Inventory of the Albert Kimsey Owen Papers, 1872-1909

Processed by The Huntington Library staff; supplementary encoding and revision supplied by Xiuzhi Zhou.
Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Email: lgarcia@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=554
© 2000
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the Albert Kimsey Owen Papers, 1872-1909

The Huntington Library



San Marino, California

Contact Information

  • Manuscripts Department
  • The Huntington Library
  • 1151 Oxford Road
  • San Marino, California 91108
  • Phone: (626) 405-2203
  • Fax: (626) 449-5720
  • Email: lgarcia@huntington.org
  • URL: http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=554
Processed by:
The Huntington Library staff
© 2000 The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Albert Kimsey Owen Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1872-1909
Creator: Owen, Albert Kimsey
Extent: Number of pieces: 418 pieces (including some duplicate copies)
Repository: The Huntington Library
San Marino, California 91108
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Provenance

The collection was acquired from Ray Reynolds in July, 1964 and April, 1974.

Access

Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

Publication Rights

In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Albert Kimsey Owen Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Biography

Albert Kimsey Owen (c.1848-1916<), born in Chester, Pennsylvania, son of a Quaker physician, was a utopian reformer and founder of a co-operative community in Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico. By profession Owen was a civil engineer. He went to Colorado to survey a railroad route, then on to Mexico to help lay out what was to become the Mexican Central Railroad. Upon first seeing Topolobampo Bay in 1873, Owen's dream was to found the perfect city, a colony based on cooperative principles, complete with workers, artisans, and intellectuals, to be supplied by a railroad line from the United States, with entry at El Paso, across the Sierra Madred mountains, to the Bay of Topolobampo. Since this would be the shortest route to the Pacific from the great industrial cities of the United States, he envisioned Topolobampo as a center for the Pacific trade.
In 1881 Owen was granted a concession by the Mexican government to form a company to be known as the Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railway and Telegraph Company. Officers from 1883-1889 were William Windom, president; Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., vice-president; and Owen, engineer. In 1885 the name was changed to the American and Mexican Pacific Railroad. On November 17, 1887 the first of the colonists arrived and began building houses and irrigation systems.
The first railroad concession lapsed without a railroad constructed, and a new concession was granted in 1890, then renewed to 1897, to be known as the Mexican Western Railroad Company. Owen tried desperately to interest Alexander R. Shepherd, former governor of Washington, D.C. and owner of the Batopilas mine in Mexico, and A. Foster Higgins, who built the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre & Pacific Railroad from El Paso to Casas Grandes, Mexico, in continuing that railroad line across the mountains to Topolobampo.
In the meantime difficulties developed among the colonists. The Kansas-Sinaloa Investment Company headed by C. B. Hoffman had been formed to purchase land for the colony. The colonists split into two groups, one loyal to Owen, favorable to cooperative policies; the other loyal to Hoffman and preferring private land ownership. There was litigation over the irrigation canal and water rights. By 1900 the colony had almost collapsed; by 1903 Owen was no longer part of any plan. Arthur Edward Stillwell took up the railroad concessions and built the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad. Benjamin Franics Johnston acquired most of the land and developed the sugar industry.
Owen was a prolific writer. In addition to his works on Integral Co-operation and the Credit Foncier Company, he wrote articles and pamphlets (many of which are in the Rare Book Department of the Huntington Library) on Woman's suffrage, Currency questions, and, in later years, the auto-highway.
Although Owen never was able to bring his utopian dream to fulfillment, before his death two railroads were built where he once had concessions, and the desert land was turned into a rich agricultural center.

Subject matter

The rise and fall of one of the utopian colonies so popular toward the end of the nineteenth century, and the development of railroads in Mexico under Porfirio Díaz.

Physical description

The letters are carbon copies written by hand on very thin paper, probably contemporary copies made for the colony by E. M. Hussey, with a few signatures and notes that may be in the writing of Owen himself. Articles and other documents, and letters copied after 1899 are generally typewritten.

