Joe’s parents were missionaries. His father, Robert Allen, was a bit famous… if missionaries can be famous.

The Missionary Review said this:

“One of the recent losses due to the war is the death of Rev. Robert Allen Haden, the American missionary who was drowned when the French steamer Athos was torpedoed in the Mediterranean. Mr. Haden was one of the influential Presbyterian Americans in China. During the thirty years or more that he spent in Suchau, he built up the Elizabeth Blake Hospital, which originally consisted of a small one-story building, into a great hospital set in beautiful grounds, with all kinds of wards and a splendid laboratory.

“Besides being a hospital where thousands of Chinese were treated, it was a great school for teaching Chinese women nursing and Chinese men to become physicians. Mr. Haden spent most of his time making tours of the country preaching and instructing Chinese. His works in educating and civilizing the Chinese were so well known that he could go to any of the great American and British companies and get anything he wanted in the way of labor, engineering help, transportation and raw materials.

“He lived in a small bungalow, eating meals as meagre as those of the Chinese with whom he worked. He spent nothing on himself, and all of his money went to his family in Switzerland, where his children were being educated. The Chinese converted by him numbered thousands.”

An article from the Paris (Texas) Morning News:Page 1 article text VOL. 46 PARIS, TEXAS, SATURDAY, FEB. 24, 1917.  “American Missionary Is One Of Sub’s Victims Washington, Feb. 22.—Robert Allen Haden, an American Presbyterian missionary stationed at Foo Chow, China, perished when the French Line liner Athos was destroyed by a submarine, 2 miles east of Malta, on February l 7. Consul Keblinger at Malta cabled a report of Haden’s death to the state department today and said that the missionary’s address was given as in care of the Presbyterian Mission Board at Nashville, Tenn. The consul’s dispatch gave no details as to other loss of life, how the ship was destroyed, whether she was warned or how the American was killed. The nationality of the submarine was not given, but may have been Austrian. Information is being gathered officially to determine the importance of the case in relation to the tense situation between the United States and the central powers. The report from the Malta consul is the first mention received here of the sinking of the Athos. The vessel was of 7525 tons net and sailed from Yokohama Dec. 26 for Marseilles, stopping at Haip­ hong January 8, according to latest reports. A later dispatch from Consul Keblinger said the Athos was carrying troops and may have been taken as a transport. No steps can be taken until this fact is definitely determined. This government probably will have no cause for action if such is the case. The later dispatch added that Haden was drowned while going back to the ship to assist some others and that the submarine showed neither flag nor number by which she might have been identified. The later dispatch, however, established that the Athos was torpedoed without warning. Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 2 3.—Robert Allen Haden, the Southern Presbyterian missionary reported to have lost his life on the French liner Athos, was born at Keatchie, La., Aug. 13, 1865, and graduated from Southwestern Presbyterian university at Clarksville, Tenn., in 1891, at once entering missionary work. He has been twice married. His family lives in Switzerland but he has a son, Julian, in this country. He left China Dec. 29 to visit Switzerland.”

In fact, Robert Allen had gone back in an attempt to save Chinese passengers, whom his brother thought might have been his servants.

He was born in Louisiana at the end of the Civil War, on a plantation where his parents lived with lots of kids and slaves. He went to prep school at what is now Rhodes College in Tennessee. He cared for the woman he called his “Mammy” all her life, and wrote books on the history of China and modern farming.

He had a bizarre episode before his marriage, while he was a missionary in China. An extortionist threatened — if he didn’t pay –to bury a baby in his backyard and tell people that he and his fellow missionary had killed it. The extortionist was captured and prosecuted. My great-grandfather insisted that the extortionist be provided with a translator so the trial would be fair.

He had a first wife, Julia, and a son, Julian. As a widower, he met Eugenie, who was doing mission work on the docks in Marseille. I don’t know how they met, but they married and seem to have enjoyed their life together. Both kept journals. They seemed to be thoughtful, devout, and broadminded for their time. Of course, they traveled a lot. My whole family seems to have been globe trotters, and these two were not exception. They returned to Louisiana during the Boxer Rebellion, and otherwise seem to have divided their time between Europe — Germany, Switzerland, France — and China.

Eugenie was left a widow with five children. Her life was hard after her husband died, but she ended up living with her daughter in New Jersey. In all the pictures I have of her from her time as a wife and mother, she looks serenely happy.

However, a photo from shows her looking rather sad.

Perhaps her life had been so adventurous that it was hard for her to settle down and be a nice little old lady.