From The Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock County, Wis., publ, 1889 - page 206, 207, 208, 209
LIEUT. WILLIAM H. ALLEN, of the firm of ALLEN & McEVOY, machinists, is one of the leading citizens not only of the city of Beloit, but of Rock County, and we take pleasure in presenting this sketch to the readers of the Album. He was born in Alden, Erie Co., N.Y., Jan. 4, 1828, and is a son of Alexander and Polly (FENNER) ALLEN, who were also natives of the Empire State. After their marriage they located in Western New York, where Mr. ALLEN opened up a fine farm, there residing until the summer of 1841, when, with his family, which then consisted of his wife and eleven children, he emigrated to Rock County, Wis., and located in Turtle Township, near Shopiere. After arriving in this community, two other children were born to Mr. and Mrs. ALLEN, making a family of thirteen, a record of whom is a follows: Alexander is now engaged in farming in Turtle Township; W. H. is the second in order of birth; John Scott died in California in 1886; Ausel C. is a miner and contractor of San Francisco, Cal.; Mary A., who resides in Sacramento, Cal., is the widow of William WILKINS, who at one time was an extensive farmer and stock-raiser of this county; Washington B. died in California; James L. departed this life in 1862; Harriet A. is now deceased; Franklin F., who was one of the brave soldiers of the 2d Wisconsin Infantry, and participated in forty engagements under the command of Gen. A. J. Smith, died in San Francisco in the fall of 1888; Taylor F., who ran away from home in order to enlist in his country's service, continued in the army until the close of the war, and was with Sherman on the march to the sea, and died in California several years ago; Winfield Scott died in Shopiere, Rock County; Malvina R., deceased; and George, who died in infancy.
Alexander ALLEN, the father of these children, was one of the pioneers, and leading citizens of Rock County, and was held in high esteem for his many admirable qualities. None knew him but to love him. In his business life he was shrewd and quick, yet thoroughly honest. Kind and unassuming, generous and charitable, he has often, by his timely aid, tided a person over the stream of misfortune, which would otherwise have landed him in bankruptcy. He had a kind word for all, and the poor, who often received from him substantial aid, sought him as a friend in their trouble, asking his counsel and advice. His death occurred in the summer of 1867, at the age of sixty-four years, and his wife was called to meet her husband in that better land Nov. 17, 1876, having reached the ripe old age of seventy-one years. She was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and like her husband, was honored and respected for her kindliness and Christian character.
Our subject began his school life in his native county, and after coming to Rock County attended the little log school house near what is now Shopiere, such as were in every community. When a lad of thirteen summers, he came with his parents to Rock County, where his days passed in the usual manner of farmers' boys, though probably more eventful on account of the newness and unsettled condition of the country. The winter of 1842 was one long to be remembered by the old settlers on account of the heavy snow falls. The snow was unusually deep one morning when William started to school, and before reaching his destination he was obliged to dig his way through the drifts. Returning in the evening, he heard the hideous and frightful howl of wolves, who perchance, were desperate for the want of food which they could not obtain while the snow was on the ground. Many were the difficulties and trials to be endured in those early days, yet the pleasures were more keenly enjoyed in contrast., and Mr. ALLEN may well feel proud of the fact that he is one of the pioneer settlers of the county which now is the foremost in the State of Wisconsin. In 1851, he left his home and embarked in the business of buying and shipping grain, hogs, cattle, or in fact any kind of produce offered for sale by the populace. He located in Cherry Valley, Ill., then the terminus of the Chicago & Galena Railroad, but subsequently came to Beloit, where he followed the same line of business until 1859, when attacked by that malady known as gold fever, he went to Pike's Peak. He started with supplies enough to last him a year, but his kindness of heart prompted him to divide with those who had come with but a limited supply, and would, had it not been for Mr. ALLEN, suffered for the want of food. He gave freely to many hundreds who lacked the necessaries of life, and by his kindly assistance many were enabled to return to their home and friends. The same year, he came back to Beloit, and in 1860, started for California with a herd of fine horses of which he wished to dispose in that western market. On reaching Salt Lake City, he was induced to take the southern route, and for six weeks was detained on the road to help build Ft. Churchell, in Carson Valley, for protection from hostile Indians, who were then on the war path. At length he resumed his journey, crossing the 110 miles of sand desert, where the men were forced to carry water for themselves and the stock. Virginia City at that time contained but two buildings, and there the desperadoes held high carnival, massacring many at that place. Mr. ALLEN was acquainted with many of the unfortunate people who were killed on the route during those trying times. At length reaching California, he disposed of his stock at a handsome profit, and in 1861, started on his homeward trip.
