Biography of William Robert Allan, Sr.

There is probably no better indication of the enterprise and business interests of a town than its hotels, and the Carson House, of which Mr. Allan is proprietor is representative of the enterprising spirit which dominates Morris. This is one of the best hotels in central Illinois, receiving from the public a liberal and well merited patronage. Its proprietor is a genial, courteous gentleman who commands the respect of all with whom he comes in contact. He was born in Scotland, June 16, 1848, in Newton Grange, in the county of Edinburg, his parents being David and Elizabeth (Telfert) Allan, also natives of that land. In 1879 they crossed the Atlantic to the United States, spending their last days in Morris. They had four sons and two daughters.

In the public schools William R. Allan obtained his education, but his advantages were very meager, as he began to earn his own living at the early age of seven years. Extensive reading, however, together with wide experience in the practical affairs of life, has made him a well informed man. At the age of seven he began working in the mines of Scotland and was largely employed in that division of labor till twenty-two years of age, when, in 1870, he sailed for America, believing that he might benefit his financial condition in a land where ambition and energy are not fettered by caste or class. Landing in New York, he came at once to Morris and for a year was engaged in coal mining. On the expiration of that period he joined his eldest brother, David Allan, in leasing mines at Morris, operating the same for three years. He was then engaged in merchandising for twelve consecutive years, and on the expiration of that period carried on farming for two years in Iroquois county, Illinois. Subsequently he removed to Ottawa, where he conducted a restaurant for about seven months, and in 1888 he came to Morris, where he assumed the management of the Carson House. A contemporary publication has said: “The Carson House enjoys the reputation of being one of the best hotels in this section of the country. Everything from cellar to attic is clean, cozy and homelike. The rooms are large and comfortable and you could not ask for any better accommodation in any city than you get at this hotel, the tables being supplied with each and every delicacy that the mind of an expert ‘chef’ can devise, and served by a corps of polite and attentive waiters. For more than eleven years Mr. Allan has been its proprietor and is well known to the traveling public. He is very popular among traveling salesmen and has won many friends among that class of business men.

On the 22d of September, 1875, Mr. Allan was united in marriage to Miss Janet B. Patrick, a native of Maryland, and of Scotch parentage. They have five children: Thomas A. N. Allan, David Alexander Allan, William R. Allan, Lillie J. Allan and Roy Carson Allan. Mr. Allan is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is also a very prominent Mason, taking the initiatory degrees in 1878, when on a visit to his old home in Scotland. A year later he joined Cedar Lodge, No. 124, F. & A. M., of Morris, and has since taken the Royal Arch and Knight Templar degrees, belongs to Orient Chapter, No, 31, R. A. M., and Blaney Commandery, No. 5, K. T. He has attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish rite in Oriental Consistory, is a Noble of the Mystic Shrine and belongs to Laurel Chapter, No. 145, O. E. S. A worthy exemplar of this ancient craft, his life is in perfect harmony with its humane and fraternal teachings. His wife is also a member of the Eastern Star. His political support is given to the Republican party, but he has neither time nor inclination for public office, preferring to devote his energies to the conduct of the Carson House, which he has made one of the most popular hostelries in this section of the state. He certainly deserves great credit, for at the tender age of seven years he started out in life for himself. The difficulties and obstacles impeded his progress but he has overcome these by determined purpose, steadily working his way upward to a position of affluence.

Source: Biographical and Genealogical Record of La Salle and Grundy County, Illinois, Volume II, Chicago, 1900, Pages 517-518.

Allan, William Robert, Sr., one of the substantial men of Grundy County who is now residing at Morris, but still looking after his agricultural interests in various localities, was born in New Battle Parish, Edinburg, Scotland, June 16, 1848, a son of David and Elizabeth (Telford) Allan. These parents came to Morris, from Scotland, in 1880, and here both died.

William Robert Allan received but a limited educational training for he began working in a brickyard at seven years of age, and in the coal mines of his native land when only eight years old. In 1870 he came to the United States, and to Morris, and worked in the coal mines until 1873, when he, with Noble Robinson, went into a liquor business in this same city, continuing in it until 1886, when he sold to his partner. In the meanwhile the partners built a fine brick block, in 1877, and became prosperous. In 1886 Mr. Allan began farming in Iroquois County, Ill., but sold his farm in 1888, and conducted a restaurant at Ottawa, Ill., for eighteen months. Once more he disposed of his interests at a good figure, and bought the Carson House, at Morris, from his father-in-law, who proposed retiring. Until 1903 Mr. Allan conducted this popular hostelry with credit to himself and his city, but then sold it to confine his attention to his farming interests in Saratoga Township and in Emmet County, Iowa, having these properties rented to tenants.

On September 2, 1875, Mr. Allan was married to Janet Banks Patrick, born at Frostburg, Maryland, a daughter of Andrew and Jean (Sharp) Patrick, born in Scotland. Mr. Patrick died in 1862, and later his widow married Thomas Carson, a hotel man of Morris, and she died September 4, 1910. Mr. and Mrs. Allan had the following children:

  1. Thomas Andrew Noble Allan, of Joliet, Ill., married Minnie Emerson, and they have two sons:
    1. William E. Allan
    2. Kenneth T. Allan
  2. David Alexander Allan, of Independence, Iowa, married Helen Hupper, and they have two children:
    1. Verne C. Allan
    2. Russell H. Allan
  3. William Raymond Allan, a grocer of Morris, married Anna B. Hall, and they have two sons:
    1. Francis H. Allan
    2. Thomas C. Allan
  4. Lillian Jane Allan, now Mrs. William DeLane Sapp, of Richmond, Va., has one son:
    1. William DeLane Sapp.
  5. Roy Carson Allan, of Morris, Ill., who married Clara M. Kertz.

Mr. Allan attends the Presbyterian Church of Morris. He was elected supervisor from Morris Township in 1908 and has served continuously for four years. He belongs to the Blue Lodge, Chapter, and Commandery in the Masonic fraternity, is also a thirty-second degree Mason, and belongs to the Mystic Shrine. He is also a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge, No. 75, of Morris.  He has many personal friends in these organizations, all recognizing his sterling qualities. He is stockholder in the Grundy County bank.

Source: History of Grundy County, Illinois, page 752-753. Chicago, IL, USA: Munsell Publishing, 1914.

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