James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

What became of the family in Chile?

Chilean records have revealed a little of what, eventually, became of some members of this family. Their arrival port of Talcahuano is adjacent to Concepción and the two now form a single, coastal conurbation at the mouth of the Biobio River. The Chilean Government-sponsored settlement scheme was providing Hijuelas (settlement plots) at that time, in the Araucania region, immediately south of the Biobio River. For a while, Mary's husband, Wharton Peers Jones, worked in Britain as an agent for that scheme, responsible for encouraging British people to emigrate to Chile; information about his campaign and about life for the settlers can be found on his page. However, records suggest that at least some of Edward and Lizzie’s family may never have left the city; the earthquake probably disrupted the resettlement procedure, on their arrival, and they never moved on.

The main sources of information about the family have been copies of Chilean death certificates (pase de sepultacion) and burial records from Concepcion General Cemetery. The usual full name of a Chilean man ends with his father’s surname, followed by his mother’s maiden name. For a married woman, the husband’s name is usually added - for example, Lizzie’s sister Mary should have become Mary Owen Pierce de Peers Jones. Confusion often occurred when settlers used the original form of their names; thus, Mary was known as Mary Pierce Owen de Peers Jones. Supplying most information orally, and with a Welsh accent, introduced problems of understanding, on both sides. The settlers did not always appreciate what information was required and the Chilean administrators would write down their responses as best they could, based on Chilean pronunciation; it is easy to see how errors occurred. Two of the likely records I have found include the surnames, “Oben” and “Goin”, which I have seen on no other Chilean records, but both of which could be a version of the name "Owen". Incidentally, there appears to have been only one other family in Chile with the surname Wilde, and this was based around Santiago and Valparaiso, much further north.

The following may be a record for Lizzie’s husband: "Eduardo Wilde Oben", aged 55 (the last name should have been Edward’s mother’s maiden name, which I do not know, and which the informant may not have known). The age is about the age that Lizzie's husband would have been. His death, or burial date in Concepción was given as 24 May 1927. His place of death is written as “Rozas 957”, which, in UK would be written 957 Rozas, Rozas being a street in Concepción. The cause of death was “catarro intestinal”, (cold symptoms, usually accompanied by chronic diarrhea).