Finding Your Folks: More about the Owens of Rocky Mount

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Whenever I do an in-depth study on a family, I try to get as much of a "feel" for them as I can, and try to visit the area where they lived, if it is not too far. In the case of the Brice Owen (senior) family, this wasn't hard to do. Last week I went back to Greenville to gather some more Owen/Owens land records. My route takes me from my home near Thomas Crossroads through Sharpsburg, then through Luthersville, then on to Greenville.

These Owens, Brice Sr. and his family, lived in Rocky Mount and I had never been there. So, on my way home, I took a right in Luthersville and headed for the little town named Rocky Mount. And that's all there was … a name on a sign, a store and an old warehouse.

I shouldn't have been surprised since many of these towns described in the history books as being bustling places of business in the early years have since dried up and become residential communities.

Rocky Mount is said to be one of the oldest communities in Meriwether and the Bethel Baptist Church was organized in 1833. The community is featured in Regina Pinkston's "Historical Account of Meriwether County 1827-1974" but the Owens are not mentioned as early residents.

The town today is definitely in a rural area and it took less than 30 seconds to drive through it. I love old towns like that. Just slow down and try to imagine what it was like 150 years ago. Then turn around and do another take on it.

I also passed by Rocky Mount Bethel Baptist Church, just west of the town center, where many members of this Owens family are buried. It was almost dark and I couldn't stop, but it is definitely on the "to visit" list for another time.

Land records show Brice Owen's family was definitely based in Rocky Mount, despite the fact that they are not mentioned in Pinkston's history book. There are 14 pages in the Grantor Index (deeds) showing persons of the Owens surname who sold land in Meriwether County from 1828 until 1985. I don't think I've ever come across that many pages of one surname (but then I've never done Smiths or Joneses).

I didn't count the "Owens" grantees (purchasers) but the number of pages was about the same. I decided I would only copy those grantors (sellers) from 1828 through 1900 since my main purpose was to gather information on the early families. There is no place to sit in the deeds room and all this copying had to be done standing up. Fortunately, I had copied several of the early grantees (purchasers) a few years ago (when I first found my Martin Owens), so all that had to be done was to look up certain deeds that pertained to this family.

Although there is no record of Brice Sr. having purchased land in Meriwether, there is a record, and a rather odd one, of him "relinquishing" his rights to land in the 10th District in 1851. This deed also gave me a clue and a lead to a possible daughter.

On 29 April 1851, Brice signed a deed relinquishing all of his "rights and claim" to 101.25 acres, the north half of Land Lot No. 102 in the 10th District, to Billington M. Leverett. It was witnessed by Caleb J. Moncrief and Moses Almon, J.P. (Deed book J, page 663.) The land is about a mile and a half west of Rocky Mount, bounded on the north by lot number 91 (in 1910 the Hardaway estate was located there), on the west by number 101 (T.W. Fisher residence in 1910), on the south by number 123, and on the east by number 103 (J.D. McGhee residence in 1910).

The odd part is that on the same page, just above the paragraph signed by Brice, was a deed dated eight days earlier (21 April 1851) for the exact same land, sold by John M. Moncrief of LaFayette County, Miss., to Billington Leverett of Meriwether County. The cost was $400 and this deed, also, was witnessed by Caleb J. Moncrief and Moses Almon, J.P. Both deeds were filed and recorded 13 April 1852.

Given the estimated time of Brice's death (between September 1850 and September 1852) I wonder if this was some type of action taken to get his affairs in order when he was near death.

The clue and lead comes in the fact that a John M. Moncrief married Martha M. Owens on 14 Dec. 1839 in Meriwether County (Book A, page 105). Martha (later records show her birth as about 1818 in Georgia) could very well be one of Brice's children. John Moncrief appears in the 1840 Meriwether census on the same page as Brice Owen, then in the 1850 LaFayette County, Miss. census with his wife, Martha and several children.

Other Internet sources show Martha returning to Meriwether with her children and say that John died in Louisiana. Martha is shown as the head of household in 1860 in Meriwether. However, I believe this deed, which was made and filed in Meriwether, shows that John came back home to take care of family business. I have a hunch he died in Meriwether.

In 1870, "Margaret" Moncrief (probably Martha, age 56) and Sarah Owens (probably Martha's mother, age 86) are living in the same household with Thomas and Texas Ann Welch. This Texas Ann is said to be the daughter of John and Martha Owen Moncrief.

There are more Meriwether land records and Owen information I want to share with you so we'll 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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Submitted by sageadvice on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:56pm.

I've wondered for years about them!
Do any of you folks from NJ or NYC have great interest in such?
We get our PA and German news from Sally, but I've been missing old timey Fayette! (Real cool place about 1860).
Ever wonder what writers in local papers will be writing about 200 years from now?

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