William Jackson Allen, grandson of Thomas Allen, Died in 1893 Train Wreck

William Jackson Allen lies buried in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery outside Marion, Virginia. Near his grave is a tall obelisk bearing the seal and name of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers organization. His headstone notes that he died on 14 February 1893. Other than that, however, nothing was previously known about his death at the age of 42 years.

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The gravesite of William Jackson Allen. At right is the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers obelisk and to the left is Allen’s headstone. Between is a concrete bench that was placed so his mother could sit and visit his grave.

However, newspaper articles recently located show that Allen was killed in a train wreck near Duffield, Virginia, when the locomotive he was driving, as well as eight additional cars, derailed and tumbled down a 100-foot embankment. Some versions of the newspaper article state that Allen was killed instantly, while one story–with additional details–stated that Allen was pinned beneath the locomotive and had to be removed by digging the earth beneath his body. Rather than dying instantly, Allen may have survived in agony until he died early the next morning. The date of the wreck was 14 February 1893, which is reflected in the date of Allen’s death as carved on his headstone.

This newspaper article gives the details of the train wreck that claimed William Jackson Allen’s life.

Allen left a widow to mourn him, but he and his wife had no known children. While the archivist had long searched for a record of William J. Allen’s death, it was not until the location of newspaper articles about the wreck led him to search Scott County, Virginia, records (where the wreck occurred). In Scott County, Allen’s death was listed as the result of a train wreck.

William Jackson Allen
William Jackson Allen (1850-1893)

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It’s Time to Clear Up Some Confusion About Thomas Allen

There are so very many inaccurate or incorrect websites and pedigrees floating around the Internet and websites such as Ancestry.com, that I felt it necessary to start a site dedicated to sharing information about Thomas Allen, his ancestry and his descendants, purely for the purpose of clearing up the matter and sharing accurate information with other Allen researchers.

First, let me explain that the Thomas Allen in question was my great-great-great-grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. I am in possession of the family Bible of Thomas Allen’s son, Robert B. Allen, in which are recorded many of the only extant birth, marriage, and death dates for the family. The Bible was published in 1854.

(Please see the documented academic article I wrote that was published in 2013 in the “Magazine of Virginia Genealogy.” A copy can be found by clicking here.)

The Thomas Allen in question was born in 1798 in Granville County, North Carolina, and died in Smyth County, Virginia in 1843. He was the son of Samuel Allen, Jr. and his wife, Frances “Fannie” Rice, who married as her second husband, John Earl. After Samuel’s death (his estate appraisal was filed in November of 1801) and her remarriage to John Earl in 1807, the family relocated from North Carolina to Southwest Virginia. This move occurred probably shortly after 1810, when John Earl was enumerated in the census of Granville County. The birth of a son born to John and Fannie Earl occurred about 1812 in Virginia, meaning they had already moved well in advance of their having been enumerated in the Washington County, Virginia, census of 1820. Thomas Allen had one sister, Elizabeth, who was born about 1799/1800.

Thomas Allen married only once in his life. His wife was Elizabeth Snider, who was married first to John Mackey Crow, by whom she had a son and a daughter. Her first husband having died in 1815, Elizabeth married Thomas Allen in 1821. The couple had three sons and a daughter, of which one son died young and another married but died without issue. Thomas’ descendants were the result of the marriages of his only daughter, Mary Ann, to George Washington Cullop, and his surviving son, Robert Batey Allen, to Paulina Jane Killinger.

I plan to post copies of records and photos here, including many that have never before been available on the Internet or elsewhere. I welcome constructive input from other researchers working on this family line. Thomas Allen’s roots go back to Louisa County, Virginia, and beyond. Fannie Rice’s parentage is a bit hazier, but I shall try to shed some light on the Rice family, as well.

Welcome to the Allen Family Archives.

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Identification of Old Allen Photos

For those researchers who might question how the photos of individuals included in this website were identified, let me put your minds at rest.

Ruby Elizabeth Allen lived in Marion, Virginia, her entire life in the house that had been occupied by the Allens and the Killingers before them since, probably, the 1840s. Ruby was the daughter of Ferd Allen, one of Robert B. Allen’s sons. Ruby was born in 1911 and died in 1995. I knew Ruby fairly well and on one of my visits to her house, she pulled out the Allen family photo album in which she had most of the photos I’ve included in this website. Beside photos were written names and she informed me that her father had told her who the people were. She even gifted me with a tintype of my great-grandfather from that album on one occasion. After her death, I ended up with the album, which I have shared here. There are many more photos in the album I have not included, as those folks are either unidentified or they are of people who belong to collateral lines.

The only photo that I have made a guess about is the photo of Robert B. Allen, which was found in the Allen house some years after Ruby’s death. That claim is my own and it is based on the gentleman’s appearance and the striking similarity between his facial features and those of many of his known sons. It is still only a guess.

For the other photos, they were identified by the subjects’ own brother, and that’s about the best proof anyone could hope for these days.

