6 Issues To Know Earlier than Visiting Allensworth — The Solely California City Established By African Individuals

The African American pioneers who established this city have been on the lookout for a spot for his or her households to stay and prosper with out worry of the oppression they confronted within the South. In brief, they wished a spot the place they might stay the American dream. Although the positioning they selected is just about in the course of nowhere, it did have ample water, fertile soil, and a railroad cease.

You will have heard of communities corresponding to Nicodemus, Kansas, Greenwood, Oklahoma, often known as The Black Wall Road, and different cities with wealthy African American histories. However have you ever heard of the township of Allensworth?

The story of Allensworth goes a lot deeper than being the primary city in California to be established, designed, financed, constructed, and ruled by African Individuals.

Right here are some things to find out about Allensworth:

Second Baptist Church in Monrovia, California

Memorial for Colonel Allen Allensworth exterior the Second Baptist Church in Monrovia, California, the place he served as pastor

Picture credit score: Stan Thomas / Kanale Creations

1. Who Was Allen Allensworth?

Allen Allensworth was born into slavery in 1842 in Kentucky, the youngest of 13 kids born to Levi and Phyllis Allensworth. As a youth, he tried to flee enslavement twice however was caught and punished.

Educating Blacks was one thing that was forbidden in Kentucky and different Southern states. Consequently, younger Allensworth was despatched away, bought many occasions, handled harshly, and even whipped when it was found he was being taught to learn and write. The Civil Warfare offered a chance for him to efficiently escape from his circumstances.

Allensworth went on to grow to be the primary and solely Black particular person to function a delegate from Kentucky within the Republican Nationwide Conference in each 1880 and 1884.

After being instructed there have been no Black chaplains for the Black models within the Military, Allensworth petitioned President Grover Cleveland for the put up. President Cleveland appointed him to the rank of chaplain and assigned him to the twenty fourth Infantry Regiment, a part of the Buffalo Troopers. That affiliation with the Buffalo Troopers continues to at the present time.

By the point he retired in 1906, Allensworth had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel, the primary African American to realize that standing, and the highest-ranking Black man within the navy at the moment. 

Col. Allensworth continued to maneuver and shake. Upon transferring to Los Angeles along with his spouse Josephine, he turned the first pastor of Second Baptist Church in Monrovia, California. The many hats he wore throughout his lifetime included, at numerous occasions, minister, educator, politician, Buffalo Soldier, a serviceman in each the Military and Navy, jockey, restaurateur, speaker, writer, and most famously, co-founder of the city that bears his identify.

Col. Allensworth died in 1914 after getting off a streetcar in Monrovia and being struck in broad daylight by two males on a bike. A memorial stands exterior Second Baptist Church.

Hindsman General Store in Allensworth

The Hindsman Retailer served because the city’s basic retailer. Proprietor Zebedee Hindsman stayed in Allensworth longer than most residents, remaining there till his loss of life in 1950.

Picture credit score: Stan Thomas / Kanale Creations

2. What Is Allensworth?

In establishing Allensworth, the mission of co-founders Professor William Payne, Dr. William H. Peck, Harry Mitchell, J.W. Palmer, and Col. Allensworth, was to “present schooling, financial, and political alternatives for [African Americans] in California.” Moreover, Col. Allensworth wished to offer a spot the place troopers in America’s all-Black regiments might stay. The teachings of Booker T. Washington closely influenced the colonel, particularly Washington’s philosophy of Black self-sufficiency; it was a driving drive behind the institution of the city.

The township was based in 1908 and was initially named “Solito”, after the railroad cease. It was quickly renamed “Allensworth.” Thus, Allensworth turned California’s first Black neighborhood.

Because the nascent city started to thrive, potential residents purchased some property in Allensworth sight unseen. Companies included a lodge, a blacksmith store, a bakery, a basic retailer, a drug retailer, and a dairy. Agricultural merchandise included sugar beets, cotton, alfalfa, grain, poultry, dairy cattle, and rabbits. 

Two-room schoolhouse in Allensworth

Contained in the two-room schoolhouse as it will have regarded in 1915

Picture credit score: Stan Thomas / Kanale Creations

Notable Details About The Group

  • Allensworth had a faculty district. It was the primary college district in California established by African Individuals and nonetheless exists at present.
  • The schoolhouse was constructed completely with funds donated by residents of the city. It ended up costing $5,000.
  • The Mary Dickerson Memorial Library, named for Josephine Allensworth’s mom, was a department of the Tulare County Free Library system.
  • Allensworth had its personal put up workplace, voting precinct, and judicial district. Oscar Overr was elected magistrate, the primary African American in California to carry that place.
  • In its heyday, the city boasted a inhabitants of almost 300 residents and introduced in $4,000 to $5,000 a month; almost $160,000 in at present’s {dollars}.

Resident Oscar Overr stated of the city, “It has handed the experimental and pioneering [stage], and, whereas it’s nonetheless in its infancy, for a lot of causes it’s the greatest proposition ever supplied to Negroes within the state.” It might be stated that Allensworth was a land of promise. For some time, it fulfilled that promise.

Allensworth stationmaster rail car

Rail automotive depicting Allensworth’s unique station grasp’s workplace on the railroad depot. The railroad was Allensworth’s lifeline, key to its founding and financial success.

