Bio: Allen, James (1821 - 1904)


Surnames: Allen, Pond, Randall, Ingrahm, Kennedy, Lee, Johnson, Hamilton, Briggs, Shaw, Norton, Pinkum, Ellis

----Source: History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin (1914) pages 634-636

James Allen was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, February 14, 1821. His father was an Irishman, an officer in the English army stationed at Halifax. His mother was an English lady. His parents died when he was a small boy and at twelve years of age he began to make his own way in the world, and in 1833 he drifted to Maine, where at Calais and Baring he grew up to manhood, working in the mills, the woods and at farming and fishing. His schooling was limited. He was possessed of great vitality and strength and hardly had a sick day in his life and was always industrious and a hard worker.

In 1842, in Calais, Maine, he was married to Emily Gertrude Pond and settled at Baring, Maine, where they lived until 1850. There were born to them in that place Edward Wellington, January 15, 1843; Emily Maria, 1845, and James Frederick, February 15, 1847. During these years he accumulated considerable property and was running a hotel. One Sunday morning in 1849 his little son, Edward, built a fire in the manger of the barn to "warm the chickens," as he said, resulting in the loss of the barn and most of its contents as well as the hotel. He had made all arrangements to go to California as gold had been discovered there shortly before, but this disaster prevented.

In 1850 the Allen and Pond clans living in and near Baring emigrated to Wisconsin and settled in Sheboygan. Here Cora Ella Allen was born November 13, 1856. About 1858 the family moved to Two Rivers, Manitowoc county, and there, June 3, 1858, Charles Levi Allen was born. During these nine years from 1850 to 1859 James Allen was engaged most of the time in lumbering, as were his brothers-in-law Levi "W. and William S. Pond. In the fall of 1859, with his family and five children, moved to Eau Claire and lived in a rented house for several years at the corner of Seventh aveune and Menomonie street, just across the avenue from where he built his home during the early years of the war, which home remained in the family until after the death of his wife and himself.

In the fall of 1859 James Allen and Levi W. Pond made a two years' contract with the owners of the West Eau Claire saw mills to control the logs in the Chippewa river so that they would float into the sorting works just above the river end of the log race to Half Moon lake, where those belonging to Eau Claire would be sorted from the down river logs and saved for the home mills. Others had tried by different kinds of booms to control the logs, but had failed. A successful boom had to be opened easily and quickly, to allow the passage of rafts and steamboats and as quickly closed again to control the logs, and such a boom was not known that would work equally well in low water with few logs as in the swift current of high river filled with rapidly running logs. Out of these two years of struggle with a swift river bearing millions of dollars' worth of the finest white pine logs ever known came this wonderful sheer boom which was afterwards patented by Mr. Pond and which revolutionized the logging industry of America. (The success of these two men with the boom is described at length in the “History of the Chippewa "Valley," by Thomas E. Randall, and published in 1875, pages 90 to 94.) At the expiration of this contract Mr. Allen contracted with Ingram & Kennedy to raft all the lumber of their mills and later for the mills of the Empire Lumber Company, and from 1861 to 1890 he had charge of that important phase of the lumbering operations of those great concerns. In 1890 he was badly injured in a railroad wreck in Florida, from which he never fully recovered, and had to give up heavy labor and was unable to withstand the severe northern winters, so he made his home in De Land, Fla., and became a partner in the furniture business with his son, James Fred Allen, who had gone South in August, 1875. On the morning of June 24, 1904, he was found dead in his bed in De Land, having passed away in the night without preliminary sickness. His body was brought to Eau Claire and laid beside that of his wife in Lakeview cemetery.

James Fred Allen enlisted for service in the Civil War February 29, 1864, in Company K, 36th regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer infantry, before he was seventeen years old. He was captured at the battle of Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864, and lay in Andersonville prison, suffering with his comrades as few prisoners have ever suffered in civilized warfare until April 28, 1865. General Lee had surrendered his army April 9, and General Johnston April 26, and the Civil War was over. A prisoner who had escaped from that horrible prison had reported to Edward W. Allen, an officer in Sherman's army, that he had seen his brother Fred carried out to be buried, and all at home believed that he had succumbed to the privations and sufferings of that hell on earth — Andersonville prison. His funeral sermon was preached by Rev. Mr. Hamilton, of Eau Claire, shortly after the news had been received of his death. It was with great rejoicing in the Allen home that a letter from Fred was received one May morning that he was alive and on his way home. Myron Briggs was the bearer of that momentous letter, bringing it from the post office on the east side to the Allen home on Menomonie street and giving it to Mrs. Allen, lying sick on her couch. His homecoming was a veritable return from the grave. Fred never fully recovered from that eleven months of prison life. After the war he kept books for Noah Shaw in his foundry near Ingram & Kennedy's mills, for many years, until he went South in search of health in 1875. He is now (1914) living in De Land and engaged with his son Gus in the furniture business. While living in Eau Claire he married Miss Kitty Norton, niece of John P. Pinkum, October 8, 1872. Cora E., his sister, was married to J. F. Ellis in the fall of 1875 at Eau Claire. The eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Allen — Maria E. — died in 1861.

William A. Allen, after finishing his education at the State University in 1884, went to Florida and with his brother Fred opened the first drug store in that city. He is still (1914) living there in the same business and is the postmaster of the city of De Land.



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