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Owen was surveyor of Shelby County, Kentucky in 1796. He was in the Kentucky Legislature in 1798, and a member of the State constitutional convention the next year.
Owen was the son of son of Brackett Owen, who was of Welsh descent and Elizabeth McGehee. Brackett Owen (son of John Owen and Sara Brackett) was born June 10, 1739 in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and died March 14, 1802 in Shelby County, Kentucky and was also a soldier, who established 'Owen's Station', a small frontier fort used during the later part of the Revolutionary War for protection against the Indians; Owen's Station was located about four miles from the present day Shelbyville. John Owen's great grandparents Humphrey Owen and Catherine Nannau had migrated from Dolserau, near Dolgellau, north Wales.
- The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 36.