Owen arrived in New Orleans on 23 November 1850 via the ship Joseph Badger with wife, Ann, and children Thomas E. and Ann. They remained in the west until 1854 when they crossed the plains.
A secondary source (An Illustrated History of Sacramento County, California, 1890) confirmes that Owen worked in the Illinois coal mines "from the spring of 1851 to April 1854 when he went to Utah . . . arriving in Salt Lake September 26. In the spring of 1856 he came to California. . . . " Further research is needed to identify the name of the pioneer company with which they crossed the plains.