”Jesse Allen. While Tennessee may well be proud of her statesmen and her soldiers, and freely acknowledge her indebtedness to them, yet she is equally indebted to those captains of industry who have been contributors in advancing her commercial prestige. In the following lines is presented a brief outline of the career of Jesse Allen, a retired capitalist of Burns, Tennessee, who both as a soldier and as a business man has honored the state that gave him birth. He was one of thousands of Southern young men left at the close of the Civil war with nothing but those resources within themselves with which to wage their contest for success in life. Today Mr. Allen is one of the wealthy men of Dickson county. He began under the spur of necessity, but he had courage and integrity, a large capacity for business, and was willing to strike hard blows; such men seldom fail of the merited reward of their labors.
Born in Henry county, Tennessee, May 15, 1840, his life was spent on the paternal farm until the opening of hostilities between the states in 1861, when he enlisted in Company D, of the Tenth Tennessee Regiment of mounted infantry, of which N. N. Cox, of Franklin, was colonel. He served throughout the war and participated in many of the hardest fought battles of that conflict but escaped being wounded or captured. Hardships and privation had been the common lot of the soldiery of the South during the latter part of the war. At its close young Allen went to Nashville, where at the home of an uncle he was clothed and fed, and for some time he was employed there with these necessities as his only remuneration, though at that time they were luxuries to him. Later he became an employe in the A. H. Hurley mercantile establishment, where he remained three years and by his ability and fidelity to his employers’ interests won promotion to the position of foreman. Following that he clerked for a time for D. Weil & Company, a Jew, and then went to Murfreesboro, where he sold goods at auction and also peddled goods through the country. Later he opened a store at Murfreesboro but it was burned after a few years and then Mr. Allen went into business again, opening a first-class drygoods store in the heart of the business section. After several years at Murfreesboro he went to Greenville, Mississippi, but he only remained a short time and then returned to Nashville, Tennessee, where he became a traveling salesman for a wholesale house in Nashville. After ten years spent in this line of activity he, in partnership with the wholesale firm he represented, bought a large quarry and lime kiln in Dickson county for $15,000. Of this Mr. Allen became manager and from time to time he added to his interests in the establishment until finally he became its sole owner. This he has developed until its present capacity is four cars of lime per day. It is one of the largest plants of its kind in the state, has its own spurs and railroad sidings, and is valued at $100,000. It pays the heaviest taxes of any business concern in Dickson county and employs on an average of fifty men, though frequently it has double that force in its service.
Richard H. Allen, the father of our subject, was born January 1, 1807, in Halifax, Virginia, and came to Williamson county, Tennessee, with his parents when he was sixteen years of age. He served a three years’ apprenticeship at carpentry at Franklin, Tennessee, and from there in 1831 went to Paris, Tennessee, then a new town, where he acted as foreman in the construction of many of the early buildings of that place. There he was married in 1833 to Elizabeth Parker, who was born in North Carolina, in 1814, and was a daughter of James Parker, a large slave owner in this state. Of the fourteen children born to this union, Jesse is seventh in birth and is one of five now living. After his marriage Richard H. Allen took up farming in Henry county and continued in that occupation until his death, he too being a large slave holder. His first wife died in March, 1874, and he afterwards married Mrs. Annie Caldwell, widow of Preston Caldwell. In politics he was a Whig and in religious faith both he and the mother of our subject were devout Baptists. He was a son of Lawson Allen, a soldier in the War of 1812, who settled in Williamson county of this state about 1823.
While a resident of Murfreesboro Mr. Allen, our subject, was married in 1871 to Miss America Smith, of Murfreesboro, and to their union two children were born: John R. and Jesse A. John R., whose birth occurred in 1872, died in 1897. Jessie A., became the wife of Andrew D. Clark, now manager of the Jesse Allen Lime Kiln. Mrs. Allen died December 2, 1876, at Nashville, and in 1882, Mr. Allen wedded Adelia Ware, daughter of John W. Ware, of Cannon county, Tennessee. Both Mr. and Mrs. Allen are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South. Mr. Allen gives his political allegiance to the Democratic party but is a stanch believer in prohibition and has labored zealously to promote prohibition in Tennessee. Imbued with the spirit of charity, he gives liberally of his means to relieve the needy. Mr. Allen is now retired from active business and is enjoying the leisure well deserved as the reward of years of energetic and fruitful endeavor. Mr. and Mrs. Allen now usually spend their winters in Orlando, Florida, where they have a handsome home.”
Source: A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans, Vol. 5, by William T. Hale and Dixon L. Merritt, The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York, 1913, pages 1300-2