HISTORY

 
 
 

IN THE CIRCA 1907 PHOTOGRAPH TO THE LEFT, JOE LEE ALLEN POSES WITH HIS NEPHEW (LEFT) AND HIS THREE DAUGHTERS (LEFT TO RIGHT): LADELL, LONNIE LEE, AND LEWIE.


FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF THE LAST OF THE ALLENS, LONNIE LEE, IN 1955, THE HISTORY OF THE FAMILY BECAME DISTORTED AND VAGUE.  WE NOW HAVE MANY FACTS LONG FORGOTTEN.


WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM ANYONE WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE ALLENS.


ALLENHOUSETOURS@AOL.COM 

 

ALLEN HOUSE HISTORY

CHRONOLOGY OF FACTS


•September 20, 1863: Joseph “Joe” Lee Allen is born to Mr. and Mrs. W.M. Allen. Joe Lee’s father dies before he turns six.


•1870: Virginia (Mamie) McKennon is born. The older sister of Caddye McKennon Allen, she never marries, dedicating her life to helping raise the Allen children and to teaching the kindergarten class at the First Methodist church in Monticello, Arkansas.


•1870: According to the 1870 census, 39-year-old Sarah Allen, Joe Lee’s mother, is a “farmer.” The Allen household consists of Minnie, 16, Lonnie, 8, and Joseph, 6.


•March 12, 1871: Caddye McKennon is born to B.H. McKennon (1840-1875) and Carrie Reeves McKennon (1842-1925). Caddye’s father is killed by a run-away team of horses a month before her fourth birthday.


•October 1, 1890: Joe Lee Allen and Caddye McKennon marry. Joe Lee owns a livery stable on East Gaines Avenue in Monticello, AR.  In later years, he sells automobiles, in addition to horses, mules, buggies, and wagons, and owns the Allen Hotel, a private school, and a horse-drawn hearse to be rented out for funerals.  He becomes the first President of the Commercial Loan and Trust Company and serves as President of the Southeast Arkansas Fair Association,


•September 8, 1891: Lonnie Lee Allen, the first of three daughters, is born.


•March 22, 1894: Ladell Allen is born.  Her name is frequently spelled “Ladelle,” as is the town her father named for her in Drew County, Arkansas; however, “Ladell” is the spelling used in her obituary, on her Certificate of Death, and on her tombstone.  According to the Advance Monticellonian, January 6, 1949, she is “known fondly by her friends as ‘Dell.’” 


•November 26, 1895: Walter Edwin Allen is born.


•August 25, 1896: Walter Edwin Allen dies at the age of 9 months.  He is buried in Oakland Cemetery, Monticello, Arkansas.


•November 2, 1897: Lewie Manker Allen is born.


•1900: The Allen family owns its own home on North Main Street in Monticello and has a live-in servant, fifty-nine-year-old Louisa Norrill, born in Louisiana and very likely a former slave.


•1905-1906: At 713 North Main Street, the original Allen House, a much smaller dwelling, is moved across the street to make room for what Joe Lee Allen hopes to be the most impressive house in town.  The architect is Sylvester Hotchkiss, designer of houses for other prominent residents of Monticello, such as the Pope House and the Lambert House.  The builder is Josiah Barkley White.  The house is a stunning combination of architectural styles: Neoclassical, Gothic, and Queen Anne.  The large carriage house on the north side of the lot provides living quarters for servants. 


•1910: The Allens own their new home free and clear. Lonnie Lee has completed school. The Allens have a live-in “house woman,” thirty-year-old Eliza Haynes.


•1912: The Allen Hotel opens.


•1912: Because of his role as a significant investor, Joe Lee Allen is given the opportunity to name a new town south of Monticello.  He names the new town “Ladelle,” after his middle daughter.


•November 29, 1914: Ladell Allen marries Boyd Randolph Bonner. Boyd was born in Indiana on July 16, 1891. His draft registration card from 1917 states that he is the owner of a “billiards hall” in Dumas, Arkansas, and is “tall” and “slender” with blue eyes and light brown hair.


•April 5, 1915: Lonnie Lee Allen marries Karl J. Leidinger (July 11, 1890-October 12, 1976), the son of a German immigrant.  In 1910, Karl’s occupation was “soda dispenser” in a drug store.  In 1917, he is a “hotel keeper,” probably working at the Allen Hotel. In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, Karl starts spelling his name “Carl,” probably in response to the wide-spread animosity against Americans of German ancestry. Karl enters the military on October 25, 1918, just as the war is about to end. His discharge comes December 5, 1918.


