Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Elyria’s Grandma Allen – Part 1

With Elyria celebrating its bicentennial all year, it’s still a good time for me to post this article. It’s about Maria Allen of Elyria. At the time of this article, which appeared in the Lorain Times-Herald on October 23, 1905, she was the oldest woman in Ohio at 105 years old.

She had lived through a lot of history, including being a member of the Women’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, which she shares in the article. It’s a little long, so I will present it in two parts.


Elyria, Oct. 23 – (Staff Special) – Happy and contented and hoping to live many more years, residing with the family of J. E. Boynton, No. 837 Lake avenue, is Mrs. Maria Allen, the oldest woman in Ohio, and by far the oldest member of the W. R. C. in the United States.

Last Friday she celebrated her 105th birthday in a quiet and unostentatious manner by receiving a number of friends and fellow members of the society to which she has belonged since its inception. She was the recipient of a number of useful presents sent to her by admiring friends and several large bouquets of flowers, among which was a handsome piece presented by department officers of the W. R. C. at Cleveland. She also received a large number of letters of congratulations from friends throughout the state, some of whom she has known for over sixty years.

Born in Pompton township, Bergen county, New Jersey, Oct. 20, 1801, or a few years after the father of our country was inaugurated president of the United States for his second term, she is certainly a remarkable woman for one of her age. Possessing her full mental faculty, she can talk intelligently on all current events and endeavors to keep herself well informed and has a good memory. She can remember distinctly the breaking out of the war of 1812, although at the time she was but 11 years old. She had two uncles in that war who offered their services at the first call of the chief executive to defend the country. They served under General Skiller. After the close of this struggle and to celebrate the declaration of peace an entertainment was given at Pompton, which she attended. There was great rejoicing and gladness over the end of that short, but bloody struggle.

She remembers all about the Mexican war in which she had one son, William, who also served in the navy during the civil war. Two other sons, James, who was a lieutenant in Co. H, 103 Regiment of Ohio, and Richard who was Captain of Co. 1, Eighth Regiment of Ohio, participated in that long and bloody struggle between the North and the South. During those exciting times Mrs. Allen was kept busy in making bandages for the wounded, caring for the sick and mending clothes for the soldiers and in other ways made herself generally useful.

Long before the advent of steam railroads, the steamboat, the telegraph and while the old stage coaches were the only means of traveling from one point to another throughout the country, Mrs. Allen was a young girl at Pompton, N. J. She was the daughter of Capt. and Mrs. John Lowndes. Her father was captain of the ship Rising Sun of New York, and was murdered in Lisbob, Portugal, in 1809. The following year her mother died in New York City, where she now lies buried in St. Paul’s cemetery. After the death of her father Mrs. Allen resided with her grandfather, Capt. William Lowndes, and when her mother died she lived with her grandmother on her mother’s side, a Mrs. Tice, of Pompton.

At this time there were very few schools and churches in the country. She thought nothing of walking three or four miles to church or a longer distance through an unsettled country to school.

Next: In Part 2, Grandma Allen moves to Ohio


Rick said...

Interesting, but not surprising that she would be a member of the W.R.C.. The Elyria G A R Post was named after her son Captain Richard Allen of the 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry who was mortally wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia December 13,1862 and died of his wounds January 15,1863.

Nora Young said...

Since street numbers and names of streets change over the years, would you know if 837 Lake Avenue is still standing?

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Rick! And, Nora - that’s a great question. The house with that address on the Auditor website is supposed to have been built in 1930, but I will see if I can figure it out next time I’m at the library and leave a comment here with my findings. Sometimes renovations end up skewing the “Year Built” date

Dan Brady said...

Nora, after reviewing Elyria city directories at the Elyria Public Library, I think it is apparent that the location of 837 Lake Avenue (near Spruce Street) in Elyria did not change over the years. Looking at the photos of the house on the Lorain County Auditor website, (and its similarity to other houses in the neighborhood), I think it could be the same house that was there in 1905.