Ethan Allen
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Ethan Allen (1738 - 1789)

Colonel Ethan Allen
Born in Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut Colonymap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 23 Jun 1762 in Washington, Litchfield, Connecticut Colonymap
Husband of — married 9 Feb 1784 in Westminster, Windham, Vermont, United Statesmap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 51 in Burlington, Chittenden, Vermont, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 29 Nov 2008
This page has been accessed 79,199 times.
Ethan Allen is a part of Vermont history.
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Notables Project
Ethan Allen is Notable.
1776 Project
Colonel Ethan Allen served with Vermont Republic during the American Revolution.
Daughters of the American Revolution
Ethan Allen is a DAR Patriot Ancestor, A001535.

Ethan Allen (1738-1789) was "a farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, and American Revolutionary War patriot, hero, and politician."[1] He is best known for his bold capture of Fort Ticonderoga and his efforts towards Vermont statehood.[1]

Ethan was born in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the Northwest corner of the state, which was still a frontier at the time. He was born on January 21, 1738 (modern Gregorian calendar) though the date is officially recorded as January 10, 1737 using the old Julian system. The family moved to nearby Cornwall. Ethan, showing an early interest in learning, was sent to be instructed by a nearby minister, in preparation for attending Yale College. Unfortunately the death of his father in 1755 forced Allen's return home to help care for the family.[1]

Ethan began his military career in 1757 by joining the Litchfield County militia as a private. He served in the colonial military during the French and Indian War.[1]

Ethan became part-owner of an iron works near Salisbury, Connecticut, and married his first wife, Mary Brownson, in 1762.[citation needed]

During the years leading up to the formation of the "Green Mountain Boys," Ethan settled in Sheffield, Massachusetts and he became interested in the land belonging to the New Hampshire Grants.[1]

The Green Mountain Boys

What do you suppose happens when two people claim the same land? Future Vermonters found out the hard way. In the middle 1700s Benning Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire, who needed to accommodate a growing population, granted lands west of the Connecticut River to citizens of New Hampshire. These were called the New Hampshire Grants. [2] The colony of New York believed that it owned this same land west of the Connecticut River, and King George III declared it so. The Lieutenant Governor of New York, Cadwallader Colden, also sold land to settlers. These people were called Yorkers.[3]

As Yorkers began to encroach on land already occupied by The New Hampshire Grants, Ethan Allen, his brother Ira Allen, and cousins Seth Warner and Remember Baker formed a militia for the resistance of New York’s authority over their land. It certainly was not fair that they should have to pay for their land a second time. The Green Mountain Boys, as they were called, used intimidation and vigilante tactics to drive out the Yorkers.[4]

During the Revolution the Green Mountain Boys became a legitimate part of the continental army and were instrumental in the first expeditions of the war to Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point.

Capture of Fort Ticonderoga

Early in the fight against the British, Connecticut formed a plan to take Fort Ticonderoga and its cannon as a strategic point of defense against British invasion through the waters of Lake Champlain. The men from Connecticut headed to Bennington to secure the cooperation and help of Ethan Allen. In Bennington it was found that Ethan Allen was already planning an expedition with the same end. Ethan Allen was chosen leader, with Colonel James Easton second and Seth Warner as third in command. In a short time the Green Mountain Boys and others were ready. At Castleton, the group broke up to accomplish different tasks. Captain Samuel Herrick and about thirty men went south to Skenesborough (Whitehall) at the head of Lake Champlain to seize the boats and supplies owned by Major Philip Skene. Captain Drylas went to Panton to likewise seize boats. The main body of men were to proceed to Shoreham, opposite Fort Ticonderoga. Great minds think alike and the Massachusetts Safety Committee had also formed a plan to take Ticonderoga and sent Colonel Benedict Arnold to lead an expedition. They joined forces. The hoped-for boats had not appeared and only a small company had crossed the lake as the day began on May 10, 1775. Arnold, fearing that the force would be spotted, attacked the fort immediately with about eighty men. The element of surprise was so great that Allen had little trouble capturing and asking for the surrender of the fort. The military spoils acquired were one hundred twenty pieces of iron cannon, fifty swivels, ten tons of musket balls, three cart-loads of flints, thirty carriages, shells, and other stores.[5]

On the 12th of May Crown Point, another strategic fortress, was taken without bloodshed by a force led by Seth Warner. A warship, a corvette stationed on the lake, was swiftly captured, securing Lake Champlain for the revolutionary forces. [5]

Capture of Ethan Allen

Unfortunately, Ethan's next bold move, a "surprise" attack on Montreal, did not fare so well. His group and that of Major John Brown were to attack Montreal from two sides. Allen showed up, Brown did not. A spy was captured and escaped to inform General Guy Carleton of the presence of Allen and his small band, who were routed by Carleton's troops. Allen was captured 25 Sept. 1775 by Peter Warren (Brant) Johnson.[6] He spent the next three years a prisoner of war and was released 6 May 1778 in a prisoner exchange.[1]