•November 29, 1915: Elliott Allen Bonner is born to Ladell and Boyd on their first anniversary. Boyd’s father was named “Henry Elliott,” but there are no references to Allen Bonner as “Elliott” even as early as the 1920 census.  Newspaper stories about him refer to him as “Allen.” The by-line he used on newspaper stories he wrote is “Allen Bonner.” His name in his 1935 college yearbook is listed as “Allen Bonner.” The only acknowledgement of his legal first name is his first initial on his tombstone: “E. Allen Bonner.”  His nickname was “Duke.”


•October 23, 1917: Joe Lee Allen, age 54, dies in Collins, Arkansas, while “demonstrating” an automobile to a potential buyer.  His body is brought by friends from Collins to his house, where his funeral is held two days later.  He is buried in Oakland Cemetery.


•1920: Ladell and Boyd Bonner and their son, Allen, are renters in Ft. Worth, Texas, and Boyd is operating an oil rig. The household at the Allen House in Monticello consists of Caddye, Lewie, Lonnie Lee, and Lonnie Lee’s husband, Karl Leidinger, who pays Caddye $10 a month rent. The census states that Karl is the “proprietor of a theatre.”


•August 5, 1921: Karl J. Leidinger, Jr., is born to Lonnie Lee and her husband.


•October 1921: At the age of 22, Lewie Allen marries Robert Hale Jones, who is 34. They will reside in Memphis, Tennessee, and will have three children: Robert, Lewis, and Martha.


•March 18, 1925: Carrie Reeves McKennon, Caddye’s mother, dies at the age of 82.


•September 1, 1927: Ladell is granted a divorce in Arkansas.


•1930: According to the census, Ladell is managing a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, and has a “lodger,” a thirty-four-year-old widow named Clide Wilson.  Allen Bonner is living with his grandmother in Monticello in the Allen House, as are Lonnie Lee; her husband, Karl; and their son, Karl, Jr. Lonnie Lee’s husband is the only member of the household to be listed as having an occupation: “Salesman, Moving Pictures.” Throughout the 1930s, the third-floor of the house has the reputation among teenagers as “the party place.”


•1933: Mamie McKennon dies at the age of 63.  She is buried in Oakland Cemetery.


•1933-1935: Allen Bonner is a journalism student at Arkansas A & M College in Monticello.  He writes a humorous column called “The Lowdown” for the college newspaper, The Southeasterner: “While I was in the store the other day some one came in and informed everybody it was raining cats and dogs outside. Doubting their word I stepped outside and darned if they weren’t right,--I stepped right in a poodle!”


•1935:  Allen “Duke” Bonner transfers to Baylor University.  He works as a reporter and feature writer for the Baylor Daily Lariat, the Baylor student newspaper.  He is also a member of the Nose Brotherhood, an organization of jokesters and pranksters. According to tradition, the organization was formed when friends teased Leonard Shoaf, saying they could form a club around his nose. The society venerates its history and traditions through the observance of several key festivals and holidays. The oldest, the Pink Tea, began in 1929. Held in the spring, the event affords members the opportunity to hear the "State of the Onion" address by the Lorde Mayor, celebrate the history of the society, and hear one or more addresses by guest speakers (usually Baylor faculty) and neophyte members.


•1936: Allen Bonner is named managing editor of the Baylor Daily Lariat.


•January 23, 1944: Allen Bonner, age 28, employed as the editor of the radio division of Associated Press, dies of pneumonia at Gotham Hospital in New York City.  He has lived in New York for three years and is single.  He was in the hospital for ten days prior to his death. His body is transported back to Monticello, Arkansas, and he is buried at Oakland Cemetery on January 28. 


•September 29, 1944: Lewie Manker Allen Jones dies at the age of 46.


•June 1, 1948: Ladell’s ex-husband, Boyd R. Bonner, dies in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 56.


•December 25, 1948: Ladell Allen Bonner consumes mercury cyanide in the master suite of the Allen house.  She is taken to the Mack Wilson Hospital, less than a block from her home, and is attended by Dr. Johnnie Price.


