John B. Allen was one of the leading figures of Xenia for over half a century. Born near Mount Jackson, Shenandoah county, Virginia, August 5, 1816, he came to Xenia in 1836 and made his home here in this city until the day of his death, December 21, 1893. He was a son of John and Catherine (Holker) Allen, of English ancestry. He was educated at the college at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and just before reaching his majority came to Xenia alone, his sister, Mrs. John Walton, being located in the city. Soon after coming to Xenia he opened a private bank, and from that time forward banking was his life work. He saw the city rise from a village of a few hundred until it became a thriving metropolis of eight thousand, and in this growth he had an active part. He continued his private bank until it was merged into a national bank, and remained the president of this bank, the Xenia National Bank, until his death. He had other interests, but he was essentially a banker and every other activity in which he was engaged was subordinate to his banking interests.
Mr. Allen was married on December 10, 1839, to Sarah Ann Nunnemaker. To this marriage were born two children, Mary A., who became the wife of the poet, Coates Kinney, and Clara, unmarried. The two sisters are still living in Xenia, making their home together in the old Allen homestead. Mrs. Allen died on April 30, 1902. She had been a life-long worker in the Methodist church, and was a woman of unusual character.
Mr. Allen was never a seeker after political preferment, but his friends forced him to become an active worker in political affairs, feeling that he was exceptionally qualified for public life. He consented to become a candidate for the city council, and was elected and re-elected term after term. For some years he was president of the city council. He was also a member of the board of county commissioners for several years. In 1891 he was elected a member of the state Senate and was re-elected in the fall of 1893. but his death occurred before he took up his duties for the second term. John B. Allen was such a man as make cities what they are today. Devoted to his work, he was no less devoted to the life of his fellowman. He left behind him the reputation of a man who was always ready to share his worldly goods with those less fortunately situated in life and those who remember him in his later years recall his intense interest in the well-being of those around him. Thus he lived, and thus he died—a man full of the milk of human kindness. Those who may read these lines in the years to come will here read of the life and career of one of Xenia's best loved citizens of a past generation.
Mrs. John B. (Nunnemaker) Allen was the only daughter of Michael and Mary (Hivling) Nunnemaker. Her father was born in Maryland, August 3, 1790, where he was reared to manhood. At the age of twenty-six he came to Xenia, where he lived the remainder of liis life. He was a bookkeeper and principal salesman in the dry-goods store of John Hivling for a number of years. He married Mary Hivling, a daughter of his proprietor, on October 28, 1821. He died February 27, 1866. As before stated, Mrs. John B. Allen was the only daughter of this marriage. Later, Mr. Nunnemaker became a merchant and banker, and was associated with his son-in-law, John B. Allen, in the banking business.
Mrs. Nunnemaker was a capable woman in many ways. Her husband became one of the wealthy men of the county. He was prudent in his dealings, scrupulously honest in all his transactions, and never failed to help those who came to him for assistance. He was an active member of the Methodist church. Capt. John Hivling, the father of Mrs. Nunnemaker, was one of the big men of early Xenia. He built the first large hotel in the city, which stood at the corner of Detroit and Main streets, part of which is still standing in 1917. The Captain was born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, July 14, 1779, and came to Greene county in 1809. He became a large landowner, buying land by the thousand-acre lots. At his death on November 4, 1851, he was the wealthiest man in the county. He was interested in the first bank, in the old Little Miami Railroad, and in every feature of the life of Xenia which promised to make it a better and larger city. He was a Mason and helped organize the first lodge in Xenia, taking an active part in its affairs through his life. Many of the features of the life of Captain Hivling are of interest to the general history of the county, and are given extended mention in the historical volume.
From History of Greene County Ohio, Its People, Industries and Institutions, vol. 2. M.A.Broadstone, editor. B.F.Bowen & Co., Indianapolis. 1918