Persons represented by 4 or more letters

Brodie, Walter M.
6 items
Caryl, Charles W.
5 items
Díaz, Profirio
4 items
Gibson, Albert M.
26 items
Hampl, Joseph
18 items
Herrera, Eduardo S.
7 items
Lovell, John W.
6 items
Rice, John H.
5 items
Romero, Matías
4 items
Shepherd, Alexander Robey
4 items
Streeter, A. J.
5 items
Wilbur, Alvin J.
7 items

Some interesting or important items

Hale, Edward Everett.
Letter declining to invest with group, though sympathizing with their ideals.
Date: Sep. 30, 1889
Grant, Jesse R.
(son of Ulysses S. Grant). His attempts to raise money for the railroad.
Date: Oct. 12, 1889
Owen, Albert Kimsey.
History of the Credit Foncier Co. (37 pages).
Date: Aug. 1, 1893
Owen, Albert Kimsey.
History of the Topolobampo Colony (32 pages).
Date: Mar. 15, 1894
Kneeland, George S., et. al.
Memorial to Porfirio Díaz re. the status of the colony.
Date: Aug. 22, 1896
Proposed agreement
with A. K. Owen to sell his interests to John W. Lovell and/or Thomas Lake Harris.
Date: Apr. 21, 1897

Bibliography

Bernard, L. L. and Jessie. Origins of American Sociology. 1943, pp. 359-371. (HM 22 U5 B4)
Credit Foncier of Sinaloa. April 5, 1887 (and other issues) (274745)
Higgins, J. Wallace. The Orient Road The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, Bulletin 95. Oct. 1956, pp. 10-46
Kneeland, Clarrissa Abia. Reminiscences of the Credit Foncier Colony Fresno Clarion. 1945-1946. Film 328
Owen, Albert Kimsey. Integral Co-operation. 1885. pp. 199-206. HX 661 T6 09
Robertson, Thomas A. A Southwestern Utopia. 1947. F 1391 T64 R6

Index to Albert Kimsey Owen Collection

 

Ames, Oliver

 

1896(1)

 

Baker, Authur

 

1896 (1)

 

Boies, Horace

 

1896 (1)

 

Bolling & Lowe

 

1891 (1)

 

Boynton, S. C.

 

1890 (1)

 

1891 (1)

 

Breidenthal, [John?]

 

1891 (1)

 

Brodie, Walter M.

 

1896 (6)

 

Brown, Frank M.

 

1889 (1)

 

Buck, E. A.

 

1885 (1)

 

Burr, I. T.

 

1889 (1)

 

Butterfield, A.

 

1896 (1)

 

Campbell, James

 

1885 (1)

 

Cañedo, Francisco

 

1895 (2)

 

1893 (1)

 

Caryl, Charles W.

 

1896 (5)

 

Case, Lyman W.

 

1891 (1)

 

Couvet, R. M.

 

1897 (1)

 

Crosby, J. F.

 

1895 (4)

 

D[awkins], I[da] H[oagland]

 

1895 (1)

 

1897 (1)

 

Dewees, F. P.

 

1895 (1)

 

Díaz, Porfirio

 

1895 (1)

 

1896 (3)

 

Doyle, Kinsley Dryden

 

1896 (1)

 

1897 (2)

 

Ellsworth, B. H.

 

1891 (1)

 

Fernandez y Leal, Manuel (addressee)

 

1890, (2)

 

1893 (1)

 

1896 (1)

 

Flurscheim, Michael

 

(subject) 1893 (1)

 

1896 (1)

 

Free, Morris

 

1895 (2)

 

Freeman, James H.

 

1892 (1)

 

García, Telesforo

 

1896 (1)

 

Gibson, Albert M.

 

1895 (2)

 

1896 (2)

 

1897 (3)

 

Gilson, Walter C.

 

1885 (1)

 

Grant, J[esse] R.

 

1889 (1)

 

addressee 1896 (1)

 

Graves, Edward C.

 

1890 (1)

 

Gregory, William G.

 

1896 (1)

 

Hale, Edward Everett

 

1889 (1)

 

Hampl, Joseph

 

1895 (3);

 

1896 (11)

 

1897 (4)

 

Hampson

 

1896 (1)

 

Harris, Thomas Lake

 

1897 (2)

 

Hart, H[enry] A.

 

1896 (1)

 

Herrera, Eduardo S.

 

1890 (4)

 

1891 (1)

 

1897 (2)

 

Higgins, A. Foster

 

1896 (3)

 

Hoffman, C[hristian] B.

 

1891 (1)

 

Holbrook, H[enry] R.

 

1890, (1)

 

Howland, Marie

 

1889 (1)

 

1891 (1)

 

Humphreys, Solon

 

1896 (2)

 

Jorgenson, E. W. A.

