"The James Owen House"

James Owen of Pencaerau, Caernarvonshire, North Wales, arrived in Remsen in 1818. He settled on the land of John L Jones on the Middle Road to Prospect and began to build a house. Like almost all other Welshmen in the area, he built the house of stone. It would be the best house he knew how to build, the most durable, and the most practical. The resulting house is extremely simple in design, and it is in its simplicity that the beauty lies. It is not unlike the early stone houses of Bucks County.

The stones are from a local quarry, rough textured and slightly uneven. The resulting two foot thick outer walls are excellent insulation, making the house easily heated in winter and pleasantly cool in summer. The attached woodshed was built almost as long ago as the house, if not at the same time. Its windows are the originals, small panes of wavy glass, while the windows of the main house, though still old, were replaced as soon as the owner could afford the larger panes. The shed seems to be nearly as durable as the stone, its steep roof causing snow to slide off before enough can pile up to cause collapse, although the roof is finally showing signs of bending now, 150 years later, The shutters on either side of the front door were added less than twenty years ago, and will soon be removed (good). The stone marker over the door was put there by Owen, a symbol of his pride in the house, finished in 1822. The Welsh motto has been translated as, "I hope I finish before I die". The inside of the house was planned to be as simple and practical as the outside, and was undoubtedly very serviceable in its time. The front door led to a very small entry hall with a straight, steep, narrow staircase. A closed door on the right led to what was probably a small parlour, a living room with a fireplace, used only for special occasions. The large room on the left with its enormous fireplace, was undoubtedly the centre of family activity, a combination of kitchen - dining - living room. There is a brick lined domed baking oven to the left of the fireplace, with a cast iron door, and a trestle attached to the stone in the fireplace by great iron rings. Living conditions were still somewhat primitive in this area in the 1820's. The floors on the first storey were recently sanded down to reveal the natural colour of the wide chestnut boards. In several places it has been patched with pine, as shown on adjacent boards, but a six foot square in the centre of the dining room may have been pine originally. The builder could have realised that the area would always be covered by a rug, and therefore chose the less expensive wood, although chestnut used to be native to this part of the country.

Ground floor plans

ground_1818.jpg (45764 bytes) ground_1941.jpg (41175 bytes)
1818 1941

The walls were probably originally plain and flat, with the simplest mouldings around doors and baseboards. The walls were recently re - plastered in hopes of restoring the house to its original appearance. In 1941 several changes were made inside as well. The old fireplaces are excellent when being used, but dampers were never made for some of them, and when they are not being used, because of central heating, they still have a tremendous draw, and the heat literally goes up the chimney.

Former Owners

James Owen   1818 - 1858

William J Owen  1858 - 1859

Isaac Williams  1859 - 1875

Owen L Jones 1875 - death

John L Jones ? - 1919

Owen L and Leah Jones    1919 - 1941.

Walter O’Brien 1941 - 1962

David Wait 1962 - 1970.

Richard S Hill 1970 - .

 

Engraving on the Tombstone of James Owen.

Pen y Caerau Cemetery.

Bardwell Mills Road.

 

Here resteth the remains of

James Owen

(Native of Wales)

Born Oct 18, 1780 emigrated

To America in the year 1818

Died July 30, 1858. aged 72 yrs , 9 months, 12 days.

After having been a worthy and faithful member of the Church of Christ 64 years and a Deacon 54 years, like Enoch he walked with God. He is not (here on earth) for God took him, and as he stood on the verge of eternity he gazed on the splendour of that kingdom, which at the appearance of Christ, the saints shall behold.

Let his friends throw up the Marble monument to his memory and carve the Epitaph which is at once brilliant and durable.

 

Note : Owen was actually 77 at the time of his death.

 

Children of James Owen, builder of the house.

 

Mrs Ann Parry - James Owen (1780 - 1858) (2) Jane Roberts.

1-         Owen remained in Wales.              1- Elizabeth (m Griffith Edmunds)

2-         William (m Margaret Pierce)         2- Catherine (m John Pritchard)

3-         John (died 10 yrs)                           3 - Hezekiah (m Sarah Owen, Janet Jones)

4-         Margaret (died 1yr)                        4- Nehemiah.

5-         Josiah (m Nancy Jones)

6-         James (m Catherine Hughes, then widow Jane Jenkins Roberts)

7-         Margaret 2nd (remained in Wales)

8-         Janet (m John Roberts)

9-         Obadiah (m Mary Jenkins).

Thanks to Mr Len Dody,of the USA for sending us the photo and the information about James Owens house, his tombstone and his family. If anyone else has any information about families from this area that emigrated and settled in America we would be most grateful.

 

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