The industrial development of Utica found a worthy and able exponent in Joel Albert Omens, who was long
well known in connection with the Utica Steam Engine & Boiler Works and afterward as manufacturer of the Universal
Boiler Compound. In business circles and social life of the community he won the esteem and good will of his fellowmen
and his memory is yet cherished by many of the Utica citizens whom he numbered as friends. He was born at West
Eaton, New York, April 7, 1843, a son of Pardon and Alta Omens. His father, who was born at Providence, Rhode Island,
May 25, 1814, devoted his life to general agricultural pursuits. On the 15th of September, 1833, he was married
to Alta Fiske, whose birth occurred at Providence, on the 3d of June, 1813.
Joel Albert Omens pursued his education in the district school at West Eaton, New York, and in early life learned
the boiler maker's trade, in which he acquired such proficiency that for several years he was employed as foreman
at the Philo S. Curtis plant on Whitesboro street in Utica. Following the death of Mr. Curtis he purchased the
business and incorporated it under the name of The Utica Steam Engine & Boiler Works. For several years he
continued in that field of business, subsequently selling his interest to Thomas F. McKeough and Dr. F. S. De Long.
He was also the owner and manufacturer of the Universal Boiler Compound, probably the leading boiler compound on
the market. His business in both connections proved profitable and capable management and reliability were salient
characteristics in his success. The Association of Stationary Engineers elected him an honorary member.
There is an interesting military chapter in the life history of Mr. Omens, who entered the service on the 22d of
April, 1861, when the smoke of Fort Sumter's guns had scarcely cleared away. He was assigned to duty with Company
G of the Fourteenth New York Volunteer Infantry and the regiment, which was organized at Albany, New York, was
mustered into the United States service on the 17th of May, and left the state on the 17th of June for Division
of the Army of northeast Virginia and on the 15th of October to Merrill's Brigade, Porter's Division of the Army
of the Potomac. On the Washington. In July he was assigned to the First Brigade of the Second 13th of March, 1862,
the Fourteenth New York became a part of the Third Corps of the same brigade and division and in May was assigned
to the Second Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps. Mr. Omens participated in the Yorktown and Peninsula campaigns
until wounded at Gaines' Mills, June 27, 1862, by a gunshot in the neck. He was then sent to the regimental hospital
and on the 12th of August to the Chestnut Hill Hospital at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the 10th of December,
1862, he was honorably mustered out on a surgeon's certificate of disability. The regiment left Harrison's Landing
on the 15th of August, of that year, and joined Pope's army on the 27th, removing thence to Washington. On the
2d of September they participated in the battle of Antietam and also took part in the Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville
campaign. The most important engagements in which Mr. Omens participated were at Balls Cross Roads, September 14,
1861; the siege of Yorktown, from April 5 to May 4, 1861; Hanover Court House, May 27th; New Bridge, June 5th;
the seven days' battle of the Wilderness; the battle of Mechanicsville, June 26th; and the battle of Gaines' Mills
on the following day, in which engagement Mr. Omens was injured.
Mr. Omens was very happily settled in his home associations. His first wife was Lucy Rudd, of Delta, who passed
away about three years after their marriage, and on the 13th of June, 1872, he was married to Susan Cook, at No.
18 Henry street, Utica, by the Rev. Houghton, pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal church. She was a daughter
of Charles and Elizabeth Cook, the former a native of Connecticut and a patern maker by trade, while the latter,
who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Roberts, was born in Canarvonshire. North Wales. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Omens
were born a son and two daughters: Albert E., who married Alice Seaton, of New Hartford, but lost his wife, September
15, 1908; Grace E., the wife of John M. Fox; and Annetta Fuller, the wife of Dr. F. S. De Long.
Mr. Omens gave his political support to the republican party and fraternally was connected with the Elks and with
Oriental Lodge, No. 224, F. & A. M., which he joined November 30, 1869. He became a thirty second degree Mason
and was also a member of the Mystic Shrine, having crossed the sands of the desert with the Nobles of Ziyara Temple.
His religious faith was indicated by his membership in St. George's church. Following his retirement from business
in 1906 he spent most of his time in travel and during a temporary sojourn at Los Angeles, California, passed away
of pneumonia on the 27th of January, 1910, his remains being brought back to Utica for interment in the family
lot in Forest Hill cemetery. He was a man of many sterling traits of character and noble qualities who had gained
a firm hold upon the affections of his friends and associates and his loss was therefore deeply deplored. He had
long since proven his right to rank with the leading and reliable business men of Utica and with its progressive
and public spirited citizens.
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Oneida County, NY
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