Allen Cole's Website
James Allen (1783-1855) Family
Can you solve the mystery of their origins?
Information on James Allen is sketchy. Some of the documents surrounding his estate refer to him as "Captain" James Allen. We know from the death certificate of his son Robert M. Allen (1817-1889) that at least some of these five children were borne by a previous wife named Elizabeth.
Dr. Edward Henry Allen (1808-1886) - Lived along Wells Road in Dinwiddie County at Oak Forest where he also operated a private school. Worked the area where Dinwiddie, Amelia and Nottoway come together on horseback. Was a founding member of the Namozine Presbyterian Church, and is said to have also attended Hebron Church. Married an Allfriend.
Harriet Allen (1810-1886) - Also lived along Wells Road in Dinwiddie and married William B. Coleman. Adopted her niece Ann Elizabeth Hawkes, and another girl, Rosa Saddler. This family was on the roll of Poplar Hill ME Church on Wills Road in Amelia.
Rev. James Madison Allen (1814-1854) - Attended Princeton University and was ordained into the Presbyterian Ministry in 1842, serving the Dover, Hebron and Providence churches in Goochland County until ill health forced him to retire in 1853. While at Hebron Church, he lived at Eastwood, the plantation of the Cunningham family. His 1854 will, probated in Dinwiddie County is curious in that it includes all of his full brothers and sisters, but none of his half-siblings.
Robert M. (Munno?) Allen (1817-1889) - There is very little mention of this brother except in the bible of Dr. E. H. Allen and the will of Rev. James M. Allen. Robert Allen apparently lived in Virginia until the end of the Civil War, when he moved to New York City and was in business as a tobacco merchant. His wife was named Georgeanna, and they lived for many years at 588 Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side. His son Robert M. Allen, Jr. continued his work as a tobacco merchant. His sons Edward H. Allen and Norman H. Allen were dentists practicing on Lexington Ave and in Brooklyn respectively. His daughter Bettie G. Allen also lived in the Lexington Ave. house with her husband Emile Blum, a french-born merchant. All are buried in the Bronx's fashionable Oaklawn Cemetery.
Mary Elizabeth Allen (1820-1858?) - Possibly the most prolific progenitor of this family. She married overseer John S. Hawkes and appears to have had a pretty tough (and short) life. More on her children later.
In December 1826, James Allen married Mary Ann F. Bevill, the daughter of neighbor Jack (John Randolph?) Bevill. They wasted no time in continuing the offspring:
Richard Alfred Allen (1827-1911) My great-great grandfather. Lived along Wills Road with his wife Martha Turner Allen, and amassed over 1000 acres by the time of his death. Served briefly in the Civil War, and attended Poplar Hill ME Church.
Sarah Jane Allen (1829-1911) Married Thomas B. Sadler of Dinwiddie County and appears to have lived in the family home while her mother was still alive. Buried today in Maury Cemetery, her only known descendents are Hudsons.
Virginia A. Allen (1830-1906) - Very little known about this lady. She married neighbor Robert W. Gill and eventually left Poplar Hill ME Church for neighboring Mount Hope Baptist Church, where she is buried.
What We Actually Know About James Allen:
He is linked to the above offspring by a deed for the sale of his land in 1895. (Amelia Deed Book 50 p.528)
He married Mary A. F. Bevill in December 1826. (Amelia County Marriage Bond)
The mother of his son Robert M. Allen was named Elizabeth (NY death certificate of Robert M. Allen)
He gave his age as 67 on the 1850 Census.
He died intestate in Amelia County in 1855, probably May or June. (widow appeared in court on 6/28/1855)
Purchased 150 acres of land in 1804 neighboring Jack Bevill, John Roach, Wellington Davison Roache, and John Southall. (Amelia Deed Book 21 p.525)
Purchased 98 acres of land in 1817 neighboring Enoch Rather, Elizabeth A. Southall, James Drake, Frances Southall, George Pollard and James Coleman. (Amelia Deed Book 25 p.64)
The land was located along what is now Mill Quarter Road (SR622), just south of Plantation Drive. (Amelia Tax Map p.71, parcel 9) The original house may have been known during the mid-20th century as the Cleaton house.
Assumptions that I'm currently working with:
That the first five children all had the same mother. This is based partly on the 1854 will of Rev. James Madison Allen, who mentions only children 1-5, and partly on the family bible of Dr. Edward H. Allen, which contains no references to children 6-8.
That the family had a prestigious name, but limited wealth. Of three sons who married, two married daughters of what appear to have been wealthier fathers. (Nothing is known of Robert M. Allen's wife thus far) All four daughters married, but not to particularly wealthy or landed men so far as I can tell.
Amelia Marriage Bonds show a James Allen marrying Elizabeth "Betsy" Jeter, daugther of Rodophil Jeter March 17 or 18, 1806. This would be a very convenient date for their first child to be born in 1808.
There were numerous James Allens and Richard Allens in Amelia County in the early 19th century. The name James is so heavily repeated in this family that I anticipate eventually tracing them back to Jamestown in 1608.
Of Richard A. Allen's 36 grandchildren, none were given the name of Richard. One grandchild was given the middle name Alfred.
Though Robert M. Allen lived in Virginia for his first 49 years, no record of him, his wife or their children has turned up outside of New York City.
Another group of Allens who were close neighbors of James and family were the children of Daniel Allen. Matthew Allen served a year as sheriff. His wife Elizabeth Cary Mann made him brother-in-law to major planter like William Green, George Rowlett and Watkins Turner. Sarah "Sally" Allen was married to Robert Cousins, Sr. and Alexander Allen's family eventually moved on to Hardin County, TN.
Possible Origins of James Allen:
Benjamin Allen (1748-1808) - A resident of Cumberland County, VA. His son James Allen married Elizabeth "Betsy" Jeter on March 18, 1806--a fairly coincidental date if Dr. Edward Henry Allen were to be their eldest child. Benjamin Allen moved to Cumberland from Hanover County and was a direct descendent of James Allen who landed in 1608 at Jamestown. His uncle, James Allen, was a founder of Hampden-Sydney College. Points in favor of this include the 1806 marriage bond, the fact that the Allens were mostly Presbyterian, and the fact that Dr. Edward H. Allen named one of this sons "Sydneyham."
Richard Allen (1755-1823?) - Richard Allen of Little Byrd Creek in Goochland married Anne Clement in Goochland in 1777. Among their sons were twins named James and John, born Jan 31, 1783. (very convenient coincidence with James Allen's stated age on the 1850 Census) We know that there was a Richard Allen living somewhere along Mill Quarter Road. In 1812, he married Tabitha Southall, and the service was presided over by a Rev. Richard Allen--presumably presbyterian. He died in 1823 with his will mentioning sons named James and John in his older set of children. If these two Richard Allens are the same, it would be a very strong link. It's also interesting to note that James Allen's son, Rev. James Madison Allen spent this entire career as a Presbyterian Minister in Goochland County.
Samuel Allen (d.1817) - Samuel Allen's will mentions a James Allen who had four children. Our James Allen had his fourth child in 1837.
Henry Allen (unknown) - Had land grants in the 1720's in what is now Dinwiddie County. One point in favor of this is the proliferation of the name Henry in James Allen's descendents.
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