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Subseries 1. Edward Jay Allen, 1848-1918

Scope and Content Notes:

Edward Jay Allen, Hervey Allen's paternal grandfather, was a Civil War colonel whose travels on the Oregon Trail made him a well-known and highly honored early pioneer of the Pacific Northwest territory. In 1852 at the age 22, he traveled west to Puget Sound via the Oregon Trail, documenting his experiences via correspondence and later recounting them in his manuscript, "Letters from the Oregon Trail." He settled in Olympia and remained in the Pacific Northwest for three years, surveying the land and acquainting himself with the native culture and language, the Chinook Jargon. In 1859, he became one of the signers of the Monticello Memorial, a resolution to Congress in favor of splitting the Oregon and Washington Territories.

He returned east in 1855, and continued a successful career as an civil engineer, building roads, bridges, and railroads. He married Elizabeth Wilson Robinson on July 16th, 1857 in Pittsburgh. They had five children: William Hervey (Hervey Allen's father), Edna A. Rickmers, May L., Edward H., and Harold Allen.

At the onset of the Civil War, Allen was working as a railroad contractor for the Virginia Central Railroad. During Virginia's secession from the Union, Allen narrowly escaped Confederate capture as he attempted to smuggle back to Pittsburgh. He volunteered on the Union side for some time in Washington DC and Virginia, repairing roads and bridges destroyed by the Confederates before returning to Pittsburgh and recruiting the 155th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry in 1862. For three years, he headed the Infantry at the rank of Colonel. The Infantry fought at various battles including the Battle of Antietam and Fredericksburg.

After the war, Colonel Allen dedicated himself to local work in Pittsburgh. He worked for the Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph Co. as a secretary and also became active in real estate. Allen became a larger than life figure, often writing about his life stories in local papers. He became an early supporter and patron of John W. Alexander, adopting the orphaned Alexander while he worked at the Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph Co. as a young man. Allen brought Alexander to the Allen home at "Edgehill" and painted various members of the Allen family, including Colonel Allen (see [Edward Jay Allen, Three-Quarter-Length Portrait, Standing, Face Right]). Colonel Allen died at the age of 85, on December 28, 1915; Mrs. Allen, his widow, died just five days after him.

Featured in this subseries are Allen's typescript manuscript (re-told, original lost) of "The Oregon Trail," personal correspondence, Civil War memorabilia, journals, obituaries, notebooks, photographs, will and last testament, and other creative works, including his poem, "The Veteran."

See Also: Oversized Material, Family, Box 193; Newspapers, Box 194. Oversized Material, Artwork Collection, Artwork on Display, [Edward Jay Allen, Three-Quarter-Length Portrait, Standing, Face Right].

Section: Oregon Trail


Box 156
Folder 3 Description on the Construction of a Military Road from Fort Walla Walla to Fort Steilacoom, by George H. Himes [1844-1859]

In early 1852, the introduction of a bill to construct a military road from Fort Walla Walla to Fort Steilacoom reached Congress by way of Joseph Lane, delegate to Congress from the Oregon Territory. The bill was met with opposition from Congress due to the lack of a topographical survey and approximate estimate cost. By December of that year, House Bill No. 187 passed, allotting $20,000 to the construction of this road. George H. Himes (1844-1940), historian at the Oregon Historical Society, wrote this document as he traced the construction of this road through newspaper articles of the The Columbian. He writes that on May 28, 1853 Edward Jay Allen joined a committee to “view out a route and report therson as follows”; Allen headed east to begin construction on the side of Steilacoom (page 2). The road was hoped to be constructed by the end of 1853 "to accommodate incoming immigrants” (page 2). This document also details some of the first settlements made from crossing the Columbia river to Puget Sound pre-1853.


Box 159
Folder 1 Original Journal from the Oregon Trail, 1852 (

This is Edward Jay Allen's journal as he traversed the Oregon Trail. The journal is not written in chronological order. A flag has been set at the beginning of the journal, in the middle of the journal, on the June 2nd entry. The journal continues through and back the beginning of the book, and finally back to the adjacent page of the June 2nd entry, dated at October 4th. Writing includes calculations, lists of itemized expenses, and individuals' names on wagon trains.


