W. Henry Allen biography

W. HENRY ALLEN. In the agricultural community of Buffalo Springs, Clay county, the subject of this sketch has maintained his residence for nearly twelve years and his efforts and his presence there have materially strengthened that ancient and historic stronghold. With hard work as the groundwork of his latter-day prosperity, with faith in the future and with an open face to the foe he has met the problems of a farmer in Clay county since 1893.

The first representative of this family of Allens to enter Texas was John Allen, the father of William Henry of this notice. The former came hither from the Pacific slope in the fifties, whither he had migrated as a “forty-nine” and a gold digger following the first discoveries as Sutter’s Mill. Reviewing his career, briefly, we find him born in New Madrid county, Missouri, where he came to manhood’s estate. from there he joined a caravan bound for the new Eldorado of the Sierras. As was the custom, he crossed the plains and prospected for the yellow metal a few years, over the surface of our new Mexican acquisition, with some success, yet without any phenomenal results. Tiring of the life of a miner and wishing to see something of the Orient he shipped for China, reached his destination, but returned without delay and came on from California to Texas.

Arriving in the Lone Star state he secured employment in Brazos county as an overseer of slaves. Leaving that place he spent some time in Denton county and afterward went to Crawford county, Arkansas, where he met and married his wife. He returned to Texas just before the Civil war and settled in Grayson county, where our subject, W. Henry Allen, was born August 8, 1860. Some years afterward he moved into Cooke county and along in the early seventies he joined Jim Daugherty, his cousin, the famous Texas cattle baron, in an enterprise promising good results in Colorado. They engaged in the ranching business near Trinidad and spent two years there, but were so harassed by the Indians, losing some stock and getting a cowboy scalped, that they abandoned their ranch and came back to the Indian Territory and established themselves at Fort Sill. Mr. Allen severed his connection with the enterprise then and was soon afterward located in the Chickasaw Nation, on Red river, farming and cattle raising for about three years. In 1876 he returned to Texas and made a trip into Haskell county, with his son Henry, after a bunch of cattle and on this trip saw the immensity of the traffic in buffalo skins and meat. Returning at once he went down into Johnson county and died near Cleburne, January 2, 1877, at forty-nine years of age.

When John Allen settled in Grayson county the settlers were widely separated and it was indeed a new place. He dropped down near where Dexter was afterward located and his was the first well dug there. Basin Springs was the then best known place of this settlement, and at this point and in Cooke, the Indian Territory and Young counties were his children brought up. He married Caroline Coleman, whose father was a German who first settled in Ohio, next in Crawford county, Arkansas, where he died. Her father was one of the first settlers of that Arkansas county and shoemaking was his trade. His daughter, Caroline, died in Montague county, Texas, in 1892, at the age of forty-nine. Their children were: William Henry, our subject; Mattie, who died in Cooke county as Mrs. Kit King; John, of Sugden, Indian Territory; Allie, of Foster, Indian Territory, widow of Bud A. Henderson; and Aurelia, wife of Felix Fox, of Foster, Indian Territory.

W. H. Allen got little or no training in the public or other schools. In the many family ramblings which seem to have occurred there was little opportunity if there had been school in progress within reach. Upon his father’s death he became the mainstay of his mother for a time and it can be said that he began life for himself at about this date. He returned to Young county after 1880 and was in the employ of a Mr. Jones as a cowboy for a year and made a trip for Mr. Crawford, of Graham, to Running Water, Texas, to bring in a bunch of cattle from the plains. Quitting his wage working, he made a crop in Young county and then hired to O. B. Bachelor at thirty dollars a month for a season. In 1886 and a part of the next year he drove stage into the Comanche country and the latter year kept a stage stand at Elm Springs in the Territory. In 1888 he returned to Young county and bought a farm on Brushy creek, sold it after a year and in 1889 moved into Clay county and bought a farm near Vashti. He owned this two years and spent the next two years on Denton creek. Coming into the vicinity of Buffalo Springs he purchased a half section of wild land, once a part of the Red River Cattle Company’s ranch, and at once undertook its improvement. A two-room box house provided his family with shelter at their pioneer shanty and the first winter was spent by the lone cook stove. When things assumed a more prosperous air improvements of a more substantial nature came along and in 1901 his new nine-room cottage, occupying an eminence overlooking farm, was erected. The farm was fenced, broken to the extent of one hundred and thirty-five acres, and is amply stocked and the whole has been made into one of the most desirable homesteads to be found.

July 8, 1888, Mr. Allen married Mrs. Eliza Dishman, widow of Robert H. Dishman and a daughter of John Butler. Mr. Butler was a Georgian who settled in Louisiana first and then came to Texas. He is now a resident of Young county, where his wife, nee Lucinda Strickland, died in 1890. Their children were: Elijah, of Greer county, Oklahoma; Belford, who died and left a family at Whitesboro; Joseph, of Carnegie, Oklahoma; Mrs. Allen, born in Cleburne [Claiborne] parish, Louisiana, September 17, 1858. By her first husband Mrs. Allen has a daughter, Lula Van, and a son, Robert.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen’s children are: Clemmie, Lando, Pasco, Raymond, Clara, John, Leroy and Zella May.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 129-130.