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CARPET WEAVERS
OF KIDDERMINSTER


THE EARLY FAMILY
OF JOHN ALLEN


ELIZABETH WOOD
AND RICHARD ALLEN


EDWARD BIGGS AND ANN TAYLOR
  SAWYER INTERVIEWS
  PETER MEREDITH TRIAL


The Allens and Biggs
At Home in America


JOHN BIGGS & SUSAN PERRINS

EDWARD BIGGS & HANNAH WALLAHAN

EMMA BIGGS AND
RICHARD ALLEN


WILLIAM L. ALLEN AND
NANCY B. TAYLOR



RootsWeb Trees

ALLEN FAMILIES OF KIDDERMINSTER

BIGGS FAMILIES OF
KIDDERMINSTER


DRAPER FAMILIES
OF VIRGINIA

 

My Kidderminster Allens in America

Richard Joseph Allen and Emma Biggs were schoolmates in a poor English village caught in the chaos of early, frantic industrialization  thanks to steam.  But Richard and Emma were childhood sweethearts who would spend their lives together.

Emma Biggs was born in Kidderminster on 2 January 1831 to Edward and Ann Taylor Biggs.  Edward Biggs was killed the following year by overzealous constables during a heated election, and Emma grew up without a father.  She was the youngest daughter of the twelve siblings

Born a month earlier in Kidderminster, Worchestershire, England, on 10 November 1830, Richard Allen joined a long line of weavers, according to a letter he wrote his children in 1904.  He worked as a weaver’s apprentice at the age of 12.  Richard was the son of Richard and Elizabeth Wood Allen

"I was born in a house with three balls over the dorr [sic],” Richard recalled later.  “They said it meant two to one that I would not live long.  I used to look up and wonder why those big large balls, golden looking, was [sic] up there for.  It was a house partly occupied by a pawnbroker and situated in a row of houses called Paradise Row."

From an early age he worked with carpet weavers.  He and his father and brothers all worked for Morton & Sons, weaving Brussels carpets as he was growing up.  It’s been said that Richard was an established grocer before leaving Kidderminster.  The mill still stands at the corner of Dixon Street and New Road, while Paradise Row off Churchfield Road near Horse Fair was replaced by another mill in 1907.

MORTON & SONS

Edward Biggs’ widow, Ann, never remarried after his death in 1832, and had a hard time raising the family alone.  They lived on Cement Row behind South Street in Kidderminster’s Lion Fields.  Nothing remains of the old street, and not much else is known about Emma’s youth.

In 1855 Richard’s parents were living on Hoo Lane, a little more upscale than in earlier years.  On 21 April 1855 Richard married Emma Biggs at the Baptist Chapel in Kidderminster.  Emma’s sister Ann Biggs Hitchin and brother-in-law Eli witnessed the ceremony.  Richard and Eli both signed, but Emma and Ann made their marks.

MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE

Richard and Emma Allen raised the following seven children:

1. Alfred Edward Allen was born in Kidderminster, England, on 20 January 1856.  He accompanied his parents to America at the age of 2 and a half months.  On 23 May 1888, he marries Laura Eliza Larimer, and moved across the river to Meigs County, Ohio.  He later moved the Ravenwood in nearby Jackson County, West Virginia, where he died on 21 March 1920, Seventeen years later his widow Lydie passed away on 12 July 1937.  They had six children.

MARRIAGE LICENSE

2. Emma Eugenia Allen was born in West Columbia, Mason County, Virginia, on 28 June 1858.  She married Thomas Marmaduke Allen, the son of Anthony and Sarah Westmoreland Allen (no apparent relation), on 21 December 1881.  Thomas died on 17 February 1920 in Mason County.  His death certificate claims there was no doctor, and that he was killed accidentally by a train.  Emma moved to Seattle, Washington, where her sister, Annie, and her family lived.  Emma died at 88 on 5 October 1946 in Seattle.  They had two children

GENERAL INDEX OF BIRTHS

MARRIAGE LICENSE

THOMAS ALLEN DEATH CERTIFICATE

3. Richard Joseph Allen was born in West Columbia, Mason County, Virginia, on 6 March 1861.  He married Lena Lederer on 23 May 1888, and raised three children in Letart, Meigs County, Ohio.  Richard died on 11 September 1942 in Columbus, Ohio, and Lena passed away on 2 June 1951.

GENERAL INDEX OF BIRTHS

MARRIAGE LICENSE

4. Anna Allen was born on the John L. Lewis farm four miles from Point Pleasant, in Mason County, West Virginia, on 6 August 1863.  She married Joseph McKee on 29 March 1887, and raised two boys.  She and Joseph moved to Seattle, Washington after 1900.  Annie died on 9 October 1938, and Joseph, retired from the meat business, died at 85 on 20 March 1944.

WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT

JOSEPH MCKEE DEATH CERTIFICATE

5. Sarah Lynn Allen was born on the John L. Lewis farm four miles from Point Pleasant, in Mason County, West Virginia, on 14 February 1865.  While she was born on Valentine’s Day, she never married.  In later life she cared for her father and, Emma and Erma, the two orphaned daughters of her brother, William Lamsdale Allen.  Sadie, as she was called, lived her last few years with Erma and her husband Oscar Kellenberger.  She died in Charleston, West Virginia, on 17 May 1934.

DEATH CERTIFICATE

6. Harriet Lamsdale Allen was born in Hartford City, Mason County, West Virginia, on 29 August 1866.  She married William Andre Roseberry on 28 June 1891 in Hartford, and raised six children.  William
Roseberry died on 2 July 1953 in Mason County, West Virginia, while Hattie, as she was known, passed away on 24 April 1963 in Mason City, West Virginia.

