Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tulsa Pioneer: Chauncey A. Owen

On August 7, 1882 when the train tracks and crew reached the new site, there was a little community of tents set up that awaited them in what was to become Tulsa. The crew headed over to the largest one, Chauncey Owen’s wooden-sided “boardinghouse” tent which had hastily been put up. Owen had been following the railroad grading work from Vinita, hauling the large tent along the way and supplying the hundreds of workers, including the Hall brothers, with beef and produce from his farm near Broken Arrow. His tent was a store as well as a boardinghouse.

Chauncey A. Owen was a Pennsylvanian entrepreneur and Civil War veteran who conducted a freighting business in Kansas before coming to Indian Territory and marrying Jane Wolfe, a Creek Indian. He was already in the boardinghouse business on the bank of the Arkansas River before the railroad began heading this way and quickly moved his business to the new location. After the Hall brothers set up their store tent that summer evening in 1882, they made their way over to Owen’s tent to sample his wife’s home cooking.

Here is a map of Tulsa as a tent town in 1882 or 1883. The map and explanation is from "The Beginning of Tulsa" by J.M. Hall. (click on photos to enlarge)
1) Elm Tree Tent where the first baby in Tulsa was born. 2) The log house of Noah Partridge, a Creek Indian, and his family. The Partridges were the only family living here when the town was located. 3) The Frisco railroad grade stakes. The contractors were grading about where Madison Street crosses the railroad tracks. 4) T.J. Archer's Tent Store. 5) The Hall brother's tent while waiting for store building to be completed. 6) C.A. & Mrs. Owen's boarding tent while waiting for hotel to be built. 7) Mr. & Mrs. Slater's tent. Mr. Slater was a carpenter who worked on the depot, roundhouse and section house of the Frisco Railroad Company. Mrs. Slater organized the first Sunday School in Tulsa from their tent. 8) Dr. Booker's tent. Tulsa's first doctor. 9) Now known as Main Street.

Mr. Owen began immediately building the first hotel in Tulsa; a six-room, two-story wood frame building which was appropriately named the Tulsa Hotel and opened in the fall of 1882. Mrs. Owen (aka Aunt Jane) ran the boarding house along with Chauncey until 1890 when it was leased and renamed St. Elmo. Owen also owned and operated the first wagon and feed yard in Tulsa, next to the railroad.
Mrs. Owen died in 1902 and her heirs received an allotment of 160 acres from the Creek Nation which includes what is now Owen Park and the neighborhood. In the early 20th Century the lands of Owen Park were often used for public events such as Fourth of July celebrations, Labor Day picnics and family gatherings. Photo below circa 1911: On January 23, 1904 a tremendous explosion rocked west Tulsa and was heard as far away as Claremore. A replacement employee by the name of McDonald was working for Western Torpedo Company- which supplied oil workers with the needed nitroglycerin used for shooting oil wells. McDonald entered a wooden structure where the explosives were stored (on the land leased from Owen) and the entire stock was accidentally detonated. Mr. McDonald did not survive and the crater that was created became known as Owen Park Lake (now Owen Park Pond) after the city purchased the land in 1909. Tulsa’s first city park became a reality.People were concerned that it was “so far out” that the city promised (and delivered) a streetcar that ran from downtown to Owen Park to Orcutt Park and back.
This memorial maker in Owen Park denotes the Creek, Cherokee and Osage Indian Nations corner, where all 3 meet.The Washington Irving monument stands at West Easton St. and Vancouver Ave; it denotes where famed author Washington Irving camped in October of 1832.
photos courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society


Tulsa Gentleman said...

The story of how the Owen Park lake came to be was new to me. They should have named it after poor Mr McDonald.

Nancy said...

Poor guy. The total of his remains fit inside a shoebox, it was reported.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tulsa Gal
I am a proud decendant of Jane Wolfe Owens, her adopted daughter Martha Jane Wolfe is my G,G Grandmother and Chauncy Owens 2nd Creek wife...he was an amazing oportunist who married indians to keep a tribal connection that allowed him his business opportunities. Owens Park is my GG Grandmothers allotment,it was her wish that it be given to Tulsa as a gift for a park...what you've recorded as "history" is the typical white wash treatment. Two great Creek women gave that land and the name Owens is on it.

Nancy said...

It's not what I have recorded, rather what has been recorded by others. It is all that is available for researchers like myself. Why don't you set the record straight and write an article or book about what really happened so others (like myself) will know? I do appreciate your post and input.

boogerowen said...

My name is Gordon OWEN, not Owens, and I am a great grandson of Chauncy A Owen, not Owens, and I have always been proud of my Indian heritage. My greatgrandmother was Martha Jane and I regret that some relations that I have never met do not even know her name.

Anonymous said...

Owen Park is a historical area in Tulsa that is experience a come-back due to downtown redevelopment.

Many of the historic homes are being purchased by young families who are returning them to their former splendor.

This is a beautiful area of Tulsa that no one seems to know about, just a minute or two from downtown.


I beg your pardon Mr OWEN...I am no OWEN relation...Chauncey had at least 3 wives as I'm sure you know. He first married Jane Wolfe and later her adopted daughter Martha Jane after her first husband and his partner Enoch Pendleton died...I am descended from Martha Janes first marriage. I would very much like to expand my knowledge of my Owen relations should you be so inclined.

Anonymous said...

My name is Marcilla Owen and I am the great granddaughter of Chauncey and Jane Wolfe Owen. I have little information about Jane and would really like to have more . If anyone has info on the Owen family I would really appreciate knowing about it.
Marcilla (Cindy)

Philip Hayden said...

