Some of our readers may know the name of the Rev. Sam Allen, but if they know that name it is almost certain that all they know about Rev. Allen is that he was the man who invited J. Gresham Machen to come out to North Dakota to preach in the OPC church there in Leith. Some may even blame Rev. Allen for Machen’s death, since Machen seemingly contracted pneumonia while there in North Dakota and subsequently died on January 1, 1937. But the truth of the matter is that Machen had already been suffering from a deep chest cold earlier in December, well before he left on the train for the Dakotas.
Drawing from correspondence in the Allan A. MacRae Manuscript Collection at the PCA Historical Center, we came across this bit of Sam Allen’s biography, chronicled here for us by Dr. MacRae:
Dr. Allan MacRae, in a letter to his parents dated June 14, 1930, wrote:
This afternoon I went to the wedding of one of my students. He was a Senior, names Samuel Allen. He was in my special class in advanced Hebrew. He is a big Irish fellow, very strong and athletic, an a very sincere Christian. He is the first of our graduates to marry. The funny thing about it is that many of the fellows seemed to think of him as a confirmed bachelor. The last semester, many of the seniors became engaged, and several had been engaged for a number of years. This fellow did not seem to know a girl. When I spoke at the Tenth Presbyterian Church, one Wednesday evening during our examination period, I noticed him in the audience. Afterwards he spoke to a girl there, whom I had noticed in the audience the preceding week, when he was not there. He introduced me to her, but he did not leave with her. I mentioned it to him the next day at Seminary, and he remarked how fine it would be if he could take a fine Christian girl like that out to Montana with him. (He had arranged to take a church in eastern Montana.) Today, to the surprise of all his friends, he was married. She seems like a very lovely girl. After the ceremony, I asked him when he became engaged, and he said, “On Commencement evening!”
There was a large crowd present at the wedding, which took place in the Tenth Church. Mr. Barnhouse conducted the ceremony, and he put a fine note of Christian relationship into it. I have never seen a wedding ceremony so definitely linked up to one’s relation to Christ. I am sure it was an inspiration to all present.
Pictured at right, a photograph of Rev. Allen taken perhaps near the end of his life, circa 1950.
Words to Live By: