June 17, 1830, near Belfast, Ireland, the subject of this sketch was born. He was the son of Archibald and Mary (McMaster) Owens, both lifelong residents of the Emerald Isle. Their children were Jane, Mary, Alexander, Margaret, Anna, William and Jennie, all of whom became citizens of the United States, and all of whom, with the exception of Jennie and the subject of this review, are now deceased. Alexander came to America when but sixteen years of age and settled at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. There he earned the carpenter’s trade, which he has followed the greater part of his life. At Pittsburg, October 15, 1852, he married Miss Helen Wyman, a native of New York, born January 31, 1834. She was the daughter of Moses C. and Ann (Lamb) Wyman. A year after his marriage Mr. Owens removed to Cleveland, Ohio, where he followed his trade for three years, at the end of that time becoming a resident of Rock Island, Illinois. In the Spring of 1857 he settled in the Village of Milan, then a thriving young manufacturing place, and has made this his home since, with the exception of two years spent in California.
After coming to Milan Mr. Owens engaged extensively as a builder and contractor, operating in Rock Island, Mercer and Henry Counties. In 1891 he was appointed master carpenter on the western section of the Illinois and Mississippi Canal, which was begun at that time. Mr. Owens first had charge of the carpenter work on the locks and gates and of the erection of the houses on the western part of the canal. When this work was done he was appointed overseer for this part of the waterway, and he has held this position ever since, serving with great success.
Mr. and Mrs. Owens became the parents of seven children : Anna L., William A. (deceased), Charles C., Jennie, Helen, Elizabeth B., and Emma A. Mr. Owens is a Republican and has been honored with various offices. He served as supervisor of Black Hawk Township two terms and as president of the Milan Village Board eight terms. He is a Mason and he and his wife hold member-ship in the Presbyterian Church.