Wednesday, May 2, 2012

John P. Allen

Speaking of common names like Smith, Johnson, and Jones…there is another name that has bedeviled me off and on for some time…Allen.  You wouldn’t think that the Allen name would be that big of a deal…but think about it – is it from English ancestry…German…Irish….something else?  When you don’t have the parents’ names to go from…there seems to be a multitude of choices, and when they have a common name like John…there are even more choices.

Phoebe Allen Gage with Gilbert Gage, Jr's children.
My great great great grandmother was Phoebe Ann Allen.  She was born on 7 Jan 1830 in Knox, Albany Co., NY and d. 30 Dec 1912 also in Knox, Albany Co., NY.  She married Gilbert Gage around 1849 in Knox, Albany Co., NY and had five children, all of whom survived and families of their own.  Her husband preceded her in death by 18 years, so she lived a long time as a widow.  Phoebe was the middle child of John P. Allen and Elizabeth Zeh.  She had 4 full siblings and 7 half siblings.  Her father, John P. Allen was born 24 Sep 1783 in NY and d. 2 Apr 1868 in Knox, Albany Co., NY.  He was married first to Anna Eva Weidman in about 1807 and she died around 1821 probably around the birth of her last child Susanna.  John didn’t remarry until abt 1825 when he married Elizabeth Zeh, the daughter of Annatje Truax and Peter Jost Zeh.  One would think that I would have difficulty in finding information on someone with the last name of Zeh…but not so.  I have quite a bit on Elizabeth Zeh’s ancestry, John Allen – I have zilch.

The biggest problem with John P. Allen is that is names are so common.  Every time you think that you are making headway, you run into another brick wall.  As you are researching…they even seem to multiply.  Living so far away doesn’t really help either.  One of the things that I usually try to do is research the siblings.   John P. Allen and first wife, Anna Eva Weidman had the following children:
  • Asa Allen b. 26 Dec 1806 Berne, Albany Co., NY d. ?
  • Hannah Maria Allen b. 11 June 1808, Berne, Albany Co., NY m. 8 Aug 1825 John Grassfield d. aft 1880
  • William Allen b. 11 Oct 1810 Berne, Albany Co., NY m. abt 1831 Elizabeth Ann Engle d. abt 7 Oct 1892
  • John P. Allen , Jr. b. 19 Jun 1812 Berne, Albany Co., NY m1. 4 Jun 1835 Catherine Margaret Beller m2. Mlinda Haverly 23 Nov 1876 d. 28 Dec 1883 NY
  • James Ira Allen b. 8 May 1817 Berne, Albany Co., NY  m. 15 Feb 1838 Eva P. Ball  d. 7 Oct 1866 Janesville, Rock Co., WI
  • Sylvester Allen b. 7 Jan 1818 Berne, Albany Co., NY m. abt 1839 Sarah A. Bunzey  d. 20 Sep 1898, Albany Co., NY
  • Susanna Allen b. 7 Jul 1821 Berne, Albany Co., NY m. Jan 1846 Jacob Henry Haverly d. 29 May 1889

 So, even though I have their names, I’ve never been able to find out the death dates on three of Phoebe’s full siblings…John Allen and Elizabeth Zeh’s children are:
  • Ann Eliza Allen b. 27 Jul 1827 Knox, Albany Co., NY m. ? d. ?
  • Emma Elizabeth Allen b. 28 Aug 1828 Knox, Albany Co., NY m. ? d. ?
  • Phoebe Ann Allen b. 7 Jan 1830 Knox, Albany Co., NY d. 30 Dec 1912 Knox Albany Co., NY
  • Peter Zeh Allen b. 14 Dec 1830 m1.  13 Jan 1849 Harriet Charlotte Schoonmaker , m2. Abt 1851 Sarah E. m3. Abt 1857 Phebe A.  d. ?
  • Elizabeth Allen b. 27 Mar 1833 Knox, Albany Co., NY d. 22 Jan 1918 m. 19 Dec 1852 George Haverly.

It doesn’t make much sense…I have lots of info on the older children, but not so much on the younger family.  Perhaps I’ll have more luck when death records don’t cost an arm and a leg in New York State.  I think the last records I ordered cost me $27 a piece…which makes me appreciate the records that I get on for the fee I pay yearly.  Whatever the case, John P. Allen’s ancestry remains a mystery.  I have come to a few conclusions though.  I suspect that he might be of German ancestry mostly because both of his wives were definitely German and his children seemed to marry into some of the local German families.  I’ve looked into the Haverly, Ball, Engle, Beller and Weidman families as well as the Zehs and haven’t really ever made much progress on John P. Allen.  However, I have found lots of tie-ins with other families that I have researched, so it is not a total loss.  Like anywhere else there seems to be a pattern of intermarriage between families in small geographic area.  It is always startling to find out how closely some of these families are related.  For now, I will continue my intermittent search for the ancestry of John P. Allen.  I don’t really expect much success but really the search can be a lot of fun!