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Allen Family papers

Identifier: MSS-0064

Scope and Contents

The Allen family papers span the period 1848-1906. They fall into two major divisions: those relating to the affairs of John Gray Allen (1810-1891) and those relating to the affairs of Charles Edward Allen (1860-1943). The papers are in both instance fairly well distributed between business and personal matters. The collection contains a variety of materials, including Civil War letters, tenant farmer contracts, mortgages and indentures, bills and receipts, personal letters, insurance policies, and miscellaneous items relating to the family. All the papers are originals.


  • 1848-1906


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Biographical / Historical

In 1841, the Allen family moved to Old Spring Hill, Marengo County, Alabama, from Wadesboro, Anson County, North Carolina. The founder of the family in Alabama was John Gray Allen who was born June 10, 1810, in North Carolina and died September 7, 1891, in Alabama. He was the son of Richard Allen, Jr., and Mary Gray, the daughter of John Gray. The other children of Richard and Mary Gray were George W. Allen, Richard Proctor Allen, Thetis Allen, and Sarah Allen.

John Gray Allen married three times. His first wife Anne Allen (unrelated) died in 1835 before he came to Alabama. By this marriage he had three children: William Caldwell Allen, Mary Jane Allen (1838-1909), and Richard Proctor Allen (1841-1909).

On August 4, 1842, John Gray Allen married Nancy Roe Kennon Curtis (March 9, 1816-October 5, 1849), the widow of Hiram Boatright and the daughter of Samuel Curtis. Four children were born of this marriage: Elizabeth Gray Allen, John Curtis Allen (1848-1914), Leroy Jones Allen (1847-?), and Thomas Roe Allen (1848-1865).

Ann Curtis (June 13, 1817-November 17, 1897), whom John Gray Allen married in 1858, was the daughter of William Curtis, the granddaughter of Samuel Curtis, and the niece of Nancy Roe Kennon Curtis--the second wife of John Gray Allen. They had one son, Charles Edward Allen (August 30, 1860-May 23, 1943).

In 1857, John Gray Allen built a handsome two-story house in Old Spring Hill, which is still occupied by his descendants (1978). He was an extensive cotton planter as well as a merchant, and he frequently financed other planters by accepting mortgages on their property and crops.

John Gray Allen was a trustee of the Old Spring Hill Academy and served as a Justice of the Peace in 1850. Although he was too old to fight in the Civil War, he furnished supplies and materials in support of the Southern cause. Due to his activities during the Civil War, he was stripped of his citizenship following the conflict, but had it restored by Andrew Johnson's 1868 Presidential Pardon.

William Caldwell Allen, the oldest son of John Gray Allen by his first marriage, was born August 28, 1836, in North Carolina and died April 22, 1881, in Alabama. He married Julia Anne Finch (October 15, 1845-December 13, 1909) on April 11, 1866, and had one son Weldon Gray Allen.

At the beginning of the Civil War, William Caldwell Allen joined the Jefferson Davis Company of Cavalry which was engaged in many conflicts in Virginia and Tennessee. Although seriously wounded during the war, he recovered and returned to Marengo County where he farmed and led and active part in county affairs.

Charles Edward Allen, the only child of John Gray Allen by this third wife Anne Curtis, was born August 30, 1860, and died May 23, 1943. He attended the Spring Hill Academy and remained a life-long resident of Old Spring Hill where he was a successful farmer. He was active in county affairs and was a member of the Marengo County Board of Education. He was also a member of the Knights of Pythias. The Allen papers show that John Gray Allen was a successful cotton planter with extensive holdings, who financed other planters by accepting mortgages on their lands and crops. Charles Allen seems to have taken over his father's business of financing during the 1880s and ran it until at least 1900.


1.9 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The business and personal papers of John G. Allen (1810- 1891) and his son Charles Edward (1860-1943), planters of Marengo County, Alabama, including Civil War letters, tenant farmer contracts, mortgages and indentures, bills and receipts, personal letters, insurance policies, and miscellaneous items relating to the family.


Gift of Elizabeth Allen, 1978

Processed by

S. Braden, 2008; updated by Martha Bace, 2012
Guide to the Allen family papers
May 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266