In 1777 Vermont had claimed its independence and in September 1778 Ethan presented Vermont's claim for statehood to the Congress in Philadelphia. Since New York was still claiming the area, Vermont was not accepted.[1]

Worried about Vermont's independence, Allen and others subsequently negotiated with the British to become once again a British Province. [1]

His wife Mary died in Feb 1783; a year later he married Fanny and moved to Burlington, Vermont. [citation needed]

Besides his service in the army and his political maneuvering, Allen used his pen, frequently authoring pamphlets. He wrote two major works, one "Reason, the Only Oracle of Man: Or a Compenduous System of Natural Religion"[7] was "a typical Allen polemic, but its target was religious, not political. Specifically targeted against Christianity, it was an unbridled attack against the Bible, established churches, and the powers of the priesthood." It was also a total failure.[1]

Another literary work was A narrative of Col. Ethan Allen's captivity: from the time of his being taken by the British, near Montreal, on the 25th day of September, in the year 1775, to the time of his exchange, on the 6th day of May, 1778.[8] First published in 1779, this was a best-seller.[1]

Ethan Allen's Basic Data

Ethan Allen, son of Joseph Allen and Mary (Baker) Allen, was born 10 January 1737/8, in Litchfield, Connecticut.[9] That is 21 January 1738 in the Gregorian Calendar.

He married first on 23 June 1762, in Washington, Litchfield, Connecticut, Mary Brownson.[9][10] She was born 1732,[11] (daughter of Cornelius Bronson and Abigail Jackson)[11] died Feb 1783.[12]

Ethan married second on 9 February 1784, in Westminister, Vermont, Frances "Fanny" Montresor Brush Buchanan, born 4 April 1770, New York, New York,[11] and died 1834.

Ethan died 12 Feb 1789, Burlington, Vermont, and was buried at Greenmount Cemetery, in Burlington, Vermont.[13]

Children by Mary Brownson:

Children by Frances Montresor:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Wikipedia biography: Ethan Allen
  2. “The New Hampshire Grants” Vermont History Explorer. Vermont Historical Society
  3. “The New York Patents” Vermont History Explorer. Vermont Historical Society.
  4. Procknow, Gene. “Seth Warner or Ethan Allen: Who Led the Green Mountain Boys?” ‘’Journal of the American Revolution.’’
  5. 5.0 5.1 Henry Walter De Puy, Ethan Allen and the Green-Mountain Heroes of '76 (Boston, MA: Dayton & Wentworth, 1853) pp. 204-210.
  6. THE BUTLER PAPERS: DOCUMENTS AND PAPERS RELATING TO COLONEL JOHN BUTLER AND HIS CORPS OF RANGERS 1711-1977, Compiled and Edited by Lieutenant Colonel William A Smy, OMM, CD, UE Victoria, British Columbia, 1994, . Pg 132-133, Quotes Quebec Gazette, 19 Oct 1775. "we cannot but recommend the behaviour of Mr Johnson and Mr Butler of the Indian Department, who, with about six or seven volunteers and one savage, were the first up with Allen's party, who being about fifteen in number threw down their arms and surrendered, when Mr Allen immediately delivered his sword to Mr Johnson."
  7. Ethan Allen, Reason, the Only Oracle of Man: Or, A Compenduous System of Natural Religion (Boston, MA: JP Mendum, 1854).
  8. Ethan Allen, A narrative of Col. Ethan Allen's captivity: from the time of his being taken by the British, near Montreal, on the 25th day of September, in the year 1775, to the time of his exchange, on the 6th day of May, 1778 (Thomas & Thomas, 1779, reprinted by Charter and Hale, 1807).
  9. 9.0 9.1 White, Lorraine Cook, ed, The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Vol. 1-55. (Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002). Litchfield pp. 3, 52
  10. Bailey, Frederic W. Early Connecticut Marriages as Found on Ancient Church Records Prior to 1800, Book 1 (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1997) p. 97. At
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 Allen, Orrin Peer, b. 1833. The Allen Memorial: Descendants of Samuel Allen of Windsor, Conn., 1640-1907. [Salem, Mass.: Higginson Book Co., 1907. children pp 49, 50. Hathitrust online copy accessed 8Feb 2021.
  12. "Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), 004542937 > image 2253 of 3896; State Capitol Building, Montpelier.
  13. Death and Burial Source, "Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014), Ethan Allen, 12 Feb 1789, Death; State Capitol Building, Montpelier; FHL microfilm 27,459.

