James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

In 1892, Robert was seriously ill for several weeks and was lucky to survive. The reporter on Y Drych, 10 Nov 1892, wrote: "His commercial and ecclesiastical connections are the same as ours and we were very concerned about him. He has more employees under his care than anyone else here, and those whose monthly salary he pays into the Bank, have no reserves or anything else to support them. He has also been the leader of the singing in Rehoboth for many years, and is the supervisor of the Sunday school this year."

Sadly, his dependability as a regular employer would be challenged the following year. On 30 November 1893, the residents of South Delta awoke to the news that the buildings of Robert’s Excelsior Quarry, just over the border in Maryland, were ablaze. The fire rapidly destroyed much of the expensive quarry machinery and raged all day. The reporter [Y Drych 14 Dec. 1893] pointed out that Robert, "through his skill and effort has been able to keep his quarries working more consistently than the other quarries there, especially during the summer" but, following the fire, "as many as 40 to 50 of his employees would have to be thrown out of work for at least a season".

There were many newspaper reports concerning Robert but the following is a rare occasion when a report sheds light on Isabella’s activities: "The Delta W.C.T.U. met at its headquarters on Sept. 20, at the usual hour. The meeting was opened by singing "Nearer my God to thee," after which Mrs. R. L. Jones conducted devotional exercises." [The Delta Herald, 29 Sept 1893] Presumably Isabella was involved with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). It had been founded in 1874 in America and within a few years had established a network of over 1000 local branches and was publishing a journal called 'Our Union', subsequently expanding across the world. By 1893 the movement had became one of the largest and most influential women’s groups of the 19th century. It would be interesting to know if Isabella maintained her membership when the organisation became more involved with other social issues such as working conditions, prison reform and female suffrage.

Quite minor events were occasionally reported in the local press; for example that in the summer of 1894 Isabella and Robert travelled over 300 miles to visit Utica, NY. [YD, 2 Aug 1894] In fact, they had been visited by a relation, Ruma Jones, from Lyons Falls, NY, the month before and Isabella had returned north with her to visit friends in Utica and elsewhere in New York state. [YD, 19 July 1894] (Based on the obituary of Robert’s mother, Ellen Jones, my research suggests Ruma was the granddaughter of Ellen’s brother, Evan.)