Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Matthew J. Allen

MATTHEW J. ALLEN. When he came to Kansas in 1886 to become a permanent resident. Matthew J. Allen did not do so in the untrained enthusiasm of the first flush of youth, but as a man of mature years and broad experience. Some ten years before he had spent a short time in the state, and in the interval he had been engaged in a variety of pursuits in the East, all of which trained him and made him self reliant and industrious, although the work which he was called upon to do in the new West was different from anything which he had ever assumed before. As an agriculturist and cattle man he has since developed into one of the substantial residents of Morton County, and as a citizen and public official has placed himself high in the estimation and confidence of his fellowmen.

Matthew J. Allen was born in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, the Town of Marion, a part, originally, of the colonial town of Rochester, January 11, 1856, being a son of Charles Cole and Phoebe Macomber (Shaw) Allen. His father was born at Fairhaven, Massachusetts, July 22, 1809, being a son of Anthony Allen, who was also born in that locality and followed the vocation of boat building during a long life, his special work being the construction of whaling vessels. His wife was a Miss Hammond, whose brother, Gideon Hammond, was, it is believed, a Revolutionary soldier. Anthony Allen and his wife had three children: William, Charles Cole and Eliza, the last named dying unmarried.

Charles Cole Allen married Phoebe Macomber Shaw, a daughter of Job L. and Amy Shaw, Massachusetts people who moved to Tiverton, Rhode Island, where Mr. Allen was born. Mr. Allen died in June, 1884, and Mrs. Allen February 22, 1896. Their children were as follows: two who did not reach maturity; Mary J., who married Nathan Mendell; Frederick and George W., both of whom fought as Union soldiers during the Civil war, the latter losing a leg at the battle of Cedar Creek; Phoebe A., who married John M. Besse; Addie B., who died as a maiden; Charles A.; Eliza M., who married Caleb C. Deane; Henrietta M., who became Mrs. Henry Bonney; Gideon H., who spent a part of his life in Kansas, at Humboldt, and later resided at Winfield, still later was identified with Morton County, and now resides at New Bedford, Massachusetts; Humphery S., Ida F., who married Samuel S. Chase; Ellen R., the wife of James Davis; Matthew J., of this notice; and Amy L.

The boyhood of Matthew J. Allen was passed as a student in the common schools, and he early became familiar with farming and dairying, in which his father was at that time engaged, having formerly been an oil-cask cooper. The youth also became familiar with the salt sea, and his father conducted a large cooperage shop on the Acushnet River previous to the Civil war, his trade being one of the most important of all the occupation at that time. When he abandoned this business he went to Marion and took up the rural pursuits above mentioned. In order to perfect himself, Matthew J. Allen began a course at the Massachusetts Agricultural College and intended to complete it, but eventually gave up his study in order to fulfill his desire to see the great West.

It was in 1876 that he first came to Kansas and he sojourned at Humboldt for a time, where he had a brother living and where he filled a clerkship in the book and stationery store of J. W. Patterson, who was also postmaster of the town. When he left the state he returned to his native state of Massachusetts and subsequently became a clerk in the United States Treasury at Washington, D. C. Following this, he entered the railroad service at Boston, and finally became an employe of the Long Island Railway Company, which he left to again come to Kansas to make his home in Morton County. While in Brooklyn he had met his future wife, and they agreed to come hither and take up land on the frontier, reaching here March 13, 1886. They married the day following, and as this was the first wedding in the county they were given as a wedding present two town lots by the townsite company of Richfield.

Mr. Allen had sought Morton County, because his brother was one of the owners of Richfield and Johnson townsites, and his life was commenced here with a wife and plenty of ambition and energy. He entered his preemption in section 22, in the southwest one-quarter, township 31, range 41, and his wife entered the southeast one-quarter of the same section. They had filed on their land at Garden City as they had come through bound for their claims, and their home was built across the farm-line, a sort of "dug-out" of one room until the preemption was commuted, when another room was added. They lived in two rooms for some years, or during the time the homesteads were being proved up. The garden was the chief success at agriculture for a few seasons, although they made an effort to grow fodder crops. They sowed their first wheat in 1888, but had been preceded in this direction in the county two years before by Milam Bond, who had sowed the first wheat in the county and had harvested the whole crop of ten or fifteen acres by "pulling it" out of the ground.

