Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918
CHARLES OWEN. The production of oil and gas forms one of the most important industries in the State of Kansas. It is not only a source of great wealth, but at the same time serves as a medium of employment for a great many men and a means of livelihood for a great number of dependent families. In this respect Montgomery County is one of the busiest and most productive portions of the state. The cultivation of its fertile farms and the operation of its almost inexhaustible gas and oil wells go hand in hand to make it one of the prime contributors to the bountiful prosperity of a great region. To supervise all the details of the working of one of the concerns engaged in the production of oil and gas requires a man of more than ordinary energy, sound judgment and thorough knowledge, and such an individual is Charles Owen, president of the Caney Pipe Line Company, and one of the best known figures in oil and gas circles of Southern Kansas and Oklahoma.
Mr. Owen was born at Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia, in February, 1870, and is a son of Dr. William O. Owen. His father was born at Lynchburg, in 1820, was educated for the medical profession, graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, and for many years was engaged in practice at his native place. During the entire period of the Civil war he acted as senior surgeon of the medical corps of the Confederate hospitals in Virginia. At Lynchburg after the war he continued to follow his profession until his death, in 1891. The impression seems well founded that among the sturdy upbuilders of the State of Kansas such accessories as ancestors or family traditions count for little as a community asset. There is something about the prairies that makes a man want to rely upon himself, to develop his latent talents and to draw upon his innate resources. However, no class of men are more appreciative of honorable forebears, and in this connection Mr. Owen is no exception. The Owen family can not only be traced back to the earliest times in American history, but also in England, where it originated, for some generations. Colonial Virginia was the home of its early members, and a number bearing the name fought as soldiers in the Continental army during the Revolutionary war. On his mother's side of the family Mr. Owen traces the line back to the Cherokees, one of his ancestors being a full-blooded member of that tribe who visited England and received honors at the hands of King George the Second. Mr. Owen, however, has never made a display of his ancestry, for, while proud of his origin, he believes that what a man is and does for himself is the best evidence of manhood, particularly in a comparatively new state like Kansas.
The early education of Mr. Owen came from the public schools of his native place, following which he enrolled as a pupil at Lynchburg College, and was duly graduated therefrom. In 1899 he turned his face toward the West in search of position and fortune, and eventually located on the prairies of Oklahoma, where he embarked in business as the proprietor of a ranch. In this direction he continued with a fair measure of success for something more than four years, when, recognizing the trend of the times and hearing the knock of opportunity, he entered the oil business. In 1904 he came to Caney and this place has since been the center of his activities and here he has developed into one of the leading oil and gas producers in the Kansas and Oklahoma fields. An indication of the extent of Mr. Owen's activities, is found in the fact that he was recently granted a lease on 165,760 acres of gas lands in the Osage Indian Nation, Oklahoma, the lease, granted by the Osage Council, being subsequently approved by the Secretary of the Interior, at Washington, District of Columbia. In 1912 Mr. Owen became the prime mover in the organization of the Caney Pipe Line Company, of which he has since been president, the other officials being G. W. Connelly, vice president, and W. H. Edgrett, secretary and treasurer, both of Caney. The company, which is capitalized at $10,000, supplies gas for industrial and domestic service at Caney and the immediate surrounding territory. Mr. Owen has various other business interests. He is president of the Owen Zinc Company, which established a three-block smelter in the northern part of Caney in 1913, and of which G. W. Connelly is vice president. The company was organized for the manufacture of spelter, the raw material coming from all quarters of the United States, while the finished product is shipped all over the world. Mr. Owen is also secretary of the Connelly Glass Company, of which G. W. Connelly is president and A. Loriaux, vice president, and the factory of which was established at Caney in 1914. This a plant of thirty shops, manufacturing window glass, with its market in all parts of the country to the north and west of Caney. Mr. Owen maintains his business headquarters in the office of the Caney Pipe Line Company, on Fourth Avenue. He is known as a progressive, enterprising man of business, quick and accurate in his judgment and possessing a full measure of tactful discretion, one upon whom his associates may rely in matters of importance. He has been the builder of his own fortune and his business activities have served to materially aid in the development of the natural resources of the community which he has adopted as his home. Politically he is independent, and business cares have thus far demanded his attention to the exclusion of participation in public matters, but he takes a lively interest in everything that promises to affect his community. His religious connection is with the Episcopal Church. In fraternal affairs he affiliates with the lodges of the Masonic order and the Elks.
Mr. Owen was married in 1904, at Nowata, Oklahoma, to Miss Pauline Webb, daughter of the late Hon. George W. Webb, who for some years was a judge of Galena, Kansas.
Transcribed from volume 4, pages 1924-1925 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; originally transcribed 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.
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