A Promise Kept: The Life and Ministry of REV. Sam Allen


Sam Allen was a well-known south Philadelphia athlete when America went to war. He went into the Marines in 1918. After basic training he went to France where he got sick with the flu. He did not tell anyone how sick he felt. He marched into battle with a very high fever; he couldn't see well because of the fever. He tripped and fell facedown into the muddy battlefield. Just before he passed out he made a promise to GOD, "GOD! If you help me get well and I get back home I will become a minister of your word." Sam...
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A Promise Kept: The Life and Ministry of Rev. Sam Allen

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Sam Allen was a well-known south Philadelphia athlete when America went to war. He went into the Marines in 1918. After basic training he went to France where he got sick with the flu. He did not tell anyone how sick he felt. He marched into battle with a very high fever; he couldn't see well because of the fever. He tripped and fell facedown into the muddy battlefield. Just before he passed out he made a promise to GOD, "GOD! If you help me get well and I get back home I will become a minister of your word." Sam kept his promise. After getting home to Philadelphia, it took him 10 years of long work and study before he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781477220092
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 6/21/2012
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Read an Excerpt

A Promise Kept

The Life and Ministry of Rev. Sam Allen
By Becky Allen Martin


Copyright © 2012 Becky Allen Martin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4772-2009-2

Chapter One

The Beginning

It was windy on March 23, 1899, as the Allen family awaited the arrival of the new baby. They were happy when a baby boy was born. The baby was named Samuel James, but he would be called Sam.

This family began in Ireland where George Allen and Margaret (Maggie) Leslie were born. George Allen was born, January 1859. The only clue to where is a 'ditty' "Oh, I come from Donegal, where we ate potatoes skins and all." Maggie, Margaret Leslie, was born in May, 1862 in Ireland. They each immigrated to America alone: Maggie arriving in 1879 when she was only seventeen years old. She worked as a housekeeper in a hotel. George came over in 1881 when he was twenty-two and was a common working man.

Both of them arrived in New York City where they became American citizens. They were proud to be in a land free of the horror of poverty and the hunger of famine. Ireland was just coming out of the potato famine, so it was good to be in a land where even the poor had enough food to eat.

They left behind families which had saved for years to get just one family member to America, where they would have a chance to live and be free. The Irish people were suffering not only from the famine, but also from severe mistreatment by the British. The English aristocracy hated the Irish people. They demanded that what they did grow was for export only. They had to hide some of the little they had to make it last. It was from this horror of hunger and poverty that George Allen and Maggie Leslie came to America.

They both settled in New York City among other immigrants, and became part of the working poor there. The Irish immigrants settled in one area of the city. George Allen came over two years after Maggie Leslie and moved into the same neighborhood. It was here that George and Maggie met and soon married in 1883. They moved to New Jersey soon after they married. It was here that their first son, Charles, was born in December of 1884.

George moved his young family to the Irish neighborhood of South Philadelphia, to get a better job in the factories there. Here they made many life-long friends in the close knit community; two of the closest were sisters, Becky and Lizzie. In the next six years three baby girls were born into the family. Annie was born in May 1887, Jennie was born in September 1889, and the youngest girl Margaret (Maggie) was born in March 1893. Here in this rough neighborhood they were living the life their families sent them to America for; not to get rich, but for decent jobs with decent wage.

During the next year one of Maggie's young cousins came to America with his father who died on his job. He would live with Maggie and George for the next seven years. He worked part time and went to school. He was like a brother to Charles.

It was into this family of mostly girls, when the youngest girl Maggie had just turned six, that life was about to change. Maggie, who would be thirty seven in May, presented the family on a windy day in March with a second boy. They named him Samuel James; he would be called Sam. Sam was born at home with the help of two sisters, Becky and Lizzie, who were two of their best friend in Philadelphia. The older children already loved them; they called them Aunt Becky and Aunt Lizzie.

Maggie's cousin found a full time job. He moved out of the Allen home, but stayed in touch with Charles; they had jobs at the same place.

When Sam was just two years old, Maggie had another baby boy. He was named George Lincoln. When George was born, Maggie had serious problems. It was at this time that two- year- old Sam lost the attention of his mother. Even with the care of Becky and Lizzie she remained sick for a long time.. She was advised not to have any more children. It was just over two years after George Lincoln's birthday that John Alexander was born. Maggie again had complications. Even with the best nursing care from Becky and Lizzie she was too weak to recover. She lingered for a short time, but died early in 1904.

Maggie's death left George with a broken heart. His wife of twenty years and the m other of his seven children, ranging from nineteen down to a baby just over two months, was gone. George now faced some big problems. One urgent problem was to find a wet nurse for his baby John. But the tight-knit community being as it was, on the next block a friend was weaning her son Bobby. She was able to take John home to feed and care for him.

