Saturday, November 15, 2008

Colonel Allen drowned in the Kissimmee River

Well, rabbits, to thank Steve Rajtar for his moonlit tour of Greenwood Cemetery in downtown Orlando last night, I'd like to introduce you to one of the notable fellows buried there.

This is Colonel Robert T.P. Allen (26 September 1813 - 9 July 1888) who was born to Irish immigrants in Baltimore, Maryland.

After graduating fifth in his class at West Point in 1834, he came to this little corner of heaven with the U.S. Army during the Second Seminole War.

In 1845, he established the Kentucky Military Institute, over which he presided for many years--except from 1849 to 1851 when President Zachary Taylor sent him out west to organize the postal system in California and Oregon.

In 1857, he moved to Texas to establish another school, the Bastrop Military Institute. And, it was there he raised the 4th Texas Infantry Regiment at the outbreak of the Civil War. They took the field as part of Hood's Brigade, but Colonel Allen was not a popular commander. So, he was sent back to Texas to oversee a POW camp near Tyler.

After the war, he returned to the Kentucky Military Institute. But, in 1877, when his son John was elected Orlando's second mayor, he returned to Florida.

Sadly, he drowned while swimming in the Kissimmee River near "Allendale," where his son had established a steamboat line after completing his term as mayor.

His body was retrieved from the rushing waters, and hauled up to Orlando to be laid to rest beneath this sizeable marker in the Allen family plot.

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