Mr. ALLEN returned by way of the Isthmus, and while on board the vessel, became acquainted with the distinguished John C. Fremont and wife, whom he found very pleasant companions, they becoming quite intimate friends before the voyage was completed. While on board the ship, he heard of the preparations being made for that greatest struggle ever witnessed on the Western Continent, and immediately after his arrival at home, set about recruiting soldiers for the country's service. With his comrades he became a member of Company G, 6th Wisconsin regiment, which was ordered to Madison, and there equipped, Mr. ALLEN being commissioned Second Lieutenant. He at once entered upon active service, and in July, 1861, was one of the victims of the measles, but feeling it his duty to go with his command, he ran the risk of exposure, and, though suffering, did not neglect his duty or make excuse for its non-performance, but remained with his men until threatened with severe fever, when he at last was forced to resign. This he did, but after somewhat regaining his health, he was appointed by Gov. Harvey, sutler of the 15th Wisconsin Infantry, and was with the regiment until after the battle of Stone River. He sent in his resignation to Maj. Gen. McClellan, and received the following reply:
Kings Bridge, Arlington Heights, Va.
Oct. 20, 1861
Special order, No. 130
William H. ALLEN, Second Lieutenant of Company G., 6th Wisconsin Volunteers having tendered his resignation, he is hereby honorably discharged from the military service of the United States, by command of Maj. Gen. McClellan.
(Signed) S. Williams, Ass't. Adj. Gen.
Many were the letters of regret received by Mr. ALLEN on his resignation, which testified the high respect in which he was held by both officers and men. The following resolution was passed and signed by the whole company.
WHEREAS: Lieut. William H. ALLEN, of Company G 6th Wisconsin Volunteers, has resigned his position and been honorably discharged from the services of the United States, we, the undersigned members of Company G, would take this occasion to return to him our thanks for favors done us, and express our opinion that he was justified, under the circumstances, in tendering his resignation.
Signed by the members of the company.
That the officers of the regiment held him in the highest esteem, will be seen by the following:
Arlington Heights, Va.
Nov. 4, 1861
Dear Sir: The undersigned officers of the 6th Wisconsin Regiment of Volunteers, regret your resigning your commission, and feel that your company has lost a most efficient officer; and we, your brother officers, also desire to signify to you our high opinion of you as an officer and gentleman, and hope you will soon be able to re-enter the service.
Col. Cutler, the commanding officer of the regiment was greatly opposed to having Lieut. ALLEN resign, considering him as one of the best officers of the regiment, but he finally consented when the surgeon informed him of the condition of the Lieutenant's health, and wrote the following letter to Mr. ALLEN, at Washington:
Headquarters 6th Wisconsin Volunteers
Arlington Heights, Va.
Nov., 6, 1861
Liet. William H. ALLEN -
Dear Sir: - As you have been compelled by ill health to leave the service, I desire to say to you that I regret the necessity which compels you to do so. I also take pleasure in saying that I have confidence in your patriotism and fidelity to the cause of the Union, and this feeling, I am sure, is shared by all the officers of the regiment. Your long sickness has deprived you of the same facilities which other officers have enjoyed for drill and improvement. You have been on detached duty more than any other officer, and have always discharged your duties with great fidelity and promptness, and to the entire satisfaction of all. You have shown in one respect that you understand the first duty of a soldier - "obedience to order," in an eminent degree, as you have always been ready to obey all orders without questions or evasions. For these and many other reasons, I regret to lose you from the regiment. In retiring you carry with you my kindest regards, and wish that you may soon be restored to perfect health, and be able to again enter the service of your country.
