Allen County, Kentucky

Historical Marker #760 in Scottsville commemorates the naming of Allen County after Colonel John Allen, a War of 1812 casualty.

Born in 1771 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Allen's family moved to Kentucky when he was a child. Allen studied law in Virginia, married the daughter of famed pioneer Benjamin Logan, and eventually opened a successful law practice in Shelbyville. Allen, who served in the Kentucky House and Senate and lost a bid for governor, was soon recognized as one of the Bluegrass State's best attorneys.

During the War of 1812, Allen became colonel of the 1st Regiment, Kentucky Volunteer Militia. At the Battle of the River Raisin (Michigan), the American lines broke and Allen's troops were pushed back into some woods. Allen tried to rally his men, but his soldiers retreated for two miles. During this withdrawal, Allen was shot in the chest and killed by a Native American.

One nineteenth century historian said of Allen, "In the judgment of all who knew him, had [Allen] lived, his reputation and fame would not have been dimmed even by those of Henry Clay." Sadly, however, the War of 1812 took this promising Kentuckian. Allen County, established in 1815, was named in his honor.


Kentucky War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission Logo

Kentucky War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission Logo

The Kentucky Historical Society is the administrative agency for the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, an 18-member body established by the Kentucky legislature in 2010. Image Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

"Remember the River Raisin!"

"Remember the River Raisin!"

Print from the National Guard Heritage series, "Remember the River Raisin!" On Aug. 15, 1812, Kentucky volunteers rendezvoused in Georgetown before marching into present-day Michigan. Upon nearing Frenchtown (now Monroe), Gen. James Winchester's Kentuckians attacked that town in order to secure supplies. On Jan. 18, 1813, Winchester's men took the settlement. British forces and their Native American allies counterattacked on January 22 in what has become known as the Battle of the River Raisin. Hit hard by artillery, the Kentucky troops ultimately retreated. After the battle, some Kentucky troops were taken prisoner and marched northwards, and between 40 and 65 wounded Americans were killed by Native Americans. "Remember the Raisin" soon became a rallying cry for Americans. Image Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Sanders, “Allen County, Kentucky,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed July 25, 2017,


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