Box 156
Folder 1 Letters From the Oregon Trail: Carbon Copy, Part I (2 copies), [1852-1855]; 1908; 1913

Edward Jay Allen kept in extensive correspondence with his loved ones in Pittsburgh while on the Oregon Trail. After his return from the Northwest Territories, his letters were amalgamated into a narrative entitled, "Letters from the Oregon Trail." In this narrative, Allen details his quotidian adventures on the trail, starting at Council Bluffs (then Kanesville, Iowa): "[w]e knew but little of the country we should traverse, it was terra incognita. All the region that lay to the westward was marked on the map as the "Great American Desert" (page 3). Throughout his accounts, Allen encounters other pioneers venturing West, Native Americans, and details the strenuous labor and setbacks that he endured during his trip.

The narrative is re-told and typewritten in 1913, with a preface from the author. External sources argue that the typewritten manuscript was actually written around 1908 (Larsen and Johnson).

Folder 1 contains pages 1-112 and folder 2 contains pages 200-358.

Please note: pages 113-199 are missing.

Folder 2 Letters From the Oregon Trail: Carbon Copy, Part 2, [1852-1855]; 1908; 1913
Folder 4 Chinook Jargon:Carbon Copy and Photocopy, [1852-1855]

Section: Civil War


Box 156
Folder 5 Civil War Prose on Slavery,

Box 157
Folder 1 Certificate Of Permission For Entry into Virginia, 1862

Box 157
Folder 2 Membership Card For The Military Order Loyal Legion United States,

Box 157
Folder 3 Program For The Dedication Of Monument In Memorial Of The 155th Regiment Of Pennsylvania, 1886

Box 157
Folder 4 Letter Of Recommendation For Rank Of Colonel, 1863

Box 157
Folder 5 Badges Of Reunions Held For The 155th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers,

Box 157
Folder 18 The Veteran, 1853-1904

Box 157
Folder 12 The Walls of Sand: A True Fairy Story, 1885

Box 157
Folder 13 Matter of Petition For Awarding Medal of Honor to Allen From 155th Regiment of Pennsylvania, 1862

Box 157
Folder 14 Memorial Day Address Given At Homewood Cemetary, 1901

Box 157
Folder 15 Fall In! Comrades, Written For The 155th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1894

Box 160
Folder 2 Uniform Regalia, 1867

Box 158a
Folder 4 Photographs of the 155th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Civil War, 1908

Section: Personal


Box 159
Folder 3 Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings of Poems and Handwritten Poems, 1848-1849

Box 158a
Folder 5 Journal Accounting Daily Life in Pittsburgh, 1849-1850

Box 159
Folder 4 Small Notebook of Poetry, 1850-1914

Box 158
Folder 6 Journal Accounting Daily Life in Pittsburgh, 1851

Box 158
Folder 8 Journal Accounting Daily Life in Pittsburgh, a Christmas present from William, 1852

Box 159
Folder 5 Scrapbook Album Including Photos and Miscellaneous Allen Family Items, 1855

Box 158a
Folder 1 Framed Portrait Upon Return From Washington Territory, 1855

Box 158a
Folder 2 Photographs and Portraits, Circa 1880s

Box 158a
Folder 3 Photographs of Allen and Wife, Circa 1880s

Box 159
Folder 2 Mountain Department Map of Virginia, 1859

Box 157
Folder 17 Pamphlets, 1863-1900

Box 157
Folder 6-11 Correspondence, 1877-1914

Box 158
Folder 7 Framed Letter From Theodore Roosevelt, 1898

Framed letter addressed to Edward Jay Allen from then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, dated April 24, 1898.


Box 158
Folder 9 Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings of Poetry by Edward, William and Other Authors and Articles Written by Edward About Numerous Travels, Published in the Pittsburgh Dispatch, 1853-1889

Box 156
Folder 6 Will and Last Testament, 1914; 1919

Box 157
Folder 19 Obituaries and Tributes, 1915-1918

Box 159
Folder 6 Portrait of John L. Burns

Box 160
Folder 3 Newspaper Clippings Saved by Edward Jay Allen About the Civil War, Northwest History, and Family

Box 157
Folder 16 Personal Ephemera

Box 159
Folder 7 Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant

Box 160
Folder 1 Woodcut Portrait Engraving