About James Hardy Allen
[Many of these stories are from the journals of James Hardy Allen's mother, Sarah Ann Hardy Allen Webb, provided by Eliza Allen after their mother's death. Narrative compiled by Mary Jane Tate, Leona Forbes Stenner, Daisy Deane Allen Cox, and Jennifer Young Forbes. Contact Jennifer with additions and corrections.]
James Hardy Allen was a kindly, friendly, peace-loving man. He did not accumulate much material wealth, but he was rich in the love of friends and family. In spite of his goodness and generosity, he was cheated by family, friends, neighbors.
Jim's parents, James Dickerson Allen and Sarah Ann Hardy, met and married in Salem, New Jersey. In 1830, soon after the founding of the Mormon church, they and their three children moved to Ohio. Three more children were born there before the family moved on to Indiana. Jim was born on his parents' 600-acre hog and cattle ranch at Cliftycreek, Indiana on February 25, 1837, the seventh child and third son.
The family did not stay in Indiana long. In 1843, Jim's favorite sister, Eliza Ann was born. By 1844, they had moved west to Missouri and were living just four miles from Carthage when Joseph Smith was assassinated on June 27th. After Joseph Smith's death, the Allens moved back to Illinois, this time to a little settlement called Greenplains. Here the sixth daughter, Dolly Melissa, was born in 1845.
In 1852 the Allen family joined a wagon train that was heading west to Utah. The pioneers endured many hardships along the trail. Jim, at 15, was expected to do a man's share of the trail tasks. Later, when he had a family of his own, he would tell them stories of crossing the plains.
Once, Jim and two other men left the wagon train to find a campsite with water. They each carried a bicuit left over from breakfast. There were no landmarks to guide them and they became hopelessly lost. For three days they wandered, looking for the wagon train. They were afraid to go to sleep, but staying awake was next to impossible - exhausted, they slapped their faces to stay awake. One man couldn't continue, so they left him sleeping against a tree while they continued the search. Finally they saw smoke from the wagon train's cook fires and were able to find their way back.
One dark night Jim thought he saw a ghost when something white rose up before him. With trembling knees and bristly hair, he approached the white thing. It turned out to be just an old white horse.
Two of the train's leaders were Bill Winters and Will Brandon. Both were deathly afraid of Indians, but managed to rise to the occasion when Indians visited the camp. One time the men were hitching the horses and oxen to the wagons to prepare to travel when one old Indian man sat on a wagon tongue. The old Indian kept repeating, "Too much shut-ee-cup," meaning that he was hungry. To the delight of the pioneers, one of the leaders replied, "You get off that wagon or I'll shut your cup!"
Whether the Indian understood or not, the leader was a hero in the eyes of these pioneers. To avert trouble the Indians were given food, but members of the wagon train always enjoyed telling this tale about their leader's brave retort.
Guards were always posted at night in order to watch for Indians. On the night of June 1, 1852, at Little Water, Wyoming, James Dickerson Allen was assigned guard duty. Although he was ill, he refused to let anyone else take his turn on guard. He died the next day of cholera, at age 48.
Many of the train had died of this dread disease during the journey. The dead were buried in the middle of the trail and the wagons were run over the graves so the bodies would not be disturbed by wild animals nor Indians.
Young Jim, at 15, now became the man of the family. His oldest brother, Isaac, had married at 19 and had his own family to care for. Like his father, Jim had a strong sense of responsibility. He helped his mother care for the younger children as they continued their trip to Utah, and also took his place as one of the men of the wagon train.
When they reached Utah and became part of the Mormon settlement at Ogden, Jim continued to look after the family and contribute his labor to the church. He adored his mother and dearly loved his family, so he must have found it painful indeed to leave them when differences with the church authorities later made it necessary.
Although it seems out of character for this high-minded man to have done anything dishonest, he later told his sons that he had to leave Utah because he had substituted chicken manure for grain in the bottom of the sacks he tithed to the church. He probably resented the Mormon requirement to tithe and used this way to express his dissatisfaction. At that time the Mormon treatment of transgressors was anything but mild, and his mother advised him to get out of Utah as soon as possible.
