Col. John Willard Owen

February 3, 1843-June 8, 1915


The Toccoa Record, Toccoa, Ga. June 15, 1915


After an illness of only four days, Colonel John W. Owen, ex-mayor and one of the most prominent citizens of this city, died at his home on Tugalo Street, at six o'clock Tuesday morning, age 72. Although he had been in failing health for the past three months he was not know to be seriously ill until Saturday last and the announcement of his death came as a great shock to the community. The immediate cause of his death was dysentery.


John W. Owen was born in Anderson County, South Carolina, February 3, 1843. When five years of age his parents moved to Homer, in Banks County, this state, where he grew to manhood. At the age of eighteen years he enlisted in the famous Banks County Guards, later known as Company A of the 2nd Georgia Regiment, a portion of the Robert Toombs Brigade, which was attached to Longstreet's Corps, this augmenting Lee's splendid Army of Northern Virginia. He served as Captain of his company and participated in the battles of 2nd Manassas, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, the Seven Days fight around Richmond, Orange County Court House, Spotsylvania, Chicamauga, the Wilderness, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, to mention only a few of the battles in which his brigade was engaged during his four years' service. He was wounded at Gettysburg and also at the battle of Chicamauga.


He was present at the surrender of Appomatox in April 1865, after which he returned to his home in Banks County.


Colonel Owen was married twice. In 1869 he wedded Miss Lucy M. Smith of Banks County, and to them three children were born, of them only Mrs. G. W. Hood of Commerce now survives.


Shortly after his return from the army he was elected Clerk of Superior Court of Banks County and later he served as representative from that county in the General Assembly. He studied law and was admitted to practice in the year 1874.


In 1875 he came to the then new town of Toccoa, then in Habersham County, and opened a law office. His geniality at once won him a host of friends and shortly after taking up his residence here he was elected to the office of Solicitor General of County Court.


Colonel Owen's first wife died soon after coming to this city and in 1880 he was married to Miss Mary Eliza Ward of near Tupelo, who still survives, together with the following children: Mrs. W. J. Raffle, Mr. Willard Owen, Colonel Dewitt Owen, Messrs. Annie, Lorene, Willie and Winston Owen, all of this city; also his brother, Mr. Calvin H. Owen of South Georgia and the following sisters: Mrs. Amanda Gober, Mrs. Nancy McCoy, Mrs. Laura Watson, Mrs. Marie Richie and Mrs. Almira Stapler of South Georgia.


In 1879 Colonel Owen was elected Mayor of Toccoa and at various elections thereafter serving as Chief Magistrate of this city for nearly a quarter of a century. A record can scarcely be excelled by any other man in any city anywhere.


Colonel Owen was prominent in religious circles, being for many years connected with the Presbyterian Church and at the time of his death was a ruling elder, clerk of the church session and teacher of the men's bible classs. He was also chairman of the Democratic Executive committee of Stephens County; a conspicuous member of the Masonic Fraternity and the oldest practicing attorney in the county. He was a man in whose judgment the public had great confidence and his opinion on legal subjects and matters of importance in various lines was constantly sought. He served frequently as the Administrator in decedent's estates, as guardian and in many other positions of trust.


His funeral, which was largely attended, was held from the Presbyterian church yesterday morning at 11 o'clock as was in charge of the Toccoa Lodge F&AM of which he was a member and past Master. Reverend C. I. Stacey, his pastor, made a living tribute to his memory, speaking of his many noble qualities of character and his activities in civic and church work, which has endeared him in the hearts of the people in the community.



Contributed by David Owen Styles

Copyright 2004 Vicky & Jackie

Background by Donna Brand