This page follows the generations of the Allison family, as I descend from them. The following links operate within this same page - click on the Allison you want to see.


SECOND GENERATION: Dr. William Allison
William Allison was born near the end of the eighteenth century, probably in 1794, in Kentucky. At an early age he felt called to the Methodist ministry, and as a result he was much travelled in the frontier lands of the new country, riding a 'circuit' among Kentucky frontier settlements, and later moving to Indiana, then Illinois. The Reverend A.H. Redford, D.D., published many volumes of his work "The History of Methodism in Kentucky", and in Volume II, covering the years 1808 to 1820, he provides the following excerpt of William Allison:

The Tennessee Conference met at Franklin, Tennessee, on the 23d of October (note: probably 1816 or 1817). Bishop McKendree was present and presided. Eleven preachers were admitted on trial, of whom Clinton Tucker, William Allison, and Benjamin Ogden were appointed to fields of labor in Kentucky....

William Allison traveled seven years. His first appointment was to the Hartford Circuit, after which he successively traveled the Jefferson, Henderson, Hartford, Breckinridge, Henderson, and Hartford circuits. In the General Minutes of 1823, his name is omitted; nor can we learn from the Journal of the Kentucky Conference for that year what disposition was made of him, as his name is not mentioned. We think it probable that he located, in feeble health, as he sustained a supernumerary relation, the previous year, on the Hartford Circuit. We also find his name on the Journal of the Quarterly Conference of the Hartford Circuit, on the 31st of July, 1824, as a local elder. During his connection with the Conference, he was a faithful and useful preacher.

William Allison married Eliza Lewis, daughter of John and Hannah Lewis, in Kentucky on October 12, 1818 (a brief account of William and Eliza's first married days appears in Glenn Hodges' book, "Daybreak on Old Fortification Creek: A History of John Lewis, His Family and Descendants"). They were the parents to William L., Jr., John L., Joseph L., Francis A., and Susan E. Allison. Sometime between 1825 and 1830, after William was finished his stint as a travelling preacher, they settled down in Harrison County, Indiana, near Louisville. During their time here, both William and Eliza decided that they had been done a disservice in the management of Eliza's parents' estate, by a Dr. Greathouse. William sued Greathouse, an account of which suit can be found in Hodges' book.

William's also practiced medicine during in his lifetime, and apparently tended to Abraham Lincoln's father in Coles County. A letter from A. H. Chapman to Abraham Lincoln, dated May 28th, 1849, Charleston, Ilinois, says this (note - A. Lincoln was in Springfield, IL, at the time):

Mr. Lincoln-
Sir on Friday last I wrote you at the request of J.D. Johnson which I suppose Has given you Considerable unnecessary trouble on account of your Father. I was fearful at the time I wrote to you that I was giving you considerable unnecessary uneasiness & So told Johnson, but he said that it was not So. I wished him to wait until Allison returned from your Fathers but he would not consent on the grounds that if He did not Send you a Letter then he would not Have the Opportunity of writing until the present mail. So I wrote you at his Earnest Solicitation & He had the Letter Mailed instantly. I now Have the pleasure of informing you that your Father is not only out of all Danger but that he is not afflicted with a Disease of the Heart as Dr. Allison had Supposed all along but that his illness arose from an unusual amount of matter being confined in His Lungs which ocasioned the Oppression of the Heart & let Allison to Suppose this Disease was one of the Heart - Yesterday & today He has raised a Large amount of matter or Fleghm from Lungs & is almost entirely Releaved & will doubtless be well in a Short time.......
Respectfully yours
A.H. Chapman

(from "Abraham Lincoln and Coles County, Ilinois", by Charles H. Coleman, 1955 - p. 129)
It has been written that William Allison was one of the first doctors in the area, and his land was close to where Thomas Lincoln lived when he was in Coles County. I don't have proof that the Dr. Allison referred to above is William Allison, but I believe it to be so.

On November 26, 1831, Eliza died and was buried near her Indiana home, according to Hodges. Two years later, William took the children and moved to Coles County, Illinois, as many Kentuckians and Tennesseans were doing. He was the original white owner of 80 acres of land in Paradise Township, Coles County, Illinois, for which he paid a total of $100.00. This area was basically the frontier, and the county of Coles had only been in existence since 1830. William remained a Methodist preacher, and along with neighbor George Hanson, helped tend to the flocks in southwest Coles County.

