[Originally published July 14, 1904 in the Allentown Messenger]
Many of the founders of the settlements in Monmouth came from Rhode Island and Massachusetts. These were not only honorable, conscientious men in their dealings, but also exceedingly careful and methodical in their business transactions. This is shown by the very complete account, still preserved in the County Clerk’s office at Freehold, of the purchase of the lands of the Indian, the amount paid and to whom, and also the names of those who contributed money toward paying the Indians and for incidental expenses in making the different purchases.
Among the purchasers were a number who had been victims of persecution for their religious faith. Some had felt the cruel lash, some had been imprisoned, and others had been compelled to pay heavy fines. Others had had near relatives suffer thus. In a list of those who suffered we find the name of John Allen of Rhode Island. He was probably the same named in the Friend’s records of Newport, R.I., as marrying Elizabeth Bacon, October 14, 1650.
Among those who contributed to buying the land of the Indians were the said John Allen and Robert Taylor, who purchased one share of land, the value thereof being three pounds. John Jenkins of Sandwich, Mass., sold his share of land July 6, 1670, to George Allen, a relative of John, who was a man of note in his day. He was born in England about 1620, and died about 1685. He was one of the persecuted Quakers whose descendants came to Monmouth, some of whom became quite noted. He married Esther Swift, and had five children, the first of whom, Jedediah, born in 1646, came to Monmouth and settled near Shrewsbury. Jedediah was a member of the colonial assembly in 1703, and is frequently named in ancient records. Ralph, son of Jedediah, married Ann, daughter of Mahlon Wright, of Burlington County; and Judah Allen, his son, married Deborah, daughter of John Adams, in 1701.
Allentown derives its name from Nathan Allen, also son of Jedediah, and who was born in 1673. He married, in 1705, Marjory Burnett, a daughter of Robert Burnett, one of the Proprietors of East Jersey. In 1706 he purchased of his father-in-law 528 acres of land lying on the north side of Indian Run, in what is know Washington Township, Mercer County; and at the same time he purchased 110 acres on Doctor’s Creek and on both sides of the York Road. About the year 1715 he settled and built a gristmill at the same place, which was the beginning of the future Allentown. He died in 1737; leaving two sons, Nathan and Benjamin, the former whom married Sarah Lawrence. Nathan (2d) inherited from his father the gristmill and plantation. He died in 1748, leaving one son Nathan John Allen, and in 1750 his executors sold the mill property to Stofell Longstreet, of Shrewsbury. His widow, Sarah, afterwards married Thomas Lowrie, an old time merchant of Allentown. Benjamin inherited the fulling mill with 21/2 acres, part of the same property.
On the side of the Loyalists, during the Revolution, was Isaac Allen of Trenton, who owned land in Monmouth and was Lieut. Colonel in the Second battalion of New Jersey Royal Volunteers. At the close of the war he went to St. John, New Brunswick. He was appointed Assistant Judge in 1806, and his grandson, John Campbell, born in 1817, was appointed Chief Justice of New Brunswick in 1875, which position he held for several years.
The abstracts of wills of Allens, recorded at Trenton, include persons of the name of the upper part of the State. In the early settlement of Elizabeth, a John Allen is named. In Morris county, Capt. Job Allen was a prominent citizen as early as 1730, while Deacon Gilbert Allen was a man of note in Morris county.
Among the prominent men of this family in Monmouth county was Judge Edward Allen, of Goshen, a man of wealth and of great political influence; also his son Charles Allen, of Clarksburg, the once well-known Sheriff of the county. The former was a grandfather and the latter was an uncle of the Rev. John Allen, D. D., the present pastor of the M. E. Church at Allentown.
Judge Allen was fatally injured in a runaway accident which occurred nearly fifty years ago. He was driving a team of colts, when they became frightened and ran away. Being thrown from his carriage, he was taken to the hotel known as the “Burnt [or Stone] Tavern,” at which place, after a few days of lingering, he died.
A Nathan Allen, who once resided on the farm now owned by David Applegate, near Allentown, and who was related to the first Nathan, had several sons and daughters, one of whom was Champless Allen. He has children Joel and Lydia, the latter of whom married, 1842, Enoch Cafferty, of Allentown. A long list of abstracts of wills, and of appointment of administrators and guardians relating to the Allen family, are recorded in the office of the Secretary of State at Trenton.