Colonel Allen Allensworth, one of the town’s founders, and his wife Josephine, built one of the community’s first homes on this site shortly after the town was established. Colonel and Mrs. Allensworth bought the lot in the Fall of 1910 from the Pacific Farming Company. The residence was built in 1911. It was purchased from Sears-Roebuck and was made of prefabricated materials and shipped in sections and assembled at the building site. While the primary construction material was wood, there were many architectural refinements that made the home a model during its day.
While residing at the location, Colonel Allensworth traveled throughout California and nation promoting the town and recruiting pioneer settlers. Mrs. Allensworth remained at home where she made substantial contributions to the town’s social development. Mrs. Allensworth served as a member of the first Allensworth School Board. Town beautification was another activity, which engaged Mrs. Allensworth’s attention. Through her participation in the Women’s Improvement Association, she helped plant trees and flowers along the streets of the town.
Colonel Allensworth owned the property until his death in 1914. At the time of his death, his wife retained ownership. Upon her death in 1939, the property was passed to her granddaughter, Mrs. Louise Shanks Collier. At some point in the mid-1940’s, Oscar Wells purchased the property. It was extensively remodeled. In addition to their residence, Colonel and Mrs. Allensworth owned other properties in Allensworth.
The Allensworth Cemetery was established November 9, 1918. A grant deed, filed in the Tulare County Court House dated June 25, 1921 recorded the transfer of five acres (more or less) to the Allensworth Cemetery Committee. This legal document established a cemetery district which automatically removed the property from the tax rolls and protected it from sale or liens. Although the original five acre cemetery has been considerably reduced in size by trespassers who have plowed it over, the land is still owned by the Cemetery District.
The extent of the grave disturbance resulting from agricultural intrusion is not yet known. It is known that areas which are now under cultivation contained graves as early as 1928. However, all grave markers and ornamentation associated with early burials obviously have been removed. It is possible too that the graves also have been desecrated.
Forty-five burials are known to have been taken place at the cemetery. Records identified to date indicate that the earliest burial was in 1911 and the latest in 1994. Only nine of the original forty-five grave markers can be identified.
Name and Date of Death
|Allen, Rev. J.L.
Armstrong, Ferdonia 11/14/1932
Bonty, Emory Thomas 01/09/1936
Bush, Mariah 03/30/1930
Bush, Millard 11/21/1921
Byrd, Fannie 03/23/1926
Coachman, Josie 04/15/1926
Coleman, James 01/31/1916
Cosey, Elise 1942
Cowes, Mr.& Mrs.
Currington, Velma E. 01/20/1923
Davis, Dollia (Dolly) 01/10/1920
Dotson, Walter Jennins 05/23/1912
Dry, Emma Powell
Grigsby, B.F. 08/31/1915
Gross, Mary M. 11/02/1918
|Hackett, James A. 01/01/1924
Haley, Jennie 03/18/1926
Hall, H. William
Herculano, Maria 5/13/1914
Herculano, Sarah 1937
Hindsman, Zebedee 04/15/1960
Johnson, George 09/06/1922
Jordon, William (Willie) 10/09/1941
King, May 11/14/1918
Lacy, Addison 1942
Marshell, Patsy, (Marshall) 02/02/1912
Mattox, Regina 01/17/1924
Middleton, Gabriel R. 03/19/1923
Mitchell, Andrew J. 10/21/1923
|New, Sue 07.24.1931
Pearson, Anna 04/15/1926
Powell, Carlos L. 01/19/1914
Rainbow, Nancy 04/24/1920
Rainbow, Nimrod 11/15/1920
Scott, William 02/08/1920
Singleton, Joshua 11/18/1928
Smith, Frank 11/08/1911
Smith, Robert Cornelius 04/09/1912
Smith, Laura 1935
Wells, Andrew 10/01/1914 (stillborn)
Wells, Charles 01/06/1949
Wells, Elvia 06/09/1917
The Gross Drug Company
The gross Drug Company was established at this site in 1912 by a nurse, Mrs. Mary M. Gross. Mrs. Gross operated the store with Mrs. J. B. Wood, a state registered nurse. The store carried a line of patent drugs, stationery, school supplies, and periodicals.
Mary Gross was born in Ohio, about 18 became a nurse and moved to California in the early 1900’s, arriving in Allensworth in 1911 or 1912. she delivered babies and treated ailments for many people in the town. Nan Archer recalls, “She was a good nurse. Everybody went to her when they were sick”.
