Allen Allensworth: Allensworth, California

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by cherryblossom, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Feb 28, 2009
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    ".... Friends of Allensworth, a volunteer association dedicated to increasing the awareness of the historical contributions that African Americans have made towards the development of the State and Nation. We are organized as a non-profit 501(c) 3 corporation. The town of Allensworth is very unique in that it is the only California town to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. Allensworth is a town located 75 miles south of Fresno and 38 miles north of Bakersfield.

    The town of Allensworth is now preserved as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park of the State of California Park System. Efforts to restore the town's appearance are underway to recreate a time when Black pioneers, a mighty people of courage and vision, first settled the town of Allensworth...."

    The Town of Allensworth is Born
    Colonel Allensworth
    1842 -1914

    Born into slavery, Allen Allensworth escaped during the Civil War and served with the Union Army. After the war he and his brother operated two highly successful restaurants in St. Louis, while Allen also managed to continue his formal education. In 1871 Allen Allensworth became a minister, and in 1877 he met and married Josephine Leavel, a young school teacher and talented pianist and organist. In 1886. Allensworth accepted a commission in the Army as a Chaplain to serve in the all Black 24th Army Infantry. When Allensworth retired in 1906, he held the rank of lieutenant colonel and was not only the highest ranking Chaplain in the Army, but the highest ranking Black officer of this time.

    After his retirement from the Army, Colonel Allensworth, Professor William Payne, and three other Black men decided to establish a self-governed town for Black people. They envisioned a place where Blacks could own property and achieve their full economic potential free from the discriminatory laws and practices of the time.

    In 1908 Allensworth and Payne incorporated the California Colony and Home Protection Association and started looking for the best possible location for their town. The site finally selected was midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and had plenty of inexpensive farm land and several artesian wells.

    The new town grew rapidly as enterprising Black men and women - nurses, business owners, educator, farmers, ranchers, retired soldiers and crafts people - purchased town lots, started farms and built homes. It was not long until the prospering town had a school, church, library, and post office. Allensworth's businesses included a hotel, machine shop, bakery, drug store, and barber shop.

    In its heyday, Allensworth bustled with activity. The town was a railroad transfer point, providing a steady stream of customers for Allensworth's many businesses. The grain and cattle merchants of Allensworth used the railroad to move their products to market. While the town's shops and stores supplied day-to-day needs for living, the church and school provided for the spiritual and educational needs of the town's people. The women of Allensworth organized formal debates, concerts, plays, club meetings and other social activities that brought people together transforming the town into a closely-knit community....."