Celia Allen, an enslaved woman at San Felipe de Austin, assisted business partners Laughlin McLaughlin and John M. Allen at their outdoor brick bake oven. McLaughlin oversaw the duties of the brick oven serving as baker, and Celia assisted him in baking items such as pilot bread (or hardtack), wheat bread, corn bread and cakes.
In 1832, McLaughlin and Allen ended their business partnership over Allen’s desire to manumit, or free, Celia. In that year, Allen signed an act of manumission for Celia and her children before Alcalde Horatio Chriesman. McLaughlin refused to recognize the manumission and in 1833, Celia retained San Felipe resident lawyer William Barret Travis to defend her. After legally winning her freedom, Celia and her children — Ann, George and Sam — took the last name Allen.
In 1836, as the Texans retreated from San Felipe ahead of the advancing Mexican Army, Mexican soldiers took control of the brick bake oven, placing their cannons behind it and punching holes to make openings, or embrasures, for their cannons. Mexican soldiers fired at the Texans on the opposite side of the Brazos River while Santa Anna debated options to cross the river. According to family lore, Celia and her children met Santa Anna during the Mexican occupation of San Felipe.
Celia Allen died in 1842 and is buried in the old cemetery at San Felipe de Austin.