Clitherall Minnesota

Claude Allen         Claude on horse

Claude Henry Allen

Born April 4, 1899 in Mound City, SD
Died November 25, 1974 in Minneapolis, MN

Claude was the third of seven children born to Harry Jay Allen and Hattie Mae Hankins. He grew up in Mound City, SD, attending rural schools there. His father was deputy sheriff and town marshall and also drove the mail, bought and sold cream, and clerked at a store. At an early age Claude was strongly influenced by watching a court trial, and resolved  to become a lawyer. When only sixteen he moved to Alden, MN where he worked in a bank. After a couple of years in Alden he moved to St. Paul where he found a job in the probate court. While working there he attended the St. Paul College of Law at night, graduating in 1924. He also took high school and college courses finishing all of this academic work in four years.

In November 1922, he married Anna Jensen whom he had met while working in the bank in Alden, MN. Anna held a secretarial job after their marriage which also helped support them. The couple had two children, John born in 1925, and Doris born in 1929. In 1925 he was appointed assistant county attorney of Ramsey County. During that period the great clean up of the criminal element in St. Paul was underway, and Claude tried many criminal cases. One of the convicted defendants threatened to kill    Claude when released from prison, and the police insisted that he have a gun. The threat came to naught and the gun was never used.

Claude remembered starting up his law practice in 1931, in the depths of  the Great Depression. His office was on the 14th floor of the First    National Bank of St. Paul. Since he had such a small income the bank    allowed him to use the space, rent free, until such time as his income    increased. He shared the office with F. Manley Brist, a law school classmate. He mainly did corporation and probate law.

Claude shared his father's (Harry Jay's) love for the out of doors.  He loved to hunt and fish.  The family spent summers at various lakes.  In about 1940 they purchased a cabin in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota.  The cabin was on West Bearskin Lake, located 30 miles up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais.  They spent a lot of time there.  They had an aluminum canoe and a one horse outboard motor.  Claude and Ann traveled in, and fished from, this canoe many times - often portaging the canoe to other lakes.   Claude also hunted ducks and pheasants with three other men.  They had a hunting camp in Swift County, north and west of Appleton, MN.  Ann became a great wild game cook.  Many were the duck dinners which she served to friends and family. 

Claude served in the Minnesota legislature for 28 years - 20 years in the House of Representatives and 8 years as Senator.  During most of his years in the House of Representatives he was chairman of the powerful appropriations committee.  All spending bills had to pass his scrutiny.  Because of his cautious approach to spending he was labeled "The Watchdog of the Treasury."  He had three coronary heart attacks by age 60 from which he recovered well.   Death came at age 75 from kidney cancer.

Claude was an elder in the House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul

by John H. Allen



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