James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Robert not only built up his own businesses in America but also held other administrative roles: having been involved in the creation of the First National Bank, he became a director in 1890 and a vice-president in 1901: he was one time township auditor, treasurer of the Building and Loan Association of Delta and treasurer of Estraleon (Masonic) Lodge, No. 176, A. F. & A. M. All this and more despite a paucity of formal education and, although he never sought political office, as his stature in the community rose, so did his Republican influence.

Like his brother John, Robert settled in West Bangor where he worked as a labourer in slate quarries until 1862. The 1886 Biography tells us he first worked for a Philadelphia company and then for John Humphrey, a quarry owner, neighbour and a fellow Welshman. As stated earlier, information about Robert clearly shows that he was a man of principal and one who cared about the lot of his fellow men. When the American Civil War broke out a year after his arrival in America, it was almost inevitable that he would join the fight to abolish slavery. He enlisted in Company A, Third Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, 152nd Regiment, and served until June 14, 1865.

During the last eighteen months his company was on the gun-boat Shrapnel. He was never on the sick list nor lost a day from duty. He was discharged with the rank of first sergeant at Camp Hamilton, Va., and returned to West Bangor, where he resumed work at his old place, and continued so employed until 1871, when he became associated with four partners in operating a quarry. [1886 Biography]
He was 5’ 9" tall and had light hair and blue eyes. He was promoted from private to sergeant on 1 January 1865.

3rd Reg. Heavy Artillery (152nd Volunteers) was organised on 17 February 1863, and ordered to Fortress Monroe, VA, which was its HQ during the war. Detachments of Robert’s company saw action in several locations. From late March, 1865, Robert served on the well armed gunboat Shrapnel which continually patrolled the Neuse River to protect Government vessels conveying supplies to Kinston, NC, for the army of General Sherman. The 1907 biography adds that Shrapnel’s role was artillery duty, doing picket and scouting service in Virginia and North Carolina and that Robert was honourably discharged at Fortress Monroe, Va., on 14 June 1865.

When Robert returned from the war he resumed his work in the slate quarries of West Bangor, still as an employee.