Even as the plan for baby John was taking place the two oldest were making their plans for the future to be approved by their dad. Charles, who was of legal age, had been engaged for a year. With George's blessing he got married. Annie was already sixteen and working in a clothing factory as a weaver. She was in love with an older man. They both worked and could build a good life together. George gladly signed for them to marry, with his blessing. His family of seven children at home was down to four.

The big problem now was someone to comfort Jennie and Maggie; someone who could help them adjust to life without their mother and older sister Annie. Jennie was less than three years younger than Annie, and had grown up fast since her mom got sick. She did what she could to help, but like Maggie, she leaned on Annie while their mother was sick. Of all the close friends in their neighborhood no one could comfort ten-year-old Maggie. None of her friends had lost a parent.

Maggie's mother had been sick for most of three years and her big sister Annie had mothered her more than Becky and Lizzie, but Annie was too busy with her little brothers and her sick mother to give Maggie the attention she needed.

After talking it over with her husband and her dad, Annie and her husband made the big decision, they invited both girls to stay with them. They could work out their grief together. They knew their father was grieving too much to help them, and couldn't understand or answer the many questions of a ten-year-old - starting with the word "Why?" Annie and Jennie did the best they could, calling Aunt Becky and Aunt Lizzie for help with Maggie.

While the girls were beginning to work out their grief together, two little boys, too young to understand all that was happening, missed their mom and stayed close to Aunt Becky for the security and love they needed so much. Becky and Lizzie took over the care of the house and boys during working hours. After work and supper until bedtime, George had time to spend with the boys. When George's emotions had calmed, he knew he needed full-time help with the boys and house. He asked Becky to stay in the house and be his housekeeper.

About the time that Becky became George's housekeeper, Lizzie took a job as housekeeper and assistant to a financial adviser. She passed on whatever she learned to Becky and George. This knowledge didn't make them wealthy, but it helped them live better on what they had.

Sam and his brother George already loved Aunt Becky like a mom but still called her Aunt Becky, as they always had. The boys were very different and Becky had quite a job keeping the peace, even with such young boys. She soon loved Sam and George as her own little boys.

Becky stayed on as housekeeper for about a year. Both George and Becky mourned Maggie, but in different ways. After all the time together in the house as friends, George and Becky knew they had more than just friendship. A deep love had developed between them. George Allen and Rebecca Fullerton were married on February 28, 1905.

Although Jennie and Maggie stayed with their sister Annie much of the time, they were still very much family. Though Annie and her husband lived in South Philadelphia not too far from the family home, the family was forever changed in Sam's early years. He would grow up the oldest of three boys and the baby John wasn't there until he was weaned. John spent part of the time with both of his families until the summer before he started school. Sam knew that Annie, Jennie, and Maggie were his sisters and in time he understood why they weren't living in the same house but when he was young he often asked about it.

Since Annie and Jennie were less than three years apart in age, they could understand each other. Their hardest job, though, was to comfort Maggie while they were still hurting inside themselves. And so, relationships outside the home came more intimate. Jennie got married just after her seventeenth birthday, the year Sam started the second grade.

After Jennie married, Maggie would continue to live with Annie, while having a good relationship with her dad. When not in school she helped with Annie's little girl. But she also married young, meeting the love of her life when she was sixteen. She was married one year later with the family around her.

It was about the same time that John was starting school that George decided that John should have the same address as Sam and young George. He was part of the family and would be going to the same school. Some people were surprised when Sam told everybody at school that John was his little brother. Only those in their close-knit neighborhood knew much of the Allen family's sad background.

The family had been going to the Presbyterian Church, but George had stopped going to church regularly after Maggie died. He told Becky to take the boys to church with her. Sam and his brother George spent their childhood in a small Anglican Church where Aunt Becky was a member. Sam was an altar boy for a year while in grade school.

Aunt Becky was loved by the whole family, but Sam and George Lincoln were 'her boys.' While the rest of the family was in and out, she would raise her boys and when John moved home she opened her heart to him and he became her third boy. All of the family called their stepmother "Aunt Becky," but Sam, George, and John loved her like a mother.

When John joined the family at home, it was like he had two homes. He had been told to call Bobby's mother Aunt Jane, and he knew his last name was Allen. This made it easier to think of Aunt Becky and Aunt Jane as two women who loved him like a mother.

The boys and their friends knew they could talk to Aunt Becky about almost anything and get what they needed to know. John lived about three years with the family who took care of him as a baby, but he became part of the family before he was six years old. He spent less time with Bobby, and he spent more time at home. He needed to know his Dad. Becky kept the house and family running smoothly while George worked in the factory to support all his family.

Every summer George liked to take the boy's shopping for their winter coats. Sam didn't like to go shopping with him because he took all day; his Dad liked to bargain for a lower price. When Sam was seven years old, he ran away and hid when George wanted to take him shopping; figuring that since it was summer he didn't need a coat. Not wanting to go home and be punished that evening, he decided to wait until morning. He made friends with a young black boy and they spent the night sleeping in a rag cart.