I am very truly yours.
L. Cutler, Colonel.
As above stated, Lieut. ALLEN re-entered the service in the 15th Wisconsin, and after the battle of Stone River returned to his home at Beloit.
Mr. ALLEN has been twice married, his first union being with Miss Tryphena SAXBURY, who was born in Tioga County, N.Y., Aug. 19, 1831. To them were born two children - Matie J., who was born Dec. 28, 1850, and died April 12, 1870, was a most estimable young lady. Her life was devoted to others; she lived to comfort the sick and afflicted, visited the poor and needy, bringing sunshine into their homes, encouraging them with her bright presence and kind words, while at her side in the carriage one would often see a poor old woman sitting, or an invalid, or a child, who remembered for days their pleasant drive in the refreshing air by the side of their gentle companion. Her life was the living embodiment of her religion and all sorrowed when this pure young life was taken from their midst. The second child, Ella J., who was born Aug. 15, 1853, died in infancy. Mrs. ALLEN, who was a good wife, a kind neighbor and a devoted member of the Baptist Church, was called to her final home Jun 16, 1854. On the 5th day of April, 1855, Lieut. ALLEN wedded Catherine MCCAFFREY, a native of New York, born in Franklin County, Oct. 11, 1838. They became the parents of four children, all of whom died in early infancy with the exception of Ella, who was taken from them at the age of six months. Mrs. ALLEN is a lady possessing rare gifts and graces of mind and character. She has much ability as an artist and her crayon portrait work would do credit to a professional, and many fine works, both in painting and wax, adorn and beautify her home. She takes a prominent part in the Women's Relief Corps Society, was one of the charter members and was its first President, and has been honored by the office of State Inspector, which she occupies at the present time, this being her third year.
After his return from the war, Mr. ALLEN, on account of ill health could not enter into active business pursuits for some time, but as soon as he regained sufficient strength, he engaged in his present business as a member of the firm of ALLEN, McEVOY & Co., machinists and general jobbers. This firm also manufactures all kinds of pumps, cylinders, park and boulevard lamp posts and other machinery. The factory is located on the corner of E. and Third streets in Beloit, and the firm does an extensive business and well deserves a liberal share of the public patronage. In connection with his manufacturing interest, Mr. ALLEN owns and successfully operates in Turtle Township, 230 acres of land on section 11 and 12, comprising one of the finest farms in the vicinity. Mr. ALLEN founded and built the now prosperous town of Ridgeway, in Iowa, and placed it on a firm financial basis. For several years he was a traveler for F. N. DAVIS & Co., introducing their ornamental building paper, and for their successors BARRET & KIMBALL, during which time he had charge of their exhibits at the Centennial Exhibition, and while in their employ traveled through every State in the Union, visiting every city and town of any importance in the various states as well as those of the Dominion of Canada. In 1871 he in company with a Mr. PERRY patented an iron bridge known as the Eureka Wrought Iron Bridge, and was for a time engaged in its manufacture and introduced a number in Iowa, and Wisconsin.
Mr. ALLEN is a stalwart Republican in politics, and while he takes an active interest in local and national politics he has never sought public distinction in that direction, preferring to devote his time to business pursuits, though he has yielded to the wishes of his friends, and filled some local offices. Socially, he is a member of the Masonic Fraternity and the G.A.R. Post of Beloit. He and his wife are held in the highest esteem and regard by all who know them, they hold an enviable place in the hearts of their friends and their home is the abode of hospitality, where each one receives a cordial welcome and a pleasant greeting.