Monday, March 19, 2012

William Walsh's UNKNOWN ARTS, James Joyce, Post-St. Patrick's Day Leftovers

Link to the soundtrack of William Walsh's UNKNOWN ARTS.

Fictional works inspired by the works of James Joyce abound, but this may be one of the more interesting I've seen lately.

Link to Garrison's Keillor's comparison of St. Patrick's Day and St. Olaf's Day.

Use the other links to move around his site and find the music on the show.  Irish music, it is, and simply gorgeous.

This weekend on A Prairie Home Companion, an Irish Stew for all the fair haired Emerald Islanders in celebration of the feast of St. Patrick. The late Frank McCourt reads from "Angela's Ashes," Billy Collins reads "Afternoon with Irish Cows," and Karan Casey sings a song she learned from Frank Harte called "The Brown and Yellow Ale." Martin Sheen appears in The Lives of the Cowboys as James Joyce, Sean O'Driscoll sings "Farewell to Ballyshanny," and Altan performs "I Wish My Love Was a Red Red Rose." Plus, what "Irishness" means to Lake Wobegoners and grab the hankie for dear old "Danny Boy."

Listen to Pat Donohue's "Irish Blues" at this link.

Saturday, my wife made Irish stew and a low-fat Shamrock Creme Pie.  We're both part-Irish along several lines, but it goes back a long, long way.  Like most Americans whose descendants were here before the American Revolution, we descend from many different ethnic groups.

One of my ancestors was the Irish Indian trader, John Owens, who, according to Benjamin Franklin's Gazette, married a daughter of Tanacharisson, the Seneca Half-King--that is, the commercial diplomat for the western Iroquois in the 1750s.

Owens was a remarkable man and left a small journal with expanded accounts of the credit extended to the Native Americans he dealt with, first in western Pennsylvania and later at the lower Shawnee town.  His papers reveal an irreverent sense of humor too, to judge by the names he called his customers.  And in his journal he referred to his neighbors, the Eckerlin Brothers, the notorious frontier evangelists, as "the goddamned holy brothers."

I don't think I look particularly Irish myself, but my wife, whose picture adorns this blog profile, certainly does.  I look more like the horse she's talking to.  Anyway, we love Irish music and Irish literature, and thus we are grateful for the chance to celebrate this holiday.


  1. Hi Richard, I am also descended from John Owens and was wondering if his journal is posted anywhere on the internet? If not do you know where is it available? Thanks! Annette Kapple

  2. Hi, Annette,

    A copy of the journal or the journal itself was in possession of historian Glenn Lough who quoted it both in his book, NOW AND LONG AGO and the historical newspaper he published, The Long Ago Times.

    When I was researching INDIAN BLOOD vol. I in the 1980s, I called him at his home--then in Marion County, West Virginia, as I recall, and I offered to pay him to send a copy of the journal. He was elderly and retired, and he was about to undergo a cataract operation as he was having trouble with his vision.

    We talked for a long time, but he said that his health would not allow him then to get into his closet and hunt for the journal, but he assured me that as soon as he recovered he would send a copy to me.

    I'm sure I asked and he told me where he found the journal, but I do not recall. He had access to the Heck Papers, the Prickett Papers, and other things of which I found no where else.

    Lough said that as a genealogist, I would be disappointed in the journal, as it was very short and contained only a few names. I replied that I was writing a book with much frontier lore and that a few names might be highly significant to me.

    I think it was Lough who turned me on to John Owens' Indian trader accounts, most of which were transcribed and published by Professor Kenneth Bailey. The Filson Club had a copy and I found much in the published version to put into my own books. Lough told me that the originals were in the Etting Collection (or perhaps I read that in Bailey's THE OHIO COMPANY PAPERS. Possibly John Owens journal is there too, but I never got up to the area to track it down.

    I've never seen the original Indian accounts either but would like to, as no doubt the writing was hard to read and the spelling nonstandard.

    I sent a copy of my first book to Glenn Lough when it was published along with a written request for a copy of John Owens journal, only to discover a little later that he had passed away.

    Inasmuch as my books are in most libraries up that way, I am surprised that no one has published a book telling more of John Owens story than I was able to find in the years before there were personal computers and the internet.

    If you find it, please send me a copy.

  3. Hi Richard, Thanks a million for all the info! I read your book Indian Blood Book 1 it's really fascinating too. Yes, too bad the Journal has not been fully published and available to everyone; it really is a gold mine of info about our family. If I find it online I will definitely let you and everyone else researching the family know :).

