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Family Bios



     On September 4, 1914, W. Roby Allen, his wife, Bessie Blaker Allen and their six daughters, with Mr. & Mrs. James M. Blaker, parents of Mrs. Allen, and her sister, Sallie May Blaker, stepped off the Rock Island train which had brought them to Faribault, MN from Kosclusko, Mississippi. Mrs. Allen had accepted a position on the teaching staff at the Minnesota School for the Deaf, where her sister had been employed since 1907. The family went directly to the Brunswick Hotel to remain until living arrangements could be made. Late that afternoon they moved into a house which they had rented at 428 North East Second Street. Before nightfall, bedding had been bought and the family was settled in their new home. That evening, they were welcomed by their Second Street neighbors, the Stehlys, Erblangs, O'Briens, O' Connells and Klopstegs, who brought a picnic supper for the newly arrived family. 
     James M. Blaker was born in Allegheny, Virginia on January 15, 1848 and died in Faribault on December 20, 1915. His wife, Emma Charping Blaker, was born in Kosclusko, Mississippi on January 9, 1854. They were the parents of Bessie Blaker Allen, born February 7, 1879; Sallie May Blaker, born May 20, 1889; and Thaadeus Blaker, born April 9, 1892. Mrs. Blaker was killed by a troop train at the Eighth Street crossing of the Rock Island Railroad on Sunday, September 30, 1917 as she was returning home from attending church services in town. 
     Green Allen, born in Georgia in 1797 and his wife, Susan Roby Allen, born in 1813 and ten children, migrated from Georgia by covered wagon to Leake County, Mississippi between 1844-1846. There, five more children were born one of whom was Miles Turner Allen, born November 22, 1848, died September 27, 1924. He was the father of W. Roby Allen. Miles Turner Allen was married on April 28, 1869 to Sarah Adeline Presley, born December 8, 1849 in Chester County, South Carolina. W. Roby Allen was born in Thomastown, Mississippi on 
May 23, 1873. 
     W. Roby Allen and Bessie Blaker were married in Koscluko, Mississippi on June 10, 1901. They moved to Crowley, Louisiana where Mr. Allen owned and operated a rice plantation. Their first child was born there before they returned to Kosclusko. Mrs. Allen taught at the Minnesota School for the Deaf until the end of the school year in 1923. That fall, she and her husband founded The W. Roby Allen School in their family home at 525 North East Fifth Street. Although Mrs. Allen's parents had been deafened in early childhood and educated in the manual method of communication, she believed firmly in the oral method, directed towards the early education of young deaf children, enabling them to take their places in the mainstream of our society. She emphasized the importance of speech and lip-reading in a normal home environment and provided this in her own home with her own children. Both Mr. and Mrs. Allen continued their association with the school until their deaths. Mrs. Allen died on December 11, 1931 and Mr. Allen on January 19, 1948. Their surviving daughters were: Imogene Presley, Faye Charping, Alleen Dale, Margaret Mahannah, (Mrs. F. Earl Swoyer) Dena Barbara, Winifred Roby, (Mrs. Leonard W. Swanson). The education of young deaf children, using the oral method in a home environment has been carried on by her daughters, Faye and Dena. 
     Imogene Allen died on July 9, 1964. Margaret Allen Swoyer and F. Earl Swoyer are the parents of Allen Leighton Swoyer, born in Faribault and delivered by Dr. C. M. Robilliard on June 19, 1935, and Sallie Swoyer Williams, born December 13, 1946 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Winifred Allen Swanson and Leonard W. Swanson are the parents of Marilyn Sue Swanson born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 27, 1945. 
     All six of the Allen girls have carried on the philosophy and teaching methods of their mother in various schools in this country. Faribault is still home to each of them and frequent visits keep them close to the community. All six girls attended the Faribault High School and five of them were graduated from Carleton College. Margart Allen Swoyer attended Stout College in Menomonee, Wisconsin. 

contributed by Shelby Price 
From an article in the book, "Rice County Families" published in 1981.

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