One Thing Leads to Another: Our Ira ALLEN not “the” Ira ALLEN
While I was writing my post Ice Cream Melons & Foxes [ now many months ago] I was surprised to find several mentions of Daniel COATS’ father-in-law Ira ALLEN in the History of De Kalb County, Indiana 1885. So I parked that with the thought—okay that needs exploring, so here I am staring at the most distant ancestor for which I have a photo: Ira ALLEN. Ira is my 4th great grandfather and this is a small image of poor quality, but we go with what we have. (Ira was Mary M ALLEN’s father). Born in Ira, Rutland County, Vermont 12 February 1791 to Major Benjamin ALLEN (War of 1812) and his wife Amey WOOD. So let’s see what we can do to bring Ira back to life.
We know that Ira ALLEN died in or about October 1860 at De Kalb County, Indiana, so we can assume this photo was taken before 1860—this is on paper which was unusual for this time period in America. It is less than 2″ of image. It has been colorized to bring out some detail.
For many many years the family legend was that our Ira ALLEN was related to the famed Ethan ALLEN of the Green Mountain Boys. Ethan was a military commander and Revolutionary War patriot. Ethan had a famous brother Ira ALLEN also a military leader with the Green Mountain Boys. After much research (including DNA evidence) we know that this is one of those “wishful thinking” legends. It is true that Ira, Vermont was named for Ira ALLEN and it is true that “our” Ira was born there, but beyond that there is NO familial relationship!
What do we know about Ira ALLEN is the recording of his birth in Ira, Vermont as it appears in the Ira Land records Vol 2 pg 273 (HINT: please note this is not in a book of births but in the land Record Books!)
All 5 of Ira’s full siblings are recorded in the same book: Rhoba, Benjamin, Reuben, Amey, and Asa. Ira was the last child born to Amey (WOOD) ALLEN. One sister died before he was born and one brother died the year of his birth. That must have been a bittersweet time for Ira and Amey. Then another tragedy strikes. Ira’s mother, Amey, dies 1st of March 1794 at Ira, Vermont when Ira is just over 3 years old. His father Benjamin is left a widower with 4 children aged 11, 7, 5 and 3 years old. As was so often the case back then, his father remarries shortly thereafter about 1795-1796 to a Mary RAWSON and to this union 3 children are born. In 1815 Ira’s father, Benjamin ALLEN, dies in St. Lawrence County, New York. I estimate Ira marries Hannah WATERS about 1816-1817 in St. Lawrence County.
In the 1820 census Ira is living with his wife and 3 children in Rossie St. Lawrence County New York adjacent his older brother Reuben ALLEN.
From the map this looks to be a rural area in upstate, New York near the Canadian border.
By the 1830 census we find Ira and brother Reuben in Morristown, more of an established town, about 16 miles due North, right on the St. Lawrence seaway. From there our Ira heads west. We find out more in the History of De Kalb County, Indiana tells the story of Ira ALLEN in its chapter about Wilmington Township:
“In the early part of 1837 Ira Allen came in and pitched a cloth tent on an oak hill on the east side of the township. In that tent he remained perhaps a month or two until he put up what in those times a commodious house composed of oak logs hewed square notched down closely. When he came he was a very large stout , muscular man, apparently with an iron constitution.” While I do not have a photo of his log house, this postcard is a square hewed notched log house from New York. The skill necessary to fit such a cabin is much greater than that required to build a typical lincoln log type cabin.
As the History records it: “Sometime on October of 1837, Mr Allen went out to hunt his cattle of which he has a number, and after finding them far out in the interminable woods and swamps to the north and west, he started home with them. On the way one of his work oxen mired down. After laboring hard in the mud and water for some time (the other cattle in the mean time getting scattered in the woods again) he started for his tent, but failed in reaching it and lay out through the cold and frosty night, wet and muddy as he was. The next day John N. Miller, an early settler of the same township, while making his way through the wilderness to the land entered, heard someone hail him away out where he was not looking for a human being, and on going where the voice came from, he found Mr. Allen and his boys laboring to get the ox out of the mire, it having been all night and until the afternoon of the next day. They had forgotten to bring an ax, and had to cut a pry by bending down a sapling and cutting it off with a pocket-knife, while the fibers of wood were thus strained. Getting this pry under the beast , they finally raised him from his sunken condition, but had to roll him several times over before he could find firm footing.“
Again we have not photos but this etching from Harper’s Weekly 20 January 1866. [I found this by doing a search on Ebay for oxen and etching. Never underestimate Ebay as a resource!]
It appears that Ira ALLEN applied for a land patent on the 2nd of November 1837 from the US General Land Office in Fort Wayne Indiana for 160 acres in Stafford Township. By its legal description we can locate it precisely in 34 N 15 E the SE Quarter of Section 6. This map from 1880 shows the parcel being transected by the railroad and it now has a major highway going through it.
It is pretty amazing that I was able to locate this parcel today. It is often evident where earlier parcel lines lay by the lines of cultivated fields and watercourses.
The History also suggests that this incident may have led to his becoming “broken down with rheumatism. As an instance of hardships and exposures that probably brought on this affliction.” Additionally we learn that “The commodious block-house erected by Mr Allen was long used as a meeting house as well as a dwelling, and here in an early day was held many a prayer meeting, or Sunday Worship.” As others settled the area we get this lovely description: “By this time  the newcomers began to feel pretty good; they were getting neighbors within two or three miles of each other, and could hear their dogs bark, as well as hear the wolves howl every night. The sturdy yeoman battled their way through thick and thin to get a living for their families and had to endure all the privations of a frontier life.” At this date Ira and Hannah ALLEN will have 9 children. The youngest, Ira Jr., is about one year old and the oldest 19 is Sarah M. ALLEN. No wonder he needed a commodious house!. In a838 Ira is listed on the grand Jury for DeKalb County, indiana.
Ira is listed on the 1840 and 1850 census for Stafford Township, DeKalb County, Indiana. I cannot find him in 1860—however he should be somewhere is he does not die until October-November 1860. His will was written 7 Feb 1851 and not proved until 8 Nov 1860. In his will he does not mention his wife so I assume she has died. He gives his property to his three sons to be divided equally Asa, Aaron W. and Ira Jr. He gives to his five daughters varying amounts: Mary M COATS $4, Maria D COATS & Elizabeth CLEMENS $30 each, Lucinda ALLEN $200 and Lucinda ALLEN $300. We do not know why the great discrepancy in amounts, although sometimes this means they had already been given land or financial assistance.
Ira’s final resting place is about 7 miles SW of his home at Newville Cemetery. The grave is in poor shape and no dates are visible. “Last row next to river where 5 broken and deteriorated markers exist. This is the only one with any writing the can be read.”
So that is the extent of what I have been able to piece together about Ira ALLEN my 4th Great grandfather. His ALLEN lineage is what leads me back to Rehoboth, Massachusetts and so many ancestors there. He traces back to a William ALLEN, my 10th Great grandfather, the immigrant, who settled in Salisbury, MA in 1639 allegedly from Yarmouth, England. He marries in Salisbury to Ann GOODALE. And let me repeat he has no relationship to the famous Ira ALLEN and the Green Mountain boys. However he seems like quite a character in his own right!
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