Bill Winters had been one of the leaders of the wagon train on the journey to Utah. He owned an outfit that was going to California, so Jim - at 19 - joined this group. Four of them made the trip: Bill Winters, Bill's uncle, Holmes, Jim Allen, and a guide. They crossed the Muddy River following an old Forty-Niners' trail to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles in 1856 was a sleepy little Spanish adobe village. Jim said later that he could have bought the corner of Broadway and 7th for $500. He found work in nearby San Bernadino, in the Mormon settlement there. His job was to keep wild mustangs out of the grain fields.
Jim's brother, Isaac, was in Oregon but his wife and baby lived in the San Bernadino community. Isaac had gotten into some trouble in California and was afraid to return to get his family. At Isaac's request, Jim escorted Isaac's family to Oregon, and drove cattle as they went.
While there, the brothers worked as horse-trading partners. Jim contributed time and money to the venture, but when Isaac sold the horses he took all the money and never paid Jim.
Jim returned to California, where he worked on a big ranch near Penole. A fellow worker was a man named Jesus Higuero. At this time, he tried to convince his mother to join him in California, but was unsuccessful. Instead, she married a Mormon man named Webb.
Jim then worked in wheat and potatoes for a farmer in Alvarado, California. After two years of work, he was owed $1000. The farmer refused to pay, saying, "You've had a home for these two years, that's as much as I've had." Jim had to agree that the man was right. When he was offered an old, half-blind horse as payment, he took it.
At the age of 26, he went back to Ogden and worked for a time in the White Pine Silver Mines. In 1861 Jim's favorite sister, Eliza, married Tarleton Blair, to whom his older sister had been married since 1858. Violently opposed to polygamy, Jim severed his connection with the Mormon church. Only on her death bed was his mother able to get him to relent, even slightly, on his break with the church of his youth.
He returned to California, he worked on for two big ranchers, Riser and Beck. David Beck had a ranch in the hills outside Centerville and also owned a harness shop in town. The Becks and Allens had been neighbors in the Mormon communities in Iowa and remained friendly after moving to California. Jim worked for David Beck until he was able to start his own ranch. He settled on a farm not far from the Beck holdings, about a mile-and-a-half from Altamont, on the railroad between Tracy and Livermore.
On May 24th, 1869, as Caroline Hillis Beck (Cad) was doing the family washing, Jim Allen came for her to be married. She dropped the washing at once and went with him. She told her children that Jim asked her to marry him because he needed someone to cook for his harvesting crew.
Cad's family was considered "well-to-do". It was always painful to Cad that Jim was not more aggressive and successful. She'd had 13 silk dresses when she was married. One of them was red, and was Jim's particular favorite, so she wore it until it was in shreds. Her life was never affluent again and she probably rarely, if ever, had another silk dress. She must have loved Jim very much to give up her easy life for the one of deprivation and hardship that she undertook with this marriage.
After they were married, Jim and Cad settled on his farm about six miles from Livermore, California. Here their first son, Henry Hauer Allen, was born on March 1, 1870.
Their second child, Mary Jane Allen, was born in Livermore on January 12, 1872. Jim's mother, Sarah Ann Webb came from Utah to live with the family when Mary was born. She became ill with dropsy and, at her deathbed request, little Mary was baptized in the Mormon church. Sarah died on August 16, 1872 and was buried on the ranch.
Joseph William Allen was born on October 21, 1875. By this time, Henry was old enough to be able to follow his father around in the fields, but Mary was still a toddler. Sometimes Cad would tie her to a table leg so she would stay out of mischief while her mother continued with her duties. In July, when Henry was only nine months old, the family was ousted by the Central Pacific Railroad.
They moved with a farm wagon and four horses, with a brindle cow (a wedding gift from Cad's father) tied on behind, to the Mussel Slough area near Hanford and settled there. Jim paid $250 to the railroad for 80 acres and built a shack. Having lost his span of mares, Bess and Kate (one from colic and the other bogged down), he borrowed a team of mules from Jim Hackett to put in his crop.
Laura Myrtle was born there August 21, 1880. Mary was attending the Cross Creek District School, where her first teacher was a widow, Mrs. Cheedle. Later teachers were Mrs. Slaven and Miss Langworthy. Henry began having malarial chills and fevers so severe that he did not get much schooling.
