Cordelia Fannie Sampson was born in 1841 to Obadiah and Martha Sampson in Derby, Connecticut. She married James Madison Allen, a teacher, in 1862 while living in E. Bridgewater, Massachusetts. They had one child, Loverneet, who was born in 1863 and died in 1879 of Typhoid fever. James Allen was in the Civil War for about one and half years before deserting. It’s unclear what happened to their marriage. In 1868, James married Sarah Spaulding. Fannie refers to herself as married in the 1870 and 1880 censuses while she is living at her parents’ home. She also spelled her name Allyn.
In the 1870 census, Fannie listed her employment as a Trance Medium. During the 1870s through the 1890s, while she lived in Massachusetts, she was a guest at most of the major Spiritualists camps in New England, including Onset Bay, Lake Pleasant, Highland Lake Grove, Silver Lake Grove, and Lake Sunapee. She also spoke at Spiritualist meetings in Boston and Fall River. She was author of the text of at least four hymns, including “Hail we the thought that moves the age,” and “Ring the bells of mercy.”
The Democratic Press, 27 December 1877, Ravenna, Ohio reported that, “Mrs. C. Fannie Allyn, of Stoneham, Mass., will give an improvised Lecture and Poem, upon any rational theme, presented by the audience on Thursday evening at Citizen’s Hall, Mantua Station. All are invited.”
The Boston Globe, 4 April 1904 published some of her lecture at a Spiritualist meeting. “’Easter Sunday is older than Christianity,’ Mrs. C. Fannie Allyn told the children of the Boston Spiritualists’ lyceum at the anniversary exercises in Friendship Hall, Tremont and Berkeley streets, yesterday afternoon.”
“’ I am glad to recognize that we are pagan as well as partly Christian,’ she continued. ‘I recognize Easter astrologically long before Jesus came on earth. I recognize it with the Druids and with the minerals and with all the natural world. I don’t celebrate the resurrection of one whom some of you worship as your Lord and Savior, but I celebrate the birth of aspiration and liberty.’”
The Washington Herald, 4 December 1915, listed her appearance at the First Spiritualist Church, Pythian Temple where she was still lecturing and giving spiritual readings at the age of 71. Fannie passed on to the spirit world in 1927. The widely known lecturer died in bed while overcome with smoke from an overheated stove. Along with Spiritualism, she was also active in the G.A.R. Women’s Relief Corps, being president of the Stoneham branch.