    I have one more question. Your book mentions a power of attorney which Thomas Brashears gave to James Owens in Bracken County KY. I was just wondering was that from the court orders book or maybe deeds book? Thanks Again! Annette

  4. We probably have a copy of that around here somewhere, and I will return to this thread when I can provide the exact citation. My mother, who is still in good health, found that in the Bracken County Records but when researching INDIAN BLOOD II (where a better genealogy of the Owens family can be found), I spent a couple of days at the courthouse there and have seen this myself.

    I recall when all of those records were microfilmed and made available at the Kentucky State Archives in Frankfort (and perhaps many other places). By now, you'd think that they'd be available on-line.

    1. Thank you very much Richard for all your time and trouble!
      I took an autosomal DNA test and matched another person in John Owens line. I tested positive for about 6% Mayan Indian at Ft DNA. When I submitted my results at gedmatch I came out with 0.20% North American Indian. Agnes Owens descendant came out with no North American and 0.23% Meso American. As I found out Mayan and Meso American can actuaully be Eastern North American Indian. I also found out that if your Native American blood is far back in time it may have disappeared from your genome. Annette

  5. That's very interesting. Neither I nor any of my family has had our DNA checked, so far as I am aware. I've always been more interested in the history rather than the genetics of things. Although sometimes people mail me invitations, I've never joined in any of the Native American revival groups.

    We sold the books at Piqua's Heritage Festival for many years, and I recall chatting with some of the Native American groups there. When we were invited to come back to camp and spend the night as their guests, my wife and I look at one another and shook our heads. No, we said, we already belong to a motel, shower, and air-conditioning tribe.

    Last spring, I read Bryan Sykes' DNA USA: A GENETIC PORTRAIT OF AMERICA, which was eye-opening concerning the DNA test. You might want to read it too:

    After reading your comments, I think I've finally decided to have my DNA checked too. And my wife's too, while I'm at it.

    I have no expectations at all, just curiousity. I've always held the theory that, since there were so many white captives among the Indians, and since so many Indian traders married white women who lived among them, it was certainly possible that the daughter of the Half King was an adopted daughter and not a blood daughter.

    Just as it is possible that John Owens had multiple wives, some children by one and some by another.

    I might start another blog where we can discuss such things with other researchers, but for now this is working fine for me. Stay tuned, there will be more revelations coming.

    1. It would be great if there was a blog like that! What I now understand is that we don't inherit information from every ancestor we have on the autosomal DNA. Some information is lost every generation. Each member of a family will inherit a different portion of Autosomal DNA. The Y and Mt tests are accurate.
      I love the History too. I have a BA in History. It doesn't matter to me whether Maths was Native American or not. I don't know where the info about a possible wife named Judith came from? It would be difficult to actually say with 100% certainty who the childrens' mother was. It really doesn't matter that much to me. Others really seem invested in Math's being related to them LOL.
      Thanks for the link. I still have a lot to learn about DNA testing. Annette

  6. RE: The Indenture from Thomas Broshears to James Owens.

    My mother said she first found it in Bracken County in the country courthouse and got copies of it. I have a transcription of it here. The citation is Bracken County Deed Book C, page 489.

    "Know all men by these presents that I, Thomas Broshears, of Bracken County and State of Kentucky do nominate, ordain, constitute and appoint James Owens of the same place, my true sufficient and lawful attorney for me and in my name and stead to act for, demand, sue for, and recover any money or other property whether of a real or personal nature which may be due or in any wise coming to me from the estate of John Owens late of the State of Pennsylvania deceased also in or otherwise any matters relative to said estate wherein I am concerned either in right of Hannah Broshears (late Hannah Owens) my wife or in other individual right..."

    August 9, 1806

    The Broshears Heirs were named in Bracken County Deed Book F, pp. 405-406

    It seems to me now that, when I went back to the court house, many years later, while doing research for INDIAN BLOOD I, I cross researched this time in the different records and found other, related powers of attorney and disputes between the different parties over what I thought were very small sums.

    My feeling was that Capt. George Owens' sons were involved or maybe they were David Owens' sons. With the Merandas, part of a group that moved to what is now Scott County Indiana. Again, this was just the feeling that I had at the time. We know that some of the Broshears, Merandas, and Owens went there.

    As for Judith Owens, she was probably the widow of the older John Owens. The younger John Owens' widow was Susan or Susanna, and I think I recall that Judith, a widow, was living on his estate when he was killed. One of Hannah's daughters was Judith Susan Broshears.

