Career as a sea captain and Businessman before the Civil War. He also was an Officer in the American navy but resigned his commission.
When the Civil War commenced, he served as a sea captain, bringing much needed supplies to help support the people of North Carolina during the war. Even though he lived in Florida, Owen served the State of North Carolina just as his father did during the War of 1812. Martha would take their four sons from Florida to Fredricks town, Maryland, waiting there with her family until Owen's safe return.
Captain Burns was captured off of the shores of Florida while attempting to bring supplies to the Carolinas. He was sent to a prisoner of War camp and lived under horrid conditions which caused him his good health, eventually leaving him confined to a wheel chair.
A family story is told that, "His wife Martha, through dedicated love, gained a pardon for Owen from President Abraham Lincoln by walking from Fredericks town to Washington D.C. and personally persuading the President to issue a pardon." A stipulation of Owen's release was that he was required to return to Fredricks town, Maryland and stay in the care of his wife.
Captain Owen and Martha Burns had ten children, six before the war and four after.