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I was looking through my Allen files today and I consider myself blessed that my ancestor, Samuel Allen, Sr., left court records that prove the ancestry of Thomas Allen. Under normal circumstances, and based on my nearly 40 years of genealogical research experience, very few details would likely have survived under the circumstances had Samuel not intervened.

First, the family story is that Samuel’s son, Samuel, Jr., died in 1799 when he was thrown from a horse and struck his head on a tree. He died intestate, which means it was likely nothing more than an inventory would have been filed by his administrator, with no useful genealogical information included. However, his father took more than a passing interest in what became of his grandchildren, Thomas and Elizabeth. Samuel Sr. was appointed his son’s administrator, which gave him considerable power over the estate.

Court records show that Samuel was accused of keeping back money and goods from his daughter-in-law, Fanny Allen, and a group of men was appointed by the court to investigate. The “why” is unknown, but it is possible that he was attempting to influence Fanny by tightly controlling the purse strings of her late husband’s estate. Fanny remarried John Earl and by 1812, Samuel had been made guardian to Thomas and Elizabeth Allen, his grandchildren. Again, the “why” is unknown. I have found no documents that made claims of neglect against Fanny. It is more likely that Samuel didn’t want Fanny controlling his grandchildren’s income. As a matter of fact, after Samuel’s death, another man was made guardian to Thomas and Elizabeth, which continued the control of their income by someone other than their mother. Having made bequests to his grandchildren in his own will, it is further likely that he didn’t want any of his money going to Fanny, either.

I also owe Samuel for having been kind enough to name Thomas and Elizabeth as the orphans of his late son, Samuel, in his will. That, and similar references, have proved to be some of the only extant documentation of Thomas Allen’s ancestry.

I have long been researching Samuel, Sr.’s parentage. I believe his father was Joseph Allen of Louisa County, Virginia, but anything other than anecdotal evidence has been difficult to come by. Still working on that and I hope to eventually discover enough secondary evidence that the sheer weight of the indirect facts will support the naming of Samuel’s father as Joseph Allen.

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Thomas Allen Article Now Available

My academic article about Thomas Allen and his origins, which was published in the “Magazine of Virginia Genealogy” in February of 2013, is posted below in its entirety as a PDF file.

My thanks for the reprint permission from the Virginia Genealogical Society.

Thomas Allen Article by Veselik

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Thomas Allen Subject of New Academic Article

My academic article about the origins of Thomas Allen will be published in the upcoming issue of The Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, a publication of the Virginia Genealogical Society.

The article is entitled “Thomas Allen of North Carolina and Virginia: Mystery Solved,” and documents the Allen family’s presence in Granville County, North Carolina, prior to Thomas Allen relocating to Southwest Virginia after 1810.

You can access the Virginia Genealogical Society’s website here.

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Document Backs Up Bible Record Info

An 1827 Washington County VA court document proves the connection between Thomas Allen and his step-son, John Harvey Crow. This document supports the information in the Robert Batey Allen family Bible. Both documents state that John Harvey Crow was the son of John M. (Mackey) Crow. A similar document was executed making Thomas Allen the guardian of Jane Crow, John’s sister.


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The Railroad was in the Allens’ Blood

It’s interesting to note that all but one of the sons of Robert Batey Allen ended up working for the railroad at some time in their careers.

The oldest son, William Jackson Allen, was born in 1850 and died in 1893. He was a railroad engineer and his monument in the Allen Family plot in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery near Marion, Virginia, bears the symbol of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.

James Thomas Allen (1852-1920) relocated to Radford, Virginia, and at the time of his death he was referred to as the “wreck master” at the rail yard in Radford.

Michael Albert Allen (1854-1944), according to his granddaughter, was a railroad carpenter in Radford.

Samuel Floyd Allen (1862-1939) lived in Erwin, Tennessee, and was also a railroad engineer.

The only remaining son of Robert Batey Allen, Ferd Johnston Allen (1864-1945), remained on the family homeplace near Marion, Virginia, and cared for his aging parents. He was a farmer and was active in the local Methodist Church. He was always close to the railroad, nonetheless, as the main rail line through Smyth County was located about sixty feet from his front door.

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Frances “Fannie” Rice and her Parentage

When Fannie (Rice) (Allen) Earl, the mother of Thomas Allen, died in Smyth County, Virginia, in 1858, her husband did not give the names of her parents for inclusion in her death record. He certainly should have known their names, as Fannie’s mother had moved with the Earls to Southwest Virginia from Granville County, North Carolina, and she had only died in the 1840s between the ages of 90 and 100.

Nonetheless, because Fannie’s birth had occurred in 1775, before government records were kept, and her marriage records did not include even her father’s name, official confirmation of her parentage has been elusive. Most researchers give her parents’ names as Thomas and Mary Ann Rice. Thankfully, I can confirm that her mother’s name was Mary Ann, because of the existence of a will that is on file in Smyth County, Virginia.

