The given name John and the surname Allen were popular names in Colonial times resulting in numerous John Allens at every turn. For example, the DAR has registered 52 Revolutionary War veteran John Allens among the 13 Colonies, complete with death dates. Since we have our John Allen's will and estate settlement papers, we can be certain he was none of those John Allens.
Actually, we don't know if John Allen was a war veteran or not. Since he died in 1804, he did not live long enough to apply for a pension. Pensions first became available in 1818 for wounded veterans, but most of those were soon rescinded. In 1832 pensions were made available for both living veterans and their widows.
Our John Allen should have been of an age appropriate for enlistment in the Revolutionary War which lasted from 1775 to 1783. We do know his last 4 children by his 1st wife were born between 1782 and 1790. His 1st 2 children were born in 1774 and 1776, although this is only a best estimate for those 2 daughters. There is a possible gap between 1776 and 1782 that could be explained by military service, but this would only be an unsupported guess.
We have identified several John Allens with dealings in Kentucky prior to 1792. Quite a few more John Allens arrive in the same area in the years immediately following statehood in 1792 futher confusing matters.
One way we might ascertain if John was a veteran is if he had received a military bounty land grant for land in Kentucky issued by Virginia. Most states were unable to pay their soldiers for military service and issued military bounty land grant for service in the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Virginia issued their warrants for land in Kentucky, then a sparsely settled part of Virginia.
The size of land grants was related to a soldiers rank. Privates usually received 100 acres with officers receiving up to several thousand acres. To be eligible, it was necessary to have served a minimum of three years in the Continental Army. Any service in a militia did not qualify a veteran for a bounty land grant. This restriction applied only to land grants not later military pensions.
It should be noted that North Carolina issued their bounty land grants in what is now Tennessee, which was then a sparsely settled territory of North Carolina. As a result of these arrangements, the majority of early Kentucky settlers were from Virginia.
There were other ways of acquiring Land in early Kentucky. For a time Virginia encouraged settlement in Kentucky by issuing land grants to anyone who would move there, build a cabin and raise a crop. This occurred mostly just before and early into the Revolutionary War, which broke out in 1776.
With this in mind, we have researched early Kentucky land grants of all types to Allens, particularly John and George Allens. There is reason to suspect a George Allen might have been connected to John in some way, perhaps a brother or father. But more on that in the page about Fayette County.
Early land records show three instances naming a John Allen. Understanding the dates on various documents pertaining to a property can be confusing due to warranty dates, grant dates, survey dates, entry dates, recorded dates
The earliest is 1,000 acres granted to a John Allen on June 25, 1776. It is described as 1,000 acres in Fincastle County lying on Clear Creek a watercourse of the Kentucky River near Harrod's Landing. It was signed by Thomas Jefferson.
Historians consider Harrodsburg the first settlement in Kentucky. It was established by James Harrod and the 41 men he brought with him from the Monongahela River area of western Pennsylvania in 1774. They travelled down the Ohio River to the mouth of the Kentucky River and then upstream (south) to a place now known as Harrod's Landing. From there they travelled overland a short distance west and settled at what is now known as Harrodsburg in the spring of 1774.
At that date all of Kentucky was known as Fincastle County, Virginia. Clear Creek runs across today's Woodford County. Although once part of Fayette Co., that part became Woodford Co. in 1789.
This land grant is especially interesting in that it was an inherited military bounty land grant. The original recipient was that John Allen's father Lt. Hugh Allen who was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant, VA in 1774. This battle occurred during Dunmore's War, a conflict between Virginia militiamen and Shawnee and Mingo Indians.
Lt. Hugh Allen's family does not seem to be clearly established. According to most accounts his sons John, William and Hugh Allen moved to Kentucky in 1779. Their mother was Jane or Jean Anderson, daughter of John Anderson. She had married Lt. Hugh Allen in 1765. This would have made their sons no more than 14 years of age in 1779, unless they were from an earlier marriage.
While someone under the age of 21 was not able to buy or sell land, it was possible for a minor to inherit property. In any case, we have found no proof this John Allen actually moved to Kentucky. Many men who received land grants sold them to someone else.
Another land grant dated 1787 to a John Allen was for 625 acres on Brashear's Creek in Shelby Co. At first glance one would think this was Col. John Allen of Shelby Co. fame, however, he was born in 1771 and would have only been 16 years old.