James Kenedy Allen, Jr., farmer, Confederate soldier, and state legislator, son of James Kenedy Allen, Sr., and Mollie (Hagwood) Allen, was born in 1814 in Christian County, Kentucky. In 1779 James Sr. immigrated to the United States from Ireland with his future wife’s father, Buckner Hagwood, and eventually settled in Christian County, Kentucky, as a farmer, money-lender, and auctioneer. James Jr. was one of at least nine children. His known brothers were William H. and Elisha; his known sisters were Nancy, Margaret, and Elizabeth. In 1820 the part of Christian County in which the family lived became part of Todd County, and James Sr. was appointed the county coroner.
The extent of James Jr.’s formal education is not known. He married Sally M. Terry on July 12, 1837, in Todd County. In January 1840 he purchased a 100-acre farm from his father for $1,000. James Jr. and his wife had four children who survived to adulthood: William Terry was born in 1842; Mary Ann in 1844; James Kenedy III in 1848; and Sarah Katherine “Katie” in 1852. By 1850 Allen owned $1,600 of real estate, seven slaves, and employed a live-in farmhand. In November 1854 the Allen family, having received positive reports from a friend who had moved to Texas the previous year, left Kentucky as part of a ten-wagon train.
Arriving in Tarrant County in December, Allen bought 320 acres of land on the West Fork of the Trinity River in Fort Worth and became a charter member of the First Christian Church of Fort Worth, organized by Rev. A. M. Dean in 1855. By August 1858 he had moved his family to a log cabin on 319 acres of land on Farmers Branch Creek in White Settlement, eight miles west of Fort Worth. He also purchased 160 acres of wooded land on the West Fork of the Trinity River; part of the land was donated to the city of Fort Worth in 1988 to create the James K. Allen Nature Sanctuary at YMCA Camp Carter. In 1860 Allen was elected as a commissioner on the Tarrant County Commissioner’s Court.
Following the advent of the Civil War, Allen resigned his office and on January 26, 1862, enlisted as a private in Johnson’s Mounted Volunteers (soon reorganized as the Fourteenth Texas Cavalry). Allen served in Company K, under the command of Capt. Carroll M. Peak, a fellow member of the First Christian Church of Fort Worth. The unit was dismounted in 1862 and fought the rest of the war as an infantry unit. Allen was shot in the leg and was discharged from the army on a surgeon’s certificate of disability on September 20, 1862. As a result of this injury, he walked with a cane for the rest of his life.
Returning home to White Settlement, Allen ran for the Texas House of Representatives for District 43 as a Democrat. In August 1863 he was elected by a majority of forty-four votes and represented Tarrant County in the Tenth Texas Legislature. He was sworn in on November 2, 1863, at the opening of the regular session. With the Civil War underway, the Tenth legislature was primarily concerned with wartime policies, especially closing the many loopholes and exemptions from service that had weakened Confederate forces in the field.
Allen served on the committees for Private Land Claims; Retrenchment and Reform; and Roads, Bridges and Ferries but was otherwise not a very active legislator; he tended to vote with the majority opinion and did not introduce any legislation. Allen was present for the regular session in November and December 1863 and the first called session in May 1864 but was absent from the second called session in October and November 1864.
In the late 1860s Allen served as a justice of the peace for Tarrant County. In 1873 he ran for justice of the peace of Precinct Five and campaigned on a platform of revitalizing the county jail and courthouse. Allen won the election and served for three years and exercised the duties of that office, such as regularly posting estray notices in the local press. He was also a notary public and presided over the marriage of future mayor of Fort Worth Hiram S. Broiles on October 22, 1874. Allen remained active in the local Democratic party and served as a delegate to several county Democratic conventions. In 1874 he was an incorporator of the Tarrant County Fair Association, although the fair did not come to fruition due to the Panic of 1873. In 1876, at the end of his term as justice of the peace, Allen ran for the legislature a second time and faced three opponents. This campaign was unsuccessful, and he came in third, 800 votes behind the victorious Nicholas H. Darnell. Allen ran again for state legislator in 1878 against prominent attorney and former Confederate colonel William R. Gause and lost by 1,394 votes.
The date and circumstances of Allen’s death and his place of burial are not known. He was still living in January 1883 when he and his wife purchased property in White Settlement.
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Allen Family and Fort Worth History, 1777–1987, Frances Marion Allen Collection, 1777–1992, Tarrant County Archives. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C. Dallas Herald, August 26, 1863. Fort Worth Daily Democrat, November 19, 1878. Fort Worth Democrat, September 6, 1873; November 2, 1873; May 16, 1874; October 24, 1874. Fort Worth Standard, February 17, 1876. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 17, 1926. “Historical List of Tarrant County Judges and Commissioners,” Tarrant County Archives (https://access.tarrantcounty.com/en/tarrant-county-archives/holdings/historical-county-records/elected-officials/judges-and-commissioners.html), accessed July 14, 2022. Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Christopher D. Wilson,
“Allen, James Kenedy, Jr.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 18, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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