Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dave Allen

David M. Allen, called Dave, was the oldest of the known children of Polly Ann Allen; his father is unknown. He was born about 1857 probably in Sevier County around Fairgarden / Jones Cove near the Cocke County border, and he grew up in that area. The Census enumerator in 1900 recorded his birth date as October 1848, which is inconsistent with all other evidence of his age, but the apparent error may point to an actual birth date in October 1858.

Not a great deal is known about Dave. At age 13 in 1870, he was attending school in Sevier County, but he is sometimes listed as literate and sometimes as illiterate depending upon Census. There are no known examples of his signature or use of an "X" either.

He has not been found in the 1880 Census, although there is a David Allen, age 1, living in the same household as his mother. This David may in fact be a bad entry in the Census and may be Dave.

A David Allen of the same age, though, can be found in the state prison in Knoxville; there are no family legends that indicate that Dave ever got into any sort of legal trouble but I have, just today, requested information from the Tennessee Department of Corrections to see if the man in prison in Nashville might be our Dave Allen.

Quite possibly, though, Dave was working for someone else and just wasn't counted on that day. While every Census is supposed to represent where people were on an single day in time, in reality, especially then, the enumeration could take several months. By the time the enumerator reached where Dave had been on the official enumeration day, he may well have moved on and his presence not mentioned to the enumerator. In short, single men who worked on other people's farms were often missed in the Census.

The exact timing and circumstances of Dave's death remain something of a mystery. Several children of Dave's nephew, Randolph Allen, remember their father telling them that Dave outlived his mother but that, shortly after she died, Ike Holt, with Randolph along for the ride, took Dave to the poor farm, where he soon died. He was taken home for burial and is buried under an uninscribed stone on what is now called Marshall Way near the Jefferson/Cocke County border off what is now called Upper Rinehart Road.

His mother is known to have been alive in 1907 although apparently ill by that point, and neither she nor Dave appear in the 1910 Census, suggesting that he died sometime between 1907 and 1910. Randolph's story also suggests that Randolph himself was somewhat young and perhaps not married; Randolph married in 1909, again suggesting the 1907 to 1910 timeframe for Dave's death.

The family story is not clear as to whether Dave was taken to the Poor Farm in Cocke County or in Jefferson County. Most records for both poor farms have been lost, and his name does not appear in the few remaining mentions of the farms in county court records in either county.

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

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