The farming carried on here at that time was done along lines practiced back where the settler came from, and this fact caused many ultimate failures and the final vacation of the country later on, and Mr. Allen was one of these. The abandonment of the county encouraged those who remained to engage in the cattle industry and the population of the county dwindled until there were not more than 250 souls within the confines of Morton. During this period 75 per cent of all the lands fell into the hands of money-lenders and loan companies by foreclosure, money borrowed to make proof on their claims. Those enforced owners allowed tax liens to pile up against their lands and the government permitted the unproved filings on lands to lie dormant in the name of the absent claimant until some ten years ago, when a revival of interests in western lands caused the filings to be cancelled and threw them upon the market for settlement. Settlers began to rush in again and a new community sprang up all over this western country, the building of the Elkhart branch of the Santa Fe Railroad stimulated settlement, and all the unentered land was hastily grabbed up, while delinquent taxes were settled, the cattle ranches were divided, and the municipal lines restored, with schools reestablished for the education of the new youth of the West.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen witnessed all these changes and contributed of their presence and some of their labor toward rejuvenated Morton County. They lived on their new Kansas home eleven years and then occupied their present place to be nearer school and town. Here they are in section 34, the same township and range, and have developed a farm of 480 acres, have improved their surroundings, cultivated the domain about them, and like many others, have settled down to the stock industry. They are engaged in the raising of Angus cattle, first the graded and now the full blood. Mr. Allen's efforts at raising the horses have been successful, although his efforts at selling them, according to Mrs. Allen, have been "a perfect failure."

Mr. Allen held the office of county attorney of Morton County for one term, during which he advised the advertisement of delinquent lands for taxes. This was ordered by the commissioners and the lands were sold. This plan is now conceded to have been an excellent one for relieving the county of much of the burden which it was carrying. Although he had not read law and had no qualifications for the profession beyond natural tact and ability to do things, Mr. Allen was chosen and the district judge decided that he or anyone with such qualifications could fill a county office, even that of county attorney. He has served on the township board several terms and on the board of his school district, No. 5, Richfield. Mrs. Allen served two terms as county superintendent of schools, held summer normals and examinations, and during her incumbency, 1898 to 1902, disorganized a few of the smaller school districts and consolidated others. Mr. Allen came of republican parents and was a republican himself for a few national administrations, having cast his first presidential vote for James A. Garfield in 1880 in his home town of Marion, Massachusetts. In the early days of his life in Kansas he affiliated with the prohibition party and Mrs. Allen endorsed his position, but in later years he has been a supporter of the principles and candidates of the democratic party. Mr. and Mrs. Allen have always been church people, leading members of the Richfield Methodist Episcopal Church and active in Sabbath School work. Mrs. Allen has been superintendent of the Sabbath School for fifteen years.

On March 14, 1886, Mr. Allen was married in Morton County, Kansas, the ceremony being performed by Rev. Buchanan, a Presbyterian minister, who was proving up land in the county. Mrs. Allen was Frances A. Gude, born at Mankato, Minnesota, December 18, 1860. She was educated at Brooklyn, New York, she had been orphaned at the age of eight years, and was reared by her maternal aunt, Mrs. Joseph Schmitt. During her residence in Minnesota Mrs. Allen knew of Indian depredations at New Ulm and at Saint Peter, and of the hanging of an Indian for murder he had committed. Mrs. Allen graduated from the Brooklyn public schools and from a polytechnic school there. She was the only daughter of the three children of Henry Lewis and Sophie (Gress) Gude, the former of Dutch descent, but a native of New York and a merchant by vocation. He is buried at Mankato, where rest also the remains of his wife. Their children were: Henry J. and Joseph C., both of Duluth, Minnesota, and Mrs. Allen.

To Mr. and Mrs. Allen the following children have been born: Homer Gude, a farmer and stockman of Morton County, who married Agnes Kreigh and has had three children, Richard Thurston, Carl Francis and Louis Warren, but the last is now deceased. Thurston, who died at the age of three years; and Phoebe Nettie and Marion Adaline, who reside with their parents. All the children were educated in the Richfield schools and the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, Kansas, and Miss Marion is now a teacher.

Mr. Allen is Kansas cooperative observer of local weather conditions for the Local Weather Bureau of Morton County, established in 1912 by T. B. Jennings. His duties require that he report on temperature, precipitation and all other weather phenomena, especially as relating to farm operations.


Pages 2202-2203.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

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