At the start of the Civil War, Early first joined the local home guard and later what became Company C, Ninth Florida Regiment of the Confederate Army. Sent to Virginia in 1864, he was wounded and furloughed in September of that year to return home with a bullet lodged near his spine. He came back to his family, which included two daughters, Lucy Ann and Florida, and sons John, William and Charles. Another daughter, Banna, and two more sons, Walter and Lee were born later.
Early's health was ruined by the privations of war. He was almost 42 when he died of malaria-related causes in 1872 leaving Mary a 36-year-old widow with seven children, the youngest only seven months old. She decided to move away from the mosquitoes and took her family to what became Lecanto, where she homesteaded 160 acres in 1873. Her father-inlaw John helped her raise the children and to build their two-story home which once stood next to where the Hospice of Citrus County administration office is on County Road 491.
Mary was the classic pioneer woman who prevailed in spite of the hardships and tragedies facing her. She would outlive her husband by 44 years, dying in 1916 at the age of 80. Her generation of women would serve as role models to those who came after them. Tough times made tough women and Mary Morrison Allen was certainly one of them.
Pioneer women did whatever had to be done to survive.
They plowed, planted, weeded and harvested. They milked the cows and fed, doctored and butchered the livestock. They cooked, washed, sewed and cleaned. And many times they did all this while pregnant or nursing. They would bury some of their children and way too often, they would die from complications of childbirth.
All of Mary's children married and raised families of their own in Lecanto. Her five sons built houses and owned land, all within sight of her home. That was back when there were fewer trees in Lecanto and a lot more fields and pastures which allowed a clear view of the horizon in all directions. After son Walter married and started a family, she had him build her a little two-room cabin on a rise just west of her house. It was located where the Hospice residence facility is now.
Mary's children would all have large families. Son William fathered the most children, 14, with eight living to adulthood. One of William's daughters, Vada, married Crystal River businessman, L.C. Yeomans. They owned the Regent Theater which she managed and after her husband's death she took over the family seafood business. Her son, Calvin, later donated property he inherited for what is now Yeomans Park in Crystal River which ironically had been the homestead of Early's father, John Allen.
One of William's grandsons is Lecanto resident Dennis E. (Gene) Allen, who was a school board member and also served as Crystal River Postmaster a hundred years after his great-great grandfather John Allen had the same job. Both also started their postal careers as rural mail carriers except that John did it by horseback and Gene got to use a car.
Another of Mary's sons, Charles, served as county tax collector for 12 years in the early 1900s and was president of two of the banks in the county. He was also a successful businessman, dairy farmer and built several homes in Lecanto one of which is still standing.
One of his children, Elwood, was the father of six sons, four of whom became community and county leaders. Hugh was a Crystal River councilman, Horace served on the school board, Charles was property appraiser and George served as emergency management director.
Mary's youngest son Lee raised six children. One was Dewey who became a businessman in Inglis where he and his wife
owned and restored the historic island home of Dr. Andrew Hodges. Lee's oldest daughter, Elizabeth Allen Hagerty, lived to be 100, and was a long-time school teacher beginning in 1920 when she was 17 and ending some 50 years later. Her niece, Mae Maynard Lewis, also taught school for almost that long and her granddaughter, Beth Hagerty Noland continues the family tradition of teaching today.
Tamsy Maynard's son, Harry, retired as County Mosquito Control director and is wellknown for his cane syrup making.
One of Tamsy's favorite memories of her grandmother was visiting her each day on her way home from school. Her little cabin was about halfway in the two-mile walk home from the schoolhouse and was always a welcome sight. She said Grandma Allen would always have something for tired and hungry children to eat and drink along with a lot of advice.
Tamsy last saw her grandmother on Oct.1, 1916. Ten-years-old at the time, she had stopped to visit her grandmother who was
bedridden after suffering a stroke. Also visiting that day was Mary's grandson Austin Allen and his wife Violet who came to show Grandma Allen their first child, Howard.
Despite being partially paralyzed, she wanted the baby put on the bed beside her so she could touch him and gave him a kiss.
She would die the next day. It is fitting that her life came to a close on the site of what 90 years later would become a place for others to die in peace.
Tamsy Maynard was the last person alive who remembered seeing Mary Morrison Allen and hearing her tell stories about life on the Florida frontier. Tamsy would tell those same stories as well as those of her parents and others who were no longer around to speak for themselves.
Now her voice is stilled but because she lived so long and shared so many of her memories, her descendents can continue to enjoy and benefit from them. Hopefully some of them will continue the tradition of family story-telling.
EARLY AUGUSTUS ALLEN (1830-1872) moved to Marion County from Pike County, Ala., in the 1840s with his family. He married Janett Gillis in 1850. She died after giving birth to a daughter, Lucy Ann. He remarried in 1854, to Mary Morrison (1836-1916) in Ocal...(Read more) -
SixDogTeam Added: Mar. 10, 2012