In August 1912 in the Wythe County Circuit Court, Friel Allen, son of Jasper “Jack” Allen and nephew of Floyd Allen, was convicted of second degree murder in the death of William McDonald Foster, Carroll County Commonwealth’s Attorney. Allen was sentenced to 18 years in the Virginia Penitentiary and admitted to the penitentiary on 18 September 1912. By all accounts Allen was a model prisoner. An anonymous fellow prisoner, writing in the 27 April 1922 issue of the inmate-run penitentiary newspaper, The Beacon, shared his observations of Friel Allen:
“I had noticed a well-dressed young man passing through the yard of the prison, and on asking who he was I got this reply: ‘that is the Superintendent’s Chauffeur, Friel Allen.’ I immediately remarked that he was only a boy, that if he had been here ten years and looked that now, he must have been only a kid when he was sent here. I ventured up for a talk with him, expecting a sad answer, but not so, he sprang a friendly joke on me right away and began to kid me, showing his youth and good spirits. Our association from then on became more intimate, especially evenings. I well remember a five round bout with him. He showed the utmost fair play all the way through, and I remember the writer who once said; ‘To judge a person’s character and finer self, just watch him at play.’ Needless to say he got the decision of the boxing bout. I have found him a staunch companion and man both in play and on duty. I thought him such a fine fellow that I immediately began to bum him for cigarettes until I got too strong for him along that line, and he broke me by giving me one that behaved like an automobile tire when it blows out. I in turn would play little tricks on him evenings, and he has never shown anything but the boyish, good-natured disposition and forgiving spirit which he has developed under the most adverse circumstances. He has proven himself trustworthy, as well as efficient, to the officials and his fellow prisoners, and is equally admired by them all.”
Governor E. Lee Trinkle agreed and granted Allen a conditional pardon on 6 October 1922. “[H]e has made a model prisoner,” Trinkle wrote in announcing the pardon. Allen “has been for sometime a trusty and has impressed all who have come in contact with him” and “he is a reformed young man, capable and will in the future lead a law abiding life.”
Tomorrow: Sidna Edwards, No. 10995
-Roger Christman, Senior State Records Archivist
*Update – 21 March 2012*
The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce a new blog, Fit to Print: Dispatches from the Virginia Newspaper Project @ The Library of Virginia. The first post, 100 Years Ago – Law and Disorder, is about the Allen’s and the Carroll County Courthouse shooting.