James Monroe Allen practiced law in San Francisco for more than forty years, and was one of the Superior Court judges and one of the ablest corporation lawyers on the coast. However the bar and the public learned to esteem him chiefly for his lofty ideals, integrity of character, and the uplifting influence he exercised in and out of his profession.
Judge Allen was born in Bethlehem, Ohio, March 14,1844, son of John and Lavinia (Teel) Allen. His great-grandfather, Adam Link, was a Revolutionary soldier, and his paternal great-grandfather, Allen was also was in the same war. Judge Allen had one sister, Mrs. Harriet Griswold. John Allen was a captain in the Union army during the Civil war, and is buried in the military cemetery at Chattanooga.
James M. Allen received his early education in Ohio, Illinois and Connecticut, graduated from a high school at Chicago, and in 1863 entered Yale College, where he was graduated in 1867. He was a member of the Alpha Delta Theta fraternity, the Scroll and Key and other college societies. He was also the spoon man of his class. He was admitted to the Illinois bar, practiced about a year in Chicago, and for three years at Carthage, Missouri. In December 1874, Judge Allen located at San Francisco, and soon became associated with Francis Newlands and subsequently with the firm Lloyd & Newlands. On January 1,1880, Judge Allen was elected one of the judges of the new Superior Court in San Francisco, and held that office for three years. After retiring from the bench he was associated in practice with Edgar F. Preston until 1884, in which year the firm Newlands & Allen was formed and soon afterward became Newlands, Allen and Herrin by the admission of William F. Herrin. This was one of the notable law firms of the city until 1891,when Mr. Newlands went to Washington as a member of Congress and Mr. Herrin became head of the legal department of the Southern Pacific Company. Following that Judge Allen practiced for the most part alone. His work was confined to corporation and probate cases, and he never figured in a criminal trial. Among other clients he was attorney for the Bank of California for over thirty years. Judge Allen died May 6, 1913. He was devoted to his home and his profession, and never held membership in any church or secret order.
At San Jose, California December 29, 1881, he married Miss Ida M. Davis, a native of Ohio. Mrs. Allen survives. She is a member of the Catholic Church. Five children were born to them: Harriet Elizabeth, wife of John Otis Burrage, of San Francisco; Ruth M., wife of Lucius H. Allen; Francis Frederick, who is connected with the shipping business in San Francisco: James Kirk; and Clara Adelaide, who is a nun of the Helpers of Holy Souls, a French order with only three convents in the United States.
Louise E. Shoemaker Transcriber February 24, 2004
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" by Bailey Millard Vol. 3 page 104-107. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.
© 2004 Louise Shoemaker