I need some help, and after reading these blogs I can see that maybe somebody "out there" can help me. I was raised in a large, two-story, native-rock house east of Mannford known by some as "the Cimmaron Ranch House". I am trying to find out who built it and why, and sadly, my father said he did not know anything about it. A local historian has written that it belonged to Jane Wolf, and that Chaucey Owen may have stayed there, but he does not offer any references or sources. So far my research shows that the Creek Nation leased huge "pastures" to Creek citizens on the Nation boundary as a sort of buffer to keep white intruders out of the Nation. Our ranch was leased to Samuel C. Davis, a Creek citizen, on Jan. 23, 1893. In 1895, U.S. marshals caught the Turner-Pemberton gang at the house that they say belonged to "Jane Owen". Obviously, the local historian believes that this Jane Owen was one of Chauncy Owen's wives. Could this be true? Later the land with the house was allotted to a Creek freedwoman, Elizzie Redmon, age 24 in 1906. All the land around her was allotted to Creek freedmen minors. In 1909 she sold it to a white man, and after that, my grandfather got it in 1912. So could it be that the Jane Owen that housed the outlaws could be Chauncy Owen(s)' wife? Thank you! Phil Hayden


Re-checking our written family history I see no mention of the Cimmarron House, but I have to laugh as Jane Wolf had a mind of her own, so housing "out-laws" would be in character with the woman I've read so much about...especially if she felt they were wrongly accused.
She once went after a Sheriff with a bullwhip for bullying her son and her hired black woman's son...she was fierce!

Anonymous said...

My wife is a GG Granddaughter of Chauncey and Jane Wolf Owen. Much has been written of Chauncey, but little of Jane.
We would appreciate any information that someone may have re: Jane's Parents, siblings, Birth place, burial site, date of death, etc.


I was re-reading this blog post and saw your comment...are you related to Marcilla?
Regardless, Jane Wolf Owen is a legend in my family...I am privileged to have a written account of our family history, much of it including stories of the fierce, and fearless Jane.
Any descendant of this woman should know her stories and her courage. I am descended from her adopted daughter Martha Jane...and yes what a scandal; Jane was Chauncey Owen's first Creek wife (she divorced him)...later Martha Jane was his 2nd Creek wife ( he was her 3rd husband,my line is from her first marriage) It's quite a tale. Please email me at stacy.wareham@gmail.com
I am happy to share.




I pulled out my family history in hopes of answering some of your questions...unfortunately the details about Jane, her family, her birth date remain a mystery.
I will give you what I have:
She "adopted" Martha Jane in approx. 1860 ...Martha Jane was est. at 2-3 yrs old...family lore states that Jane was herself only 16-19 yrs old.
Jane married Chauncey Owens est. 1872-1873 son Samuel C. Owen was born 1/23/1874..Jane divorced Chauncey in 1883 but they remained business partners.
Jane died between 1892-1895 when her horse spooked and threw her from her buggy...unknown where she was buried...best guess was Turkey Track Ranch which she co-owned with Chauncey...it now lies under the Salt Creek arm of Lake Keystone.
I wish I knew more of the "facts"...I can give you her spirit through stories.


Clarification of the "Owen" kids

Samuel C. Owen 1/23/1874 -Jane Wolf & Chauncey Owen

Dora Pendleton b. est.1876 -Martha Jane & 1st husband Enoch Pendleton (died 4/1879)
Sarah Virginia "Daisy" Pendleton 6/5/1879

Charley Feeley 2/1884 -Martha Jane & 2nd husband Charles Feeley (died 1884)

Elvie Owen 3/1887 -Martha Jane & 3rd husband Chauncey Owen
Albert "Pogue" Owen 11/22/1889
Adda "Addie" Owen 8/14/1894-3/12/1907 (died from TB)
Clarence Owen 11/27/1897-8/24/1899 (cause of death unknown)

Ray Owen said...

Its Owen. No s. Lol grandfather hated that lol


I recently was researching Chauncey's 2nd wife Martha Jane on the Dawes Roll...all you Owen descendants will be grieved to know that while Sam is listed as Owen....ALL of Martha Jane and Chauncey's children are listed as "Owens"...I wonder if many kept that or had to correct folks their whole life?
Correction from previous post: Martha Jane's 2nd husband was "Henry Feeley" not "Charles Feeley" as posted.
Also...the Dawes Roll shows an "Ollie Owen"...again I don't know if it's "creative editing" or if I am missing a family record? Clarence is not shown on the roll...he must've died before the final roll.
As always if anyone has family history they want to share I would welcome it! Specifically looking for family info on Jane Wolf (Chauncey's 1st wife...divorced in 1883, and his partner in the Tulsa Hotel)
Stacy Wareham 6th generation decendant of Jane Wolf via Martha Jane


Philip Hayden, In answer to your question about a place called "Cimarron House"...could it be Jane Wolf's home? And was she Chauncey Owen's wife?...yes and sort of...she was his 1st wife until she divorced him. If you email me I can send you a great article about Jane hiding outlaws...specifically The Dalton Gang and The Rose of Cimarron. It details that her home was near Mannford on the salt creek arm of (now) Lake Keystone. As always Jane lived life LARGE :) and always on her terms.

Cindy Owen said...

John, I would to talk to you about your wife and my ancestors. My grandfather was Samuel C. Owen (son of Chauncey and Jane Owen).
My father (Sam Owen) was Samuel and Mary last child. Would your wife be a descendant of either Pearl or Terry ( two of Samuel and Mary's other children)? Please contact me at cafred0136@gmail.com. Thanks so much Marcilla (Cindy) Owen

Cindy Owen said...