A Letter about Professor Allen

This past week, I became aware of some of his writings submitted to the local newspaper back in 1919. I knew many of these details but the way they are so artfully written really touched me. And I think it will touch you too.

It was only as I reached my 30’s and I began my exploration into holistic areas that I saw some of the original letters. John Henry wrote my grandpa when he was just a young boy when he had broken his leg. It was a serious break and he gave suggestions on how to think about the break and what he could do. When I became a Feldenkrais practitioner my Grandpa Henry said “You take after your great, great grandpa. He too used mind over matter.” He talked about people coming for miles to see him. How he would just lay his hand on a head for a long time and horrible headaches went away. I wondered what he actually did, and eventually I realized he had studied early osteopathy and yoga (all by correspondence course) among other things. He also taught music (although he didn’t play) and he would travel town to town and people would come for music lessons with Professor Allen.


Osage County Republican Mar. 20, 1919

The battle of Iuka, Miss. occurred Sept. 19, 1862 (history has it the 20th) when a 1½ ounce ball, fired from a Belgian musket in the hands of a Mississippi rebel passed through both my thighs, lower third, just behind femurs, cutting or tearing off lower third of biceps, and severing three fourths of ligaments – split ligaments into threads from wounds to knees and eight inches above wounds.

I lay on the field till 10 o’clock the following day, and was reported dead, but when the detail to bury came around I objected. It would take too much space to tell one half of my experience while my wounds were healing. After they healed, I returned home the following March, but was unable to board a passenger car without help.

My thighs and legs were greatly reduced in size, and my legs and feet were always cold for the lack of blood, my knees were flexed so that my limbs were 2 ½ inches short and could not have been straightened without breaking the ligaments.

I did some manual labor during the next 20 years, tho always at disadvantage. Got rheumatism and was told I must quit work or I’d find myself all drawed up into a knot and all the doctors in the state could not straighten me out. I took the suggestion and began to draw up alright. I passed many a weary week when I couldn’t put on my coat without help, and knots would form in my arm pits and other parts of my body as large as an orange and last for days, and I wore a cane for twenty years. In 1898 I began to study Psycho Therapeutics, suggestive Therapeutics, Osteopathy and several other scientific studies. From these I learned that the body is being worn out and renewed every little while, and that the kind of material built in depends entirely on the mental attitude.

In 1899-1900-01 I received several diplomas. Well, I was my first patient, with the result that in April 1902 I threw away my cane, and in May took hold of the plow handles and have made a hand on the farm ever since. Last fall I did the major part of the work of preparing land and sowing 52 acres of wheat, and sowed some wheat for a neighbor. My knees are as straight as a baby’s – have not felt a pain in wounded parts for 16 years. I will be 75 years young March 19, 1919… I used to weigh 115 pounds in winter and 125 in summer. Now I weigh 140.

Yours for health,

J. H. Allen, D.S.T,
Chamois, MO, Route 2

John H. Allen was seventeen years old when he enlisted in Co. B. of the Osage County Home Guards. As soon as the Home Guards were disbanded he enlisted under Capt. John F. F. Koops of Company H, 26th Missouri Volunteer Infantry.

Source: A letter to the Osage County Republican in 1919

About the Author


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Cynthia is a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, a Senior Trainer in Movement Intelligence, and a co-creator of Integral Human Gait theory. By day, she helps children and adults find easier ways to navigate life challenges and thrive. By night, she is dreaming up new options for how we can all become more fully human through awareness, curiosity, elegance and action.

Comments 8

  1. Dear Cynthia,
    Well, now I know, “IT” is in your DNA…the ability to think and communicate well with words; but also with your hands and ‘whole body/mind’…
    Your posting is very potent and moving. We forget how ‘ahead of their time’ were some of our ancestors–(or perhaps you could say possessing of the ability to explore the human condition back in time…human’s have always had the ability to heal themselves, just as do other animals as we can observe…but we tend to ‘forget’ each new generation, it seems.
    And yet, here you are carrying on the ‘family tradition’…including perhaps being seen as a ‘maverick’ by some segments of society!
    I relate especailly because my Grandmother, Mabel Elizabeth Crosby, was also such a maverick, although somewhat closeted, as a Christian Science Practitioner, whose founder Mary Baker Eddy, was a prime teacher of the ‘science’ of “Mind over Matter”. Perhaps as we now understand it is a two-way communication system of how ‘matter’ ( physical movement!) can shape the mind/brain; as the mind/brain can shape the ‘matter’ (physical body’). Once understood, there is no longer a ‘false dichotomy’ of ‘mind OVER matter’, but understanding there is no actual difference between body/mind/matter/spirit…or at least this is what brings me great comfort and peace when I think about what is reality…

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    Thanks for sharing your lineage and thoughts on matter. I wonder who you are though. Can’t quite match you up from your grandmother’s name alone.

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  4. Such a perfect posting for Father’s Day! I think your great grandfather and Moshe would definitely have something to discuss!
    Mind and movement and awareness all contribute to who we are becoming. I still hear many still talking about “mind over matter.” Maybe we’ll never get past the bulk of society dividing up our existence.
    Thanks & Peace,
    MarySusan Chen

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