Last week The Vagabond received a call from Wes Gwin, who was seeking information on where the old Owens Family Cemetery was located. It became a cemetery back in 1874.
A quick call to family member Nathan Owens revealed where the cemetery was located – off Main Street in South Gadsden near the top of a hill. The cemetery entrance is in the between and behind two houses.
Wes Gwin has many family members buried in the cemetery, including his third great-grand aunt, Cassie Whisenant Owens (July 10, 1804 – 1882). Aunt Cassie is an older sister to Adaline Whisenant Smith, the wife of Redden Smith. Adaline was Wes’ mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother.
According to Wes, Aunt Cassie is a direct ancestor to Gadsden councilman Ben Reed’s wife Barbara, as well as Genny Fresh McCord, Dr. Chip Griffith and the late Paul Owens, who years ago ran Owens Department Store in East Gadsden. Cassie was the mother of Lewis “Luke” Owens (1824-1909), who provided the land for the cemetery. Wes said he had never seen the grave of a third great-grand aunt or third great-grand uncle in the Gadsden city limits. He usually must travel out town or out of state.
It is said that as a young man, Luke Owens (born 1824) acquired several acres of land situated between Black Creek and Big Wills Creek in an area now known as South Gadsden. He spent his entire life clearing and cultivating this land.
In 1874, Luke’s daughter Cassie F. died at 19 years of age and was buried in a portion of this land, which is now known as Owens Family Cemetery. Three years before he died in 1909, Luke deeded this land to “a family burying ground.” The cemetery is located in a corner of a 40-acre plot he had given (excepting one and 1/4 acres reserved for the cemetery) to his daughter, Louisa Frances Ashley (wife of Sanford, 1850). That was where the Sanford Ashley family lived.
In October of 1984, the Owens Family Cemetery Corporation was founded with the following trustees: James W. Ashley, Mrs. Macy Nell Owens, Rev. Herman A. Owens, Rev. Wade Talley and Rev. J.M. Owens.
The Owens originally were from Wales as far back as the 1500s. The first family member to enter and live in the Etowah County area was Jesse Owens, who died in St. Clair County in what was probably now Etowah County.
There is an old photo taken back in the fall of 1915 of the Owens family making sorghum syrup for the Irvin family at the Owen farm on Owen Street in South Gadsden. The Irvins were neighbors who lived about a mile away.
The Owen family made 2,000 gallon of syrup one fall. It sold it for $1 a gallon for best syrup and 50 cents a gallon for dark syrup. The dark syrup was dark because the cane was grown on dark creek bottomland.
The following excerpt is what The Vagabond has found from the oldest Owen in Wales, all the way down to Mobley Owens (who came to America) and then to Louis Andrew Jackson Owens, who died in 1942. There are many more Owens that The Vagabond does not have the time or the space to publish.
The Owens genealogy: John Ap David: born in 1515 in Machynlleth, Powys, Wales and died in 1545. He married Malit Verch Hugh, who was born in 1520 at Mathavarn, Powys, Wales, and died in 1545.
Owen Ap John Ap Dafydd: born in 1545 in Aberllefni Ceiswyn,Tanyllyn,Wales and died in 1571. Married Elizabeth, who was born in 1552 in Wales and died in 1571.
Rowland Owen: born in 1571 in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales and died on Aug. 29, 1641 in St Asaph Church, Montgomeryshire, Wales. He was married to Elizabeth Pugh in 1597 in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales.
Thomas Owen: born in 1598 in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales and died in 1672 in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales. Married to Joyce Pughe in 1624 in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales.
Rowland Owen: born 1625 in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales. Married to Barbara Williams in 1649 in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales.
Thomas Owen: born in 1660 in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales; died in Liunilo, Llunllo, Machynlleth. Married Anne Powell, who was born in 1664 in Beltws, Montgomeryshire, Wales.
William Owen: born in 1684 in Machynlleth, Wales; died in Wales. Married on June 24, 1704 to Elizabeth Pryee, who was born in 1685 in Wales.
Thomas Owen: born in 1712 in Rhiwlas, Pentraeth, Anglesey, Wales; died on Dec. 5, 1809, in Lancyfud, Denbighshire, Wales. Married Margaret Thomas, who was born in 1726 in Wales and died on Jan. 17, 1796, in Wales.
Mosby Owens: born in 1750 in either North Carolina or Wales; died on Nov. 16, 1840 in Franklin, Ill. Married Elizabeth Gooch, who was born in 1786 in North Carolina and died in 1857 in Lafayette, Missouri.
Jesse Owens: born in 1775 in Stokes, N.C.; died in 1840 in St. Clair County, Ala. Married Sarah Pinkney, who was born in 1780 in North Carolina and died on June 15, 1864, in St Clair County, Alabama.
John Owens: born in 1805 in Alabama and died on Mar. 20, 1888, in St Clair County, Ala. Married on May 29, 1822, to Cassie Whisanant, who was born in 1804 in York, S.C., and died in 1882 in St Clair County, Ala.
Lewis “Luke” Owens: born on Jan. 6, 1824 in South Carolina and died on Nov. 18, 1909, in Gadsden, Etowah County, Ala. Married Katherine Brothers, who was born in 1825 in Claire City, Roberts County, South Dakota and died in 1908 in Gadsden, Etowah County, Ala.
Thomas James Owens: born on Sept. 30, 1848 in Gadsden, Etowah County, Ala. and died on Jan. 14, 1882, in Alabama City. Married Jane Smith, who was born on July 4, 1841, in Cherokee County, Ala., and died on Oct. 5, 1904, in Alabama City.
Louis Andrew Jackson Owens: born on Sept. 21, 1867, in Gadsden, Etowah County, Ala., and died on Nov. 23, 1942, in Gadsden, Etowah County, Alabama. Married Mary Jane Harrel, who was born on Aug. 9, 1873, in Dallas, Paulding County, Ga., and died on Nov. 27, 1964, in Gadsden, Etowah County, Ala.