John M. Allen (Tampico Allen), soldier and first mayor of Galveston, was a native of Kentucky. He joined the United States Navy in the aid of the Greek revolution against Turkey and was with Lord Byron at Missolonghi when Byron died (1824). Allen came to Texas in 1830 and joined the Tampico expedition in 1835 but escaped imprisonment. He returned to Texas in December, enlisted in the revolutionary army, was appointed captain of infantry, and served as acting major at the battle of San Jacinto. He commanded the Terrible in the summer of 1836 but did not see action; he was sent to the United States on recruiting service and enrolled about 230 men for the army. He was discharged on December 2, 1836, and received a headright for a league and labor of land on June 7, 1838. Later he moved to Galveston, where he was elected mayor in March 1839. In 1840 Samuel May Williams, seeking to rid the threat Allen posed to the Galveston City Company, called for a new election with a change in the franchise. Allen, refusing to give up his office since his term was not over, removed the city archives to his home and the protection of two cannons. Thomas F. McKinney and a posse removed the archives after the district court ruled on the matter, and so ended the "charter war." Allen was reelected annually until 1846. After annexation he was appointed United States marshal for the Eastern District of Texas, an office he held until his death on February 12, 1847. Allen was a Mason. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Galveston.
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Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Earl Wesley Fornell, The Galveston Era: The Texas Crescent on the Eve of Secession (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). David G. McComb, Galveston: A History (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986). Homer S. Thrall, A Pictorial History of Texas (St. Louis: Thompson, 1879).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Wesley N. Laing,
“Allen, John M.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994