Col. J. H. Allen

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

COL. JOSEPH H. ALLEN, son of John and Sarah Allen, was born in Alburg, Vt., Sept. 5, 1831. His father was a native of Connecticut and of English origin, and his mother was a native of Vermont and of Scotch descent. He left home when only eight years of age to carve out a fortune for himself. He commenced to work in an auger-factory at an early age, at Hambden, Conn., and continued until he was seventeen years old, when he purchased a store of clocks, which he traded for horses in Vermont and Canada. He shipped his horses, "thirty-two in number," to the West Indies; but the ship was wrecked, and his horses were lost, thus placing him badly in debt. With a perseverance which has characterized him through life, he obtained credit, and again shipped a number of horses to the West Indies, this time doing well, which enabled him to pay all his indebtedness and leave him a margin besides. He resumed his place in the auger-factory, where he remained until Sept. 1, 1843, when he came to Troy, N. Y., and entered into partnership with O. W. Edson in the manufacture of augers. This business connection continued until the following January, when he purchased his partner's interest and continued in business until he was burned out in 1850. January, 1851, he purchased the flouring-mills at Eagle Mills, which he changed into an auger-factory. In 1859 he added machinery for the manufacture of hoes. He closed his business in 1861. September 1862, he enlisted in Company C, 169th Regiment, New York Volunteers, and was chosen captain, having organized the company within six days. He participated in all the battles in which his regiment was engaged, except a few minor ones, which occurred while he was detailed for five months in New York to forward recruits, during which time he was recovering from wounds. He received a severe wound at Cold Harbor, which shattered the bones of his wrist, a flesh wound in the same place at Fort Fisher, and in the same engagement was wounded in his leg near the ankle, where the ball still remains. He was promoted to the rank of major in June, 1864. He had command of his brigade at Fort Fisher, and for meritorious conduct in that engagement was recommended for promotion by President Lincoln, and brevitted lieutenant-colonel, to rank from March 13, 1865.

At the close of the war Col. Allen reorganized his manufacturing business, "except the auger department," in company with Geo. T. Lane as senior member, since which time they have carried on an extensive business. This firm is known as the Planters' Hoe Company, of which the colonel has charge of the manufacturing department. He was a Whig in politics until 1861, since which time he has been an unswerving Democrat. He has held the offices of justice of the peace and supervisor of his town. He is one of the foremost of his town in promoting its educational interests. He married Sarah H., daughter of David H. and Catharine C. Payne, of Hamden, Conn., July 6, 1847. Of this union two children have been born, viz., Sarah, wife of Andrew Mullen, and Cornelia May.

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