EDWARD PAYSON ALLEN

EDWARD PAYSON ALLEN. One of the most conspicuous figures in the financial and civic life of Southern Kansas was removed with the death of Edward Payson Allen at his home in Independence, November 27, 1915. He had already passed the age of three score and ten and with many ripe achievements to his credit and with the honorable associations of a long and useful life he went to his reward. He was a Civil war veteran, a pioneer in Montgomery County, Kansas, had filled public offices and had long borne the responsibilities of managing one of the largest banks in the state.

His worthy ancestry no doubt was a contributing factor to his own life and character. His great-grandfather and another member of the family had fought as Revolutionary soldiers, in the struggle for independence. After the close of the war this great-grandfather and some of his brothers emigrated out of Virginia and established homes on the western frontier in Kentucky. The Allens were originally from the north of Ireland and had settled in Rockbridge County, Virginia, as early as 1630. David Allen, grandfather of the late Independence banker, was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, October 16 1773, and went to Kentucky with his father about 1783. He served with the Kentucky troops in the War of 1812, and died in Green County, Kentucky, in 1816. Thus members of the Allen family participated in practically every war in which this nation has been engaged.

The father of Edward P. Allen was William B. Allen, who was born in Green County, Kentucky, in 1803 and spent his life at Greensburg, Kentucky. He was a lawyer by profession, being a graduate of a seminary at Nashville, Tennessee, and of a law school. He was very prominent in Masonry, at one time served as grand master of the grand lodge of Kentucky. William B. Allen married Huldah Wilcox. She was born in Massachusetts of Puritan ancestry. Her forefathers had settled in New England during the seventeenth century. Her father Eli Wilcox possessed all the sturdy traits of the typical New Englander. William B. Allen and wife had the following children: Martha; Jennie, who married A. B. Nibbs; Harriet B., who married John Cunningham of Coles County, Illinois; Edward P.; Mary, who married William Hunter; and Ella M., who is the only one of the children still living and is the widow of George W. Reed, her home being at Rock Island, Illinois.

Edward Payson Allen was born in Green County, Kentucky, January 3, 1843. He received all the advantages of the schools at Greensburg, Kentucky, but at the age of eighteen in 1861 enlisted for service in the Union army as a member of Company E of the Thirteenth Kentucky Infantry, under Colonel Hobson. He was made first sergeant, and after three months was promoted to a lieutenancy, and bore that rank when he received his honorable discharge after three years at Louisville, Kentucky. He fought in some of the great campaigns of the war, was at Mills Springs, at Shiloh, Perryville, Stone River and many minor engagements and skirmishes. In later years he enjoyed the associations of his old comrades in the war and took a very prominent part in Grand Army affairs. After the war Mr. Allen went to Illinois and was engaged in merchandising at Mattoon until 1867. Then returning to his native town in Kentucky he opened a store and was in business there for two years following this he again went to Coles County, Illinois, and was a merchant at Mattoon until the fall of 1870. On the 16th of October of that year he arrived in Montgomery County, Kansas. This county was then on the frontier and the only activities to attract a man were homesteading and reclaiming a portion of the wilderness for farming purposes. He took a claim on Section 31, Township 33, Range 16, and long after he had attained a high position in financial affairs the little cabin he erected there was standing as a memorial of his days of poverty and hardship. He bore adversities unflinching and struggled for two years in order to make a living out of his land. In 1873 he gave up his farm and moved to the new Town of Independence, where he again resumed the business which was more to his liking, merchandising

Throughout his career Mr. Allen was a Kentucky democrat. He was always loyal to that party, and in Montgomery County his personal popularity always exceeded the party strength. In 1877 he was elected register of deeds of the county. It was a special tribute to his personality and ability since there were several hundred more republicans in the county than democrats. In 1879 he was re-elected and gave an administration which satisfied democrats and republicans alike. During these two terms he bore the burdens of the office almost alone, and set a standard of official performance that few of his successors have equaled. In the meantime he had acquired an extensive acquaintance over the county, and with this prestige he set up in the insurance and brokerage business with an office at the corner of Main and Sixth streets.

The late Mr. Allen was essentially a financier. He had the rare ability and judgment which make the true banker. He was conservative in temper, and was always strictly business, though a sympathetic personality always mingled with his financial transactions. He was first a patron and afterwards a stockholder in the First National Bank of Independence, and in 1885 was elected a director. In 1886 he bought the interests of the cashier of the bank and with the reorganization of the institution was elected its president, an office he filled with exceptional ability until June 1, 1904, a period of about eighteen years. In that time his judgment and ability were impressed upon the bank so as to make it one of the safest and most conservative institutions in Southern Kansas. In 1904 he sold a controlling interest to the late R. S. Litchfield; but continued as a director of the bank and looked after its loans and also his private interests until his death. During more than thirty years of connection with the institution he saw its deposits rise to more than $2,500,000.

