The Allen family have been a noted one for many generations. It is not definitely known who was the founder of the family, but some members of the family who have investigated the genealogy of the Aliens believe that it was Alan, Earl of Brittany, who came to England with William, the Conqueror, in 1066. The name itself has undergone many variations in spelling although it is now limited to three or four forms, Allen, Allan, Alan and Alleyne. The French spell it Allain, the Scotch use the form Alan or Allan, while the commonest form in England and America is Allen. It is not possible to follow the various families of Allens in America in this brief sketch, but it is interesting to note that Ethan Allen, of Revolutionary fame, was one of the most illustrious to bear the name.
The first Allen to locate in Fayette county was Adam Allen, who was born in 1754. He was one of the earliest settlers in this county and died here in 1851 at the advanced age of ninety-seven, his wife. Nancy, passing away in 1854. How many children were born to Adam antl Nancy Allen is not known, but one son. Adam, became the father of William Wagner Allen, with whom this narrative deals. Adam Allen, Jr., married Rosannah Hidy, a daughter of one of the earliest pioneers of Fayette county. It seems that Adam Allen, Jr., was born in this county in the year 1812, but it may have been earlier.
William Wagner Allen, the late pioneer of this county, was the son of Adam and Rosannah (Hidy) Allen. He was born in Jefferson township, Fayette county, Ohio, August 19. 1842, and died at his home in Milledgeville, Ohio, March 24, 1895. He received the limited education which the country schools of his day afforded and remained at home until the opening of the Civil War. He then was so anxious to serve his country that he ran away from home to enlist. He enlisted September 6, 1861, in Company K. Forty-fourth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered in as a corporal. Previous to this enlistment he has served three months as a member of the Twenty-fifth Regiment. Ohio Volunteer Infantry. His time in the Forty-fourth Regiment was up in January, 1864, and as soon as he was mustered out of this regiment he re-enlisted in the Eighth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, serving in the cavalry service for a year and three months after the close of the war. While in the cavalry he was captured near Huttonsville. Virginia. and placed in Libby prison at Richmond, Virginia. He remained there about two months and while being transferred to Andersonville prison made his escape. He wandered about in the mountains of eastern Tennessee for forty-one days before coming in touch with the Union forces at Knoxville. His record as a soldier was a brilliant one and he was signally honored by having the Grand Army post at Milledgeville named in his honor.
At the close of his service in the army he returned to his home in Fayette county. Shortly afterwards he went into the livery business at Cedarville, Ohio, and lived there for several years. He traveled for a few years, after which he settled on his farm in Jasper township. Later he moved with his family to the county seat and engaged in the contracting business, building many of the best roads in the county. His last years were spent in Milledgeville, near which was located his fine farm of one hundred and twenty-five acres.
Mr. Allen was married January 3, 1878, to Rachel Anna Rankin, the daughter of Smith and Parthenia (Wood) Rankin. His widow is still living. To Mr. and Mrs. Allen were born four children. Forest May. Fred Herman, Mary Elizabeth and Harry Rankin. Forest May received a good education in the common and high schools and then entered a school of dramatic art at Cincinnati, Ohio, from which she later graduated. She is now living with her mother in Milledgeville. Fred H. married Jennie Hunt, deceased, and has one daughter, Jane. Mary E. became the wife of Fred Jones and has three children, Marian, Ellen and Susan. Harry R. married Eva Carr and has one daughter, Martha.
Mr. Allen was always interested in political matters and as a Republican was one of the leaders of his party in this county. He served as supervisor of Jasper township and for many years was on the school board of his township. He was a public spirited man and interested in all measures pertaining to the general welfare of his community. Fraternally, he was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons and had attained to the commandery degrees. Personally, he was a man of essentially domestic tastes and was never happier than when surrounded by his family. No place on earth had for him so much fascination, or afforded him more comfort, than his own family and home circle. He was a true and loyal citizen and upright in all of his business relations. Benevolent in spirit, seeking to aid the needy in whatever way he could, he was a man universally beloved by everyone who knew him.
From History of Fayette County Ohio - Her People, Industries and Institutions by Frank M. Allen (1914, R. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.)