Biography of Joseph D. Allen
Chittenden County, VT Biographies





JOSEPH DANA ALLEN. On the 22d of January, 1836, the eldest daughter of Mr. Johnson, Eliza R. Johnson, became the wife of a man who in his profession had attained as high a rank as had been accorded to her father. Joseph Dana Allen was born at Burlington, Otsego county, N. Y., on the 16th of October, 1799. He was early thrown upon his own resources, and after a thorough preparation entered Norwich Military University in 1821, then presided over by Captain Alden Partridge, late commandant at West Point, and an able instructor in civil engineering, the profession which Mr. Allen had adopted. For two years after his graduation in 1825 he was assistant professor of civil engineering in the university, and then resigned to accept the position of engineer of the Connecticut River Navigation Company, a corporation organized for the improvement of the navigation of that river from Barnet, Vt., to Hartford, Conn. In the year following he entered into an engagement with a company of New York capitalists to prepare a plan for a system of public works, then projected, by which the waters on the south shore of Long Island were to be connected so as to form an unbroken inland channel for ocean vessels from the eastern end of Long Island to New York Harbor. After completing these surveys and making his report thereon, he took charge of the Worcester division of the Blackstone Canal, then constructing, to connect the interior of Massachusetts with Long Island Sound. His next work was the laying out and building of the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, to communicate between the lumber region of Maine and the sea at Portland. In 183o Mr. Allen's services were demanded by the New York Canal Board, to aid in planning and perfecting the elaborate system then under consideration to connect the new West with the seaboard. As chief engineer he constructed the Black River and Chemung Canals, after which he took charge of the building of the northern division of the Chenango Canal, between Binghamton and Utica. In 1836 the construction of railroads began to be considered, and, by reason of his recognized ability, Mr. Allen was chosen to determine the route and plan the construction of the first road leading out of New York city, connecting with the junction of canal and river at Albany, and now known as the New York and Harlem Railroad. He also directed the laying out of the Utica and Oswego Railroad, the completion of which was prevented by the financial panic of 1837. In 1838 he was appointed engineer of the Erie Railroad from Binghamton westward, then under the presidency of the eminent banker Jonas G. King, of New York, and directed the course of construction of that line. Notwithstanding the fact that railroad construction was then in its infancy, Mr. Allen's methods in his work at this early day have since been adopted throughout the country, a fact which abundantly testifies to his skill and efficiency.

He subsequently directed the course and construction of the Chenango Canal from Binghamton to Tioga Point, N. Y., and also the Chemung Canal from Elmira to the same place. During the four years then following he was in charge as engineer in chief of the enlargement of the Erie Canal west from Little Falls; but his incessant and responsible labors for a period of about sixteen years had greatly impaired his health, and, in the hope that a change of occupation might be a benefit to him, he purchased an interest in the Onondaga salt works at Syracuse, N. Y. Disappointed in the hope for health, he sought his end by an entire abandonment of business for a time, and removed to Burlington, Vt., where he ever after lived. In 1843 he organized the Winooski Cotton Mill Company, and for two years was its president. This office he relinquished in the belief that his improved health would permit him to renew the practice of his profession. He accordingly accepted the position of consulting engineer of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, and directed the laying out of that line in Wisconsin. He was at the same time appointed chief engineer of the Erie Canal; but ill health again overtook him, and he practically retired permanently from the active duties of the profession. He afterward, in the capacity of chief engineer of the Albany and Northern Railroad, directed its plan and construction, and still later laid out the northern extension of the Rutland Railroad line. He prepared the complete and accurate surveys of the city of Burlington, together with the maps and data, upon which was based the system of street improvements afterward carried into effect. In 1856, at the request of the government of the United States, he took charge of the erection of the government buildings, postoffice, custom house and marine hospital, in Burlington, and completed them with his usual skill and painstaking. He was for a long time director of the Merchants' Bank at Burlington, and was frequently in requisition to perform other private and public trusts.

As has been said, his active life in his chosen pursuit covered a period of but little more than sixteen years, and yet few have accomplished such prodigious and gratifying results in a much longer lifetime. His enforced retirement from activity was especially irksome to his energetic nature, which sought and found a partial alleviation in those liberal studies which enlighten and elevate the character. He was a man of modest and retiring disposition, of a liberal culture, and of rare moral qualities and sterling sense and judgment. His integrity and purity of character were particularly marked. In all that he did he was conscientious to a remarkable degree, and the minutest details of his public and official work, as well as of the minor and personal concerns of his life, invite the most critical scrutiny. His mind was a storehouse of facts and principles always ready for use, while his systematic thoroughness and clear perceptions of the questions with which he had to do, made his advice often sought and highly valued. He was for many years a consistent communicant of the Episcopal Church.

Mr. Allen died on the 12th of October, 1878, leaving his survivors, his widow and two sons, Charles E. Allen, of Burlington, Vt., and John J. Allen, of Brooklyn, N. Y., all now living, the former at the advanced age of eighty six years.

Charles Edwin Allen was born in Burlington, Vt., on the 28th of November, 1838, fitted for college at the Burlington High School, and was graduated from the University of Vermont in the class of 1859. He studied law with Hon. Isaac F. Redfield, of Windsor, Vt., and subsequently with Hon. Milo L. Bennett, of Burlington, and was graduated from the Albany Law School in 1864. After practicing in New York city for three years he returned to Burlington, where on the 31st of October, 1867, he married Ellen C., only daughter of Elias Lyman, esq., of Burlington. Mr. and Mrs. Allen have three children, Joseph Dana, Lyman and Florence Lyman His residence in Burlington is the old homestead of his grandfather, John Johnson, afterwards owned by his father.

Mr. Allen has ably sustained the reputation of the family for thoroughness and efficiency in his life work, for elevation of character and liberality of culture. In 1862-63 he was assistant secretary of the State Senate; from 1878 to 1882 he was alderman from his ward; in 1882, was city assessor. In 1883 he was elected a member of the board of school commissioners of the city, to which office he has since been twice reelected, and has in other positions of trust and honor received evidence of the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens. He is an active member of the Protestant Episcopal Church. In the practice of his profession, although he is not confined in the scope of his labors, he has made a specialty of patent law, in which department of practice he is deservedly eminent.

His brother, John Johnson Allen, was born at Utica, N. Y., August 4,1842. He was graduated at the Burlington High School in 1848, and at the University of Vermont in 1862. Receiving an appointment on the staff of the provost marshal of the fourth district of New York, he removed to that city and succeeded to the charge of the office during the last year of the bureau. In 1866 he graduated from Columbia Law School, and soon after was appointed assistant United States district attorney for the eastern district of New York, which position he continued to hold until his resignation in March, 1873, since which time he has been actively engaged in the duties of his profession, in which he has acquired a high reputation. In 1874 he represented his district in the Legislature of New York. For several years he has held the office of United States supervisor for the city of Brooklyn, and also that of United States commissioner.

His summers are spent in Burlington, where he owns a residence on College Hill. He married in 1870 Louisa A., youngest daughter of the Hon. Charles Shaler, of Pittsburgh, Pa., and has three children, Marion Shaler, Eliza, and Marguerite Louisa.

From:
History of Chittenden County, Vermont
Edited by: W. S. Rann
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, New York. 1886


Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

NAVIGATION

Chittenden County, VT
Biographies

Vermont
Biographies

Online
Biographies

New York
Histories

New York
Biographies

Maine
Histories

Pennsylvania
Histories

Pennsylvania
Biographies

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium