Orrin S. Allen

Submitted by William L. Rockwell, 2001.


Hello, I am doing research on a former New York resident by the name of Orrin Sweet Allen, Pvt. 112th NY Volunteers, born in Rensselear County, NY in 1824.

Orrin S. Allen was an early settler in Oregon after the War Between the States. He was a mechanic, inventor, dulcimer maker, writer, farmer, soldier, Chaplains Assistant, nurse, and later the Commissioner of streets in Beaverton Oregon and to this very day "Allen Ave" leading from Beaverton into the city of Portland is named for him.

Orrin Sweet Allen was born to the William Allen Family in or near Petersburg, Rensslear County, New York in 1824 or 27 (depending on what documents you read). The Allen family was married into the Sweet, Wait and Hakes families of that community in the late 1790s but all other information has been lost from around that area.

William Allen had three other sons besides Orrin

1) Edmond moved to Michigan in the 1850s and is listed in several Michigan Censuses.
2) Smith Allen died from a mining injury in the California gold fields the fall of 1864.
3) James Allen was last listed as working in the same gold fields in the 1860s.

Orrin S. Allen enlisted into the 112th NY Vol. Inf. (Chautaqua County, NY) and served with it from 1862 till 1865. The 112th was a hard luck unit and suffered many casualties from some of the worst leadership in the Union Army. Mr. Allen left several hundred letters, documents, newspaper clippings, scraps of cloth, and flowers from 1857 until his death in 1902 and his wife Francis E. Wade Allen of Chautaqua County saved everything written to her from 1855 till her death in 1909.

The Civil Wars letters discuss the day to day lives and deaths of NY soldiers throughout the war. Some even provide eye-witness descriptions of the last days of several Chautaqua's former residents and the visits to his camp from Rensselear County officers and troops. This is one of the "largest private collections of personnel correspondence by an enlisted man from that period".

I have a list of letters by place and date and names of individuals mentioned in the letter if you are interested.

What do I want for this information? Just for you to share what you have collected on any of the same units and groups of people. I have been working with and sharing my collected information with the following organizations and they can authenticate any information I provide you:

US Parks Dept. Battlefield Monument, Richmond Va.
Virginia Historical Society, Richmond Va.
University of Michigan, Annarbor
Fort Sumter Battlefield Monument, Charleston, SC
USS Maple Leaf, restoration project
and a few selected authors writing about the 112th and other New York units

Thank you for allowing me to use up some of your valuable time and I am looking forward to hearing from you or your representative.

William L. Rockwell