One of the neighbors used to take the young people to school in his big farm wagon. Mary had been warned not to ride but it was two miles to school, so she disobeyed. One day when she was in the wagon, Henry tried to get on but slipped on the brake block. The wagon ran over his arm, leg, and hat, breaking his arm. Mary always felt great remorse, blaming herself for Henry's broken arm.
When Henry's arm was almost healed but he was suffering from malaria, Cad was washing windows. She threw a bucket of water on the window of the room where Henry was lying in bed, startling him so much that he fell out of bed and re-broke his arm.
In Utah, at a Mormon camp meeting, some men put on burial clothes and walked back and forth along the bank of a stream beside the meeting. Believing they were seeing dead men risen from their graves, women and children at the meeting became hysterical, screaming and crying. Jim walked over to the spectres. The foremost man backed up, saying, 'Jim Allen, for God's sake, don't touch me!" Jim made them leave but did not reveal the identity of the "ghosts".
[stay tuned - lots more to come]
- U.S. Census, 1900. Digital image. FamilySearch.org. Web. 20 May 2011. <https://www.familysearch.org/search/recordDetails/show?uri=https://api.familysearch.org/records/pal:/MM9.1.r/M9CJ-7Q9/p_42500744>. Enumeration District: 0033; Sheet Number and Letter: 6A; Household ID: 131; Reference Number: 18; GSU Film Number: 1240109; Image Number: 00418. [Note: This record also enumerates many Bee Rock neighbor families who are important in the Allen history: Lynch, Cox, Forbes, Konekamp, Triguiero]
- U.S. Census, 1880. Digital image. FamilySearch.org. Web. 20 May 2011. <https://www.familysearch.org/search/recordDetails/show?uri=https://api.familysearch.org/records/pal:/MM9.1.r/MHFV-J5G/p_335167482>. NARA Film Number: T9-0085; Page: 64; Page Character: D; Entry Number: 972; Film number: 1254085. [Note: This record confirms family oral history that the James Hardy Allens were living at Mussel Slough at the time of the infamous Massacre]
James Allen's Timeline
February 25, 1837
Noble County, Indiana, United States
May 19, 1860
Livermore, California, United States
March 1, 1870
Livermore, CA, USA
January 12, 1872
Livermore, Alameda County, California, United States
October 21, 1874
Livermore, CA, USA
Hanford, California, United States
August 21, 1879
Livermore, Alameda County, California, USA
Mussel Slough, Tulare, California, USA
1880 U.S. Census records show that Laura was approximately nine months old at the time of the enumeration; as she was born in August, 1879, this is solid confirmation that the family was living at Mussel Slough at the time of the infamous confrontation between settlers and the railroad (May 11, 1880)
"The real-life gunfight took place May 11, 1880, in a district of the southern San Joaquin Valley called Mussel Slough. The U.S. marshal was intent on evicting a few farmers from land that belonged to the Southern Pacific Railroad, and the farmers were ready to resist by force of arms. The shooting started when a skittish horse accidentally knocked the marshal off his feet -- no one knows with certainty who fired first -- and when the smoke cleared, seven men were dead."
"The facts of the tragedy at Mussel Slough were transformed into the popular fiction of the Mussel Slough massacre," writes Beers. "... If historians want to tell us otherwise, it's hard to hear them over the more stylish voices of film directors and novelists who reinterpret the legend, reinforce the myth and reconfirm us in our deep-seated beliefs about the nature of American heroism."
"The most famous account of the shootout at Mussel Slough is found in "The Octopus" by Frank Norris, a 1901 historical novel set against the ruthless and bloody encounter between big business ("the iron-hearted monster of steel and steam, implacable, insatiable, huge -- its entrails gorged with the life blood that it sucked from an entire commonwealth") and the outmatched farmers of California."
"But the same event inspired a great many other works of fiction, including "Blood-Money" by W.C. Morrow (1882), "The Feud of Oakfield Creek" by Josiah Royce (1887) and "First the Blade" by May Merrill Miller (1938), all of which are generously quoted and considered in Beers' book."
Bee Rock, California, United States