Zachariah Allen, best known as an inventor, was also an industrialist, lawyer and civic leader. He was born into a influential family, the son of Zachariah Allen Sr. and Ann Crawford; brother of Governor Phillip A. Allen and Uncle of Governor Thomas Wilson Dorr. He attended Brown University studying medicine but ultimately chose to pursue law after graduating in 1813. In 1815, at the age of 20, he was admitted to the bar, and practiced in the office of RI Attorney General, and future US Senator, James Burrill Jr.. On May 1, 1817, he married Eliza Harriet Arnold , daughter of Welcome Arnold, patriot involved in the notorious Gaspee Affair. A few years later, he gave up law, invested in a woolen mill, and soon opened two mills of his own. It was during this period that his career as an inventor began, at first by refining old and then inventing new technology for that industry. In 1820, he became the first person to ever install a hot air furnace in their home. He patented an automatic steam engine cutoff valve in 1833. To reduce the cost of his insurance premiums he fireproofed his mills, and when his insurance company did not cooperate, he partnered with other factory owners to form the Manufacturers' Mutual Insurance Company, which became Factory Mutual Insurance, now known as FM Global. His civic activities were also impressive: A member of the Providence town council, he implemented the construction of the city water-works and introduced the first fire engine in the city. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Brown University, and helped found Rhode Island Historical Society.
1. Anne Crawford Allen [1818-1888]
+ sp: William Davis Ely [1815-1908]
2. Mary Arnold Allen [1819-1903]
+ sp: Andrew Robeson [1817-1876]
3. Candace Allen [1822-1901]
Eliza Harriet Arnold Allen
Lydia Allen Dorr