•January 2, 1949: Ladell Allen Bonner, age 54, dies.  On the Certificate of Death, Dr. Price lists the cause of death as suicide by mercury cyanide poisoning.  Her funeral is held on January 4 in the Allen House and interment follows at Oakland Cemetery.  Her mother, Caddye Allen, seals off the master suite, preserving it as a memorial to Ladell.  No one will enter the suite for 37 years.  Although the front-page announcement of Ladell’s death in the January 6, 1949, edition of the Advance Monticellian states that “she lived her entire life here [Monticello] where she was beloved by a wide circle of friends,” newspapers from 1916 indicate that she was living in Dumas, Arkansas, and the 1917 papers indicate she lived in Indiana.  The 1920 census reveals that she was living in Ft. Worth, Texas; the 1930 census shows that she was living in Memphis, Tennessee.  The newspaper announcement of her death makes no mention of the cause of death, much less suicide.  A brief eulogy on page 3 of the same newspaper describes her as follows: “Possessed of a charming personality and lovable disposition, she believed that to be loved was to love others.  She practiced her philosophy of life in her everyday living, never feeling that anything was too hard to do for a friend.”  The newspaper coverage of her death is probably reflective of the Allens’ social standing and of the journalistic courtesies of the time. The “Allen secret” of the time was that Ladell was an alcoholic, a condition that possibly contributed to her decision to commit suicide.


•July 13, 1954: Caddye Allen dies at the age of 83.  She is buried in Oakland Cemetery.  In the late 1940’s, she survived a broken hip and subsequent surgery, but when she re-breaks her hip in 1954, she is unable to recover.


•March 9, 1955: Lonnie Lee Allen Leidinger dies at the age of 63.  She is buried in Oakland Cemetery.


•1956-1986: the Allen House, divided into apartments, becomes rental property owned by Joe Lee and Caddye Allen’s grandson, Dr. Karl Leidinger, Jr, who lives and practices medicine in Republic, Missouri.  The property is managed by Mrs. Herschel Collins. Several tenants over the years claim to have paranormal experiences.


•1966: Carolyn Wilson’s novel The Scent of Lilacs, a romantic thriller set in a mansion modeled on the Allen House, is published.  Ms. Wilson and her husband lived in the Allen House in 1959.


•January 21, 1985: Karl Leidinger Jr., age 63, dies, and his widow sells the Allen House to Bill and Bobbie Painton. The master suite is entered for the first time since it was sealed off in 1949. The Paintons discover a bottle of cyanide on a closet shelf.


•1995: The house is purchased by Vince and Dorothy Simmons.


•2007: The house is purchased by Mark and Rebecca Spencer.


•October 2007: The house is featured on a three-minute segment of the KTHV evening news in Little Rock.


•October 2007: Over 600 people tour the house on Halloween.


•June 7, 2008: The first scientific paranormal investigation of the house was to be conducted, but just as the team of investigators finishes setting up their equipment and prepares to begin, a limb falls in the backyard and severs the power line to the house.  The investigation is re-scheduled for June 28.


•June 28, 2008: A complete paranormal investigation is conducted. In addition to the personal experiences of the team members, over 40 Electronic Voice Phenomena are recorded. The website BestandWorst.com ranks the Allen House the number one haunted house in America.


  1.      January 31, 2009: The team of paranormal investigators does a follow-up investigation.


  1.     August 22, 2009: Approximately 90 letters are discovered under the attic floor pertaining to Ladell’s 1948 love affair and revealing her motivation for deliberately consuming mercury cyanide on Christmas night 1948.


  1.       November 2011: The story of Ladell’s suicide and haunting of the Allen House is aired on the TV show “My Ghost Story” (Biography Channel).


  1.      January 2012: The book A HAUNTED LOVE STORY: THE GHOSTS OF THE ALLEN HOUSE by Mark Spencer is published by Llewellyn Worldwide.


  1.     November 2012: Based on A HAUNTED LOVE STORY, an episode of “A Haunting” (Discovery Networks) airs.


  1.        January 2013: The members of TAPPS of the TV show “Ghost Hunters” investigate the Allen House.


  1.      September 2013: Based on A HAUNTED LOVE STORY, an episode of “Paranormal Witness” (SyFy Channel) airs.


  1.        October 2013: The Allen House episode of “Ghost Hunters” is the premiere of the fall season.


  1.        April 16, 2014: The first baby to reside in the Allen House since 1923, Gatsby Fitzgerald Spencer is born.