John Earl, Fannie’s second husband, was nominated by Charlotte Rice of Orange County, North Carolina, to be her executor upon her death. Rice’s will was originally written on 20 October 1838, but was probated in Smyth County on 19 April 1859. In her will, Charlotte Rice directed that after her final bills had been paid:

“…the residue of my estate, either personal or real in notes, bonds or otherwise, desend (sic) to and be owned and possessed by my friend John Earls, with the especial understanding that my mother Mary Ann Rice & my sister Sarah Ann Rice hold the same in trust for their support, during their natural lives, and at their death, it then fully desend (sic) to my friend and brother-in-law John Earls…”

The document was originally witnessed by A.P. McGhee (Anderson P.) in 1838, who was married to John and Fannie Earl’s daughter, Martha, and it was probated in Smyth County upon McGhee’s oath in 1859.

The text of the will implies that both Mary Ann Rice and Sarah Rice were living with John and Fannie Earl, since the bequest to Earl included the provision that Charlotte’s estate would pay for Mary Ann and Sarah’s upkeep during their natural lives. This means that the two had relocated to Southwest Virginia with the Earls after 1810. (John Earl was enumerated in Granville County NC in 1810, but was enumerated in Virginia in 1820.) The will also shows that Mary Ann Rice, the mother of Charlotte, Fannie, and Sarah Ann, was still alive in October of 1838 and likely a widow, since her husband was not mentioned.

The 1850 census for Orange County, NC, shows a Charlotte Rice, age 82, living in the household of Paul C. Cameron. Her age in 1850 suggests she was born about 1768. Assuming that her mother was at least 18 years old at the time of her birth–and Charlotte was the oldest Rice child–this would mean that Mary Ann Rice was in her late 80s at the time Charlotte penned her will.

This fact is proved by the 1830 census enumeration for John Earl and family in Wythe County, Virginia. The census shows that there was, indeed, a woman between the ages of 80 and 90 who was living with John and Fannie Earl. As further proof of Mary Ann Rice’s longevity, in the 1840 Smyth County census enumeration of John Earl’s household, there was a female listed who was between the ages of 90 and 100. She obviously died between 1840 and 1850, as she was not enumerated in the household as of the 1850 census.

Records show that Sarah Ann Rice, Charlotte and Fannie’s sister, died unmarried in Smyth County on 31 July 1860, at the age of 73. Her passing was reported to courthouse officials by her “friend,” A.P. McGhee, and her place of birth was listed as North Carolina. Sarah Rice’s year of birth, based on her age at death, was about 1787, which means she was probably one of Mary Ann Rice’s last-born children.

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Thomas Allen’s Paternal Ancestry

Extant records show that Thomas Allen and his sister, Elizabeth, were the only children of Samuel Allen, Jr. and Frances “Fannie” (Rice) Allen.

Samuel Allen, Jr. is believed to have died about 1799 or 1800, though his death is more likely to have occurred in 1801, as it was in November of that year that his administrator filed the inventory of Samuel’s estate in Granville County, North Carolina. The administrator was his father, Samuel Allen, Sr.

Samuel Allen, Sr. is also known to have made allowances in his will for his orphaned grandchildren, Thomas and Elizabeth Allen, to have the portion of his property that would have gone to their father, Samuel, Jr. In fact, Samuel Allen, Sr. was named a guardian of Thomas and Elizabeth in 1812. When Samuel passed away in early 1813, Thomas and Elizabeth’s uncle-by-marriage, John Jenkins, was named their guardian for purposes of handling their inheritance. Extant records in the holdings of the North Carolina State Archives provided the above information.

Fannie Allen, Thomas and Elizabeth’s mother, was remarried in 1807 to John Earl in Granville County. The Earls relocated to Southwest Virginia (Washington County) shortly after 1810 and likely before 1812, when their second child is known to have been born in Virginia. It is not known why Samuel Allen, Sr. chose to seek guardianship of his grandchildren unless he simply did not want their mother or their new step-father to have any control over their inheritance.

Samuel Allen, Sr. was married to Mary McAllister. Though no record of the couple’s marriage has been located, the biography of their son, the Rev. Zachariah Allen, published in A History of Grassy Creek Baptist Church From its Foundation to 1800, with Biographical Sketches of its Pastors and Ministers by Robert I. Devin, published in 1880, specifically names Zachariah’s parents and Samuel Allen and Mary “McCollister.” It also notes that Zachariah was born in Virginia.

Records indicate that Samuel Allen, Sr.’s father was Joseph Allen of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, who died in 1783. Samuel Allen, Joseph’s son, was named one of his executors. Samuel Allen, Sr. and his wife, Mary, are known to have owned land in Louisa County, Virginia, and some researchers believe that Mary McAllister was born in that county.

Further proof of the connection between Thomas Allen and his grandmother, Mary McAllister, can be found in the Robert B. Allen family Bible, in which Thomas’ daughter’s birth was recorded and her name listed as “Mary Mcaulister Allen.”

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Descendant Chart Posted for Thomas Allen (Three Generations)

A descendants chart for Thomas Allen for three generations has been posted to the Allen Dox page. You can also access it directly by clicking here: https://allenfamilyarchives.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/descendants_of_thomas_allen_three_generations.pdf.

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