A humorous incident occurred when the barber, Frank Milner, was bitten by a spider. Henry Singleton related, “one time a black widow bit Frank Milner in a very special place and Mrs. Gross had to take care of it. When the guys got through with Frank, he almost had to leave town”. Though she was respected and her medical services were sought after in town, Mary Gross seems to have been a solitary figure. No one person interviewed to date had ever been inside her living quarters. Neither could they remember anyone who had mentioned visiting in her home.
William Scott, a friend of Mrs. Gross, seems to have been the one person she associated with regularly and “no one ever knew their relationship”. The Allensworth informants believed Mary Gross was a widow and she may have been. However, in William Scott’s probate records, Mrs. Ada Gross is named as his heir. A list of Mrs. Ada Gross’ children includes a Mary Gross who appears either never to have been married or to have taken her maiden name back at some point. Mary Gross died on November 2, 1918 at the age of 52 of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was buried in the Allensworth Cemetery on November 5, 1918.
In 1889, at the age of eighteen Zebedee Hndsman left home in Palmatto, Georgia heading west. By the end of the century he had made his way to Albia, Iowa where he established a home. It was in Albia that he met Sarah Miller, and on June 6, 1900 he married her. She was nineteen years old and a native of Virginia.
Zeb met the Colonel while he was on a speaking tour promoting the town of Allensworth. He was impressed and in April of 1909, just months after the Colony’s founding, he visited Allensworth to assess its promise. Zebedee returned to Allensworth within two years with his wife Sarah to establish the town’s third general retail store.
A title search indicated that Zebedee and Sarah Hindsman purchased both their residential and business land at the same time. The Z. Hindsman and Company General Store was established by Zebedee M. Hindsman and his wife Sarah Miller in 1911 and for a brief period they lived in quarters partitioned off the rear of the store. This general store, one of three in town, had the largest inventory valued at $17,000 in 1917. The building, located directly across from the railroad depot, was a commercial structure, with approximately 900 square feet of space, including a rear loft which Zebedee Hindsman used as an office for his General Store. Some of his activities were; Agent for “Home Insurance Company of New York” and Notary Public for the State of California. He was commissioned under Governor Hiram Johnson in 1912.
These positions helped keep him in touch with many details of the town’s development. In 1918, as a registered Democrat, Zebedee Hndsman was elected to the position of Justice of the Peace after William Dodson.
This made him the second African American to be elected to this position. He served two full terms. While in this office he continued to further his education by completing a correspondence course in real estate sales from Washington D. C. with the National Realty Company.
Zebedee and Sarah never had any children. However, both are known to have a great love of children and the children of the community found them full of love and caring. Zebedee and Sarah Hindsman remained active members of the Allensworth community throughout their lives. Sarah Hindsman died on April 11, 1937. Zebedee continued to live in the family home where he died on April 11, 1960. He was survived by his third wife, Josephine Tuttles Hindsman.
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The Allensworth Hotel
The Allensworth Hotel was situated in the town section within easy walking distance of the Santa Fe Depot and the Central Valley Road. At the time the hotel was built, Allensworth enjoyed the business of transient businessmen, drummers, ranchers and tourist. Considerable traffic through Allensworth came via rail and the Central Valley Road. Central Valley Road is parallel to the railroad and connected to the northern and southern ends of Tulare County. Unlike the typical county road, this dirt road had an oiled surface. Before Santa Fe completed a spur track to Alpaugh, five miles west of Allensworth, the town had a regular freight business. Grain grown on the Tulare Lake Basin, west of town, was shipped from the Allensworth depot until the Alpaugh spur, completed in 1914, diverted the grain business. In 1913, the December 27th issue of the Iakland Sunshine referred to a grain warehouse standing approzimately 100 yards from the railroad, as the largest between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with a 50,000 sack capacity. Commercially grown grain from nearby ranches was stored at the warehouse until it was shopped out on the Santa Fe. Laborers and ranchers involved in handling the grain were a ready source of business for the hotel and other commercial establishments. The Allensworth Hotel, opened around 1910 under the proprietorship of Mrs. Clara Morris and her husband John Morris, functioned continuously for several decades under a number of different managers. Mrs. Morris operated the hotel until sometime around 1915. Other proprietors of the Allensworth Hotel during its first two decades were:
Mrs. Elvia Woods, 1916-1917
Mrs. Nannie Coleman, 1917-1922
Mrs. Reginana Mattox, 1922-1924
Mrs. Alice Hackett, 1924-1927
Clara Morris and her husband John, moved to Allensworth from Bakersfield where they had operated a successful catering business. During the Morris’ five year tenure at the Allensworth Hotel, John Morris, a machinist, serviced well digging machines, traction engines, and various other mechanical irrigation equipment widely used in the local agricultural business. Mr. Morris’ machine shop was located in the rear of the hotel. A night’s lodging was available to travelers for $0.75. Local residents often used the facility also. In particular, the youth used the hotel’s dining room and played piano for their periodic parties. Furniture would be moved and tables stacked so that there was ample space for the evening frolics. On these occasions, young men would be invited from Tulare.
