Saturday, May 31, 2014

Allen Pioneer Cemetery (Part 2): The Allens


It would be an exaggeration to say that every Russell-area native is descended in some manner from an Allen, or a Van Nice, or both --- it just seems that way sometimes when a guy starts digging around in their family histories. But those Allens were a prolific bunch.

The principal historian of the families was Carrie E. Allen (daughter of Tandy and Joanna Van Nice Allen), the eldest of 11 children and the only one among them who did not marry. She focused instead on history during a long career as an educator and school administrator, first in Lucas County and then in Chicago.

Sanford Allen, died 15 August 1852, age 21.
It was Carrie who sat down with her great-uncle, Douglass Allen, by then blind, on May 1, 1883, to record his brief autobiography --- which still circulates widely and contains a wealth of family information. Allen Cemetery is located on the initial land claim of Douglass and his wife, Anna (Allison) Allen, just north of LaGrange --- and they are buried here along with various family members.

Douglass was born Oct. 29, 1799, in Loudon County, Virginia; moved with his family to Kentucky in 1807 and married Anna there on Dec. 9, 1819. In 1837, the Allens moved to Putnam County, Indiana, then moved west to Davis County, Iowa, during 1844, and finally settled down in Lucas County during 1848 or 1849. 

Tandy Allen was Douglass's nephew and came from Indiana to visit his uncle first in 1852, made a pre-emption claim and began improving it that year, then settled permanently at LaGrange in 1854.

Joseph Allen, died Feb. 3, 1853, age 30.
One of the facts of life in 19th century Iowa, as it had been universally elsewhere, was that every family expected to lose children to premature death. Douglass and Anna lost eight of their 11 children before Anna herself died on Jan. 4, 1863. Oliver, Thomas, Louisa and Elizabeth, aged 10 to 3 respectively, all died within weeks of each other in Indiana during 1843. Joseph, Andrew, Ruth and Sanford died as young adults during the 1850s in Iowa. Sanford Ward Allen died Aug. 15, 1852, age 21, and his was the first burial in Allen Cemetery.

Following Anna's 1863 death, Douglass married as his second wife the widow Azubah (Vance) Hart by whom he had three more children, the youngest, Benjamin, born when his father was 70.

Douglas died May 14, 1884, and shares the large tombstone in the foreground (top) with Anna. The family of their son, Milton H. Allen, is buried to the right; Joseph, Andrew and Sanford, to the left.

Here is Douglass Allen's autobiography:

La Grange, Iowa, May, 1, 1883.

Andrew Allen died Aug. 1, 1856, age 30.

I, Douglass Allen, son of Joseph and Frances Allen of Louden County, Virginia, was born October 29, 1799. I was the sixth of a family of ten children and emigrated with my parents to Clark Co., Kentucky, in 1807. I remained with them until 1819, when I was married to Anna Allison, daughter of John and Ruth Allison of Montgomery Co. Kentucky. The marriage was celebrated on the 9th of December the bride being then twenty-two years of age.

In 1821 we both professed religion and joined the Presbyterian church at Cane Ridge, Bourbon Co., Kentucky. We remained in that state until 1837, when we removed to Putnam Co., Indiana, where we resided seven years. At the end of that time, in 1844, we again turned westward, removing to what was then Iowa Territory and settling in Davis Co. Remained in this county five years and from thence came to Lucas Co. Iowa. 

We were among the earliest settlers of this county, as there were said to be but nine families in the county at that time. There was not a school house nor a church building nor organization within its limits.

In the Spring of 1851, William Wallace, a licenciate of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Davis Co. came to my house as he was traveling over the country seeking a place to administer to the spiritual needs of the scattered ones of Zion, and “the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” I was not at home when he came, but my wife opened the doors of our house to this worthy preacher and he left an appointment to preach at our house. Appointments were left for preaching at intervals of two weeks during the summer, and in the fall of that year Rev. William Lawrence came with him, and they organized in our house the first church in the county, known as the “Lone Oak” congregation of the C.P. church. It consisted of twelve members, some of whom came several miles to avail themselves of church priveliges. 

At this organization I was elected and ordained an elder. We used in those days to have a great many good and precious meetings. 

My wife, by whom I had eleven children, died January 4, 1863, aged sixty-six years. Eight of the children had gone before to the better world. Four were grown; of these Joseph William and Ruth Maria were married and Sandford Ward and Andrew James were in the strength of young manhood. The other four, Thomas Morris, Louisa Prudence Ann, Oliver Franklin, and Elizabeth Margaret, were called away within one short month, their ages ranging from three to ten years. Three are yet living, John Allison, aged 62 years, Frances Wright, 59 years, and Milton Harvey, 53 years. 

My second marriage was to Mrs. Azubah Hart, aged 36, daughter of William and Harriet Vance of Monroe Co., Iowa, and occurred Sept. 22, 1863. Her father and mother were members of the Presbyterian church. She had united with the Cumberland Pres. Church some time previous to this. The fruit of this marriage was three children, Sylvia Jane, aged 19 years, Harriet Ellen, 16 years, and Benjamin Russell, 14 years. 

(Uncle Douglass death occurred on May 4th, 1884.)

The above sketch was dictated to me when Uncle Douglass had been for years too blind to read or write. He said at the time that he wanted it done so his children and grandchildren would know something of his early life.

(Signed) Carrie E. Allen

1 comment:

Mary Mart said...

I love history and this is fascinating to me, especially since I have the Allen name in my family history on my paternal side. Thank you Frank for your blogs!