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George P. Owen of Tremont – Dies in New Mexico – A Connection to the Boer War

Posted By on May 3, 2017

George Pitt Owen died on 25 July 1901 and is buried in the United Methodist Church Cemetery in Tremont, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  He was a Civil War veteran who reported his service in 1890 to the census while living in Tremont.  However, because he served in the 17th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1862), Company H, as a Private, from 17 September 1862 through the end of the emergency when he was discharged on 28 September 1862, he was not eligible for a pension.  And, because the militia records are not as detailed as the regular Pennsylvania infantry units, it is difficult to find out much about his Civil War experience.

Using the birth/death/spouse information in his Findagrave Memorial, a surprising discovery was made when searching for him in the census records for 1900. At that time [1900] he was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was operating a hotel there. That information led to his obituary, which appeared in the Albuquerque Citizen, 26 July 1901:

WELL-KNOWN CITIZEN GONE

George P. Owen Expired Last Night in Wagon Mound, New Mexico

It is with deep regret that The Citizen is again called to chronicle the death of one of Albuquerque’s old time citizens, and this time George Pitt Owen, proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel, responded to the final summons. For some time Mr. Owen has been suffering with kidney trouble and in the early part of the present month he decided to visit his daughter, Mrs. George D. Parrish in Wagon Mound, where he hoped a recreation from business would restore him to health, but the disease had so thoroughly fastened itself upon his constitution that it would not yield to medical treatment, and a as a consequence the aged gentleman’s demise occurred last night at 10 o’clock.  On Thursday morning , his daughter in law, Mrs. Harry Owen, left for his bedside, and upon her arrival there found him rapidly sinking.  She telegraphed her husband of his father’s condition, who left on No. 8, last evening for Wagon Mound, but his father’s eyes had been closed in death several hours prior to his arrival.

The body was removed to East Las Vegas today where it was embalmed and tomorrow the remains will be shipped to Tremont, Pennsylvania, where it will be laid to rest by the side of two children who preceded their father to the grave several years ago.  Harry P. Owen and his wife will accompany the body.

George Pitt Owen was born in England 73 years ago, and with his parents, came to the United States in the 20s.  On 28 October 1853 he married Miss Henrieta Breckbill, in Stratton, Pennsylvania, and by this union six children were born, four of whom are living.  They are Prof. John Pitt Owen; Harry Pitt Owen, clerk of the second judicial district of this city; Mrs. George D. Parrish of Wagon Mound, New Mexico, and Miss Martha Owen, who is now residing with her mother in Stratton, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Owen has been a resident of Albuquerque for a dozen years or more.  For a long time he conducted the old San Felipe Hotel, but during the past four years he was proprietor of the Grand Central.  He was a thirty-second degree Mason, and was also a member of the Episcopal Church.  The deceased was prominently known in New Mexico, and many friends are left to mourn.

An interesting connection to the Boer War in South Africa was located in the Albuquerque Weekly Citizen of 24 March 1900:

FROM SOUTH AFRICA

Lieut. Albert H. Leith Writes a Letter to George P. Owen

HE IS WELL-KNOWN IN ALBUQUERQUE

George P. Owen, proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel, has received a letter from Lieuenant Albert H. Leith, who is fighting for Queen Victoria in South Africa.  This lieutenant is well-known in this territory, especially here and in Grant County, where he was interested in mining and in the stock raising business.  He was for a short time, interested in the Golden District, but on disposing of his property there, he came to Albuquerque, purchased a riding pony, and enjoyed a real leisurely life, vibrating between this city, the Jemes and Sulphur hot springs quite frequently. The lieutenant left the Grand Central Hotel this month one year ago, and when he reached London, he found that during his absence in American his mother had died, leaving him a large legacy, and requested him to remain at home.  However, he was fired with the war spirit and he enlisted to do service in South Africa.

Mr. Owen is in receipt of the following letter dated 10 February [1900], since which time Ladysmith has been relieved.

Chievely Camp, Natal, 10 February 1900 —

Dear Friend Owen:

I have often intended to write you a line to let you know how the world wags with me for here I am leading a troop in the South African Light Horse and fighting the Boers in South Africa.  We are in the Natal Field Force, the relief of Ladysmith our present object, but even if we have found the Boers a hard nut to crack, with their natural mountain strongholds and assisted by French, German and Russian officers, and artillery men, and splendidly armed, we are determined to settle the matter definitely by arms this time, whatever it may cost us.

How little I thought a year ago, when in New Mexico, chatting with you in the evenings, that now I should be writing from Africa, sitting in my tent the first quiet day for some days of  ‘out pickets’ and ‘reconnaissance’ duty.

At the Battle of Colenso, though our squads suffered severely, I am glad to say and my horse came through all right without a scratch but it wasn’t for want of Mauser bullets spitting thick around one.

I hope you have been well and flourishing since last I heard from you.  How is Ben Moore?  Tell him I don’t like my present saddle as much as my good old Californian, but that my ‘quirt’ comes in handy sometimes.  As for instance, at the Battle of Colenso, we had to lead some horses down to some of our men whose horses had been shot, and it is astonishing how my quirt made the lead horses lead up.  Very little time for writing, so goodbye for the present.  If you have an opportunity a letter will find me addressed Lieutenant A. H. Leith, South Africa Light Brigade, via Cape Town, Africa.

Remember me to all friends, J. B. Block and his wife, and tell Moore to do the same for me to all friends at the Jemes Springs.  If you think of it and see Mr. Keen, cashier of the First National Bank, please remember me most kindly to him and time him where I am.

Yours most sincerely,

ALBERT LEITH

An additional item for research on George P. Owen:

During 1871, George P. Owen represented Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, mine owners/operators in negotiations with the miners.   Several articles appeared in local newspapers of the time.

More information is sought on this Civil War veteran who lived a good part of his life in the Tremont area.  Please add comments to this blog post.

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News articles are from Newspapers.com.

 

 


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