Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Allen

Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Allen

Birth
Death 1912 (aged 84–85)
Burial Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, USA
Plot Block 22 lot 172
Memorial ID 27296443 · View Source
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B. F. ALLEN, or "Frank" as he was usually called, came to Des Moines in 1848, bringing with him about fifteen thousand dollars, in those days deemed a large sum. He at once joined Jonathan Lyon in a general business at the northeast corner of Second and Vine streets, dealing in "everything from a silk dress to a goose yoke——and a little more," as advertised.
Being energetic and ambitious to do things, he soon began to widen out, and in 1850, with Charley Van, built a steam sawmill not far from the south end of 'Coon River bridge.
In 1850, Allen and R. W. Sypher purchased a steamboat in St. Louis.
In 1855, Allen concluded there was more profit in other directions than selling rags and goose-yokes, and he opened a bank and real estate office, the next year moved it to the corner where The Register and Leader building now is, where for fifteen years it was the money center of the city, and a large portion of the state——in fact, Frank Allen was the banker for nearly everybody. His business was enormous for that period.
In 1857, Allen erected, on the block now occupied by the Iowa Hotel, a large two-story brick residence, which became noted for the receptions and hospitality dispensed therein by him and his beautiful wife.
In 1860, he was a member of the City Council from the Second Ward.
In 1865, Allen organized the first Gas Company, tallow candles and lard oil being the only illuminants. The works were located at the corner of Second and Elm streets.
In 1865, Allen, with Wesley Redhead and others, organized the Des Moines Coal Company.
The same year, he, with E. J. Ingersoll, organized the Hawkeye Insurance Company, which is still doing business at the old stand, one of the oldest and staunchest in the state.
In 1867, the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad reached the city. Allen was one of the directors and a large stockholder. On the proposed line of the road west to the Missouri River, towns and stations were to be located. That was his opportunity. He had the money. He organized a Land Company, took in the proposed town sites and stations, platted them, sold them on easy terms, and gathered in a pile of profit.
In 1869, he completed the erection of a residence, the most magnificent in the state, with interior furnishings equally lavish and munificent in cost. .
In 1871, Mr. Allen provided one of the most valuable benefactions for the city, in organizing the Des Moines Water Company, with three hundred thousand dollars capital. The works were built where they now are. Subsequently they passed to Polk & Hubbell, then to a stock company.
In 1874, some evil genius induced him to go to Chicago. To become a Napoleon of finance was an honorable ambition. There unconscionable bank sharks unloaded on him the Cook County National Bank. He at once applied all his skill and means to bring it to the front, but soon discovered it to be a sepulchre of rottenness. He dumped into it all the resources he could command, and, draining day by day the receipts of the bank here——it was like pouring water into a rat-hole——it had no bottom, and in 1876 it collapsed, swallowing in the wreck all he possessed, together with the thousands of hard earnings of plain working people and business men who had entrusted their money to his custody.
From that time, misfortune, like an avenging Nemesis, dogged his steps. Try as he would to get to his feet, he failed. Added to that, his wife, grief-stricken and broken-hearted, in January, went to her final rest. He went West, and is now, I believe, in San Dimas, California, engaged in fruit raising.
Despite the great loss and misfortune his collapse entailed upon the city, it can be truly said that from 1858 to 1876 he controlled the financial and monetary affairs of this community. If money was wanted for any legitimate business, a merchant or business man required means to tide over a hard spot, a church or society needed help, or a young, industrious man wanted to buy a lot and build a home, it was only necessary to go to Frank Allen and get it; of course, ten per cent interest and mortgage security being understood, for it was never believed he was doing business for his health, yet he was never oppresive, was generous with gifts to worthy objects, and helpful to the city in many ways.
--Pioneers of Polk County, Iowa (abridged)

B.F. built a mansion on Grand Ave. in Des Moines, which was sold to Fred Hubbell, and called the Hubbell mansion until it was sold to the state of Iowa, who renamed it Terrace Hill & remodeled it to serve as the governor's mansion.

m.31 Jan 1854 Polk co.,IA; also parents of Melville, Bessie, Harry


Family Members

Spouse
Children
Gravesite Details cemetery records say Blk 9, but all the family are in a row on the right in Blk 22 just as you pull into the cemetery & take the 2nd right.

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  • Maintained by: Katie Lou
  • Originally Created by: 46620252
  • Added: 2 Jun 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 27296443
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Allen (1827–1912), Find A Grave Memorial no. 27296443, citing Woodland Cemetery, Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by Katie Lou (contributor 46950342) .