Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Can You Solve a Tennessee History Mystery?

Posted by on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 5:18 AM

While I was looking in the Allen file at the Metro Archives in order to see if they know anything about Ben Allen that I don't — they don't, though I did get to see his will in his own handwriting, which was cool! — I stumbled on article after article about Eliza Allen, the cousin of Ben's father, who had a short and ugly marriage to Sam Houston that cost him the governorship of Tennessee.

What exactly went wrong is still up for considerable speculation. I've read that Allen was forced to marry Houston by her politically scheming father. I read that she was the schemer, looking to tear down Houston from inside his own home for reasons of her own. I read that he had a horrible weeping crotch-wound that he wanted to ... you know ... rub up against her while it was weeping in a disgusting manner. I also read that he was a ridiculous drunk until his final wife got a hold of him, so that may have also been a contributing factor to their short-lived marriage.

But all accounts agree on one thing — Houston went out to Eliza's father's house to woo her and she fled there when she left Houston. On 800 acres three miles south of Gallatin overlooking a bend in the river, John Allen, his family, and their 39 slaves entertained Houston, Andrew Jackson, and a host of other prominent historical figures in their beautiful home, Allenwood.

I have what I thought was an easy enough question: Where is/was Allenwood, and is it still standing? Finally someone at the Sumner County Archives was able to tell me that she was pretty sure that Allenwood is no longer standing. But where exactly it was? She doesn't know. The museum doesn't know. The Visitors and Convention Bureau doesn't know. The people they all gave to call me either don't know or aren't answering their phones. And there's not so much as a historical marker to give indication.

But I'm wondering if one of y'all does. Do you know where Allenwood was?

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