William Owen (1802-1842)
citizen of New Harmony

William Owen was a son of British social reformer Robert Owen. He and his brothers, Robert Dale Owen, David Dale Owen, and Richard Owen, and one of his sisters, Jane Dale Owen (Fauntleroy), were born in Scotland and resided in New Harmony, Indiana.

In 1906, the Indiana Historical Society published Diary of William Owen From November 10, 1824, to April 20, 1825. The Diary gives a vivid account of the arrival of William and his father in Harmonie. (A few weeks after the arrival, Robert Owen purchased the town, and a few months later, local publications had begun calling the town New Harmony.)

A few entries in Owen's diary are reproduced below.

Image used by permission of Indiana Department of Natural Resources, copyright © Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. This sketch is attributed to David Dale Owen.
Thursday, 16th Dec.

We rose at daybreak and after breakfasting we loaded 2 wagons, with 4 horses each, and having placed 1/2 the baggage in each so as to form seats, we sat in them ourselves. Captain McD[onald] and Albers walked on before. We passed over a track called a county road, at first petty good. About 1/2 way for some miles there were many very steep though small hills. It was with great difficulty that the horses could get up and down; indeed once I thought they could not have accomplished it, their feet slipped out so much. We passed a few log houses and a few acres of cleared land around each. We say some beautiful tulip trees, very large indeed; also some fine black and white walnut, beech, hickory, dog wood, etc.

We walked several miles and my Father accompanied a woman on horseback some distance and had a good deal of conversation with her. She said she got many things from Harmony, but did not like the place because marriage was prohibited. He also talked to two women who were washing by the roadside, called Polly and Sallie French. We saw a flock of turtle doves, some beautiful woodpeckers with red heads, etc., and a number of gray squirrels in the woods. We were some time in Harmonie lands before we were aware of it. During the whole distance the land was rolling, as it is called, and presented a fine appearance.

A few miles before we reached the town the soil became dryer, more sandy and lighter and the character of the woods also changed. The beech, ironwood, etc. disappeared, giving place to more white and other oak. After travelling about 15 miles, we came about 2 o'clock in sight of the town, lying below us about a mile off, on an extensive bottom cleared to a good distance, which ended near where we stood in undulating hills, on which the vineyards stood. The morning had been beautiful, frost in the night, but about 7 the therm. stood at 34. The sky had gradually become covered with clouds and it began to rain a little as we entered the town.

We stopped at a house on which "Private Entertainment" was written up; this we were told enabled them to turn any one away who might happen to misbehave himself. We washed and dressed, which we much needed, and between 3 and 4 we sat down to dinner without MacDonald and Albers, who had not yet arrived. We had a pretty good dinner of veal - which the driver said was a standard dish - etc. After dinner Mr. Fredrick Rapp called upon us and Mr. Owen and I walked out with him. We walked through the town and observed the brick and wooden churches, Mr. Rapp's large brick house and opposite to it another, fully as large, in which he told us about 40 persons reside as one family.

Monday, 27th Dec.

[Returning to New Harmony from a day trip] By the way we passed the remains of a camp meeting, where the pulpit, benches and the remains of some log cabins were still visible. We were told that these meetings some times last several days, during which time some one or other is speaking all the time, both day and night. In front of the pulpit is an open space, whwere those who become converted fall down and rage. When we returned we found that Mr. and Miss Rapp just arrived. About 6 we dined at Mr. G[eorge] Flower's, where 25 persons sat down to dinner...

Afterwards we had a long and very interesting discussion regarding responsibility, praise, blame and rewards and punishments. Mr. Flower, Mr. Pickering and Mr. Ronalds were violently opposed, declaring that if these were given up there could be no Christian religion, no God, no resurrection. Mr. Owen contended that doing away with praise and blame, and all artificial rewards and punishments did not interfere with the necessary consequences which follow from good or a bad action, which originate with the power which regulates the Universe. Messrs. Carter and Lewis favored my Father and Mr. Rapp agreed with Mr. Flower and the ladies seemed to take great interest in the discussion which seemed quite new to them.

Wednesday, 29th Dec.

My Father seems much inclined to the purchase of Harmony, including the stock on the farm and about 7000 acres of land in Indiana and Illinois.

Monday, 3rd Jan.

A beautiful clear day. Therm. at sunrise 20 degrees. This afternoon Mr. Owen and Mr. Rapp signed each a paper with the particulars of the sale of Harmonie.

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