Dr. William Allison died on August 21, 1851 and was buried in Campground Cemetery, Coles County, Illinois. The cemetery got its name in part to some of the activities in which William engaged himself - it was called 'Campground' due to the Methodist outdoor worship camps which were nearby on the Little Wabash River. The following is from the book "Cemeteries of Coles County", Volume I:
After the Wabash Point Methodist Society was formed in 1828, camp meetings were held in the woods in warm weather, along the east bank of the Little Wabash stream. A few years later a wooden tabernacle was built, about 50 feet square with a log house adjoining. Wooden tents also surrounded the meeting place. Until 1855, thousands came here annually from spring until fall to attend services in the open air.

Just across the ravine on the west side of the river was the site of a second camp ground which for several weks each year, for many years, was a tented city where services were held under the auspices of the Methodist church.

In the course of these meetings some deaths occurred and a few graves were placed in an adjoining plot of land, known as 'God's Acre'. Soon settler families in the area were bringing their dead there for burial.

Because of the early connection to the camp meetings, its name was changed to Campground.

William Allison's final resting spot, in Campground Cemetery, Coles County, Illinois.

THIRD GENERATION: John Lewis Allison, Sr.

John Lewis Allison, Sr.

John Lewis Allison was born in 1821, in Kentucky, according to census records. On the 16th of March in 1843, in Coles County, Illinois, he was married to Jerusha Hanson, the daughter of George Major Hanson and Polly Ellington Hanson. Their first child was daughter Mary Elizabeth Allison, followed by John Lewis Allison, Jr., in 1848. Jerusha Allison died in the same year. According to John Lewis Allison, Sr.'s grand-daughter, Fay Allison Palmer, Jerusha might have died from complications due to John Lewis, Jr.'s, birth (she died 4 months after he was born, on May 8, 1848). As a result, Jr. was raised by a 'negro mammy'. A year and a half after the junior John Lewis' birth, on August 2, 1849, John Lewis Sr. was remarried, to a Deborah Roberts.

John Lewis Sr. appears by historical records to have enjoyed wheeling and dealing. He was the original white owner of 795 acres of Illinois land, in 15 different plots (and four different counties), for which he paid a range of $1.25 to $2.75, except one plot near Mattoon which inexplicably cost him $9.35 per acre. His total cost for this land, according to the records, was $1493.42. However, 360 of his acres were obtained by redeeming military bounty land warrants, and nominally cost him nothing - but the warrants, issued to U.S. veterans, were negotiable, and what deals John may have made to secure these prizes will remain a mystery. (the database for these land transactions is online at: )

John Lewis Sr. was also instrumental in the formation of the town of Mattoon in 1855. A publication commemmorating Mattoon's 100th anniversary says this about Mattoon's early days (based on the writings of Mrs. W. Roney, Clarence Bell, Mrs R. Redding, and others in the Mattoon Historical Society):
The settlers from Kentucky in the next 10 years (note: starting 1826) produced many of Mattoon's business leaders. Among these were James T. Cunningham and John Allison, two of the four leading developers of Mattoon.

Cunningham and Allison had successful general stores in the Paradise Village settlement before the railroad construction program produced the town of Mattoon in 1855. Both men bought portions of Section 13 on which the Original Town of Mattoon was built, helped plan the city, established several of the early businesses, and gave land for parks and churches.

Not surprisingly, one of John's business ventures in the new city was a real estate office. He also donated, along with two Cunninghams, a square block near the Washington school in Mattoon which is still used as a park - it has retained the name Cunningham, but lost the 'Allison'.

