Category Archives: Allen Family

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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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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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:

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Allen Family Bible Records Posted to Dox Page

For the first time on the web, ever, I have just posted the family genealogical record pages from my great-great-grandfather’s family Bible. The Bible, published in 1854, contains the only known records of many Allen family events, such as the marriage of Thomas Allen to Elizabeth (Snider) Crow, and the births and deaths of many of their children.

The records may be accessed via the “Allen Dox” tab at the top of the page or by using the following direct link:

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