Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987 Page: 44
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According to legend, the pleas
of fugitive slaves, and later the
bustling noises of cattle drives,
were familiar sounds at a stately
WXhen Old Homes Talk residence located near the Old
. _ . - _ _. Chisholm Trail in Bell County.
More than a century later the
contents from a trunk found in
the attic of this home invite us
to take a step into the past.
/ccording to legend, the pleas
"of fugitive slaves, and later
the bustling noises of cattle drives, were
familiar sounds at a stately residence located
near the Old Chisholm Trail in Bell
County. More than a century later the
contents from a trunk found in the attic
of this home invite us to take a step into
Ten years ago Marsha Pickens Brewer
purchased a property at 410 N. Main in
Belton, Texas, now known as Allen
House, along with many artifacts and
original furnishings, including the aforementioned
trunk. The trunk held a treasure-abundant
written and photographic
documentation of the lives and
times of some of the significant first
settlers of Central Texas. In the trunk was
a ledger listing the names of thirty-one
families who had traveled from Tennessee
and Missouri to forge new homes on the
Texas frontier. Part of this group-the
Bighams, the Scotts, the Allens, many of
whom were related-settled north of
Belton on the Leon River in the newly
organized county of Bell and named the
settlement Tennessee Valley, after the
home they had left. Commerce first
began here with goods sold from their
John Quincy Allen purchased the house on Main
Street in 1882, a stately residence located near
the Old Chisholm Trail in Bell County. This
photograph dates from the late 1800s.
wagons. This area, along with some of
the first homes, is now covered by the
waters of Lake Belton.
One sheet in the ledger recites Martha
Scott's story of how in Tennessee her
uncle Oliver Harris Bigham killed a bear
and invited friends and relatives to a bear
feast on September 12, 1849, at which
time they planned their future move to
Texas. This pioneering saga began one
year later on September 12, 1850, and
they arrived in Dallas, Texas, on November
In her early days Martha Scott experienced
hardships common to children
of the pioneer life, but she later held
fond memories of these times and of the
wholesome pleasures they afforded. Her
father moved his family into Belton, and
she married one of the settlers of Tennessee
Valley, John Quincy Allen. They
made their home in Belton and were
among the town's most substantial citizens,
identified with commerce and the
social life of the community. John Allen
served as vice-president of the Belton National
Bank, operated a large farm, and
managed several businesses. They purchased
the house on Main Street in 1882
(a deed found in the trunk lists three previous
owners) and the home remained in
the family for two generations.
One of the Allen's daughters, Allie,
married a dashing Canadian, William
Henry Brown, Sr. Henry sported a
handlebar mustache and was an adventurous
entrepreneur. His adventures included
investing in a steamship line in
New Orleans, and mining for gold and
topaz in Nicaragua. A daughter, Bessie
Bonita, was born in Blue Field, Nicaragua.
There is a paper in the old trunk
from the Nicaraguan government to the
Browns ordering them to cease operations
in that country.
The Brown's son Harry and his wife
were the next occupants of Allen House,
with Bessie Bonita living in the two-story
home next door. Harry Brown was an
electrical engineer and contracted work
with the military base at nearby Fort
Hood. Having no children of his own,
Harry Brown lived in the home until his
death in 1975, thus ending the family dynasty
at Allen House.
Each owner and his times left their
mark on the home. It was constructed in
the early Texas style of native stone and
horsehair mortar. The anvil on which the
square nails were made remains. Mount
Zion, the servants' quarters, is on Pearl
Street and has been turned into a duplex.
A carriage house occupies one corner of
the property, and in another stands a
Texas Star rock garden.
The large front porch has the original
porch swing, front door, and screen. The
sun porch above it offers a wonderful view
of the massive oak trees below and of
The grand entry hall has Williamsburg
molding, a cut-glass chandelier, and a
by Justne LJ. lygren
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987, periodical, Summer 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45437/m1/44/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.