Samuel Leeds Allen

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Samuel Leeds Allen
Samuel Leeds Allen.jpg
Born (1841-05-05)May 5, 1841
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died March 28, 1918(1918-03-28) (aged 76)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Occupation Farmer
Spouse(s) Sarah Hooton Roberts
Children Elizabeth Roberts Allen
Henry Gibbons Allen
Anna W. Roberts Allen
Susan Janney Allen
Charles Jackson Allen
Emily Hooton Allen
Parent(s) John Casdorp Allen
Rebecca Smith Leeds

Samuel Leeds Allen (May 5, 1841 – March 28, 1918) was the inventor and manufacturer of the Flexible Flyer sled and Planet Jr farm and garden equipment, for over one hundred years the best selling and most famous American sled.[1]



Allen was born on May 5, 1841 in Philadelphia to Quaker parents: John Casdorp Allen, a prominent druggist, and Rebecca Smith Leeds, his wife.[2]

In 1861, Allen moved to Ivystone, his father's farm near the community of Westfield in Cinnaminson Township, New Jersey.[3][4][5][6]

On November 22, 1866, Samuel Leeds Allen and Sarah Hooton Roberts, the daughter of Elisha Roberts and Elizabeth West Hooton, were married in the Friends Meeting House, Moorestown, New Jersey.[7]

Allen's revolutionary sled was developed and tested at Westtown School and Ivystone.[8][9] Stokes Hill, a popular sledding area located next to Breidenhart, Allen's Moorestown home, has been mistakenly identified as the birthplace of the Flexible Flyer sled.[10] However, Allen built Breidenhart in 1894, five years after the Flexible Flyer was introduced.


Allen was awarded almost 300 patents for a wide range of farming machinery, including the fertilizer drill, seed drill, potato digger, cultivator, furrower, pulverizer, grass edger and numerous other farm implements. In order to provide year-round employment for his workers producing farm equipment, Mr. Allen sought to create a product that could be sold during the winter. His passion for sledding led him to develop a series of sleds and sled improvements. Allen was issued U.S. Patent number 408,681 on August 13, 1889 for the Flexible Flyer.


  1. ^ New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame: Samuel Leeds Allen
  2. ^ Allen, p. 12
  3. ^ Allen, p. 26
  4. ^ Photograph of Ivystone, Samuel Allen's home at Westfield
  5. ^ Scott's 1876 Atlas showing the location of Samuel Allen's properties at Westfield.
  6. ^ DeCou, p. 101: "Ivystone formerly the home of Samuel L. Allen, now owned by Harry Shea, historically speaking is the most interesting building in or near Westfield. This old homestead stands on or very near the site of the first house erected by Thomas Lippincott in 1711. The western end which is the frame part was erected about 1756 and the eastern end built of native Sandstone in 1800."
  7. ^ Allen, p. 42
  8. ^ Early history of the Flexible Flyer sled
  9. ^ History of sledding at Westtown School
  10. ^ Miller, Jen A. "Wonderful Town", New Jersey Monthly, January 28, 2008. Accessed March 1, 2011. "Town resident Samuel Leeds Allen invented the Flexible Flyer on Stokes Hill in 1889—and, yes, kids still sled there."


  • Allen, Elizabeth Roberts (1920). Samuel L. Allen; intimate recollections and letters. Philadelphia: Franklin Printing Co.
  • DeCou, George (1929). Moorestown and her neighbors; historical sketches. Philadelphia: Harris & Partridge, Inc.

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