John Allen and Hannah King
Abingdon, Virginia, and Gallatin, Tennessee

by Iris Teta Eubank Wagner
3rd great granddaughter

Hannah King was born in Ireland in 1781.  At age eleven, she sailed from Ireland to America in May, 1792, with  her brother William King, and other relatives from King County, Ireland.  They would join father Thomas King, who had settled earlier in Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia. 

During the following decade, William King, through his many mercantile businesses and the King Salt Works, became one of the wealthiest men in the early Southwest Territory.    His death  was sudden and unexpected in 1808, and he left a will so devised and complex that it took the courts years to settle the many litigation suits arising from stipulations written in the will.

As a half-sister of William King, Hannah and her children were beneficiaries of a part of the estate -  Hannah's part was one-eighth  of the estate that was left after the widow's part.  Hannah's father, Thomas Kinghad  families with two wives - the first with Rachel Davis, and the second with Esther Glenn. Hannah's mother was Esther.  William'smother
 Wagner photo                                                                   was Rachel.

Marriage of John and Hannah
John Allen and Hannah King were married on March 20, 1800, in Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia.  Hannah was nineteen, and John at least sixteen years her elder.  They were married at her father's home.

John Allen's signature

The addressee side of a letter written from Gallatin, Tennessee, by John Allen, to his attorney and friend Maj. Daniel Sheffey.  Sheffey Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Letters to Maj. Daniel Sheffey
John and Hannah were also prominent business people in Virginia and Tennessee.  A number of letters written by John Allen, during 1809, to his friend and attorney, Maj. Daniel Sheffey, are among the collection of Sheffey's papers at the Library of Virginia in Richmond.  One of the letters was mailed from Gallatin, Tennessee, on May 26, 1809, though most were written from Abingdon.  John and his brother William were partners in successful businesses.  They had interests from Richmond to Fincastle, and in both Abingdon and Gallatin.  

John Allen became ill during 1810/1811
It is evident from the letters that the brothers' businesses were profitable, but that John Allen, personally, was under some stress.  Maj. Sheffey was representing John Allen in the collection of debts owed to the Allen brothers in Richmond, Baltimore, Petersburg, and Botetourt County.

The letters also reveal that John Allen became ill during the year.  The last three letters were written to Sheffey in November, 1809.  John writes, I fear I will not be able to see you . . . as I have been a good deal confined to my bed for some days past.   He doubts he can go on  . . .  if life is spared in me.

In the letter from Gallatin, John writes, We are now doing a handsome business in this country, near $20,000 in goods and Outstanding Debts in this place alone.  He was waiting for his associate, John McCormack, to arrive in Gallatin after selling the company's animal stock in Orleans (New Orleans)  . . . as we are selling at a handsome profit there.

The letters are a glimpse into a year's worth of John Allen's life.   The letters contain a current status of his business life, of lawsuits against those who owe him, and of those whom he owes.  He writes about his failing health.  He mentions his wife Hannah, brothers William and James, brother-in-law James King, and other friends and associates. 

The letters reveal John Allen was in the process of clearing his accounts, and, under the circumstances written in the will, trying to provide for his family. He knew he was ill, and began to pursue those who were indebted to him and to his brother William.  He wanted to leave his family in good financial circumstances after his death.  He knew it may be years before Hannah would see benefits from her interest in her brother's estate.

John also wanted to help a young cousin, Joseph Allen, who lived in Tennessee, and was just completing his academic studies.   John writes to his friend Sheffey that his young cousin, . . . a likely youth of 19 or 20, would be desirous to get a commission in the Army . . . if you could see a vacancy, either a Lieut. or a Captain and have him appointed, I would take it exceeding kind of you.

John's genealogy? I've found no document to connect John Allen to a specific Allen family in Virginia.   However, there is a John Allen listed in the Fincastle, Botetourt Tax List of 1794 in the First District with Moses Allen, Robert Allen, and Malcolm Allen also listed.  The Second District includes Hugh Allen, and Thomas King, Hannah's father. 

Further research of Hugh's family may connect John to Hugh.  There is circumstantial evidence to support the theory that John Allen's family may have lived near Richmond in the early to mid and latter 18th century in Henrico County.

