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RG2628.AM:  Samuel Allis, 1805-1883

Papers:  1834-1882, n.d.

Bellevue, Sarpy County, Neb. and Iowa:  Missionary

Size:  0.5 cu.ft.; 1 box


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. The collection includes manuscripts, autograph albums, diaries and miscellaneous.

The manuscripts include 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.

One of the autograph albums, belonging to Samuel Allis, contains entries ca. 1834.  A second album, belonging to Emeline Palmer Allis, includes 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 photographic reproduction.  The original album is not in the collection.  Researchers must wear gloves when using the Hattie Allis album.

The diaries of Samuel Allis date from 1873-1882. The original diaries are not in the collection. 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.  The miscellaneous items include 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.


Box 1


  1. “Manuscript by Samuel Allis, Missionary and Teacher to the Indians.” 107 pp. Typescript copy with corrective and explanatory footnotes, ca. 1876, c. 1

  2. “Manuscript by Samuel Allis, Missionary and Teacher to the Indians.” 107 pp. Typescript copy with corrective and explanatory footnotes, ca. 1876, c. 2

  3. “Dictation from Otis E. Allis,” son of Samuel Allis. 4pp. 3 typed copies

  4. Autograph album, Samuel Allis, ca. 1834

    Autograph album, Emeline Palmer, ca. 1834-1836

  5. Autograph album, Harriet Allis Wall, ca. 1858-1870 [copy]

  6. Diary, 1873

  7. Diary, 1875

  8. Diary, 1877

  9. Diary, 1878

  10. Diary, 1879

  11. Diary, 1880

  12. Diary, 1882

  13. Letter to Emeline Palmer Allis, 1838; letter to Samuel Allis from Elliot Allis, 1856

  14. Family history materials


Subject headings:

Allis, Emeline Palmer, 1808-1883

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 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 Emeline 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         08-26-1964

Revised KFK          06-20-2000

Revised TMM        01-13-2010; 04-06-2022