This collection contains 88 letters, with their envelopes, of an Illinois family between 1840 and 1906.
The letters were written to Bertha Owen Bice, and to her parents, Jason and Abigail Owen, mostly while they lived in Elkhart, Illinois. The collection includes 38 letters to Bertha from her brother, Henry Clarence Owen (called "Clarence"), who served in Company A of the 38th Illinois Infantry Regiment, and 18 letters from Bertha's sister, Mary E. Owen, who taught school in Golconda, Illinois. The correspondence contains many items of interest. During the Atlanta campaign, for instance, Clarence wrote that he had "met 'crazy Bill' Genl Sherman several times" and deemed him "very common looking...if it were not for his uniform you would sooner take him for an old Farmer than any thing else" (July 11, 1864).
The letters were donated to the Library in 2016 by Keith Richards Thackrey of Falls Church, Virginia, and his sister, Maureen Thackrey Lischke of Victor, Montana, great-grandchildren of Bertha Owen Bice. Thackrey and Lischke carefully organized, transcribed, and printed the correspondence in The Owen Family Letters (Heritage Books, 2012), which is also available for researchers (call number 977.303 Ow23).