favorite among river men, and highly esteemed in the town where he makes his home. He is a member in good standing of the I. O. O. F.,
Cascade Lodge No. 66, and also belongs to the A. F. & A. M., Joppa Lodge No. 136, at Montrose, and to Potowonok Chapter; also Damascus Commandery No. 5, at Keokuk, the Eastern Star, and the Knights of Pythias, No. 115. He casts his vote uniformly in support of the principles of the Republican party, and takes an intelligent interest in all matters of local and general importance.

Capt. Owen is a thorough business man, and is President of the Des Moines Rapids Towing Company, the members of said company being, R. S. Owen and Capt. Samuel Speake, of Nauvoo, F. A. Whitney, of Sandusky, Iowa, and Thomas Peel, of Burlington.


Transcription typed/proofed as article was originally published in 1887


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