May 27, 2011
As I mentioned last week, my dad sent me a packet of family documents that included an obituary for my great-great-grandfather Porter Allen. Porter has always been something of a mystery. From my father, I learned the story of him selling the family farm. But no one seemed to know his birth or death dates or even where he was buried, although we suspected he was in a family cemetery — Spanish Fort Cemetery in Hoberg, Mo. There’s an unmarked stone next to his parents’ graves. My cousin Chris, who lives in the area, has looked for a death certificate but has been unsuccessful. There was a courthouse fire after his death that might explain the absence. Here is a partial transcription of the obituary [with my notes in brackets]:
William Porter Allen, locally known as Porter Allen, died at his home four and a half miles east of Mt. Vernon at midnight the 5th day of December, 1908. [Hooray! Finally some dates!] Porter was the son of Hon. S. R. Allen who died in this city Dec. 22, 1899. Porter was born in this county, about four miles southwest of Mt. Vernon, the 4th day of May 1854 and always lived near this city and followed farming.
He was a splendid citizen and liked by all who knew him. His life was an open book. He was true to his friends, a devoted husband and father. He was amiable, good natured and did not hold malice against any one. Funeral services were held at his home at one o’clock p m Dec 6th … [Wow, that was fast! Service details follow, which I have omitted] … His body was buried at Spanish Fort along side of his father’s, mother’s and brother’s graves. [I knew it!] He leaves an afflicted widow who had been confined to her bed for many years [I knew she had rheumatoid arthritis from a young age, but I didn't know she was bed-ridden]; and four children, Mrs. Ora Scott, who resides near Golden City, in Dade county, Walter Allen [my great-grandfather], Pearl Howard and Miss Bessie Allen. The last named, the only child at home. Walter and Mrs. Howard live near their father’s home.
Farewell dear Porter, death claimed you and thou hast [illegible] forever from this troubled world.
Spanish Fort Cemetery is a lovely old place out in the country where many of the Allens are buried. There was a schoolhouse adjacent to the cemetery where my great-grandfather and many other family children went to school. As the name implies, the area was thought to contain the remnants of a fort established by Spanish explorers. The general consensus today, however, is that it’s actually an ancient Indian mound. And, for those of you who are into that sort of thing, it’s said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Missouri. But you’d have to verify that fact for yourself. I double-dog dare you. Just say hello to Porter for me if you go!
- Missouri Genealogy Crash Course webinar recording
- State Research Collection: Missouri
- Death Records 101 FTU course
- City Guide: St. Louis