John's father William died in 1851, and maybe the fact that the Reverend was no longer looking over him led John to engage in some questionable dealings. He was sued twice after his father's death - in Shelby County, Illinois, in 1854, and again in Shelby County in 1856. In 1854, a Robert Campbell sued John for $300 in damages over an unpaid 8 year old note that John had signed that he would pay Campbell $147.85. John was taken into custody by the sherriff of Shelby County before the trial, and had to answer for his refusal to pay any amount to Campbell. I don't have information on the verdict, but since a copy of the note was produced in court, it would have been tough for John to beat.
John was sued again in Shelby County in 1856, this time with a William L. Allison (probably his brother). William Harper was the plaintiff this time, in a similar trial. William and John Allison refused to pay on a note allegedly signed by them - it was originally valued at $768.40, and had been signed over twice until it reached Harper, and although John and William had paid $400 on it, Harper sought $600 in damages. This note was also produced in court, and the Allisons probably had to pay up. But in 1858, John Allison (shown in court papares as residing in Cumberland County), went on the offensive and took it out on the Radleys and the Dewes - he sued them in a chancery suit in Coles County for an apparent failure to turn over the deed to land he had purchased from them. (Another suit, Coles Co. v. Allison 23 Ill. 437, is referenced in "Laws and Ordinances Governing the City of Chicago, January 1, 1866". This appears to have been a procedural suit of some kind, but I don't as yet have information about it.)

The Civil War years proved perilous for John Lewis, Sr. Apparently, he leased some Union-held land in Mississippi during the war, with the intent of cultivating it. On a trip down there, however, he found that Union troops had vacated the area. He decided to stay for awhile anyway, but was found by Confederate soldiers, who also discovered on him paperwork designed for the Union personnel he had intended to meet. The Confederates apparently frowned on this, as he was forced to dig his grave, then shot and buried in it (View entire text of article relating these events. The article appeared in the Mattoon, IL Daily Journal Gazette on Thursday, September 1, 1955). Before his death, John Lewis Allison, Sr., and second wife Deborah had had at least three other children: Frank, Edwin, and Agnes.

FOURTH GENERATION: John Lewis Allison, Jr.

John Lewis Allison, Jr., and wife
Sarah Emma Tice Allison

The best history of John Lewis Allison, Jr., and his family are described in a 1977 letter from Fay Allison Palmer to grand-daughter Nancy Palmer. Fay Palmer had an excellent way of written recollection, but although I am in possession of a copy of the letter, it will require permission before being posted on the internet. Briefly, however, John Lewis Allison, Jr., pushed westward like his forebears. Before his migration, he married Sarah Emma Tice - a 'farm girl from Kansas', according to Fay, but from Pennsylvania according to the census and death records. Their marriage took place in 1875, in Coles County, Illinois, presumably, since they were there in the 1880 census. John Lewis Allison, Jr., engaged in the printing trade, buying and running several newspapers, as well as publishing books. He had 11 children, including daughters Fay, Sadie, Agnes, Mary, Dorothy, Irene, Latie, Beulah and son John Lewis III (I don't know the other two). In 1911, he wrote a letter back to someone in Coles County, describing the early days there. It was published in the February 1983 issue of "Among the Coles", the newsletter of the Coles County, Il, Genealogical Society (PO Box 225; Charleston, IL 61920). (View text of letter). John Lewis Allison, Jr., died on December 8, 1921, in Chico, California, due to a "General Emacitation due to stricture of esopegus", according to his death record.

Fay Allison was born on October 19th, 1895. Her life story was recounted nicely in her obituary, reproduced below. Fay Allison married William John Palmer, and their children were William Allison Palmer, Sr., Dorothy June Palmer, and one living son who I won't name for privacy.

Fay Allison Palmer on her 85th birthday (holding her cake)

Fay Allison Palmer's obituary, appearing in the
Contra Costa (CA.) Times, December 30, 1987

PLEASE NOTE: I stopped updating the web page around 2001, but I've continued to work on my project. My family history is now in Word document format, with the goal of publishing it once I consider it to be as complete as I'm going to get it. While I'm greatly indebted to those who have assisted me in my research, I'm finding that the demands of everyday life don't allow me to consistently respond to email inquiries. So, I'm offering my most up-to-date volume for sale, at a price of $19. For those interested, it is at 118 pages right now, printed by a laser printer on 8.5x11 32-lb./98 brightness paper, and wire bound. The table of contents, revision history, and index are available at the following links. To order a copy, please email me at [email protected], and I'll send it within 3 days of payment. If you indicate the family line you are interested in, I'll send you a new bound copy if and when I update my research for that line. Thanks,

EMAIL:Jay Ingram

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