GENERAL INDEX OF BIRTHS

ROSEBERRY DEATH CERTIFICATE
 

Richard-Allen-Family-web-sm

The family of Richard and Emma Allen of Hartford, West Virginia, around 1890: (seated from left) Richard Jr., Emma (mother), Sadie, Richard (father), and Alfred; (Standing from left) Harriet, Annie, William, and Emma.  The cap worn by Richard Sr. indicates his status as a merchant.

7. William Lamsdale Allen was born in Hartford City, Mason County, West Virginia, on 8 July 1868.  And on 26 September 1896, he married Nancy B. “Nannie” Taylor, the daughter of James B. and Elizabeth Hill  Taylor.  Richard operated his store, and Nannie was a schoolteacher.  They had two daughters, Emma and Erma.  William decided to move his store in 1901 to Seattle, Washington, where Nannie died of “Tuberculosis of the bowels” on 14 April 1903.  William and his daughters returned to West Virginia, where he was killed in a streetcar accident on 11 September 1905.

GENERAL INDEX OF BIRTHS

Almost nine months to the day Richard and Emma married, Alfred Edward Allen, was born on 20 January 1856.  Two and half months later, Richard, Emma and Alfred left Kidderminster for the last time and headed west for the English port, Liverpool.  Here they deposited eleven pounds for each adult ticket, and on 9 April 1856 boarded the 1,000 ton sailing vessel, Constellation.

They brought their own bedding and utensils aboard the ship since none were supplied by the shipping line, W. Tabscott Company, but they were allowed 20 cubic feet to store everything they owned.  Each day they were issued three quarts of cooked water and 3 oz. of coffee or tea or cocoa, and weekly they were issued 1 lbs. of beef and 1lb. of pork (along with 2 lbs. of salt), 3 lbs. of bread and biscuits, 1 lb. of Oatmeal and 1 lb. of flour, and 1 lbs. each of rice, and peas, and potatoes.

The Constellation, mastered by William H. Allen (probably no relation), left port the following day with 723 passengers (19 of them infants), and sailed across the Atlantic to New York.  For the next month, the Allen family lived in a cramped cabin on 2a with the expectation of joining Emma’s brother, Edward Biggs, in West Columbia, Mason County, Virginia.  Edward owned a store in the small town on the Ohio River, and invited any sibling who wished to leave Kidderminster.

CONSTELLATION MANIFEST

Passengers on the Constellation first saw the Statue of Liberty in May of 1856.  The ship probably sat in quarantine off Staten Island before docking at one of the piers on the Hudson River.  The immigration inspectors first checked the cabin-class passengers, probably including Richard and Emma and Alfred since they don’t appear in Ellis Island records, and once approved allowed them to leave the Constellation and enter America.  They would have been among these first few passengers to walk down the gangway that day.  Passengers with enough money for cabins were able to avoid Ellis Island, but the others were put on small boats and shipped to Ellis for processing.

Richard and Emma arrived in America with $1.25 in cash, and immediately headed for the small town of West Columbia on the Ohio River.  According to Richard, his first job in America was hoeing peas on the farm of Jacob Fisher.  Emma’s brother had only recently moved his store here from Salisbury, Ohio, just across the river.  In 1859 Edward Biggs’ store burned down, and he moved his family to Kansas.  Richard moved to nearby Point Pleasant, and spent five years working on the farm of John S. Lewis.

Also in 1856 Irish-born John McKee (1820) arrived in New York from England and quickly made his way to West Columbia.  McKee was a miner, and he brought his wife Agnes and three children, James, Margaret and Mary.  He would have two sons in West Columbia, John and Joseph.  The latter would marry Richard Allen’s daughter Anna in 1887.

Anthony Allen (1828), who was not related to Richard, arrived from England a few years earlier in 1852.  He also came directly to Mason County.  In Hartford City he set up shop as a butcher, an occupation he brought with him from England.  His oldest son, Thomas, born in Mason County in 1855, married Richard Allen’s daughter Emma in 1881.

In 1861, the nation erupted in civil war between the slave states in the south and the industrialized states in the north.  The mountainous western counties of Virginia, including Mason, formed the new state of West Virginia that year.  Along with Kentucky, Kansas and Maryland, West Virginia became a border state, and avoided aligning with either side.  Many of the people shared more in common with their Ohio and Pennsylvania neighbors than with Virginia’s.  Richard Allen’s part in the war is a mystery.

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Emma-Biggs

Emma Biggs, the daughter of Edward and Ann Biggs, married Richard Joseph Allen in Kidderminster, England, on 21 April 1855.

Annie-Allen-web

Anna Allen, the fourth child of Richard and Emma Allen, was born near Point Pleasant on 6 August 1863 after Richard went to work on the farm of John Lewis.

Sadie-Allen---young-web1

Sarah Lynn Allen was the only child of Richard and Emma Allen to never marry.  She was born on 14 February 1865, just weeks before the end of the Civil War.

William-L-Allen-as-Teenager

William Lamsdale Allen was the youngest born to Richard and Emma Allen.  He is shown here as a teenager around 1885.

W-L-Allen-and-Buds

William Allen was photographed in the early 1890s with friends (from left) Elmer Jones, George Chapman, William Allen, and Charlie Craft.

Richard-Allen-Jr-Grave-240

At the cemetery in Letart Falls, Ohio, a single monument marks the graves of Richard Allen, Jr., his wife Lena Lederer Allen, and daughter Florence Beatrice Allen, who died at the age of 16 months.  Chick the photo for a larger view.


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UPDATED: January 9, 2016