May 21, 2024 Charles Allfrey


Switzerland County native,
Jefferson County recorder

One thing I like to do when blogging about history is introduce people who may have been forgotten. Charles W. Allfrey, featured in the Gorgas photo at left (from my own collection), seems to be one of them. We don’t have anything on him here in the archives, and I’ve found almost nothing about him online. It seems he may have been a life-long bachelor, as doesn’t list a spouse or children. In fact, it doesn’t even give his birth and death dates.

From the “Biographical and Historical Souvenir of Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott and Washington; John M. Gresham & Co., 1899, of which we have a copy and can be found online at “Charles W. Allfrey, schoolteacher, was born in Switzerland County, Ind., and was raised on a farm. He is the son of Joseph Allfrey and Elizabeth Grey. His father was a native of Nicholas County, Ky., born in 1789, of Virginia people. His grandfather was a soldier in the War of 1812. Mr. Allfrey’s mother was the daughter of James Grey, and was born in Virginia; she came to Indiana with her father in 1800, and settled in what is now Switzerland County. They were the earliest settlers of that County. Her father was a soldier in the War of 1812.   

“Mr. Allfrey was educated in the common schools of his County, and then took a course at the Woodward School, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. He commenced teaching in 1853 and followed it until 1869; then for two years he flat-boated. In 1871 he was appointed School Examiner, and served at that for two years; then he went at the traffic of goods on the river. While from home on this business he was nominated on the Democratic ticket for Recorder of Jefferson County. He was elected to that office and served for four years; after which he resumed his profession as teacher, which he still follows.    

“When a boy he was engaged as cook on a flatboat, and in that capacity made quite a number of trips to New Orleans. He has made several trips through portions of the Southern country since he arrived at manhood. Mr. Allfrey is considered one of the best teachers of the County, and is well-liked by scholars, parents and the school officers.”

In the 1887 Madison city directory, he is listed as one of about 35 residents of Brooksburg. In Items from Early Jefferson County Newspapers,* I found two mentions of him in the Madison Courier––one in December 1871, while he was school examiner, that states he was in charge of a case referred to as Johnson v. School Board; the other was published in January 1872, noting that his decision in the matter was upheld a month later by the State Superintendent of Schools.

Immediately I went to search for the articles on, but unfortunately these are two years fall into a gap in which the site has no digitized images of the Courier. So, I will have to visit the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library and chat with historian Camille Fife to see if they have those years on microfilm. (I think they do.) And unless I find more information about him there, I’ll likely have to visit the Jefferson County Clerk of Courts’ office to see if there is a death record for him.

So, so far, Charles is one of those subjects you run into sometimes when doing this kind of research. Though they may be few, there must be some records in this county or Switzerland County, where he was born. All I know is, they aren’t online.

If you have any genealogy questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to contact me at (812) 265-2335 or at

* This is an indexed in-house publication which lists local news blurbs, starting in 1817 with the Indiana Republican and ending 375 pages later with excerpts from the 1886 Madison Herald.

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