Sunday, January 3, 2010

Meet the Allens

The matriarch in this photograph is my great grandmother Mary Alice Flory. She was born in 1866 in Canteen Township, Illinois. The family name was originally Fleury, which was as French/French Canadian as it sounds, and was changed to a less flowery spelling by her parents. I wonder how long the Fleurys had been down in the Mississipi Valley?

There is a photocopy of a Collinsville, IL, newspaper article, (undated, but evidently from 1954), titled “Mrs. Alice Allen, Never Sick a Day, Celebrates Eighty-Eighth Birthday.”

“Mrs. Allen, small in stature and thinning, is vigorous and active and retains all her faculties. She has enjoyed remarkable health, never having been sick a day in her life. Two years ago she sustained a broken leg in a fall at her home, but after three months in a hospital it healed perfectly, now causing her no pain and little difficulty in walking. Aside from the accident, her life has been uneventful, she says.”

Uneventful! She lived until 1960! In 1882, she married a local farmer named Aseph Allen (18??-1924) -- note his awesome 19th century soup-strainer -- and had ten children with him. Their names were Merle, Belle, Lucille, Garret, Aseph, Dewey, Eudele, Esther, George and Mabel. Not enough, evidently, for they adopted another, named Bill. In another listing of the names, on the back of this family portrait, which is dated 1906, the names are rendered as “Merrill Irvin; Belle; Aseph; George; William Garrett, killed in France, WWI; Lucy Seymour; Esther Ann; Eudele; Dewey; Mable Myrtle; plus William, adopted.” The youngest, two-year-old Mabel, sits in her mother's lap. Mabel was my maternal grandmother.

Is that a grizzly skin they are all posing on?

I’ve looked for records of William Garrett Allen’s death in France. There were 116,516 American deaths in that war, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission, but they only have records for 33,717 of them. Among these there is a William G. Allen, of Illinois, who died October 2, 1918. He was a Wagoneer in the 124th Field Artillery Regiment, 33rd Division, U.S. Army, and is buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France, Plot G Row 32 Grave 2. Is this my great uncle?

A silver soup ladle with Alice Allen's monogram. The object has "Pat. 1902" on the reverse.

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