Allen, Willis

Born: 1806-12-15 Virginia

Died: 1859-04-15 Saline County, Illinois

Flourished: Williamson County, Illinois

Allen attended common schools and taught school himself in Virginia before moving to Tennessee. In 1830, he moved from Tennessee to settle in a part of Franklin County, Illinois, that later became Williamson County. There, he served as sheriff from 1834-38 and postmaster for Marion in 1840. After passing the bar in 1841, Allen opened a law practice in Marion. Elected as a state representative in 1838, Allen served alongside Abraham Lincoln in the legislature until he was appointed State's Attorney in 1841. He served in that position until 1845. Allen served as a state senator from 1844 to 1847, was a Presidential elector for James K. Polk in 1844, and represented Franklin County at the state constitutional convention in 1847 and 1848. In 1850, Allen was elected to Congress, serving until 1854. Upon returning to Illinois, he was appointed Judge for the Twenty-sixth Judicial Circuit, where he served until his death during a court session. He married Elizabeth Joiner and together they had seven children. Politically, Allen was a Democrat; he was also a Mason.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 572; Gravestone, Rose Hill Cemetery, Marion, IL; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 105, 207, 211, 213; History of Gallatin, Saline, Hamilton, Franklin and Williamson Counties, Illinois (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1887), 845.