John Kirby Allen

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For other people named John Allen, see John Allen (disambiguation).
John Kirby Allen
John Kirby Allen.jpg
Member of the Republic of Texas House of Representatives from Nacogdoches County
In office
October 3, 1836 – June 13, 1837
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson Rusk
Personal details
Born 1810
Sullivan, New York
Died August 15, 1838 (1838-08-16) (aged 28)
Houston, Texas
Resting place Founders Memorial Cemetery
Nationality Texian
Relations Augustus Chapman Allen (brother)
Occupation Businessman, entrepreneur
Marker in Downtown Houston commemorating the foundation of Houston by the Allen Brothers - An excerpt from the Telegraph & Texas Register dated August 30, 1836 is visible.

John Kirby Allen (1810–August 15, 1838), was a co-founder of the city of Houston and a former member of the Republic of Texas House of Representatives. He was born in Canaseraga Village, New York (the present day hamlet of Sullivan in the Town of Sullivan, New York).[1] He never married. He died of congestive fever on August 15, 1838, and was buried at Founders Memorial Cemetery in Houston.

Early years[edit]

When he was seven years old, John took his first job, as a bellboy in a hotel in Orrville (present day DeWitt, New York).[1] Three years later, he started working as a clerk in a retail shop. At sixteen, he formed a partnership with a friend operating a hat store at Chittenango, New York, where his brother, Augustus Chapman Allen, was professor of mathematics. In 1827, John cashed in his interest in the hat store and followed his brother to New York City, where they were investors in H. and H. Canfield Company until 1832. The brothers then moved to Texas.[2]

In Texas[edit]

The Allen brothers arrived first in Galveston, Texas and then moved to the small town of Saint Augustine. In 1833, John Allen and his brother associated with a group of entrepreneurs in Nacogdoches and started operating a business as land speculators.[3]

During the Texas Revolution[edit]

Instead of joining the army when the Texas Revolution started, John and his brother engaged in the business of keeping supply channels open. At their own expense they outfitted a ship, the Brutus, for the purpose of protecting the Texas coast and assisting troops and supplies from the United States to arrive safely in Texas[2]

Nevertheless, some members of the Texas provisional government objected to the Allen brothers' activities, and there were rumors that they were engaged in privateering. In January 1836, they sold the Brutus to the Texas Navy, and it became only the second ship in the fledgling Texas navy.[3] John and Augustus Chapman Allen continued to raise money and operate as receivers and dispensers of supplies and funds for the war effort without charge. In spite of the brothers' services, gossip and censure were aimed at the Allens because they were not in the armed services.[2]

In politics[edit]

On August 30, 1836, John Kirby Allen's candidacy for Representative of Nacogdoches County to the first Congress of the Republic of Texas was announced in the Telegraph and Texas Register.[4] He was elected in September, and officially began his term on October 3. There, he served on the president's staff with the rank of major. It was during this political service that John and his brother Augustus founded the city of Houston. He also continued to operate a shipping business during this time, along with his partner, James Pinckney Henderson.[2]

In Congress, John Allen successfully lobbied to have the newly founded city of Houston named as the capital of the Republic. This gave Houston the boost it needed to survive its first years of initial development.[3]

On April 13, 1838, Allen was elected to the board of directors to the Galveston City Company, which was a stock company chartered by the Republic of Texas to found the City of Galveston.[5]

Legacy[edit]

John Kirby Allen's tombstone at Founders Memorial Cemetery

Several Houston landmarks, including Allen Parkway, Allen Center as well as Allen's Landing Park, immortalize the name of the city's founders.

He is buried at Founders Memorial Cemetery along with his mother and father as well as most of his siblings.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Historical Marker Detail for Allen, John Kirby, (1810 - 1838) Co-Founder of Houston". Houston, Texas: Harris County Historical Commission. Retrieved 2012-08-31. "Per the research of Allen descendant, Ralph Dittman, John Kirby Allen was born in Canaseraga Village, Madison County, New York. This is not the same location as the contemporary Canaseraga in Allegany County, New York. The Villiage of Canaseraga in now Sullivan Village. Canasareaugh, ending with "areaugh", is a misspelling of the village name. In an interview given to the Houston Daily Post in 1895 Charlotte Baldwin Allen refers to his birthplace as Orrville. Charlotte Allen was 90 years of age at the time of the Houston Daily Post interview, and died the following month. Dittman's research indicates that John Kirby moved to Orrville at the age of seven to live with an uncle. Orrville was renamed DeWitt in 1825." 
  2. ^ a b c d Amelia W. Williams. "Allen, John Kirby". The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association (May 18, 2004). Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  3. ^ a b c "John Kirby Allen". Great Houstonians, 174 Years of Historic Houston. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  4. ^ "Candidates at the ensuing election, under the new Constitution". Telegraph and Texas Register. August 30, 1836. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ Johnson, Robert D. (January 11, 1839). "Ordinances of the Shareholders". The Civilian and Galveston Gazette. p. 3. 
  6. ^ Davis, Rod. "Houston's really good idea Bus tour celebrates communities that forged a city." San Antonio Express-News. Sunday August 3, 2003. Travel 1M. Retrieved on February 11, 2012.

External links[edit]