His position as a banker and citizen is well summarized in the following brief quotation from a former publication: "The First National Bank of Independence was fortunate in having for eighteen years for its executive head a man of such wide and varied experience, of such unerring judgment and a gentleman of such popular personal traits as Mr. Allen. He came to Montgomery County almost with the earliest, and embodied in his career as a citizen here experience as a farmer, merchant, public official and financier, all of which stations he honored and in all of which he displayed a rational aptitude and adaptation, passing from one to another as a reward of industry and indicating the favor and confidence of his fellow citizens."

Mr. Allen was also interested in a bank at Caney and had extensive financial interests in other directions. He owned one of the best farms in the Verdigris bottoms, and took a great deal of pride and pleasure in the management of his farm lands. He was also identified with every movement calculated to advance the welfare of his community, was active in the Commercial Club, an officer and worker in the Presbyterian Church, and was one of the oldest and most prominent members of the Masonic order in Southern Kansas. He took his first degrees in Masonry in 1864, and was long associated with Fortitude Lodge No. 107, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Independence, with Keystone Chapter No. 22, Royal Arch Masons, and for a quarter of a century was recorder of St. Bernard Commandery No. 10, Knights Templar. He was past patron of the Order of Eastern Star and a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic. The Knights Templar and Grand Army of the Republic were both represented at his funeral, and as a tribute to his financial leadership all the banks of the city were closed on the afternoon of his burial.

On May 2, 1865, a little more than half a century before his death, Mr. Allen married Mary F. Vansant. Mr. Allen was always thoroughly a home man, and found his greatest pleasure with his wife and children and in the recurring annual occasions when both children and grandchildren gathered at his home. Mr. and Mrs. Allen were married in Coles County, Illinois. Mrs. Allen, who still occupies the fine old family home on South Fourth Street in Independence, was born August 27, 1846, in Fleming County, Kentucky. Her father, Isaiah Vansant, was born at Flemingsburg, Kentucky, December 9, 1815, and died there April 17, 1854. His business was that of farmer and stock man, he was a whig in politics, and an active member of the Presbyterian Church. Isaiah Vansant married Martha Jane Darnall, who was born in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, December 17, 1820, and died at Independence, Kansas, May 9, 1905. Mrs. Allen was the fourth among their five children, the others being: Cynthia, who resides at Hutchinson, Kansas, the wife of J. W. Brady, who is now retired and was formerly a bookkeeper and collector, and for many years connected with the banking institutions; Margaret, who died in Covington, Kentucky, was the wife of A. L. Scudder, who is an express messenger and lives at Covington; Amanda, who resides at Mrs. Allen's home in Independence; and Elizabeth, who died at Natick, Massachusetts, the wife of H. L. Balcom, a hardware merchant, who is also deceased.

Mrs. Allen's grandfather Aaron Vansant, was born in Pennsylvania, was reared and was married there to Margaret Keith, who was also a native of that state, and they settled early in Kentucky, where both of them died. The Vansants were originally from Holland and settled in Pennsylvania in colonial days. Mrs. Allen is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and all her daughters belong to that order, the latter having acquired two bars in that organization, and when the records are complete they will have six bars. The daughters received admission through Francis Barrett on their father's side. Francis Barrett was a Revolutionary soldier, a native of Virginia, and served with the Virginia troops in the war. He was born in 1762, was a farmer after the war, a member of the Baptist Church, and died at Greensburg, Kentucky, July 6, 1833. Francis Barrett married Elizabeth Lowry, and they lived both in Virginia and Kentucky.

Mrs. Allen's Revolutionary ancestor was her great-great-grandfather Alexander Givens, who came from Ireland to America, served in the Revolution, and afterwards spent his remaining years in Nicholas County, Kentucky. Mrs. Allen's maternal grandfather was William Givens, a native of Pennsylvania, and a farmer in Fleming County, Kentucky, where he died in 1846. William Givens married Mary Shields.

Mrs. Allen's children and grandchildren are as follows: Mattie H. was graduated in the classical course from Oswego College, and is now the wife of James F. Blackledge, a banker at Caney, Kansas; their children are: Ralph, who died young; Pauline, wife of Dr. Fillis of Chicago, Illinois; Gwynne, in the automobile and electrical supply business at Caney; and Mercedes, a student in the high school at Caney. Edith the second daughter, graduated from Baird's School at Clinton, Missouri, with the degree A. B, and took post graduate work in the Kansas State University and is now the wife of R. W. Cates, who is cashier of the First National Bank of Independence, their children are Catherine and Allen, both attending school. Lillian, the third daughter, graduated from the Montgomery County High School and is now the wife of H. H. Kahn, an oil operator living at Coffeyville; their two children, both in school, are Irene and Margaret. Annie, the fourth and youngest daughter, graduated from the Montgomery County High School and married Glen Amesbury, who is a banker at Longton, Kansas they also have two children, George Allen and Clifton, both now in school.

Mrs. Allen besides her beautiful residence at 301 South Fourth Street owns several other improved properties and has two fine farms in Montgomery County.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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