The earliest owner was William Gilchrist. It had several owners and was once known as the Farmer Hotel; it may have had other names, as well.
The 1870 census of Farmer named Ethan Whedon as a hotel keeper in Farmer, and in 1880, it was William M. Lord and his wife, Louise. Whether these two were involved with the same building is unknown.
Ephraim Clay Allen bought the hotel around 1880, according to Serendipity, a publication by the Country Cousins Homemakers Club. Before that time, Ephraim lived with his parents, Darius and Harriet (Rice) Allen in Farmer Township. They were natives of Lawrence, New York, the home of many early Farmer settlers. By 1870, his father had passed away, and he lived with his mother, as the farmer on the home farm.
Ephraim, sometimes called "E.C.," married Margretta Lucinda Bradley on January 1, 1872 in Defiance County when he was 25.
According to one county history, Ephraim rented the hotel to others until his family moved there in 1896. "The hotel did a big business and drew people from miles around. Margretta served delicious meals."
Ephraim C. Allen owned a large amount of land in Farmer Township, some he owned alone and other plots were divided with sons, Oney and Darius. The 1890 plat book revealed that the Allen men owned over 550 acres in Sections 16, 21 and 28 collectively.
Ephraim, 52 years old, in the 1900 census, referred to himself as a farmer, and all his children - 7 at the time - were named as farm laborers. Margretta reported that she had twelve children all together, but only seven were living. Perry Burns and John Cannan, physician, lived with them. Perhaps Ephraim left the hotel for Margretta to handle, while he continued to farm as his age and health allowed.
In 1910, Ephraim said he was a landlord and only one child was at home, Emma. Emory Martin, a house painter, was in residence, along with Hazel Moats, 17, a domestic servant for a private family which would turn out to be the Allens.
Ephraim died on April 19, 1912. The Defiance Democrat briefly stated in its April 27th paper: "E. A. died Friday at his home in Farmer after a long illness."
He was buried first in Farmer Cemetery, but was moved to the Fountain Grove Mausoleum in Bryan after Margretta died.
After Ephraim's death in 1912, Margretta ran the hotel, serving family style dinners with her renowned home cooking. Twenty-four people could fit at her dining table. Serendipity reported that there were 13 beds upstairs in the hotel for visitors, while the family lived on the first floor. Adjacent to the hotel was a livery stable, and a windmill and public water trough available through a side entrance. Part of the windmill and stable may be seen in the above photo, date unknown.
The ladies from the larger photo above were identified as:
Dot Headley, Mrs. Velma? Headley, Kit Allen, Margaret Allen, and Hazel Moats
In the 1920 census, Margaret, 67, a widow, lived with her son, Oney, who farmed; her son-in-law, Wallace Buda who was a janitor at the school; Mona, her 16 year old granddaughter, and a teacher/boarder, Mr. Lever.
It was a notable day when Margaret Allen was alone in the hotel. The Defiance Crescent News of October 30, 1924, reported in community news for Farmer:
"Mrs. Margaret Allen ate her dinner alone in the hotel Saturday, the only time since moving off the farm more than 25 years ago."
But, in truth, Margaret had a passel of children and grandchildren to keep her company. On June 28, 1934, the Crescent News again mentioned Margaret as it was time to celebrate her birthday.
"Mrs. Margaret Allen was surprised recently by a gathering of her children and grandchildren in her home upon her return from an afternoon at her sister, Mrs. Bird Ames, in Butler, Indiana. Mrs. Mona Cook sent in a cake and three freezers of ice cream. Cake and another cake were consumed in the evening. Those present included Mrs. Dace Allen, Mr and Mrs. E. C. Allen and children, Mr and Mrs. Bert Nichols and children, Mr and Mrs. Homer Oliver, Mrs. Bird Motes, Velma Headley, Peter Kline of Adrian. Michigan, Oney Allen. Saturday was Mrs. Allen's birthday." Margaret would have been about 80 years old at that time.
Margaret/ Margaretta died on October 22, 1936, and she and Ephraim rest in the mausoleum at Fountain Grove Cemetery in Bryan.
The Allen Hotel was partially demolished and the remaining part moved in 1958. What a landmark it was for Farmer Center! The Allens mentioned in this article were the sons of Ephraim and Margaret.