 

1896 (1)

 

Kellogg, Frederic R.

 

1891 (1)

 

1896 (1)

 

Kendall, R. J.

 

1895 (2)

 

Kneeland, George S.

 

1896 (2)

 

Lamb, C. J.

 

1888 (1)

 

Law, Albert

 

1893 (1)

 

Lovell, John W.

 

1891 (1)

 

1896 (1)

 

1897 (4)

 

MacBride, T[homas] R.

 

1896 (2)

 

McKinley, William

 

(addressee) 1896 (1)

 

Miks, Amos L.

 

1895 (1)

 

Obregan, R.

 

1896 (1)

 

Ortiz, José M.

 

1893 (1)

 

Page, George L.

 

1895 (1)

 

Patrick, H[erbert]

 

1889 (2)

 

1890 (1)

 

Patten, William L.

 

1892 (1)

 

Putnam, M. C.

 

1893 (1)

 

Quay, Matthey Stanley

 

1896 (1)

 

Retes, Charles

 

1893 (1)

 

1894 (1)

 

Rice, John H.

 

1885 (1)

 

1891 (1);

 

1897 (3)

 

Robinson, C[harles] T.

 

1890 (1)

 

Romero, M[atías]

 

1890 (1)

 

1891 (1);

 

1892 illegible text

 

Shaw, D. F.

 

1896 (1)

 

Shepherd, Alexander R[obey]

 

1895 (2)

 

1896 (2)

 

Snow, Zera

 

1896 (1)

 

Stanton, D. N.

 

1889 (1)

 

Stephenson, J[oseph] Gurden L[eycester]

 

1896 (2)

 

1897 (1)

 

Streeter, A. J.

 

1895 (3)

 

1896 (2)

 

Sutherland, W. J.

 

1890 (1)

 

Tays, E[ugene] A. H.

 

1888 (1)

 

1896 (1)

 

Tronson, Norman

 

1896 (1)

 

Wells, Junius F.

 

1896 (2)

 

Wilber, Alvin J.

 

1891 (2)

 

1892 (2)

 

1893 (1)

 

1896 (2)

 

Wilson, Angeline

 

1889 (1)

 

Wotherspoon, W. A.

 

1893 (1)

Preliminary Inventory

Box Box 1

Correspondence, 1879-1880 [almost all are letters of congratulations to Albert Kimsey Owen for having survived the wreck of the Vera Cruz in 1880]

Physical Description: [83 pieces]
Box Box 2

Correspondence, articles, and documents, 1880<-1923 [most relate to the Topolobampo Colony]

Physical Description: [81 pieces]
 

1880s

Physical Description: 8 pieces
 

1890

Physical Description: 2 pieces
 

1891

Physical Description: 2 pieces
 

1893

Physical Description: 4 pieces
 

1894

Physical Description: 3 pieces
 

1895

Physical Description: 3 pieces
 

1896

Physical Description: 2 pieces
 

1897

Physical Description: 2 pieces
 

1898

Physical Description: 1 piece
 

1899

Physical Description: 2 pieces
 

1900

Physical Description: 3 pieces
 

1901

Physical Description: 3 pieces
 

1902

Physical Description: 1 piece
 

1903

Physical Description: 33 pieces
 

1904

Physical Description: 12 pieces
 

1905

Physical Description: 1 piece
 

1906

Physical Description: 1 piece
 

1907

Physical Description: 2 pieces
 

1911

Physical Description: 2 pieces
 

1923

Physical Description: 1 piece
 

n.d.

Physical Description: 3 pieces
Box Box 3

Reports, documents, some photos, and printed materials

Box Box 4

News clips, ephemera, and later correspondence and notes concerning disposition of the Owen papers

Box Box 5

Diaries and notebooks of Albert Kimsey Owen

 

diary [travel notes, Denver to Mexico City and west to the Lerma Valley] 1872, Mar. 7-May 12

 

memoranda 1885, May 13-Oct. 19

 

notes 1900, Jan. 31-Mar. 23

 

notes 1902, July 22-Nov.30

 

[notes] 1903, Feb. 26-May 17

 

notes 1903, Oct. 4-1904, Jan. 6

 

notes 1906, Mar. 25-Dec. 31

 

[notes & clips] 1910-1911

Box Box 6

Scrapbooks (3) [one is on the sinking of the Vera Cruz in 1880]