Much like the daffodils that grew and yet never seemed to thrive at Allendale, Elias never saw the same success or prominence as his brothers. While Allenwood–by the time John Allen was hosting grand engagement parties for his daughter and Sam Houston–was a lavish house on 800 acres with ninety slaves to work it all and Elias’s other brothers had moved out to Smith County and set themselves up in similar situations just outside of Carthage, Allendale sat on just 200 acres and was tended by twenty slaves.
Elias married a local girl, Rebecca Lewis, when he was twenty and they had three children—George, Lewis, and Eliza. Neither Rebecca nor their fourth child, a girl, survived childbirth and they were buried in the cemetery across the lane. Eliza appears to be the last child born in that house to survive, even up until modern times.
Which is not to say that there weren’t more Allen children. Even among my father’s generation, when you’d leave a door open on your tear through the house to tattle on a brother and someone would ask if you were born in a barn, all the Allens would laugh and say, “Yes,” so well-known was the long-standing tradition of moving the Allen wives to the an outbuilding when the time came.
Elias remarried after a short time and his second wife, Amy, also gave him three children—John, James, and Robert. In 1838, she died of what the farm ledger records as “wasting.” Letters sent to family in Smith County seem to suggest that she was suffering from what we might be tempted to call post-partum depression, describing her as listless and tired, unable to be made to care even about the well-being of her small children. Except that soon James and Robert also became listless and sleepy and, before long, they, too, were in the cemetery across the lane. Infants and toddlers don’t, by definition, suffer from post-partum depression.
The remaining children were sent to Allenwood to live with their uncle John. Elias did not remarry. Still, trouble plagued the farm. In 1843, he wrote to his brother, William, that he could not keep a dog or cat on the property and that the slave women begged him not to use the children for minor household tasks, like firetending, which meant he had to devote an adult to it, a waste, he thought, of labor better used for more difficult tasks.
“They have superstitions about the place,” he wrote, “that no amount of reason or whippings can take out of them.”