James Mulkey Owens, Jr. Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
James Mulkey Owens, Jr. was born in Grapeland, Texas, on August 13, 1908. He went to work for the Texas Highway Department (now called the Texas Department of Transportation) in 1928, retiring 45 years later as the District Engineer responsible for construction and maintenance of all state traffic ways in the Austin District. In addition to his professional career Owens was dedicated to preserving the history of central Texas by researching, recording and restoring historic landmarks in Travis and adjoining counties. He pursued this goal as a local citizen and as a member of the Travis County Historical Commission. He built a recording devise that allowed him to record all local dedication ceremonies as each state-approved historical marker was dedicated and would create a bound volume that included a transcript of the ceremony, photographs and the research submitted for the historic designation. He was also a member of Kiwanis International, Barbed Wire Collectors Association and was active in the Tarrytown United Methodist Church. Owens' work in the community was recognized and among the many awards and recognitions he received was the Austin Board of Realtors "Most Worthy Citizen" in 1977 and Texas Barbed Wire Collectors Association "Barbarian of the Year" in 1974.
Owens died on January 9, 1993.
The James Mulkey Owens Papers consist of materials related to Owens' work with the Travis County Historical Commission, Travis County Sesquicentennial Committee, Texas Barbed Wire Collectors Association, Texas Highway Department and researching historical markers from the 1970s through the 1990s. The collection is arranged into five series: I. Travis County Historical Commission, II. Historical Marker Information, III. Texas State Highway Department, IV. Travis County Sesquicentennial Committee and V. Texas Barbed Wire Collectors Association.
The Travis County Historical Commission (TCHC) series (1980-1991) includes organizational records such as bylaws and revision suggestions; correspondence written by and to Owens as a member of the Commission; agendas and meeting minutes for regular Commission meetings as well as reports from the TCHC Dedication Committee and the Nominating Committee; and a list and information on proposed historic marker sites. Also included is the materials gathered to submit a nomination of TCHC member Jessie McIlroy to the Texas Women's Hall of Fame and a photograph of TCHC members at the October 2, 1991 HCHC meeting.
The Historical Marker Information series (1962-1992) contains material related to Owens' work identifying, researching and submitting landmarks for consideration for an Official Texas Historical Marker, as well as documenting the dedication ceremony. Booklets containing the transcript of the dedication ceremony, photographs, research materials and newspaper clippings about Travis County historic landmarks were moved to the General Collection but a few files remain in the collection for landmarks that did not get bound or did not get approved for a historical marker. These include the All Saints Episcopal Church, Brackenridge Hospital, Clayton Vocational Institute, The Lohmans Crossing Estates Farm, Manda Community, Threadgills, and Carl Widen. Also included is a bound booklet of Travis County Historical Markers complied by Owens that includes marker text, newspaper clippings and photographs as well as additional loose newspaper clippings and photographs of marker sites.
The Texas Highway Department series (1929-1991) consists of clippings and a scrapbook compiled by Owens titled "Some Highway Department Memories". Included in the scrapbook are photographs and captions depicting Department facilities, equipment, and employees dating from 1929 through the 1960s, and photographs of Burnet County Highway Department employees in 1991.
The Travis County Sesquicentennial Committee series (1956-1985) contains some general Committee administrative materials such as correspondence and minutes and agendas as well as printed materials about planning Sesquicentennial events and photographs of Travis County rural churches. The majority of the series, however, consists of materials related to the Farm & Ranch Life Exhibit Committee that Owens chaired that was responsible for creating an exhibit for the Sesquicentennial celebration. Included are the meeting minutes, agendas, reports, membership lists, correspondence as well as the research materials, text and photographs used for the exhibit.
The Texas Barbed Wire Collectors Association series (1969-1991) contains a paper by Owens titled "Texas Historical Marker Texts Relating to Barbed Wire & The Story of Barbed Wire," a few items of correspondence, and clippings.
Finally, the Botany series (1970) contains photographs and descriptions of various flowers of Texas sent to Owens by Mrs. Morris Faubion.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
Donated by the wife and daughter of the creator.
James Mulkey Owens Papers (AR.1993.038). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1970/035
Donation Date: 1993, 1996
Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults/2012.
Detailed Description of the Collection