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Shannon County History

In the West That Was
by great-great grand daughter Roseanna (Smith) Renaud ( 

It took nearly 60 years of waiting to read Charles Wesley Allen's story. Time is up! The University of Nebraska Press recently released (after a nudge from gg-grandson Craig Howe) Allen's memoirs with, FROM FORT LARAMIE TO WOUNDED KNEE, In the West That Was. Senior Research Anthropologist Richard E. Jensen of the Nebraska State Historical Society who edited the manuscript writes in the introduction, "It is not known when Allen began writing From Fort Laramie to Wounded Knee, but it was probably in the early 1930s when he was over eighty years old." In 1938, Allen turned to friend Addison E. Sheldon, superintendent of the Nebraska State Historical Society for help in getting a publisher. Allen died on November 16, 1942 at the Hot Springs State Soldier's Home without realizing his goal. The original typed manuscript remains in the possession of the Nebraska State Historical Society. The exciting Autobiography of Red Cloud, War Leader of the Oglalas, another Allen manuscript (edited by Jensen's colleague R. Eli Paul) was released earlier this year through the Montana Historical Society Press.

The varied and colorful career of Charles Wesley Allen (1851 - 1942) took him throughout the northern Plains during an exceptionally turbulent era in its history. He was at the Red Cloud Agency when Red Cloud attempted to prevent the raising of the American flag and the Lakota nearly took over the agency. Allen also visited Deadwood at the height of the Black Hills gold rush, helped build the first government agency on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and reported on the Lakota Ghost Dance. Allen happened to be walking through the Indian camp at Wounded Knee when shots rang out on December 29, 1890, and his is arguably the best of all the eyewitness accounts of that tragedy. This is Allen's previously unpublished vivid account of the years he described as "the most exciting chapter of my life." As much the chronicle of the passing of an era as a personal narrative, in its simple, direct, and often moving prose it captures the injustices, gritty details, and relentless energy of a period of dramatic change in the West. (From Fort Laramie to Wounded Knee, University of Nebraska Press, 1997) The book contains a newly discovered photograph of Charles W. Allen ca.1880s, courtesy of Kenneth & Evelyn Copeland of Mills, NE.

Mr. Allen married a Lakota woman, Emma Hawkins (anglicized from Hockenstrasser), on August 23, 1873 near Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Descendants of some of their twelve children still reside in the Martin area where the couple were longtime residents. It is interesting to note that Philip Allen recently opened Allen's Trading Post in Martin, following in one of his great-grandfather's endeavors. 

History buffs may find a donated copy of FROM FORT LARAMIE TO WOUNDED KNEE, In the West That Was and Autobiography of Red Cloud, War Leader of the Oglalas at the Bennett County Public Lib