Return to Ebenezer Allen

After a couple of months concentrating on the book on Charles Marvin, I have returned my focus to Ebenezer Allen.  The book continues to evolve as new tidbits of information are discovered. The process takes many different directions with many missteps along the way.

Fortunately, I have Ebenezer’s poem to his wife to keep me on track.  The following verse revealed a part of Ebenezer’s life that I had misplaced.

Fair Lewistown, grateful the memories come
Of the scenes and the seasons while thou wert my home!
Return they, resplendent with gems of the past,
Set in tablets of love that forever will last!
Mementoes of pupils-(my twenty-fourth year
Saw me charged with that Institute on the frontier.)

This passage indicated that Mr. Allen was a teacher in Lewiston in 1828. But which Lewiston? My first thought was Lewiston, Maine. Then another passage from Ebenezer’s poem suggested a new location.

Left the shades of old Dartmouth, whose time-honored worth
Is yet fresh to my thought as its name to my ear.
I had heard the deep roar of Niagara’s flood —
I had stood where the fallen of Bridgewater stood

This verse indicated that the Lewiston that Allen referred to was the historic town in Western New York State on the Niagara River near Niagara Falls (“the deep roar of Niagara’s flood”). I concluded that Ebenezer taught at Lewiston Academy.

I rushed to tell my wife of this discovery. After I told her of Allen’s western New York connection, she suggested another possible link.

This part of New York State became known as the “burned-over district.” In the early 19th century, religious revivals and the formation of new religious movements took place. In addition to religious activity, the region was noted for social radicalism. The Latter Day Saints, Millerism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses trace their roots to this area. It was also a region that became part of the Spiritualism movement. The seeds might have been sowed for Ebenezer to embrace this belief.

The research is far from complete, but I thought you might be interested in how I conduct my research and the impact of various aspects of our life lead us to unexpected places.

About Allen Mesch

Allen is an author, educator, and historian. He has written six books: The Analyst; Teacher of Civil War Generals; Your Affectionate Father, Charles F. Smith; Charles A. Marvin - "One Year. Six Months, and Eleven Days", Preparing for Disunion, and Ebenezer Allen - Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy. He taught classes on the American Civil War at Collin College. He has visited more than 130 Civil War sites and given presentations at Civil War Roundtables.
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