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Mary Dickerson Memorial Library
The Mary Dickerson Library building was donated to the town by Mrs. Allensworth and named in her mother’s honor. When the Tulare Board of supervisors made the town a school District in 1912. Planning for the Mary Dickerson Memorial Library began a year after the Allensworth Elementary School opened.
Colonel Allensworth organized the first planning meeting in the Autumn of 11911 at the Allensworth School. The town’s request for a branch library was probably one of the County’s first, following the California Legislature’s passage of the County library Act. This act made it possible for the Tulare Free Library to service the rural areas. The Tulare Free Library instituted two types of rural service, the book station and the reading room. Qualification for a reading room required an area with a table, two chairs and a shelf. Funds for a part-time reading room custodian were provided to communities that established a reading room.
Allensworth maintained a book shelf in the school until 1913. On July 4, 1913, a reading room opened in a separate library building which formerly housed the Allensworth Elementary School. The 364 square foot school building was built in 1911 by a resident with donated lumber. The building was moved to a 50×150 ft. town lot made available by Mrs. Josephine Allensworth. Josephine Allensworth spearheaded the movement for the expansion of the town’s library.
Renovations to the small one room building were made by Abraham Stockett, a local carpenter. Shelves to hold 1000 books were installed. A small stove provided heat and Elaine oil fueled lamps were used for light. The library’s holdings included a monthly allotment from the county and as Beasley’s Negro Trail Blazers reported there were titles from private collections of persons throughout the State of California. Two hundred books were provided annually by the county annually during the early years of rural service. Fifty books in a prepaid case were shipped from Tulare to Allensworth by rail. Handling charges to the county librarian’s report published in the TULARE WEEKLY REVIEW, for a period following the service’s inception, listed the titles provided several branch libraries. Titles placed on the shelves of Allensworth Memorial Library in June 1914 appeared in the TULARE WEEKLY REVIEW on June 11, 1914.
The facility, named for Mrs. Allensworth’s mother, was known in Allensworth as the Mary B. Dickerson Memorial Library, although its official name was Allensworth Branch of the Tulare County Free Library.
The first custodian, Mrs. Ethel Hall, served for four years. She was followed by Mrs. Louise L. Dotson (1917-1919) and then Mrs. Birdie Phillips (1919-1924). The monthly salary for the first custodian was set by the Board of Supervisors at $30.00. The Board raised the salary twice within the first decade, once in 1919 to $40.00 and again in 1920 to $50.00.
The Mary Dickerson Memorial Library operated continuously at its original site until 1943. It is remembered by many pioneers as a place of solace and a source of useful technical information.
BOOKS IN THE MARY DICKERSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY IN 1911
|The Story of the Birds, Baskel
The Adventures of Miss Gregory, Gibbon
Girl of the Golden West, Belaso
Jack the Young Cowboy, Grinnel
Lorimer of the Northwest, Bindloss
Life at West Point, Hancock
Daughter of Freedom, Blanchard
Decisive Battles of the World, Hitchcock
The House of Happiness, Bosher
The Unafraid, Ingram
Man in Lonely Land, Bosher
The Tennessee Shad, Johnson
Happy Family, Bower
Lion Ben, Kellogg
Uphill Climb, Bower
The Lodger, Low
|Leonardo da Vinci, Brockwell
The Cave of Gold, McNeil
Robin Hood’s Barn, Brown
Little Knich of the X Bar B, Maule
Billy Tomorrow in Camp, Carr
Rocky Fork, Catherwood
Refractory Husbands, Cutting
Nest & Eggs of North American Birds, Davie
Winning of the Boy, Merrill
Polly of the Hospital, Dowd
Staff Culumet “K”, Mighels
Race Prejudice, Pinol
The Ambition of Mark Truitt, Miller
|A Valiant Woman, Fisher
The Young Fisherman, Pendexter
Castaways of Peter’s Patch, Rankin
C W.A.G’s Tale, Tarabull
Pluck on the Long Trail, Saturn
Van Cleve, Walls
Captivating Mary Carstairs, Second
The Claim Jumpers, White
Curiosities of the Sky, Seviss
The State, Wilson
Stories of the Revolution, Strange
Women of the Bible, (no author listed)
Our World, Strong
Book on Indian Braves, Sweester
Village Library in Mass, Tarbell
Ever After, Tompkins
The Allensworth School
Prior to the construction of the first schoolhouse being built, the early settlers held classes in Mr. and Mrs. Hackett’s home. In 1910, a one-room schoolhouse was built, and was eventually moved to a different site to make room for the construction of a larger schoolhouse. The first school became the Mary Dickerson Memorial Library.
