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OWINGS, LEWIS SOLOMON

OWINGS, LEWIS SOLOMON (1820–1875). Lewis Solomon Owings, Confederate governor, mayor, physician, and Texas state representative, was born in Post Oak Springs, Roane County, Tennessee, on September 6, 1820. He was the son of John and Sarah (Russell) Owings. Upon reaching adulthood, Owings practiced medicine, but the level of his medical training is not known. He also engaged in mercantile and realty pursuits. Prior to 1850 Owings immigrated to Yell County, Arkansas, where he married Elizabeth Haney. It is not known whether they had children. It is quite possible that Elizabeth passed away soon after their marriage, given that Owings moved to Ellis County, Texas, in 1851. Here, he married Helen Marr Swisher on January 5, 1852. No records are available concerning any children from this couple.

In the early 1850s Owings engaged in extensive real estate dealings, as well as played a leading role in public affairs, in the area of present-day Karnes and Victoria counties in South Texas. In partnership with Thomas Ruckman, Owings established the town of Helena (named after his wife) in 1852 and was instrumental in petitioning the state legislature to organize Karnes County in 1854 with Helena as the county seat. From 1852 to 1858 he operated the Ruckman-Owings Mercantile Company as well as a stage line between San Antonio and Victoria. Owings represented Goliad and Victoria counties in the House of the Sixth Texas Legislature from November 5, 1855, to November 2, 1857. He served on several committees, including Claims and Accounts, Internal Improvement, and Penitentiary.

Following an unsuccessful bid for reelection, Owings moved to Mesilla, Doña Ana County, New Mexico, where he continued practicing medicine and real estate dealings. In April 1860 Arizona citizens petitioned for status as a territory of the United States and elected Owings as provisional governor. In this capacity he organized the first Arizona Territorial Rangers. In September 1861 Owings returned to Texas and was intent on traveling to the Confederate capitol of Richmond to request resources to secure Arizona for the Confederacy. In late December 1861 he left Richmond and arrived in Texas a month or two later. He spent the remainder of the war in San Antonio. Following the war, Owings traveled briefly to Kansas before settling in Denison, Grayson County, Texas, in 1872. When this town was incorporated in 1873, Owings was elected mayor, but he submitted his resignation in May 1873 because of poor health. Owings died in Denison on August 22, 1875, and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

W. T. Block, “Dr. Lewis S. Owings: A Brief Biography” (http://www.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/lewis_s_owings.htm), accessed March 19, 2014. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: L. Owings (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=5196&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=owings~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed March 19, 2014. OWINGS-L Archives (http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/OWINGS/2004-02/1076875313), accessed March 19, 2014.

Aragorn Storm Miller

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Aragorn Storm Miller, "OWINGS, LEWIS SOLOMON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fow16), accessed September 01, 2014. Uploaded on April 8, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.