Lt. Col. Allen Allensworth
April 7, 1842 – September 14, 1914
Allensworth, Calif.: A California Dream
He was born into slavery in Louisville, Kentucky in 1842, Allen was the youngest of thirteen children of Phyllis and Levi Allensworth. He was a visionary who believed no one was bond but was to be free. One day he fled from slavery and entered into the Uinon as a solider. He studied theology and was ordanined a Baptist Minister . In 1880 and 1884, he served as the only black delegate from Kentucky in the Republican National Conventions. In 1886 he gained an appointment Lt. Col and the military chaplain. He gained support by both southern and northern politicians for appointment as a chaplain in the US Army. his appointment was confirmed by the Senate, as necessary at the time, and approved by the president. He was one of the few black chaplains in the US Army and was assigned to the 24th Infantry Regiment, known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
In 1877 he married Josephine Leavell the two met at Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was an accomplished pianist, organist and music teacher. They had two daughters together, Eva and Nella.
His family accompanied him on assignments in the West, ranging from Fort Bayard, New Mexico Territory to Fort Supply, Indian Territory and Fort Harrison.. His wife played organ in the fort chapels. to a unit of Buffalo Soldiers. He served in the US Army for 20 years, retiring in 1906.
In 1908 Lt. Col. Allen Allensworth and four others set up the California Colony and Home Promoting Association with the mind-set of establishing the state’s first all-black township. Located on the Santa Fe rail line, by 1914 the town housed which was governed and finaced by African Americans.the first black school district, a judicial system and a hotel. The town struggled to stay afloat in the face of setbacks, from water-supply issues to the railroad closing its stop there. The township is now preserved as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. The state has preserved the site and is gradually restoring its buildings. The most important building is the school house, which the community prized as representing the future of its children. In use until 1972, it is furnished as it would have been on a school day in 1915. The park arranges special events to celebrate the former community’s history, and the park’s visitor center features a film about the site. An annual re-dedication ceremony reaffirms the vision of the original pioneers.
Col. Allensworth’s residence is preserved and furnished in the 1912-period style. It contains items from his life in the military service and the ministry. A small display of farm equipment is a reminder of the Allensworth economic base.