In 1912, Allensworth’s second school was built on this site, at what was then the junction between the town and the farm sections. The school was governed by an elected three-member school board. Mrs. Josephine Allensworth, Mrs. Oscar Overr and Mrs. William H. hall were the first trustees. The capital investment made by the Allensworth school district for the schoolhouse, staff, and equipment was considerably greater than other neighboring districts.
The Allensworth School District was organized on February 8, 1912. On June 15, 1912, the Board of Trustees consisting of Josephine Allensworth, W. H. Hall, and Cora Overr resolved an election at Allensworth. A one-room frame schoolhouse with partitions to divide the large area into two classrooms was constructed in 1912. There were five defined spaces in the school building: Two classrooms, two dressing rooms, and one stage area.
It is a tribute to the Allensworth pioneers that this building, which has always been the town’s largest structure, stands today as a lasting statement of the town’s commitment to education. The school housed many of the community’s functions and organizations. Activities involving both adults and children took place throughout the school year on the site. Among these activities were meetings of the Allensworth Progressive Association, the Women’s Improvement League, the Debating Society, the Theater Club, and the Glee Club.
One of the most memorable events that occurred every year at the Allensworth School was the commencement exercise. Sunday opened this celebrated occasion and the graduation exercise held on Friday evening would close the week-long annual event. African-Americans historically have had a great desire for obtaining an education. This desire was in large part due to the fact that they had been systematically excluded due to the practice of slavery and later by “Jim Crow” laws. As a result, the Allensworth community grew and developed around an educational institution.
The second building served as a school until 1972. School personnel and the dates they taught at the school are listed below:
Professor William Payne, 1909-1922
Miss Whiting, (dates unknown)
Margaret Prince, (dates unknown)
Lessie Crosland 1920-1924
Amanda Humphrey, 1924-1929
Lessie Crosland Coleman, 1929-1931
Grace Hackett, 1931-1935
Alwortha hall, 1935-1944
Muriel B. Anderson, 1944-1946
Anna Marie Triplett, 1946-1947
Anna Marie Stedman, 1947-1951
Alworth Hall Tompkins, 1951-1953
Florida Bingham, 1953-1954
Willie Mae Carter, 1954-1955
George Finley, 1955-1959
George Finly and Amanda Jones, 1960-1961
Singleton’s General Store and Post Office operated for about sixteen years on this site. The building was originally occupied by Mrs. Mary Bicker – the town’s first postmistress. The Singletons (Joshua, Henrietta, and their three children, Van, Virginia, and Henry) left Kansas and arrived in Allensworth in 1910. In 1912, the Singleton General Store opened. The retail store and post office occupied the front room and the family’s living quarters were in the rear of the building. The store area was one large room occupying two-thirds of the building and contained a cubicle for the post office. The residential area occupied one-third of the building which was divided equally into three rooms; a kitchen, dining room, and bedroom. Access to the living quarters was through a door at the rear of the store. The store access was through double doors leading from the unit which contained the post office boxes on either side of a pass window where a kerosene lamp sat. Extending from the post office area was a counter with open shelves running the length behind the counter. An ice cooler was placed at the end of the counter. A heating stove sat in the back west corner. In the east corner, sacks were stacked against the wall underneath a shelf. A long counter was located on the east side of the store with open shelves on the walls. A coffee grinder with a big wheel, a cheese cutter, a cash register, and a meat cutter were permanent fixtures on the counter.
