Robert Allen (1925 June 21, 1925—July 3, 1916)
Bob Allen, one of the founding members of the Guild, was a lifetime resident of the north and northeast regions of the San Francisco Bay area and had intimate knowledge of its history, geography, and heritage. Not only was this gleaned from secondary research, he did much field research on his own.
Allen’s work was published in both books and periodicals. This published work included products from his persistent photography and articles from his research and knowledge of Francis Drake and New Albion. Allen early suspected Drake’s Plate of Brass was fake and later was one of the key investigators who tracked down the origins of the grand hoax.
With a significant knowledge of natural history, Bob did extensive field research in his quest to determine the identity of the strange kind of conie noted by the author of The World Encompassed. His findings are recorded in the book, Identification Of The Nova Albion Conie, A Research Report of the Drake Navigators Guild which was published by the Guild. Collecting and examining copious amounts of specimens and data, Allen—with Robert Parkinson—came to a definitive conclusion stating:
Based on research by the Drake Navigators Guild and studies by recognized mammalogical authorities, the small animal of an unfamiliar type encountered in Nova Albion by the English, and called by them “a strange kind of Conies,” is positively identified as the Botta Pocket Gopher, Thomoys bottae bottae.
This work was noted by two time Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, for its quality and importance as it related to New Albion.
Allen engaged in numerous projects in addition to his extensive work with the Guild. He was a four year chairman in the planning and building process of the Vacaville Museum and did extensive work with the Vacaville Heritage Council after helping found it. Allen was also a member of the Solano County Historical Society. He assisted archaeologist Dick Swete in showing the major role the delta region played in the California Gold Rush, and he did notable work in restoring historic photographs of the area. His botanical skills were essential to the Pena Adobe gardens.
And, when Allen discovered there was no yerba buena growing on Yerba Buena Island, he make a special effort to personally plant the good herb at the home of his friend, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who resided on the island in quarters number one.