Picture credit score: Stan Thomas / Kanale Creations

3. What Occurred To The City Of Allensworth?

It regarded like Allensworth was heading in the right direction to prosperity. There are a couple of explanations as to what occurred, however what is obvious is Allensworth started to undergo from issues with water. Then in 1914, the AT&SF railroad, which refused to rent Allensworth’s residents, deliberately bypassed Allensworth, as a substitute including a spur into Alpaugh, about 7 miles away. The transfer disadvantaged the neighborhood of an important technique of transportation and commerce, successfully severing Allensworth’s lifeline.

The neighborhood then suffered an indescribable loss when Col. Allensworth was killed.

In fast succession, drought, the Nice Despair, and residents transferring away for varsity or work adopted. When World Warfare II started, much more residents moved away to work jobs in assist of the warfare effort.

By the Sixties, the city had dropped from some maps. The park’s brochure notes that Allensworth was scheduled for demolition. Fortunately, the story of Allensworth doesn’t finish there.

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

Signal at entrance to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. Johnson Bakery is on the fitting.

Picture credit score: Stan Thomas / Kanale Creations

4. Allensworth Grew to become A State Historic Park

In 1969, Cornelius “Ed” Pope, a former resident, began a marketing campaign to create a state historic web site at Allensworth after realizing that California had no state parks devoted to the historical past of California’s African Americans. On account of lobbying by Pope and others, the California Division of Parks and Recreation bought land in town’s unique web site in 1974. Plans for a park have been authorised, and on October 9, 1976, the dedication ceremony for Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park was held. Allensworth started to be referred to as “The city that refused to die.”

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is open year-round. On its grounds are round 22 restored or reconstructed constructions from the unique city unfold throughout 240 acres, together with Col. and Mrs. Allensworth’s home, the college, the Baptist church, the library, the lodge, and the railroad station grasp’s workplace.

Professional Tip: Plan on doing a good quantity of strolling if you wish to see every thing. Convey comfy strolling footwear. You may additionally await one of many particular occasions and benefit from the shuttle that runs by the park.

Allensworth May Festival

Guests sitting within the shade within the day use space with stage. Throughout particular occasions, like this Might Pageant, the day use space is the middle of exercise.

Picture credit score: Stan Thomas / Kanale Creations

5. ‘The City That Refused To Die’ Is Experiencing A Renaissance

About 500 residents nonetheless stay within the Allensworth space. The combat to safe Allensworth’s future continues. However there’s excellent news:

California’s 2022-23 funds will present some $40 million in funding for the revitalization of Allensworth. Of that, $28 million, which Senators Melissa Hurtado and Steven Bradford helped to safe, will go to a new customer heart.

At this time, some 70,000 individuals a 12 months go to the “cultural useful resource” that’s Colonel Allensworth State Park. Most come throughout the annual particular occasion days the place docents attired in outfits of the interval are readily available, members of various Buffalo Soldier models double as docents, and a number of the buildings shall be open to guests. 

Occasions scheduled for this 12 months are:

  • Black Historical past Month Celebration — February 11, 2023
  • Allensworth Might Pageant — Might 20, 2023 (of the 4 annual occasions, this one is a bit much less crowded)
  • Juneteenth Celebration — June 10, 2023
  • Annual Rededication — October 14, 2023

Different occasions embody the Colonel Allensworth 5K Run/Stroll for Well being

Professional Tip: Summer season temps high 100 levels Fahrenheit. Convey a hat and sunscreen. Convey water or buy water from a vendor throughout particular occasions as a result of naturally-occurring arsenic is current in Tulare County’s water provide.

Cyclists and support team at the end of the Colonel Allensworth Century and Fun Ride

Cyclists and assist crew on the finish of the Colonel Allensworth Century and Enjoyable Journey

Picture credit score: Stan Thomas / Kanale Creations

6. A Stroll By means of Allensworth’s Previous Can Lead You Into Allensworth’s Future

Thomas Ward’s story of how he received concerned with Allensworth is kind of inspiring. His first go to was as a member of a band invited to play at Allensworth. “After I arrived on the entrance of the park,” Ward says, “I used to be in awe of the place. I couldn’t assist however go searching in any respect the constructions. I used to be actually amazed seeing how former slaves lived in California, getting down to create a city and life for themselves.” When it was time for his bus to go away, he wished to remain. He promised he would return, a promise that he stored.

Subsequent visits and conferences with park organizers resulted in Ward’s firm Crankin’ Time Biking producing a biking occasion referred to as the Colonel Allensworth Century & Enjoyable Journey. Ward says, “The occasion, together with serving to it improve publicity, raised cash and donated proceeds to the park’s non-profit, the Pals of Allensworth.”

Ward extremely recommends individuals go to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, calling it “a crown jewel within the state of California.”

Rev. Clarence Washington, Vice President of Pals of Allensworth, desires to get the youth extra educated about and fascinated by Allensworth. He says Allensworth is trying particularly for Black docents, however all are inspired to volunteer.

Getting There


For particular instructions to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, go to the park’s web site. Your GPS might present Allensworth within the metropolis of Earlimart, California.


Contact the Pals of Allensworth for details about chartering buses to carry your group to Allensworth.


You may take Amtrak to Allensworth. Touring by prepare means that you can arrive in a lot the identical method as many of the unique townspeople did.

Professional Tip: The Allensworth station/depot code is listed on Amtrak’s web site as CNL. Nonetheless, as a result of it’s a particular cease, a search is not going to show any trains or occasions. Name Amtrak for particulars. This 12 months marks the city of Allensworth’s one hundred and fifteenth anniversary. Make plans to expertise the realization and resurrection of an African American dream at Allensworth, “the city that refused to die.”

For extra data on touring to California, try these articles:

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