Elijah Allen

Biography of Elijah Allen

Elijah Allen was a bank official in Providence for five years more than half a century. He was personally known to thousands of customers of the High Street and of the Citizens’ Savings banks, as well as to almost every business man of the city. He was, in point of continuous service, the acknowledged dean of financial executives in Rhode Island. This record, probably unique in the history of the State, was achieved by virtue of his conscientious attention to his duties and a full regard for the welfare of the public which set its faith upon the solidity of the institutions with which he was associated. Had he not been a man of spotless character and great attainments in his profession, had he been less than unselfishly devoted to the interests of his official associates and to those of the community, he would have found it impossible to spend more than half a century in executive positions and to retain the full confidence and respect of every one who had the benefit of his work or the loyalty of his friendship. Descended from a long line of colonial ancestors, who helped develop the country and to build the institutions that were the forerunners of those with which he later became associated, he maintained to the full the lofty traditions that were handed down to him and never forgot his obligations to that ancestry. He was a sound churchman, benevolent in spirit and in act, a vital citizen and an unswerving friend to the deserving, a worker who was of great value to the people of Rhode Island and whose passing was a distinct loss to the State and its institutions.

He was born in East Mansfield, Massachusetts, in 1841, a son of William Merritt and Fanny (Tolman) Allen, and was educated in the public schools and at the Poughkeepsie Business College. In the interval between his public school work and the training he received in business instruction he taught school and upon his graduation in Poughkeepsie came to Providence, February 1, 1872. With an eye and ear alert for opportunity, he became associated with the High Street Bank, and on November 24, 1873, was made cashier of that institution and treasurer of the Citizens’ Savings Bank, with which it was allied. When these two organizations discontinued their association, Mr. Allen elected to remain with the Citizens’ as its treasurer and from that day until his death functioned in that office. He was an active member of the Providence Board of Trade and for many years a trustee of the Mathewson Street Methodist Church. He was also a member of the Providence Central and the Art clubs, of the Economic Club, and one of the governors of the Rhode Island School of Design. He died in Providence, Rhode Island, February 8, 1927, in the eighty-seventh year of his age.

Elijah Allen married Emma A. Cole, daughter of Nathaniel Cole, a descendant of the colonial settlers of Old Warwick, Rhode Island. Their children were:

  1. William Elijah, married Phoebe Burrows, of Mystic, Connecticut, and they were the parents of one child: William Burrows, now a resident of Auburn, Rhode Island.
  2. Grace E., married Everett Young, of the Young Paper Box Company, and they are the parents of one child: Ellen Norris Young.

In a State where financial affairs are handled by many men of long experience, the record attained by Mr. Allen was the more unusual. Executives throughout the State were open in their praise of his work, while to the commercial machine of which he was an important unit his tireless energies and his clear conception of its complexities commended him to all substantial business men. He was genial, sociable and friendly; a citizen of great value, whose name and achievements are permanently recorded on the rolls of Rhode Island’s history.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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