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ALLEN, CHARLOTTE M. BALDWIN

ALLEN, CHARLOTTE M. BALDWIN (1805–1895). Charlotte Allen, called "the mother of Houston," was born on July 14, 1805, in Onondaga County, New York, the daughter of Eliza (Warden) and Jonas Cutler Baldwin. On May 3, 1831, she married Augustus Chapman Allen, a New York businessman. The following year Allen and his brother, John Kirby Allen, came to Texas and settled at San Augustine, then at Nacogdoches. Charlotte Allen probably arrived in Texas in 1834, and her inheritance helped the brothers to speculate in land.

In August 1836 the Allen brothers purchased a half league of land on Buffalo Bayou for $5,000. Four days later they advertised the establishment of a prosperous new city called Houston, which may have been so named at Charlotte's suggestion. In any event, the name apparently attracted settlement to the area and influenced the decision to make Houston the capital of the Republic of Texas, a role it held from 1837 to 1839. The Allen brothers built the first statehouse, near Charlotte and A. C. Allen's home at Prairie and Caroline streets. Sam Houston lived next door to the Allens, and from their home Mary Austin Holley drew the first sketches of the capitol. When John Allen died in 1838 Charlotte and Augustus disagreed over the estate settlement, and they separated in 1850. Augustus moved on to Mexico and Washington, D.C., where he died in 1864; Charlotte remained in Houston and became one of the city's best-known citizens over the next forty-five years. In 1857 she sold the capitol site, which had become the location of the Capitol Hotel, for $12,000. The following year the hotel was the scene of Anson Jones's suicide; the land eventually became the site of the Rice Hotel.

After the Civil War Charlotte Allen's home became the headquarters for the commanding general of federal troops in Houston. She deeded property, eventually called Market Square, to the city for a city hall and markethouse; because the original deed was lost she deeded it a second time, in 1895. In 1890, the day after her eighty-fifth birthday, the Houston Daily Post (see HOUSTON POST) referred to her as the "connecting link between Houston's past and present history." Charlotte Allen had four children, only one of whom survived to maturity. She died on August 3, 1895, in Houston, at the age of ninety and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery. In 1911 her home was razed to provide a site for the Gulf Buildingqv.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Elizabeth Brooks, Prominent Women of Texas (Akron, Ohio: Werner, 1896). Houston Post, August 4, 1895. David G. McComb, Houston: The Bayou City (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969; rev. ed., Houston: A History, 1981). Ann Quin Wilson, Native Houstonian: A Collective Portrait (Norfolk, Virginia: Donning, 1982). WPA Writers Program, Houston (Houston: Anson Jones, 1942).

Nancy Baker Jones

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Nancy Baker Jones, "ALLEN, CHARLOTTE M. BALDWIN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fal84), accessed November 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.