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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Richard Allen

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


RICHARD ALLEN. Among the old residents and worthy citizens of Somer township is Richard ALLEN. He has been living in that part of the county since 1858. He was born in Duchess county, New York, on the 10th of March, 1814. His paternal ancestors were from Rhode Island, while his mother's family were early residents of Long Island. His father's name was Samuel ALLEN, and his mother's, before marriage, Phebe THORNE. The subject of this biography was the youngest of four children, all of whom are nowliving; two sisters reside in Duchess county, N. Y., and Mr. Allen and his brother in Champaign county. His ancestors were members of the Society of Friends, and he was raised in a Quaker settlement. He attended a Friends' school, near his father's house, and afterwards a boarding school at Litchfield, Connecticut. He was brought up on a farm. About the time he was twenty-one years of age he went to Alabama, and for a year was principally engaged in teaching school in that State.

Returning to New York, he remained there only a short time, and in the year 1836 removed to Ohio, settling in Gallia county, in the southern part of the State, where he purchased a farm. His farm consisted of 380 acres of timber land, 150 acres of which were improved. He devoted himself to its cultivation with his customary industry, and also cleared one hundred additional acres. October 28th, 1838, he was married to Mary E. NYE, of Athens county, Ohio. Her father, Judge Nial NYE, was one of the early and prominent settlers of that part of the State. On her father's side her ancestors were from New England, and on her mother's side from Delaware. Mr. Allen lived on this farm in Ohio twenty-two years.

Previous to his permanent settlement in Illinois, he visited the State four different times, with the view of selecting an advantageous location for a future home. He finally chose Champaign county as the part of the State which at that time offered the greatest inducements; and having sold his farm in Ohio, he removed to Illinois, his family coming the whole distance in wagons, and in September, 1858, arrived in this county. He had purchased 400 acres of land in sections 15, 16, 21, and 22, of township 20, range 9. The land was all under fence, but little had been put under cultivation. Except along the timber the settlements were few in the township, the prairie farms having all been put under cultivation and improvement since that date. He is still living on the same farm. Mr. and Mrs. Allen have five children, Lewis, Sarah A., Samuel, Ira, and Joseph. All their children were born in the State of Ohio.

The old Whig party, in the palmy days of its prosperity, claimed Mr. Allen as one of its members. He cast the first vote he ever gave for President for Henry Clay, in 1836, after his removal to the State of Ohio. He supported the principles of the Whig party for some years, but early in the progress of the anti-slavery agitation he took strong and decided grounds against the extension of that evil. He refused to vote for General Taylor, the Whig Presidential candidate in 1848, because of the pro-slavery sympathy which the old Whig party manifested. On the first rise of the Republican party he became one of its members, and his political belief has coincided with the doctrines held by that organization to the present time. He has enjoyed the confidence, in a marked degree, of the people of his part of the county. He represented Somer township on the Board of Supervisors four terms, and is now acting as Justice of the Peace.

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