Saturday, June 6, 2015

Frank Owen (1893-1968)

Aka Roswell Williams, Richard Kent, Hung Long Tom
Author, Poet, Editor
Born April 20, 1893, Kings County, New York, presumably in Brooklyn
Died October 13, 1968, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York

Frank Owen was a prolific author, poet, and editor, yet almost nothing is known of him, and what people think they know about him is in many places wrong. First, his name was not really Roswell Williams or Richard Kent. Those were pseudonyms. His real name was Frank Owen. Second, his co-author, Ethel Owen, was not his wife but his sister. His wife's name was Lillian. Frank Owen wrote stories and poems of the Far East, yet his parents came from Wales and he seems to have spent most of his life in Brooklyn. The only exception may have been time spent in the U.S. military, which earned him a place of burial at Long Island National Cemetery, not far from where he was born. The New York Times noticed his passing, yet fans and scholars of pulp fiction seem to have skipped over him, despite the fact that he was number eleven on the list of the most prolific authors in Weird Tales. One of those fans has asked me to find out more on the life and career of Frank Owen. This is what I have discovered.

According to Roger M. Evans on an online genealogical message board, "[i]n 1884, Henry and Henrietta Owens [sic] emigrated to New York from Aberdare in South Wales together with their five children, Agnes (1875), Margaret (1877), Ralph (1880), Gertude (1881), [and] Florence (1883). Four further children were born in New York: Mabel (1885), Nellie (1888), Ethel (1890), and Frank (1890) [sic]." Mr. Evans inquired about the Owen family, about whom he had found only a little information. A researcher named Nancy answered his inquiry with the following information, with my editing and some additions on birthplaces:
Henry Owen, b. April 1855, in Wales; d. Dec. 13, 1932, Kings County cert. #23985
Henriette [sic] Owen, b. Aug. 1856, in Wales; d. Nov. 10, 1941, Kings County cert. #21782
Their children:
  1. Agnes A. Owen, b. Aug. 1875, in Wales; d. Mar. 25, 1938, Kings County cert. #6603
  2. Margaret Owen, b. Nov. 1877, in Wales; d. June 24, 1943, Kings County cert. #14040
  3. Ralph Owen, b. Feb. 2, 1880, in Wales; married Lillian Ruschmann on Sept. 18, 1906, Kings County cert. #8513; daughter Muriel R. born about 1914; married June 12, 1937, Kings County; Ralph died June 29, 1946, Kings County cert. #13469
  4. Gertrude M. Owen, b. Nov. 1881, in Wales; last found in 1920 Census in Kings County
  5. Florence Owen, b. July 1885, in England; last found in 1920 Census in Kings County
  6. Mabel Owen, b. Oct 1885, in New York; last found in 1920 Census in Kings County
  7. Nellie Owen, b. Mar. 1888; last found in 1910 Census Kings County
  8. Ethel Owen, b. Aug. 1890, in New York; d. Nov. 17, 1946, Kings County
  9. Frank Owen, b. Apr. 20, 1893, in New York; died Oct. 1968, Kings County
So Frank Owen was born on April 20, 1893, in Kings County, New York, presumably in Brooklyn. He was the second son and the youngest child of Welsh immigrants Henry and Henrietta Owen. Mr. Owen was a real estate broker. His daughters were cashiers, waitresses, stenographers, bookkeepers, and secretaries. His son Ralph was a photographer. Frank and Ethel became writers. The Owens seem to have been a tight-knit group. As late as 1920, Mr. and Mrs. Owen shared their home with seven of their children, all of whom were by then well into adulthood.

By 1930, Frank Owen had married and had fathered two sons, Richard (born 1922) and Owen K. Owen (born 1930). Frank's wife was Lillian Owen, a native Pennsylvanian born on February 5, 1898, thus five years his junior. The Owens made their home in Brooklyn. There they were enumerated again in 1940, and there Frank died, at home at 21 Adler Place, on October 13, 1968. He was seventy-five years old. His wife survived him by less than a year, passing away on April 12, 1969, just eight days before his birthday. Both were buried at Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale, New York, in what I believe to be adjoining plots (Plot 2r, 3163 and 3363).

Next: Frank Owen's Stories and Poems.

Text and captions copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

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