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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ALLEN, JOHN W. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ALLEN, JOHN W. (1802-5 October 1887), was a prominent politician, businessman, lawyer, and editor. Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, to John and Ursula (McCuroy) Allen, he graduated from Harvard in 1825 and made his way to Cleveland to study law under Judge SAMUEL COWLES. He joined the Cleveland Bar Association the same year. Allen's public career began in 1828 when he petitioned Congress for aid to build a harbor in Cleveland. From 1831 until 1835, he won the annual presidential election to head the board of trustees of the village of Cleveland. He also edited the CLEVELAND ADVERTISER, the WHIG PARTY organ in Cleveland, during 1831. Elected to the Ohio Senate in 1835, Allen served in Columbus for only a year before winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio's Fifteenth district, then composed of Cuyahoga, Lorain, Portage, and Medina counties. He was re-elected in 1838. In 1841, Allen became Cleveland's fourth mayor, serving a single one-year term. Although he began his political career in the Whig fold, cultivating a close friendship with Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, Allen switched his loyalties to the REPUBLICAN PARTY in 1854 and remained a Republican until his death. President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Allen to the federal post of postmaster of Cleveland in 1870 and reappointed him in 1874. He resigned his position in 1875.

In addition to an illustrious political career, Allen participated actively in the economic and social life of Cleveland. He served on the board of directors of the COMMERCIAL BANK OF LAKE ERIE from 1832 until 1842. He funded various railroad ventures, including the CLEVELAND & NEWBURGH RAILROAD COMPANY in 1835; the Cleveland, Warren & Pittsburgh Railroad Company and the Ohio Railroad Company in 1836; and the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad Company in 1845. He was president of the CLEVELAND INSURANCE CO. and in 1849 became president of the Society for Savings. Allen assisted in the incorporation of the Trinity (Episcopalian) Parish of Cleveland in 1828 and was vestryman and warden of the parish. In 1833, he organized the CLEVELAND LYCEUM together with JOHN W. WILLEY and SAMUEL STARKWEATHER. Allen also helped to form the EARLY SETTLERS ASSOCIATION OF THE WESTERN RESERVE in 1879.

Allen's first wife, Anna Marie Perkins, passed away shortly after their marriage in 1828. He married Harriet C. Mather in 1830 and they had three children together, James, William, and Louisa. Allen died in Cleveland and is buried in the ERIE ST. CEMETERY.

Last Modified: 06 Apr 2010 09:41:36 PM

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