Part of an old map of the San Jacinto area from the Texas Revolution

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Participant

The Kemp Sketch

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ALLEN, JOHN MELVILLE -- Born December 15, 1802, in Lexington County, Kentucky. In the Headright Certificate issued to him June 7, 1838, for a league and labor of land by the Harrisburg County Board, it is stated that he came to Texas in December, 1835.

Reverend Homer S. Thrall in his "Pictorial History of Texas" in a short biographical sketch of Major Allen states that at an early age he joined the United States Navy, which he left to aid Greece in its revolution against Turkey. Lord Byron, the English poet, was in Greece to help finance the revolution and Thrall states that Mr. Allen was with him at Missolonghi, when Byron died. He gave the date of his death as April 12, 1821, but this is incorrect; he died April 19, 1824.

Next Mr. Allen enlisted at New Orleans in 1835 in an expedition of volunteers raised to help Texas in its struggle with Mexico. The volunteers sailed for Mexico and made an attack on Tampico. The assault ended disastrously, many of the volunteers being captured, tried and executed by the Mexicans. Mr. Allen was among those who escaped. On his return he reached Texas in December, 1835, and immediately rejoined the army. He was called Tampico Allen by his friends.

Major Allen received Bounty Certificate No. 2685 for 1280 acres of land for having served in the army from December 18, 1835, to December 2, 1836. In service Record No. 1556 it is stated that he was appointed captain at the time of his enrollment but had served as acting Major at San Jacinto in the absence of Major McNutt, who had been placed in charge of the camp opposite Harrisburg. Major Allen was issued Donation Certificate No. 115 May 19, 1838, for having participated in the battle of San Jacinto. Shortly after the battle, he was sent to the United States where he recruited 230 men for the Texas army. This fact, too, is shown in Service Record No. 1556.

After retiring from the army, Major Allen settled at Galveston and on March 14, 1839, was elected the first mayor of the city. He was reelected each succeeding year until 1846. In 1842 he was elected Captain of the "Galveston Invincibles." After annexation he was appointed United States Marshall, an office he held until his death February 12, 1847. A monument will be placed at the grave of Major Allen in the Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston by the State of Texas.

Major Allen was married to Mary Deas Hamilton Braine who was born in Yonkers, Winchester County, New York, September 4, 1814, and died in Stockport, New York, August 4, 1862.

Children of Major and Mrs. Allen were Agnes Adeline, who married Edward Duncan Cooper Clark, and Pamela Allen, who died young. Grandchildren are Mrs. John W. Simmins, Mrs. Robert H. Lockwood, and Mrs. Carl R. Pech.

ALLEN, JOHN M. -- Mrs. Simmins wrote on September 10, 1936: When Mr. Allen was traveling in Greece they called for volunteers and he enlisted and fought in the army. In a biography of Lord Byron he is called "The young American at Byron's death bed."

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.

Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Rank: Major
  • Company: Regular Army

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1802 Dec 15
  • Birthplace: Kentucky, Lexington County
  • Origin: Louisiana
  • Came to Texas: 1830; 1835 Dec
  • Date of Death: 1847 Feb 12
  • Burial Place: Trinity Episcopal Cemetery, Galveston, Texas
  • Other Battles: Attack on Tampico, 1835.
  • Comments: U.S. Navy; fought in Greece's revolution against Turkey, 1824. First mayor of Galveston.
  • Bounty Certificate: 2685
  • Donation Certificate: 115
  • Wife: Mary Deas Hamilton Braine
  • Children: Agnes Adeline Allen Clark; Pamela Allen