He didn't know the police were looking for him. When he walked in the door he got a tongue-lashing and other more drastic punishment. He never said or did anything again when his dad took him shopping.

Sam was a good student when he was in grade school. Though he liked school, he loved baseball, basketball, and football. He often got in trouble because his mind was on sports, not on his studies. Finally, one day this tendency got him into serious trouble.

He was in the sixth grade and was playing football on the way to school. The game was an ongoing game and whoever had the ball when they got to school won the game. Sam and his friends were almost there, when Sam slipped and fell in a pile of horse manure. He went home to change his clothes and he was late getting to school. When asked "Why are you late for school?" Sam answered, "I fell in some horse shit and had to go home and change."

The teacher and principle were more upset about what he said than his being late. His teacher knew he was an altar boy and said, "Sam Allen, you should know better than talk dirty like that."

They sent a note home to his father about him talking dirty. Sam saw nothing wrong with saying 'shit,' because that was what everyone he knew said. Sam was too proud to give that note to his dad when he felt he did nothing wrong. Sam, although he was not out of the sixth grade, quit school.

Every day he left the house like he was going to school, but he looked for part-time work. When he couldn't find a job, he played ball. Sam was almost grown in size and strength even at age twelve, so he could usually find work on the docks. Nobody would report an under-aged boy who was willing to work for less than full pay.

Sam and his brother George were never competitive in any way, because they were so different in their characters. George was not as outgoing as Sam. He was interested in printing and how books and magazines were put together. After high school, he left home and went to work for Curtis Publishing Company. He was still working there in 1946.

Sam loved sports, but he also liked adventure. On hot summer days he and some of his adventurous friends had a fun, but dangerous, way of keeping cool. Sam lived in the roughest neighborhood in Philadelphia, the factory district of South Philly. A large, hard-working Irish neighborhood ran along the south side of the Schuykill River. Sam lived at 1345 South 33rd Street near one of the bridges over the river. The bridge was fairly high but Sam and his rough friends would dive off the side and swim to the bank. They also raced each other across the river and back. They always wanted to be the fastest swimmer, and the best at everything. Many of these boys also played ball with Sam.

When Sam was fourteen he became a working man. According to the law a young man could go to work in a factory at fourteen. With his father's okay he went to work at one of the factories in his South Philly neighborhood. Most of the factories had a ball team, which made working much nicer for the teenagers and other young men who worked there and liked sports. Most of the factories only had baseball but one had baseball, basketball, and football. To work there would be like getting paid to do what he loved. Sam wanted to play for the factory that had year round ball, but they weren't hiring at the time.

He started work shortly after his fourteenth birthday and started baseball practice that same day. When the factory with all three sports saw how well Sam, still a young boy, could play baseball, they asked him if he could play basketball and football. He said with confidence that he could, and Sam was hired away from where he was working. They were not sorry. He worked and played some kind of ball year round for that factory.

During the next five years he became an athlete who was known citywide. He even had his name and picture on the sports page of Philadelphia papers. Sam worked there until after America went to war in the spring of 1917. Sam worked for a year after the United States entered the war, until his nineteenth birthday. He had enjoyed being a sports superstar, but he felt it was his duty to serve his country.

The War Years

The war in Europe had started in 1914. The Germans had army troops from the North Sea to the Swiss border. The English and French with a few small countries were fighting what seemed to be a losing battle, but America stayed out of it saying it was not their war. When the German navy started sinking supply ships, nothing in the Atlantic was safe and they sank ocean liners. When the Lusitania, a European liner was sunk, many Americans coming home from the war area were killed. It was then that America finally realized that this was their war, too. America declared war on Germany, April 6, 1917. This was shortly after Sam's eighteenth birthday. Sam's mind was divided all that year. He liked the attention he was getting as a sports superstar, but knew that his country needed all the young men who would answer the call. After much soul-searching, Sam made his decision. He talked to his dad, "Dad, I want to fight for my country. I should have done it last year."

His father was proud of him. He hated to see him go to what could be his death, but he understood and gave Sam his blessing saying, "Go, and may God keep you safe."

Sam joined the Marine Corps shortly before his nineteenth birthday in March 1918. He picked the Marines because he knew it was the toughest branch of the armed forces. He went to Parris Island on April 13th where he enlisted and had his basic training. Having been a team player most of his life, Sam liked the military. Always wanting to do his best in everything he did, Sam soon became a marksman with his rifle. He was awarded a certificate of marksmanship on June 21st. They assigned him to the Third Battalion, Fifth Regiment. This regiment had already developed into a top unit and was well known for its skill and bravery.


Excerpted from A Promise Kept by Becky Allen Martin Copyright © 2012 by Becky Allen Martin. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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