The store’s sign did not have the Singleton name on it, although, it may have read, “Allensworth Cash Store”. The words “Post Office” were present. Supplies were ordered and shipped by train from Stockton, San Francisco, or Fresno. Singleton stocked men’s work clothes, underwear, overalls, and red bandanna handkerchiefs. The food supplies included, Folgers and MJB coffee, which some people at Allensworth call Mary Jane Bickers’ coffee because she had the same initials as MJB and owned the first store in town. Coffee came in one and five pound sacks of whole beans. Coffee beans were fed into the grinder and put back into the original sack. Cold meats like salami, bologna, salt pork, bacon, and other perishables like milk, cheese, and butter were kept in an “ice box”. Ice was ordered from Corcoran and stored under the floor in the dining room. Mr. Singleton sliced the bacon with the slicer located near the end of the counter so it would show in the window. Cigars were displayed in a glass case near the front of the store. Two big sponges that looked like red bricks were kept near the cigars to keep them from drying out. The cheese cutter consisted of a board, a lever, and a slicer. Round wheels of cheese were placed on the board. One lift the of the lever measured one-quarter. The slicer would then cutoff the desired amount. Cheese and meat were packaged using a ball of string hanging over one of the counters and a big roll of paper lying nearby. The store had scales like vegetable scales, marked so the price could be seen by following the line. The cash register was the latest at the time.
Townspeople went to the Singleton store almost daily to check on the mail. At lunch time, folks would stop by for a box of crackers or a can of sardines.
The post office was established September 25, 1909. Mary Jane Bickers was the first postmistress and apparently operated the Post Office from her store. The original mailboxes are presently located in the Singleton General Store. On September 15, 1910, Joshua W. Singleton assumed the duties on February 10, 1920 when Carlos J. Powell replaced him. Henry Singleton followed on October 19, 1921, and Joshephine Cowes ran it from January 26, 1922 until January 30, 1932 when Anna H. Wells became postmistress. The Post Office was discontinued on April 13, 1933, thereafter all mail was sent to Earlimart, California.
Sergeant Frank Smith was a retired military man. While the Colonel received a $300.00 monthly retirement check, Sergeant Smith’s was just $30.00 per month. This home in contrast to the Colonel’s will offer visitors insight into the various styles of homes constructed in the town. Frank built his home with wood shipped in by train. Originally he built the home as a two-bedroom house. Later he added another bedroom by converting his back porch to accommodate his nephew.
Located in the front bedroom closet is a piece of the original wood with the writing “Smith’s Home, Allensworth California.” This home illustrates the carpentry and construction skills military men possessed during this time period. As you enter the home, you will see a piano, which is one of the few items not built by Frank. The couch and rocker were made by him from the wood left over from the construction of his home and illustrate his skill. To your left in the living room, you see a picture of the Sergeant and other items on the walls. On the right in the front bedroom, is a bed frame handmade by the Sergeant. There is also a Singer treadle sewing machine. On the wall to the right of the bed is a picture safe, typical of the kind used in many homes during this period. All beds in the home have feather mattresses.
There is an icebox in the kitchen and a large stove. The tree in the backyard, known as a “tamarack,” is thought to have been planted when the town was thriving. The rug in the middle bedroom is over 100 years old.
In the center of a large vacant area, across from the Col. House, is the historic site of the Ashby house. The Ashby House was the very first house built in Allensworth. The Ashby’s moved to Allensworth immediately after its founding. They came from Colorado and are credited with founding of Masonic Lodges.
Next to the Restaurant and noted by the historical marker was the town’s Blacksmith Ship. The Blacksmith Shop was a key element to the town’s survival. When things broke they were brought to the blacksmith to be fixed. Farm equipment, livery equipment, hinges, pots, keys and locks. The Blacksmith Shop repaired and crafted tools and equipment for Allensworth.
Information about this building will be coming soon!
Information about this building will be coming soon!
The church on the left was not built between 1908 and 1918. This building is currently being used by the local community of Allensworth to hold church services. Once the Allensworth Church is restored, this building will be moved into the community of Allensworth, outside the historical area.
This is the site of the Hackett house. James Alexander and his wife, Mrs. Alice Hackett built their home on this site in 1909. The very first school lessons were held in Allensworth were held in their unfinished living room. Mr. Hackett was born in roaring River, N.C., while slavery still existed. In his adult years he became well acquainted with philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W.E. DuBois. He is credited with creating a number of organizations which incorporated the philosophies of both.
The fenced area is the site of the Johnson Bakery. The bakery also operated a coffee and donut shop. Mrs. Manervia Mattie Johnson operated this business which sold bread and other shop baled goods to residents, visitors, and to surrounding communities.
Information about this building will be coming soon!