Monday, March 30, 2009

Asa Allen and Amanda Jane Samples

Asa Allen was born about 1863 probably in the Fairgarden or Jones Cove area of Sevier County. The son of Polly Ann Allen, his father is unknown. He had an older brother or possibly half brother named Dave, and there may have been a third sibling who died young. Nicknames were quite common at that time, and he was apparently called Acey.
Asa Allen as a young man

Amanda Jane Samples, called Mandy, was born on January 10, 1874, probably in Jefferson County probably somewhere off what is now US 411 between Bush Brothers at Chestnut Hill and where she and her husband would eventually settle off Upper Rinehart Road near the Cocke County line.

Thought to be Amanda Jane (Samples) Allen; photo courtesy Mary (Allen) Maloy

Amanda was the daughter of William Jasper Samples and Rachel Griffin. Rachel died when Amanda was just 5; William remarried, to Mary Edmonds, but he died about a year after Rachel, leaving his widow to care for Amanda and her two brothers who were not her children -- with just $30. Apparently, William had been ill for quite some time and had few assets. Mary (Edmonds) Samples, unable to care for the children, sent them to live with different uncles. Amanda grew up in the household of her uncle Samuel Harrison Griffin. Mary (Edmonds) Samples did, though, share a portion of the pension she received for William's Civil War service with the children, although she was not legally required to do so. She would later become the second wife of the children's maternal uncle, Thomas Benjamin Griffin.

Asa and Amanda Jane (Samples) Allen with son Randolph

Asa Allen and Amanda Jane Samples were married in Jefferson County, Tennessee, on August 22, 1889; she was only 15, and he was about 26. Nine months and 5 days later, they had their first child, Randolph, born May 27, 1890. Their second child, Rachel Parlee, was apparently born in August of 1892; the photo above was probably taken when Amanda was pregnant with Parlee.

Jefferson County marriage book entry for Asa Allen and Amanda Jane Samples

Although other moves are possible, at present, the couple is thought to have first purchased land on what is Beecarter Road in Jefferson County, although the exact location is not known.

At some point while Randolph was quite young, Asa swapped his land for land on what is now called the Upper Rinehart Road, including what is now called Marshall Way. It is this farm where Randolph and Parlee were raised and where Randolph later raised his own children.

Asa died of unknown causes, apparently in 1899. Although Randolph was about 9 when his father died, no one remembers him discussing why his father died. Certainly, tuberculosis, typhoid, accidents, and many other possibilities were common at that time. Asa's date of death is assumed given that he is listed as "Asa Allen" on the 1899 tax list for Jefferson County, while the 1900 entry on the same list is for the "Heirs of Asa Allen".

According to Randolph's daughter Gertrude, Randolph begged his mother not to remarry, but as a young widow with a small farm, Amanda had few options. She became the second wife of Isaac Newton Holt on November 8, 1899, in Cocke County.

Cocke County marriage book entry for Isaac Newton Holt and Amanda Jane (Samples) Allen

As far as is currently known, Ike (pictured at right) and Amanda lived on the farm that Asa had bartered to obtain. The location is known, although the house was torn down and replaced perhaps in the 1920s. A few months after the marriage, Amanda became pregnant by her new husband.

Ike Holt was, well, a story for another day, but according to the story told by Randolph to some of his children, Ike sat drinking and playing cards while Amanda died in childbirth. In fairness to Ike, men typically had little to nothing to do with births in that era. Both Amanda and her daughter, Daisy, are buried in the Allen Cemetery on the old farm. Neither grave is marked but both are known.

The family has long thought that Daisy perished at birth along with Amanda, who died February 10, 1901. However, more recently, evidence has suggested that Daisy may have lived a few years. Specifically, Randolph's daughter Daisy remembered Randolph talking about a sister who died at about age 3 of an intestinal blockage. The comment, which no one else has been able to recall, could refer to Daisy Holt, to an unknown child born to Asa and Amanda, or to a child that Ike Holt had by another wife.

Tellingly, though, is the location of Daisy Holt's grave, and, for that matter, the fact that she was not buried in the same grave. At that time, if a mother and child died in childbirth, they typically would be buried in the same casket. Daisy was buried in her own grave. Moreover, Daisy's grave is not next to her mother. Instead, the graves of both Asa Allen and his brother Dave are between the two, and Dave lived several years after Amanda died. So Daisy Holt seems likely to have lived for some time.

Exactly who raised Randolph and Parlee at all times is not known; Ike may have raised them continuously, although he did not remarry for about a year and a half. Certainly, though, for a majority of the time they were orphaned, Ike did raise Randolph and Parlee. At some point, Randolph took over the farm and bought out his sister. Randolph continued to own the property until he moved to North Carolina in the early 1940s, although he appears to have rented it out and moved around for quite some time as his children were being born.

For the latest and complete research, see Asa Allen in my Family File.

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