A well-educated gentleman
Certainly John Allen was well educated and discerning.  The letters to Sheffey reveal an expressive hand, and words of a gentleman.  The text of the letters indicate he had known Maj. Sheffey for a long time, and that Sheffey had been his attorney in many instances.  He chides Sheffey for not being prompt in answering one of his letters, but says he understood his friend's new responsibilities - Maj. Sheffey had been  elected recently in March, 1809, to represent the southwestern district of Virginia in the U. S. House of Representatives.  Subsequent to this first election, Sheffey had a long career as a legislator, both in the U. S. House and the Virginia State Senate.

The U.S. Federal Census of 1810, Abingdon, Virginia
John Allen and Hannah, and their children, were living in Abingdon when the 1810 U. S. Census was taken.  They live one house away from Mrs. Sarah King, widow of William King's brother James, the major  heir of the King estate, who had died a few months after William King's death.   James King could not, therefore, carry out the stipulations in his brother's will.  John and Hannah's near neighbors are Mrs. King, William Trigg, James White, Benjamin Estil, Peter Mayo, Rufus Morgan, and John McCormack.  John Allen was over forty-five years old, so he would have been  born before 1765. 

1810 U. S. Census, Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia, page 1

Sixth row from the top is John and Hannah's household. On this 1810 Census, John and Hannah's eldest child is William - I theorize named for John's father or brother - and they have four females under ten years. William died in his early years.  The females are the eldest (1) Sarah Allen (married first Joseph Bullis and second Jesse Cage); (2) Margaret Allen (married first Joseph M. Smith, second David McCord Hunter, and third James Ware, an architect living in Christian County, Kentucky; (3) Margery Allen (married a Mr. Stewart, and she lived in Gallatin, Tennessee.) ; (4) Jane Glenn Allen (married Ambrose Richey Hunter, brother of David McCord Hunter.  Jane Catherine Hunter was a double first cousin to the children of Ambrose and Jane Glenn Hunter. 

John Allen died in early 1812, for in 1812 some of his property in Abingdon was being advertised for sale.  After his death, Hannah and her daughters moved to Gallatin, Tennessee.  The daughters afterward married prominent businessmen. 

My 2nd-great grandparents are Margaret Allen with second husband David McCord Hunter.

Original Narrative - Research and Web Site
© Iris Teta Eubank Wagner 2009-2014


Sources  :

Margaret Jacqueline Moore, Jackson, Mississippi, researcher and compiler, Eubank-Ware-Hunter-Allen-King from family, church, county, and State archives.  Privately published in 1970.

New River Notes web site, 1794 Botetourt County Tax List, First and Second District. 

International Genealogical Index, Marriages of Botetourt County, Virginia.  Marriage  of John Allen to Hannah King.

Collection:   The Daniel Sheffey Papers, Mss1 Sh394a 16-23,   The Virginia Historical Society, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

US   Lawrence County, Alabama, Marriages,   David M. Hunter and Margaret Smith, Feb. 3, 1835; Ambrose Hunter and Jane G. Allen, November 4, 1834.

Thomas L. Preston, Historical Sketches and Reminiscences of an Octogenarian, Richmond, Virginia.

Minnie L. Baugh, as published by her sister Ethel B. Baugh, Sketch of William King, printed in Abingdon, Virginia, by the Journal-Virginia in 1937.  Copy of the publication given to the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia, by Roy Christian Brown, June 3, 1944.

Davis and McConnell, High on a Windy Hill : Cemeteries in Washington County, Virginia, Presbyterian, Sinking Spring Cemetery, Abingdon.  William King monument.

Holsten Pastfinder, Volume 8, p4, January16, 1813,  Historical Society of Washington County, Abingdon, Virginia.

Mary B. Kegley, William King and his Ocean Crossings, The Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia, Abingdon, Virginia, Bulletin, Series II, No. 44, 2007, pp64-68.

William King Bible, The Virginia Historical Society, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.  Digital Collection online at the Library website.

OpenJurist, U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Vol. 90, #420, Crosby v. Buchanan, October, 1874.
DECREE REVERSED, and the cause reprimanded with instructions to enter a decree DISMISSING THE BILL of the complainants and GRANTING THE PRAYER OF THE CROSS-BILL for a cancellation of the deed from Allen and wife to Vint.  (The heirs of John Allen and wife Hannah King had filed a Cross-Bill suit against Vint's representative Buchanan.  The Supreme Court found in favor of the heirs'suit.