The Honorable Thomas Allen
The Honorable Thomas Allen (as he is known locally, to distinguish him from his illustrious grandfather, Parson Thomas Allen) was born in Pittsfield on August 29, 1813. He was the son of Jonathon and Eunice (Larned) Allen. He attended the Berkshire Gymnasium here and graduated from Union College in 1832. Allen studied law in Albany and New York City.
Mr. Allen moved to Washington, D.C. where he spent several years publishing a newspaper, The Madisonian. In 1842 he moved to St. Louis where he took a leading role in securing the charter of the Pacific Railroad. He served as its president from 1850 to 1854. During the same period, he was a member of the Missouri State Senate there. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Internal Improvements.
The development of railroads continued to engage Mr. Allen, and he purchased the Iron Mountain Line which he expanded considerably. This, and interest in the Banking House of Allen, Copp, and Nisbit, contributed greatly to Allen’s fortune. He was influential in scientific and cultural matters and extremely generous with his wealth. In 1876, at his own expense, he built the Missouri Building at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Among his many benefactions is the building occupied by the Berkshire Athenaeum from 1876 until 1975.
At the time of Mr. Allen’s death (April 8, 1882), he was a Congressman from Missouri. His funeral was held at the First Congregational Church in Pittsfield and the obelisk marking his grave came from Allen Quarries in Missouri.