See also:

  • Goodrich, John E., Compiler, Editor; A Member of the Vermont Historical Society. The State of Vermont, Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783. Published by Authority of the Legislature.
  • A List of the Field Officers, Captains and Part of the Lieutenants of the RegimentPublisher: Vermont Historical Society, Rutland, Vermont: The Tuttle Company, 1904, 814: "A List of the Field Officers, Captains and part of the Lieutenants of the Regiment of Green Mountain Boys, consisting of seven companies. July 4, 1775, Colonel Allen's royal list of loyal Officers: Ethan Allen, Field Officer.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Genealogical Research Databases, database online, ( : accessed July 26, 2016), "Record of Ethan Allen", Ancestor # A001535.
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed 27 June 2023), memorial page for Ethan Allen (10 Jan 1738–12 Feb 1789), Find A Grave: Memorial #19, citing Greenmount Cemetery, Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont, USA; Maintained by Find a Grave, gravestone picture
  • Douglas L. Wilson, Rodney O. Davis, eds., Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews and Statements about Abraham Lincoln, (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1998) p. 174. (An anecdote Lincoln told, quoting Ethan Allen.)

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Ethan by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Ethan:

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Comments: 19

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Hello Profile Managers!

We are featuring this profile in the Connection Finder this week. Between now and Wednesday is a good time to take a look at the sources and biography to see if there are updates and improvements that need made, especially those that will bring it up to WikiTree Style Guide standards. We know it's short notice, so don't fret too much. Just do what you can.



posted by Abby (Brown) Glann
There is also a French and Indian War Sticker. did not want to clog the profile up with the sticker. If wanted it can be found on page.
I was wondering about the "Colonel Ethan Allen" heading on his profile. Is it our practice on these military profiles, to use the rank that was attained in just the Continental Army? Ethan Allen reached the rank of Major General in the Vermont Militia, so that is why I am asking this question. Thanks, Scott
posted by Scott Lee
I don't see anything in his biography about him receiving that rank. If you have some information, it should probably be added. Many profiles have no military ranking on them. Rank should probably be the highest rank they achieved but it should also be documented in the profile. Hopefully sources can be included.
HI Linda! Ethan Allen; Wikipedia Bio Sketch Window on top right of page. Not sourced, but on Wikipedia. Should I dig further after my chili dog? Scott
posted by Scott Lee
Profiles can always use more info added. 1st footnote reference is for the Wikipedia page
I came across this letter while working on 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry veteran Sherman B. Northway. It was in the profile of his son, Roger Elmer Northway. It contains some great family lore. Do you think the claimed connection to Ethan Allen is valid? Or is it posssibly a more distant relation?

Letter to son Ralph Elmer Northway

Dear son:
About a week ago the picture sent and was glad very much pleased to receive them, you son looks fine in his uniform as the young man told his father (a G.A.R. veteran) it is in the blood Dad, perhaps it is inherited, certainly my father had 8 uncles in Washingtons army and I had 3 great grandfathers, Fuller, Drake & Miller. Miller was colenal of a Connecticut regiment, his wife was a sister to Ethan Allen. Drake was a nephew of Admiral Sir Francis Drake of the English navy, he was a captain in the Continental Army. Fuller was a surgeon. I forgot to mention that Col. Millers mother was a relative of Roger Sherman, an aunt I believe. So he comes honestly by his fighting blood, what a pity that bright American boys must be sacrificed to pay for a man mans whims. My health has been excellent this winter, the best it has been in 10 years; I have worked in storms to get fuel every day and have not had even a cold. We had 2 1/2 months of the coldest weather I have seen in 45 years. Well we have survived and I am thankful. Well Elmer I look much as I did when I last saw you, hardly any grey hairs, yet am neither bald nor stooped, can do as much work as most men of 55. Occasionally I have an attack of catarrh of the stomach, when I do I eat limburger cheese and it disappears. Hoping that I have not wearied you with my letter,
Your father S.B. Northway
posted by Cathryn (Hallett) Hondros
edited by Cathryn (Hallett) Hondros
I added this item in the See Also section. Please move as needed. * about his statue in the U.S. Capitol
posted by Kitty (Cooper) Smith
DB errors 213 & 313: Parents' marked "confirmed with DNA" without required DNA testing and matching documentation. Reverted to "confident."

See Help:Confirmed_with_DNA if you need further explanation.

posted by John Kingman
Just curious as to how these parents are marked as confirmed by DNA. "When you select "Confirmed with DNA" you must include a source citation in the text section of the child's profile explaining the confirmation method. Suggested citation formats are included on the DNA Confirmation page. If there isn't a proper source citation the "Confirmed with DNA" relationship status should be changed, by you or someone else."

Rejected matches › Nehemiah Allen Jr. (1669-1738)