THE HON. SYLVESTER ALLEN, who is one of the most prominent public men of Scott County, was born in Athens County, Ohio, Sept. 2, 1847. His father, William Allen, was also a native of Ohio, and of Scotch descent. He was a shoemaker by trade and followed this business in Ohio for a great many years, until he died in 1855. His wife, the mother of Sylvester, was also a native of Ohio. Her maiden name was Elida A. Beatty.
Sylvester Allen was seven years old when his father died. After this sad event he went to live with his grandparents, who gave him a good common-school education, supplemented by a term at the High School of Jackson, Ohio. He worked on a farm until he was sixteen years old. In the spring of 1863 he enlisted in the 7th Ohio Cavalry, but was rejected on account of his youth, coupled with a vigorous protest from his mother. But young Allen was not to be defeated in his laudable purpose of serving his country, and so he entered the army again, this time as a teamster. He went on duty at Camp Nelson, Ky., where he engaged in the transportation of supplies from that point to Cumberland Gap, Tenn. This work was extremely hazardous, as the country was infested with guerrillas, whose sole aim was to secretly assassinate, and whose tactics consisted chiefly in sneaking up behind their opponents, and cowardly shooting them down. Mr. Allen smelled gunpowder many times, and particularly at Crab Orchard.
Mr. Allen served his country for eighteen months, when he returned to Jackson, Ohio, and in September, 1864, he left for Saline County, Mo., where he occupied himself in farming and attending school. After remaining in Missouri for a year he came to Oxville, this county. Here he again worked on a farm and attended school during the winter. In September, 1869, he was married to Miss Duenna S. Jeffords, who was born in Portsmouth, Ohio. Her parents removed here in 1860 and were farmers. After his marriage Mr. Allen rented land until 1872 when he went to Kansas, locating near Humboldt, where he followed farming for three years. He then returned to Illinois and purchased his present farm. From time to time he has made additions to his original purchase, until he now owns 200 acres of excellent land, and by good management has succeeded in gaining a just reputation as one of the leading stock-raisers and general farmers of his community. He makes a specialty of breeding graded Short-horned and Jersey cattle. He has five acres devoted to the cultivation of small fruits, an investment which has been well rewarded. Full-blooded Berkshire hogs and draft horses also claim his attention, and he is a live-stock shipper to the principal markets.
Mr. Allen is a self-made man. He is now representing Scott County in the Legislature, and as a law-maker and an incorruptible man his record is perfect. He has never been an office-seeker, but the people have recognized his fitness for public station and have verified their confidence in him by electing him to many local offices. As a member of the Legislature he is industrious, painstaking, and is ever found seeking the best interests of his constituents. His portrait on another page will be prized by all his friends. Mr. Allen began active life without a dollar, but by sheer force of character and indomitable industry he has reached the top rounds of the ladder of success. His domestic life is peculiarly happy. Mrs. Allen is more than an ordinary woman and is one to whom a great deal of respect is shown by her neighbors.
Since Mr. Allen came to Oxville his fellow citizens have insisted upon his holding some local office a majority of the time. He has been Postmaster, School Director and Justice of the Peace for sixteen years, and for his own amusement has read law. In 1888 he was elected to the State Legislature on the Democratic ticket, and was placed upon the important Committees of Public Charities, Roads and Bridges, Retrenchments, and Public Printing. Mr. Allen has four children living - Arlina b., Mary E., Lila and Thurman.