From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Allen, James Combs

(born: July 21, 1932  -  died: February 7, 1996) 

The following information on Dr. James C. Allen was written and submitted by his nephew, Gary A. Smith.

James Combs Allen was the veterinarian-owner of the Allen County Veterinary Clinic from 1956 until his death in 1996. He was the first African American veterinarian in south central Kentucky. He was an influential member of the Allen County community and served patrons in surrounding communities, including Lafayette and Westmoreland, TN; and Smiths Grove, Alvaton, and Fountain Run, KY.

James C. Allen was born in Bourbon County, KY, the son of William Sterling Allen and Anna R. Jackson Allen. James C. Allen was the fifth of their eight children. His parents worked on the Mt. Lebanon horse farm that was owned by William Garrard Talbot. James C. Allen worked alongside his father and brothers on this farm.

He was a graduate of the all-black Paris Western High School in 1950. He had played on the basketball team. Dr. Allen was 6'7" tall. "Jim" as he was known, played alongside teammate Jim Tucker who went on to play basketball at Duquesne University and the NBA. James C. Allen had his heart set on going to medical school. However, it was very difficult for African Americans to be accepted into medical schools due to segregation and the limited number of openings at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. But there was a need for veterinarians! James C. Allen entered Tuskegee Institute where he was one of the youngest to graduate from the veterinary school at the age of 24.

Dr. Allen had the opportunity to join fellow classmates from Tuskegee to start a veterinary practice together in California. However, when he learned that there was a need for a veterinarian in Allen County, he answered the call. Over those 40 years of service in Allen County, Dr. Allen provided care to the animals of farmers as well as pet owners. As a small business owner, he provided jobs for many individuals. 

Dr. James Combs Allen was selected to become a Kentucky Colonel by Governor John Y. Brown. Dr. Allen supported the Jaycees, 4-H, and donated property to the Allen County Saddle Club. He was a mentor to Jim McDaniels who played high school basketball at Allen County High School. Dr. Allen worked up until just a few days before he died in Scottsville, KY, at the age of 63.


Dr. James C. Allen is buried in Cedar Heights Cemetery in Paris, KY, according to his record in Find A Grave.

See his obituary for additional information in the article "Deaths: Dr. James C. Allen," Park City Daily News, 02/09/1996, p.2.

Dr. Allen attended the veterinary school at Tuskegee Institute, now named the College of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee University.

Jim McDaniels worked in Dr. Allen's clinic at nights and on Saturdays, see David Kindred, "Big Mac will never forget," The Courier-Journal and Times Magazine [an insert], 02/28/1971, pp.10-13 & 15.

Dr. James Combs Allen was the uncle to police officer Norman W. Allen.  


Kentucky County & Region

Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Allen County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Paris, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Scottsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Allen, James Combs,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-11-30 19:41:09