|Birth: ||Jul. 22, 1844|
North Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Jul. 10, 1924|
La Salle Parish
I wrote the following article for Louisiana Road Trips Magazine, July, 2008 edition. Extra information has been added in brackets.
My Great-Great Grandfather Tom has been a family legend for many years. He lived and died in LaSalle Parish, raising a large family. His youngest daughter was my Great Grandmother. Tom was almost neurotic about keeping to himself. His children were home educated (one of his daughters was a poet). Tom never allowed his picture to be taken. He distrusted anyone in authority and his past was extremely murky. Two differing tales of his past were handed down all the way to my generation. The first said he came to Louisiana from North Carolina, running from Federal troops during Reconstruction. He was the leader in a raid on a carpetbagger settlement and people were killed. Tom was sentenced to hang, but avoided capture. This account was reported in the Jena Times newspaper in 1970 by a local historian named Eli W. Plummer. Plummer was the son of Tom's best friend Allen. Allen told his son about a conversation he had with Tom about the raid during a trip to a Confederate reunion. The elder Plummer persuaded Tom to turn himself in. Plummer relates in his article: "When Mr. Allien told his story and concluded with, "Now here I am!" the officer smiled and asked him, "Did you come to Washington to have a good time with your old buddies?" "I did, Sir" Mr. Allien responded. "Then go have fun with the 'boys', all this was forgotten years ago", he replied." The second account states he killed his brother-in-law for beating his sister Betty and was running from the law. [Note: This is not true since John, Betty's husband, died in 1919.] A different version says it was his stepmother Helen that he killed. [Note: Also probably not true since she appears on the 1880 Cumberland Co., NC census with Tom's father.] The truth only added several more layers to the mystery. It would take a trip to Salt Lake City and the LDS Library to find this out.
When Tom applied for a Confederate pension, he admitted that his name was Thomas Allen Wright, from North Carolina. This was our first clue as to his identity. Thomas Allen Wright was born July 21, 1844 in North Carolina. He was the son of John Thames and Eliza Stevens Wright. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a private in Company D, 2nd North Carolina Cavalry. He participated in many battles; the most significant of which was Gettysburg, where he was shot in the thigh and bayoneted in the hand. He was captured and sent as a prisoner of war to the notorious Point Lookout Prison Camp in Maryland.
After the war, Tom married his first cousin, Sallie Eulalia Gilbert on November 7, 1867 in Plummerville, NC. Five months later, Lida Eulalie was born. They would have two more children: Clementine in 1869 and David J. around 1872. Sometime after 1872, Tom abandoned his family. Luckily, I happened to get the chance to go to the LDS Library in Salt Lake City. It is the largest genealogy library in the world. What I found nearly made me jump up and scream out loud!
According to Wilmington, NC court records, Sallie divorced Thomas on the grounds of abandonment, physical and mental cruelty, adultery and drunkenness. She went into great detail about Tom's cruelties and the court was sympathetic. On April 17, 1874 in New Hanover County, NC, Sallie was granted her divorce. Tom was nowhere to be found. Three years later, she married W.E.N. Sellers and had two boys: Robert and Richard. After the death of her second husband, she married a Zachariah Hursey, but they had no children. Sallie died September 23, 1938 and is buried in her father's plot in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, NC. Her three children by Tom appear to have had happy lives with many children of their own. But what happened to their father?
It is not known what Tom was doing between 1874 (the divorce) and 1887. Some say he hooked up with the Nightriders of Winn Parish. This is unlikely since the Riders were wiped out in 1870. Some say he was with the James and Younger gangs. Family legend says he was in California searching for gold and actually stood in a crowd to look at his own wanted poster! Plummer relates he went to Old Mexico where he learned all about patent medicine. We may never know where he actually went. What is known is that in 1887 he shows up in LaSalle Parish (then part of Catahoula) under the name Thomas Benjamin Allien. His eye is caught by the beautiful daughter of a well-off local. Her name was Melbra "Millie" Josephine Washington. They marry in Catahoula Parish on January 17, 1887. One year later their first child is born. They would eventually have seven [surviving] children.
Thomas supported his family by peddling eyeglasses and patent medicine. It is said he would disappear for weeks at a time. Was he still up to no good? That is left to speculation. Tom's end came on July 10, 1924 in LaSalle Parish to kidney disease. He was laid to rest in the family plot in Beulah Cemetery. Over seventy-five years later, his nosy Great-Great Granddaughter is turning up his past! There are several remaining questions though. Did Tom get run out of town by an angry father/uncle upset over the way he was treating his daughter? I doubt this would have been severe enough to change his name and hide like he did! This leads us back to the carpetbagger raid story supported by historian Plummer. There is no reason for Plummer to have lied. He was well-respected and was considered an honest, good man. More research is needed. Outlaw ancestors are fun to research!
Children with Sallie:
Children with Millie:
One other child as indicated on the 1900 Catahoula Parish Census (Millie - mother of 7 children, only 6 alive. Nova hadn't been born yet.). Family legend states that Millie's mother Mary Polly Smith Rosier Washington and a child/Infant are buried in the open space near the Allien graves in Belah. The child may be the lost Allien child.
OBITUARY (Jena Times)
IN MEMORY OF THOMAS ALLIEN
After an illness of some time, Thomas Allien (better known as "Uncle Tom") passed to his reward in the last long sleep, on July 10, 1924, at the home of his son, near the old family home in Ward 5. Uncle Tom was 80 years of age. He leaves a wife and six children to mourn his departure besides several grandchildren and a host of friends. He was laid to rest to await the resurrection in the Bela[h] cemetery. May God's protection rest upon his companion and children. What more can we do than commend all to God, who doeth all things well, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build them up and give them an inheritance in light among those that are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ, and when the roll is called up yonder, may they all be there without the loss of one. I.G.
John Thames Wright (1818 - 1880)
Sallie Eulolie Gilbert Hursey (1848 - 1938)
Melbra Josephine Washington Allien (1859 - 1926)
Lida Eulalie Wright Coffing (1868 - 1955)*
Clementine Wright Davis (1869 - 1943)*
Barbara Allien Wilson (1888 - 1966)*
Kit Allien Ganey (1889 - 1976)*
Dennie A Allien (1890 - 1949)*
Allie Allien (1893 - 1918)*
Dewitt Allien (1895 - 1967)*
Dallie Allien Hooter (1900 - 1940)*
Nova Allien Bass (1902 - 1988)*
Betty Wright Hair (1844 - 1925)*
Thomas Benjamin Allien (1844 - 1924)
"Gone but not forgotten."
Note: See his family's portrait on his wife Millie's findagrave entry.
La Salle Parish
Created by: Lora Peppers
Record added: Dec 14, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 32166929
Love Reading About My Hertiage--Maybe I will meet some lost kin I never knew|
peggy allien barron
Added: Feb. 21, 2015
Happy Easter Grandpa.|
sherry allien garoutte
Added: Apr. 20, 2014
Finally we have found you, my great grandfather Thomas Allen Wright. I remember your first wife, Sallie Gilbert Wright my great grandmother. I was 12 when she died.|
Added: Jan. 1, 2014
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