Finding Your Folks: Brice Marshall Owen of Meriwether County

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I'm continuing my quest to uncover as much as I can about the various Owen and Owens families in our area, taking first the family of Brice Marshall Owen and his wife, Sarah Law (or Lane) who married in 1812 in Jasper County, moved to Clarke County, Ga. by 1820, and who were in Meriwether County by 1840. Try as I might, I could not find Brice anywhere in Georgia in 1830.

By standards of that era, Brice would have been considered an old man by the time he got to Meriwether. He was about 55 in 1840 and, of course unknown to anyone, would only live about 12 more years.

I wasn't as successful as I would have liked in finding records of Brice in the Meriwether probate office, even though he lived in that county quite some time. And I am disappointed that I still don't know for sure whether or not he and Sarah had other children, although early censuses indicate they did.

The 1820 census of Clarke County, Ga., the first census taken after Brice and Sarah were married, shows Bricy M. Owen living in the Salem District with both a male and a female over 45 (this would be Brice and Sarah, both born between 1775 and 1794) and four children … two boys and two girls, all under the age of 10 (born between 1810 and 1820). One of those children would be Coleman P. Owen, named in his grandfather's will.

Now here is the sticky part: Uriah's will was made on Aug. 23, 1820 and named only his grandson, Coleman, as a son of Brice M. Owen. Yet, here are three other children showing in the census that same year. Why were they not mentioned? Unless Sarah had triplets, all three could not have been born after August 23. Was Coleman just the oldest and the favorite? This is possible but certainly worth questioning.

While I could not find Brice and Sarah in the 1830 census, I did find them in Meriwether County by 1840, again with four younger people in the household, two boys age 20-30 and two girls, one 15-20 and one 20-30. Coleman married in 1830 and he also appears as a head of household in the 1840 Meriwether census, so he is not one of these young people living with Brice and Sarah. But, all kinds of scenarios are possible … they could all be children, they could be two married children with their spouses, or it could be that they are not related at all.

So, our questions about Brice and Sarah's children are still unanswered. I will have to keep looking.

Digging a little deeper into Meriwether County, I found only one reference in the Index to Estates for Brice Sr. (to keep him separate from his grandson, also a Brice Marshall Owen, who will come later). I'm really stumped as to why there are not more records, unless he just didn't have any property at all, or at least not enough to make up an estate worth dividing.

I admit that I got all excited when I saw that this one and only reference was in inventories and appraisements. If I had to have only one, this was a good one to have. An inventory of personal property is usually done by friends and neighbors who are appointed by the court and lists every article a person owns. The estate sale is usually attended by many family members, neighbors, and friends. More than once I have found unknown spouses and children lurking behind an estate purchase. But this one was a total disappointment and was not actually an inventory or estate appraisement at all.

In the Inventory and Appraisements Book D, on page 120, there is a record of items being provided for Sarah, Brice's widow, similar to those items given widows asking for 12 months' support. However, Sarah made no such request, or, if she did, it's not on the books. The record is not long and I'll include most of it here:

" … An act to more effectually provide for the maintenance and protection of widows & orphans. By Virtue of the Statute approved February 1850 For Sarah Owen widow of B.M. Owen deceased … One Derbin Wagon … $20.00; one clock … $3.00; 6 chairs … $2.25; 2 pots … $1.00; 1 cupboard … $5.00; (total) $31.25. Given under our hand and official signatures this 4th day of September 1852. Aron Sibley J.P., B.M. Leverett J.P." It was recorded 7 Dec. 1852.

What a disappointment, but at least we know something: Brice died between 2 Sept. 1850, when the 1850 census was taken, and September of 1852. A check of the Meriwether cemeteries book yielded no information. If he is buried in Meriwether County (and he probably is) he is either in an unmarked grave, one that has deteriorated over time, or in a private graveyard somewhere in the woods of the 10th District.

Land records do not show a Brice or B.M. Owen(s) purchasing land at any time between 1833, when the first Owen(s) land purchase was recorded, and 1869 which was well after Brice's death about 1852. Brice's son, Coleman, made several land purchases, all in the 10th District, which is consistent with where they lived. Whether any of the other Owens purchasing land were related to Brice remains to be seen. As we get into research of the other Owen(s) families, relationships may become apparent … or not.

I do have a lot of Owen(s) material to share with you from the Meriwether records. We will continue next week.

Stories about your families who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send stories to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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