Samuel Allis, 1805-1883 [RG2628.AM]


RG2628.AM:  Samuel Allis, 1805-1883

Papers:  1834-1876, n.d.
Bellevue, Sarpy County, Neb. and Iowa:  Missionary
Size:  1.25 cu.ft.; 2 boxes


Samuel Allis was born in Conway, Franklin County, Mass., on Sept. 28, 1805. In 1828 he went to Ithaca, New York, where he found employment "with a Mr. Kirkum." While in Ithaca, he united with the Presbyterian Church and in 1834 went west as an assistant to Rev. Dunbar under the patronage of the American Board of Foreign Missions. In the spring of 1834 he arrived in Bellevue, which was the agency for the Omaha, Otoe, and Pawnee Indian Tribes. Emeline Palmer came west in 1836 on a wagon train headed by Dr. Marcus Whitman, who was on his way to establish a mission at Walla Walla, Washington. Emeline and Samuel were married at Liberty Landing near Kansas City, Missouri, by a Reverend Spalding who was also traveling with Dr. Whitman.

Samuel Allis served as missionary to the Pawnee Indians until 1845, when he built and managed a boarding school for Indians. He kept the boarding school only a short time before moving to Bellevue until 1851. That same year Samuel and Emeline were among the first six members of the Bellevue, Nebraska Presbyterian Church, along with the minister and his wife. From 1851 to 1857 he farmed near St. Mary's, Iowa, and worked for the government as an Indian interpreter. He went to Washington, D.C. in connection with the Table Creek Treaty in the fall of 1857 and stayed there until the spring of 1858 when the treaty was ratified.

Samuel, his wife, Emeline Palmer Allis, and their son, Henry, are buried in the Wall Cemetery, off the Bellevue Bridge Road.


This collection relates to Samuel Allis, the Allis family, and Samuel's work as a missionary in the Nebraska Territory. It is arranged in four series: 1) Manuscripts; 2) Autograph Albums; 3) Diaries; and 4) Miscellaneous.

Series 1 contains both the autobiographical manuscript of Samuel Allis and the dictated statement of his son. Rev. Allis' manuscript, edited and corrected, was published in NSHS Transactions and Reports, vol. 2 (1887), pp. 133-166, under the title "Forty Years Among the Indians and on the Eastern Border of Nebraska." Corrective and explanatory footnotes enhance the value of this typewritten copy of the author's draft. The statement by Otis E. Allis, though a useful supplement to the earlier work, must be used with discretion for much of the information is inaccurate.

Rev. Allis' manuscript provides a colorful narration of Nebraska's pioneer history from 1834 to 1876. His description of Indian life among the Pawnee, Sioux and Omaha tribes, and of trader life at the American Fur Company post near Omaha, are written from the vantage point of a frontier missionary. Of particular interest is Allis' account of his acquaintance with Peter A. Sarpy, the early trader for whom Sarpy County is named.

Series 2 consists of three autograph albums, one belonging to Samuel Allis with entries ca. 1834; a second belonging to Emeline Palmer Allis, with entries ca. 1834-1836. Both of these albums are original artifacts. The third album belonged to Hattie Allis, who later married Dr. W. R. Wall. It contains entries ca. 1858-1870, and is available only as a high quality digital copy; the original album is not in the NSHS collections. Researchers must wear gloves when using the Hattie Allis album.

Series 3 contains copies of diaries by Samuel Allis, 1873-1882. The original diaries are not in the NSHS collections. All but the diary of 1879 are typed transcripts. The 1879 diary is a photocopy of the original. Some diaries have notes by Harriet Anderson, a descendant of the Allis family.

Series 4, Miscellaneous, includes two letters: one to Emeline Palmer Allis and the other to Samuel Allis from his cousin, Elliot Allis. Copies of family history information are also present.

Note: See the photo component [RG2628.PH] for 13 photographs relating to the Allis family.


Series 1 - Manuscripts

Box 1

  1. "Manuscript by Samuel Allis, Missionary and Teacher to the Indians." 107 pp. Two typed copies with corrective and explanatory footnotes, ca. 1876
  2. "Dictation from Otis E. Allis," son of Samuel Allis. 4pp. 3 typed copies

Series 2 - Autograph Albums

  1. Album, Samuel Allis, ca. 1834
    Album, Emeline Palmer, ca. 1834-1836
  2. Album, Harriet Allis Wall, ca. 1858-1870 [copy]

Series 3 - Diaries, 1873-1882

  1. 1873
  2. 1875
  3. 1877
  4. 1878
  5. 1879
  6. 1880

Box 2

  1. 1882

Series 4 - Miscellaneous

  1. Letter to Emeline Palmer Allis, 1838; letter to Samuel Allis from Elliot Allis, 1856
  2. Family history materials



Allis, Emeline Palmer
Allis, Otis E., 1843-1934
Allis, Samuel, 1805-1883
Allis family
Bellevue (Neb.)
Clergy -- Nebraska
Frontier and pioneer life -- Nebraska
Fur trade
Indians of North America -- Culture
Missionaries -- Nebraska
Omaha Indians -- Social life and customs
Pawnee Indians -- Missions
Pioneers -- Nebraska
Sarpy, Peter Abadie, 1805-1865
Sarpy County (Neb.)
Sioux Indians -- Social life and customs
Wall, Hattie (Harriet Allis), 1847?-1888



Related materials can be found in the John Dunbar collection [RG4302.AM].

Various references and articles can be found in Nebraska History magazine and earlier Nebraska State Historical Society publications [1887; 1892]. Check the Nebraska History index or ask the Reference Staff for assistance.

The following sources are available in the NSHS library collection:

"The Dunbar Allis Letters on the Pawnee." 741 p.
"Samuel Allis: Indian missionary western pioneer." 28 cm.
"Portraits of Samuel Allis." 48 p.

Ethnographic items including a basket, beadwork, pipes, wallet and purse; a shotgun; a candle mold; a cup and saucer belonging to Emmaline Palmer Allis (wife of Samuel); and a quilt made by Martha Allis Hollins are in the Nebraska History Museum collections. Not all artifacts in the collections are on exhibit; researchers should call for an appointment with the Museum before scheduling a visit.


L. Willmore/js   8-26-1964
revised KFK   6-20-2000
01-13-2010   Revised TMM

Become a History Nebraska Member Today

Learn More