This is my tenth A to Z Challenge. My first was in 2013, but I missed 2021. This April I am going through the alphabet using snippets about my family through the generations.

Eliza Allen 1840-1917

My 2X great grandmother Eliza Williams Allen was born into slavery on the plantation of Col. Edmund Harrison and his wife Jane Starke Irvin Harrison. Her mother was Ann Williams, a seamstress on the plantation. Who her father was is not known. When the youngest daughter of the Harrison’s, Martha James, married Milton Saffold in 1851, Eliza went with her as a wedding gift. Martha was 18 when she married. Eliza was about 12.

Martha gave birth to three sons before she died in 1856. At 16, Eliza gave birth to Saffold’s daughter in 1856. In 1857, Saffold married Georgia Whiting. Eliza was 17 when Saffold freed her and Mary. In 1860 I found them living, free, on a small farm with Nancy Wiggins and her daughters. I haven’t found a connection between Nancy and Eliza.

Later that year she met Dock Allen when he hid in the barn while escaping from a master known for cruelty and keeping vicious dogs to hunt escapees. Dock and Eliza married. They had 13 children. Eight lived to adulthood. After Freedom, Eliza’s mother, Annie Williams lived with the family until she died in 1898.

Centennial Hill Marker. Click for more information.

Eliza was a seamstress and Dock was a carpenter. Although neither of them were literate, they sent all of the children to school, the oldest through elementary school and the youngest completed two years of college. The family owned their own home in Montgomery’s Centennial Hill Community.

Eliza died on June 22, 1917 at 77 years of age and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery.

Burial place of Dock and Eliza Allen. Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama.

More about Eliza and her family

  1. Who was Eliza?
  2. The Search Begins
  3. A Brief Explanation for Eliza’s Story
  4. Eliza Williams Allen – a photograph
  5. Eliza and the people in her life
  6. Escape – Dock Allen
  7. Finding Eliza Part 1
  8. Finding Eliza Part 2
  9. Finding Eliza Part 3
  10. Eliza’s daughters part 4
  11. She was owned before the war by the late Colonel Edmund Harrison of this county
  12. The 4th Annual Gene Awards
  13. Visit to Oakwood Cemetery
  14. Seven Generations of L3e3b-My MtDna
  15. Stolen From Africa
#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter E

24 thoughts on “E – ELIZA

  1. After all these years of reading Finding Eliza, I’m finally starting to get an inkling of the process you’ve gone through to find her. When you say, “I found her living. . .” I too feel that thrill of actually coming upon her, living her life. Think of all the things that had to go right for Eliza and Dock and her mother Annie to come together, free, and raise an upstanding family. When I think about how she was with us well into the 20th century, I again feel that thrill of your having reached back and contacted your ancestors. But also a shiver–how close to us their time is!

  2. Wedding gift at 12!! The agony Eliza and her mother must have endured! Still can’t process the cumulative (and unnecessary) weight of the hardship laid on people, especially women and girls, in the centuries past.

    Didn’t realise you are at the Challenge, my apologies, I have been travelling. Lots of catching up to do.

    1. You know, so she could help Martha get dressed and do little things she needed done. Arghhhh.

      That’s okay. I see you have caught up now. I’m enjoying learning about Fiji.

    1. My mother gave me the basic information, which wasn’t always exactly right with regards to generation, but an invaluable help. Cousins that I met over the years helped with additional information. And of course the records and news articles.

  3. Great summary of Eliza’s life, and now I see all the past blog posts about her and your family! I haven’t been reading them for that long, so need to go back to the earlier ones to get details of your searching and results on the blog. Thank you so much for doing this…somehow I think it is terribly important for anyone who is interested to find the facts of their roots. And thanks for your astute comments on my blog!

    1. Thank you for calling them astute! It was very important to me to find the answers to my ancestors lives. I would love to be able to go back farther, but I haven’t been able to go beyond 3rd great grandparents.

  4. This is an amazing photo! I had not previously read Eliza’s story, so thank you for posting the links to your previous blogs. I continue to be astonished by the lives of your ancestors and the research you have done to discover and share them.

    1. We grew up with a photo of Eliza’s husband, Dock Allen in my grandmother’s dining room, but I had never seen a photo of Eliza until a 3rd cousin and I exchanged information and photographs. She send me this photo a few others of some of Eliza’s children.

  5. As I only dip into your blog occasionally it was good to read a summary of Eliza’s story and heritage. Congratulations on piecing it all together.

  6. It never fails to astonish me that your 2xgreat grandmother was born into slavery when I compare it to the life of my 2xgreat grandparents. They had challenges and at times difficult lives, but nothing like this. What strength of character your ancestors had.

    1. All of my great grandparents were born into slavery. Except for Eliza’s daughter Jennie because Eliza had been freed. They were born in the 1850s or 1860s before the end of the Civil War in 1865. Hardly a blink ago.

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