ALLEN, Dr. William W.
Posted By: Jennifer Gunderson (email)
Date: 5/23/2021 at 14:46:56
William W. Allen, M.D., Mason City.
Among the men of mark in Cerro Gordo county is Dr. Allen, a native of New York, who was born at Angelica on the 29th of July, 1824. His father, Asa S. Allen, was judge of Allegany county in 1838. He afterward became a minister and home missionary of the Congregational church, and has been preaching for nearly forty years, being now eighty years old and in good health. He is a descendant of the Allens of Medfield, Massachusetts, and retained the homestead, occupying the only log house left after the burning of the village by Indians nearly two hundred yeats ago. William's mother's maiden name was Kingsbury; she was a native of Medfield.
William attended the normal school at West Newton, Massachusetts, for two or three years, and though thrown entirely upon his own resources succeeded in mastering all the elementary and several scientific branches. When a mere lad he went to California by the overland route, his object being to obtain money with hwich to complete his studies. After two years of successful work he returned, and began the study of medicine at Mineral Point, Wisconsin, and in 1856 graducation from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and has since practiced medicine in Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa, everywhere with good success. He has gained an enviable repuation as a surgeon, and is widely known as a physician of eminent skill and ability. In cases of consulation he has been sent for forty and sixty miles.
In 1860 and 1861 he was in Colorado, and at the outbreak of the war started for home to go into the army. While on the plains, en route for Wisonsin, he was met by a band of rebel deserters form the United States army posts on the frontier going southward to join the confederates. The doctor had with him a stock of one hundred and fifty horses, mules and cattle, of nearly all of which the deserters robbed him, together with a valuable lot of furs. He afterward recovered seven head of cattle, and with six of these continued his journey eastward, making the journey of nearly twelve hundred miles in about forty-eight days. The following amusing incident is worthy of mention: At Clear Lake, in Cerro Gordo county, meeting a man who began to vindicate the south, he told him that he was about to fight the rebels, and might as well begin at once, at the same time drawing his revolver. The rebel sympathizer took to his heels, and the result was a short, hot chase, resulting in harm to neither party.
Upon his arrival at Eau Claire, Wisconsin, his old home, he at once proceeded to organize a company, and enlisted as a private in the 16th regiment Infantry,but at Madison was promoted to the rank of surgeon of the Iron Brigade. During the retreat of the Union forces at the second battle of Bull Run, Dr. Allen, with self-sacrificing patriotism and devotion, gave himself up as a prisoner, that he might attend to our wounded soldiers who were left on the field. He was retained a prisoner for eight days before being paroled, and during that time worked incessantly with the wounded, without one third of the usual allowance of food, and when he came into our lines was utterly prostrated, and afterward confined to a hospital for four months. On recovering he was placed in charge of a hospital in Washington during one year. The rest of the time, until the war closed, he was surgeon of the 5th Wisconsin Infantry. At the battle of Saylor's Creek he had the entire charge of the wounded, and superintended their removal to Berksville, Virginia, which task occupied about five days. It is doubtful if there was a more self-sacrificing and none patriotic surgeon in the Union army.
Dr. Allen has been a member of the Masonic order since 1865.
He has always been a republican, and firmly adheres to the principles of that party. His religious sentiments are orthodox.
He was married on the 10th of November, 1857, to Miss Selah Denison, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and by her has two sons.
Dr. Allen thinks and moves rapidly, being of a nervous-bilious temperament; is of average height, and weighs one hundred and sixty-five pounds. He settled in Mason City in 1867, and has built up an extensive practice; and in all matter of public interest touching the welfare of his city or state he has shown a most admirable spirit of energy and enterprise.
Source: The United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-made Men, Chicago & New York: American Biographical Publishing Company, 1878. Pg 148-9.
Cerro Gordo Biographies maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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