    That the older John Owens married the daughter of the Half King is information gleaned from Benjamin Franklin's Gazette, quoted and cited in William A. Hunter's FORTS ON THE PENNSYLVANIA FRONTIER.

    Howard Leckey, in THE TEN MILE COUNTRY, said that the Pennsylvania court records say that guardians were appointed for minor children after John Owens was killed. As I say, there were many whites among the Indians, children who had been captured young and raised red, half-breed children and captured whites very often became the wives of traders.

    John Owens' Indian accounts show that he gave a lot of credit to the relatives of an Indian woman he called Nancy, and she remains unidentified (to my knowledge).

    There are a lot of mysteries here, and I do not claim to have the best grasp on them. Surely by now someone has gone way beyond the research I did back in the 1970s & 1980s. Without a computer.

    At least I hope so.

  7. Can't thank you enough for all the info Richard!! Wow, I really appreciate it! I think my James D. Owens married to Francis might be son of John Owens and Susanna? The Broshears thought the James Owens married to Sally Broshears was their son? It's possible if Sally is not a daughter of Hannah. I am not sure? I saw a possible marriage the for Hannah and Thomas Broshears of 1802? That may come from a church record? You may want to look at what I have collected so far which at posted in a blog post here
    If you have any corrections please let me know? I will let you know if I find more.
    Thanks again! Annette

  8. This is probably a better link

  9. Hi Richard! Thanks so much for all your research! Quite a contribution to preserving our heritage! I am descended from Willis Callaway Owens. From DNA testing he is descended from Trader John Owens. However paper wise we are at a brick wall. I believe he is the grandson of John Owens of Clark County (history given in Baird's). Circumtantially based: his middle name is Callaway, this John's son, also John, married Rachel Callaway. In addition he has a patent in Scott County very near John Owens Sr land, and he serves as administrator for Susan Owens Mitchell's relative (daughter of John Sr). I believe that this John Owens is the same John cited as a part of two brothers, John and David, given as early settlers of the Charlestown area, (and Clarksville as I recall). And I think these two were sons of Capt. David Owens, whom you state died at the turn of the century in Indiana (at Clarksville?) By any chance could you provide the source?

    Annette pointed out that a David Owens of Clark County gave attestation for the sons of Capt. George Owens to get a pension. He calls Capt. George his uncle, and half-brother to his father. Logically this would be Capt. David.



  10. Fascinating stuff. We really need a better forum in which to discuss this. Annette posted a facebook page, but we are not facebook people so I can't join in there without a lot of difficulty.

    Here's the link to a new blog to carry on these conversations:

  11. I've never seen the George Owens (sons) pension applications (at least that I can now recall). He had a suit pending at the time of his death against legendary frontiersman George Grills whose diary author Allan W. Eckert quotes in his historical novel, THE FRONTIERSMEN.

    I called Eckert back in 1978 trying to gain access to the Journal of William Grills, but after a long search (which included posting a reward to the reference librarians at Google Beta), we have not been able to locate it. Grills was a real frontiersman, however, who had lived among the Shawnees and Ottawas and whose name is there periodically in the early Jefferson Country Va/Ky records.

    Just one of many records I always figured would surface after internet access became common. I guess I was wrong.

    I went to Scott County, Indiana, long ago in search of the Owens/Meranda records. Although they gave me access to the records, they were not well organized and I spent a long time there finding mention in the order books but unable to ascertain the locations of the corresponding court cases, if they existed.


  12. Hi Richard,
    I have your Indian Blood books and Lough's Now and Long Ago. I've searched off and on over the years for John Owens 1 (the fur trader) journal. My main concern is finding answers as to who his parents are. There are some on who feel his parents are Robert Owens (Owen, Owing) and Rachel Hook. We see property of David (I believe) Owens, selling land (400 acres) to Rachel's brother, James Hook. So there is a connection to this family. Robert Owens' family lived in Maryland, where John is said to come from. Robert also is listed as having a son, John and Owen....which our John Owens is said to have a brother named Owen. I wanted to share that there is a descendants of John Owens on could just put in the search engine on Facebook, We're the descendants of John Owens the fur should come up. There info. is shared in hopes of getting more answers on John Owens. Thanks for sharing info. w/us. Best regards, Karen Owens Grove

  13. I believe my grandfather has a copy of Williams journal of from 1808

  14. I too descend from John Owens and have tested and am on So contact me at if anyone matches me or my brother Dave if you are on thanks. would love to see original papers as well.