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GREAT CITIZENS - JOHN KIRBY ALLEN


John Kirby AllenAs one of the founding brothers of Houston, John Kirby Allen, was born in 1810 in Orville, near Syracuse, New York, to Sarah (Chapman) and Roland Allen. He had a knack for work and business even as a child. At the age of seven, he began to work in a hotel. Three years later, he was a store clerk and, at the age of sixteen, became a porter in a hat shop enterprise in Chittenango. Soon after he joined his brother, Augustus in New York City, were the two brothers bought stock in the Canfield Company, marking the first enterprise of the fraternal entrepreneurs.

In the winter of 1831-1832 Augustus and John Allen Moved to Texas, arriving first in Galveston and soon thereafter moving to the small town of Saint Augustine. In 1833, they joined a group of land speculators in Nacogdoches and involved themselves in a variety of enterprises, including the procurement and sale of land certificates. Instead of joining the army when the revolution against Mexico began in 1835, the Allen brothers personally equipped and armed a vessel, called the Brutus, and set out to protect the Texas coast and to transport troops and supplies. Following increasing objections to their operations as civilians who were not members of the Texas armed forces, and rumors that they were privateering, the Allen's, in January, 1836, sold the ship at cost to the new Texas government and the Brutus became the second vessel in the fledgling Texas navy.

So, speculating on what to do, the brothers came across some land that they thought truly promising. Financed by an inheritance received by Augustus' wife, Charlotte, on August 26, 1836, the brothers purchased 6,600 acres along the Buffalo Bayou for $5,000, for the purpose of establishing a new city. At the suggestion of Charlotte, they named their town site for the hero of the time, General Sam Houston.

John Allen, a delegate to the first congress, succeeded in having Houston named as the capital of the Republic of Texas. This act gave the city the big boost it needed in its first years of initial development. John Allen died of congestive fever on August 15, 1838. Since he had not married and did not leave a will his estate was entrusted to his parents and when they died in 1841, the other remaining Allen brothers took over. Houston's Allen parkway, Allen Center as well as Allen's Landing Park, all immortalize the name of the city's founders





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