Dr. Beverly Allen: A fallen minister
Then and Now
By J. Mark Lowe
Robertson County Historical Society
Dr. Beverly Anthony Allen lived just south of Dot, Ky. near the state line. At the time of this death in1816, he left a will naming his wife, Anna, and eight children (Ann, Coke, Mary Allen, Sarah, Martha ‘Patsy', Caroline, Harriett, Hayes S. and William.) It will require additional research to locate his parents, but two of his siblings are identified within this history. His brother, Reuben Allen, lived and died in Logan County. Another brother, William ‘Billy' Allen returned to Elbert County, Ga.
Let's learn more about the story as told by Peter Cartwright and the voices of others who knew this "captivating" gentleman.
"My father sent me to school, boarding me at Dr. Beverly Allen's of Logan County; but my teacher was not well qualified to teach correctly, and I made but small progress. I, however, learned to read, write and cypher a little, but very imperfectly. Dr. Allen, with whom I boarded, in an early day, had been a traveling preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was sent to Georgia and did much good. He married in that country a fine, pious woman, a member of the Church; but he, like David, in an evil hour fell into sin, violated the laws of the country, and a writ was issued for his apprehension.
He warned the sheriff not to enter his room, and assured him if he did he would kill him. The sheriff rushed upon him, and Allen shot him dead. He fled from that country to escape justice, and settled in Logan County (then called Rogues' Harbour.) His family followed him, and here he practiced medicine.
It fell to my lot, after I had been a preacher several years, to visit the doctor on his dying bed. I talked to Dr. Allen, and prayed with him."
According to the Charleston (S.C.) Evening Gazette, 16 Feb 1786, "On Sunday last, at Cainhoy, the Rev. Beverly Allen, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was married to the amiable Miss Anna Singletary, youngest daughter of John Singletary, Esq of St. Thomas parish." Bishop Asbury went from Charleston, and met the first Conference in North Carolina. The first Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America was held at Green Hill's in North Carolina, April 20, 1785. This conference included all of Virginia, North and South Carolina. Here Asbury sent a resolute and able missionary, Beverly Allen, and designated his appointment to Georgia. It is very significant, for it literally meant that his circuit comprehended the whole State. It was new ground, and he had to cultivate it where he could. He returned to the next Conference with a report of 78 members gathered into society. Beverly Allen was now ordained elder, and began to range.
From Historical Collections of Georgia, the related story of fugitive minister, Beverly Allen.
In the year 1790, Beverly and Billy Allen carried on the business of merchandise in the County of Elbert [Georgia.] Their storehouse and residence were on a hill
d on Broad River, to the Cherokee ford on the Savannah. There were both young, and belonged to a family, when emigrated from Virginia to Georgia soon after the Revolutionary War. Beverly Allen was handsome, with a fine voice and ardent temperament. He was one of the converts of Bishop Asbury. Preaching was a rarity when Beverly Allen became a convert. Men pricked up their ears, their souls were stirred within them, when they heard striking exhibitions of the punishments of the lower world for their sins, and the joys of the upper for their repentance.
When Beverly Allen held forth upon these subjects, the whole population crowded together to hear him. He became the idol of the people.
Some time in the year 1795, Allen and his brother, went to Augusta to buy goods with the money they had and the credit they could obtain. While there, the foreign merchant of whom they had purchased their first stock of goods found them buying goods of others, instead of first discharging their debt to him. He arranged for an order to be issued for their arrest, returnable to the U.S. District Court. Hearing about this order, the Allens armed themselves and boarded up in a public house. The Marshal, Major Robert Forsyth, pursued them and forced the door open. He was immediately shot dead by Beverly Allen. The brothers fled to Elbert County, and were pursued by a warrant for their arrest upon a charge of murder. William Barnett, was the Sheriff of Elbert County. Upon receiving the warrant, he assembled a large force and began a pursuit. The Allens had concealed themselves in a high log-house near Beaver Dam. Their location was communicated to Sheriff Barnett and he surrounded the house with guards. After many fruitless attempts to get the Allens out, the house was set on fire. Billy Allen opened the doors and gave himself up. The fire was extinguished and the search commenced for Beverly Allen, the principal offender. He was concealed between the layer of the roof, but was discovered. The two Allens were confined in the county jail. The news spread that a servant of God was in jail for resisting an effort to take him from his liberty, to separate him from his home, friends and flock, by confining him in a jail for a debt to one who was not a citizen of the State.
The Sheriff fearing a rescue attempt by a local association, headed off with his prisoners to Wilkes County, Georgia. He decided it might be safer to return to Elbert County. On the next night, the jail of Elbert was attacked by 200 men, the doors of the jail forced open and the Allens were permitted to escape. The friends of the prisoners had taken all of the powder out of all of the guns of the guards to prevent any accidental discharge. Beverly Allen fled to the most distant western frontier of the United States. Billy Allen, his brother, was permitted to return to his home in Elbert County, where he remained unmolested during his life.
Bishop Francis Asbury recorded in his journal about Allen: (Mon, January 20 ,1794)
Poor Beverly Allen, who has been going from bad to worse these seven or eight years – speaking against me to preachers and people, and writing to Mr. Wesley and Doctor Coke, and being thereby the source of most of the mischief that has followed; and lastly, having been agent for Mr. (unreadable), is now secured in jail for shooting Major Forsyth through the head. The Major was marshal for the federal court in Georgia, and was bout to serve a writ upon B. Allen; the masterpiece of all is, a petition is prepared, declaring him to have shown marks of insanity previous to his killing the Major! The poor Methodists also must unjustly be put to the rack on his account, although he has been expelled from amongst us these two years. I pity, I pray for him – that, if his life be given up to justice, his soul may yet be saved.
Created by: Candace Smith
Record added: Dec 10, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62749786