Allan Family (Richmond, VA)

John Allan (1779-1834), Scottish immigrant and a tobacco merchant in Richmond, VA, and his first wife, Frances Keeling (Valentine) Allan (1784-1829), had no children of their own. In 1811, the couple took three-year-old Edgar Poe into their care, though they did not formally adopt him, and Mrs. Allan raised him as her own son.

Frances Allan died in 1829, and by 1830, John Allan had married his second wife, Louisa Gabriella (Patterson) Allan (1800-1881), with whom he had three sons. John Allan Sr. died in the same year his last child was born, leaving a considerable fortune to his natural family. All three of his sons attended the University of Virginia.

John Allan, Jr. (23 Aug. 1831-3 July 1863) was born in Richmond, VA. His early education took place in schools in Richmond and Caroline County, VA. He attended the University of Virginia in sessions 27-29 (1850-1853) and studied ancient and modern languages, mathematics, chemistry, and geology. He is listed in the 1860 U.S. Census for Virginia as a farmer. On 18 Jan. 1860, John Allan married Henrietta Hoffman of Baltimore, MD, and the couple had two children, Hoffman Allan and Louise G. Allan. On 25 June 1861, Allan enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in Company I, 4th Cavalry Regiment, Virginia. He was promoted to full 1st lieutenant on 15 Sep 1861 and transferred to Company S, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Virginia.  He was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg on 3 July 1863.

William Galt Allan (5 Oct. 1832-15 Oct. 1868) was also born in Richmond. He was named after his father’s uncle, William Galt, who left John Allan Sr. his extensive fortune, making him a very wealthy man. William G. Allan attended the University of Virginia at the same time as his elder brother, sessions 27-29 (1850-1853), and followed an identical course of study. In 1860, he is described in the U.S. Census as a “Gent” or gentleman. William enlisted at the rank of Jr. 2nd Lieutenant  in the Confederate Army in 1861, serving in Company H of the 1st Regiment, Virginia Infantry (the Williams Rifles). At the end of his service, he had achieved the rank of Captain, and the duty of Acting Quartermaster. On 22 Nov. 1865, William G. Allan married Henrietta, the widow of his brother John, and the family resided in Goochland County, VA. William and Henrietta had no children, but William took his brother’s children as his own.

Patterson Allan (26 Jan. 1834-6 Sep. 1872) was, like his brothers, born in Richmond. As an adult he resided in Goochland Co., at a farm called “Little Creek.” He was educated in Richmond schools prior to his attendance at the University of Virginia in sessions 29-30 (1852-1854). Patterson Allan followed in the footsteps of his brothers in his choice of studies. Though the S. Bassett French Biographical Sketches (located in the Archives of the Library of Virginia) states that Patterson Allan served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, I have not been able to confirm that through any other sources. Patterson met and married Mary Caroline Wilson (ca. 1846-15 Mar. 1927) of Cincinnati, OH, while on a trip to Europe. The couple had four children, Genevieve Allan, John W. Allan (who died at the age of 13), and two others who died young.

The Allans were involved in one of the Civil War’s interesting episodes of espionage. During the war, Mary Caroline Allan had continued her correspondence with her family and friends in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in a letter sent during June 1863, she had enclosed another letter which was to be passed on to the Rev. Morgan Dix, son of Union General John A. Dix. This packet was intercepted by the Confederates, and on 18 July 1863, Mary Caroline Allan was arrested at the order of Confederate General John H. Winder for “treasonable correspondence with the enemy” and tried for high treason in the case of The Confederate States v. Mrs. Allan.

Mrs. Allan was accused of sending “a letter of advice and intelligence to the enemies” of the Confederacy. She never went to prison, but was released on her own recognizance at their Goochland farm due to the fact that her husband put up a $100,000 bond – an incredible sum in those days. The case was drawn out for two years. In February 1865, the primary accuser, General Winder, died, and by April 1865, after the surrender at Appomattox, the case was moot. Mrs. Allan was released by the legal system in 1865, and in the 1870 census, she and her two children were living with the Wilson family in Cincinnati, while Patterson Allan was living in Goochland County, Virginia.

Patterson Allan died in 1872 and was buried in Shockoe Hill Cemetery in Richmond, VA. His mother and father and both his brothers are buried there as well. Mary Caroline Allan lived in Cincinnati until the later years of her life, and was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her daughter, Genevieve Allan Montague, when she died of pneumonia in 1927. She is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga. (Mary C. Wilson Allan death certificate)


  • 1850-1930 U.S. Census. Ohio & Virginia, in United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009.
  • Allan, Henrietta. Statement to the Judge of the Circuit Court of Goochland County [VA], 29 March 1869, in Allan v. Allan, index number 1910-001, case #012. Library of Virginia, Chancery Court Records Collection (Accessed 5/3/2011)
  • Allan, Mary C. Wilson death certificate #5253, Chattanooga, Hamilton Co., TN. (
  • “Arrest of Mrs. Patterson Allan in Richmond.” Southern Confederacy (Atlanta, GA), v. 3, no. 136, (July 23, 1863), p. 1.
  • “City Intelligence.” Daily Richmond Examiner,v. 17, no. 294 (02-25-1864), p. 1.
  • “Affairs in Virginia: The Richmond Examiner, of the 14th remarks: The trial of Mrs. Patterson Allan. Warrant of arrest.” New York Times (25 Dec 1863), p 1. (Accessed 9/6/2011).
  • The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. [website] (Accessed 5/1/2011)
  • Forest Hills Cemetery, Chattanooga, Tennessee. [website]
  • Historical Data Systems, comp. American Civil War Soldiers [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999.
  • Montague, Genevieve Allan. Cross-bill of Dwight P. Montague and Genevieve Montague, his wife, [to the Circuit Court of Goochland County] 17 March 1884. in Allan v. Allan, index number 1910-001, case #012. Library of Virginia, Chancery Court Records Collection (Accessed 5/3/2011)
  • “Mrs. Allan nearly caused capture of Dr. M. D. Hoge.” Times Dispatch (Richmond, Va.), 29 Oct. 1909.
  • The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe, Richmond, Virginia [website]. (Accessed 5/1/2011)
  • National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, <;, acquired 2007.
  • “Returned to dust. [Louisa G. Allan obituary.]” Times Dispatch (Richmond, Va.), 26 Apr. 1881, p.1.
  • Thomas, Dwight R. and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log, Boston, 1987. (Accessed 4/17/2011).
  • Tombstones of the Allan family, Shockoe Hill Cemetery, Richmond, VA. [database online]. Accessed 12/31/2011.
  • Varon, Elizabeth R. Southern lady, Yankee spy. New York, 2003.
  • Winkler, H. Donald. Stealing secrets. New York, 2010, p. 288.
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5 Responses to Allan Family (Richmond, VA)

  1. Plans have been made by the “Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery” to mark the graves of William and John, Jr. at Shockoe Hill. Government-supplied military markers have been ordered and should be installed by March 2012.

  2. jlc5f says:

    This is excellent news! I’m happy that the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery would take on this project. Thank you.

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