December 01, 2012

California State Historical Landmark No. 1047

For whom the bell tolls? The schoolhouse bell tolls for the beginning of the plaque unveiling ceremony for California State Historical Landmark No. 1047. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park was officially designated a California State Historical Landmark at the August 3, 2012 meeting of the State Historical Resources Commission.

On a chilly November 10th morning park visitors gathered in front of the Allensworth Schoolhouse as Friends of Allensworth President Thomas Stratton, Hackett Family Descendant Mrs. Alice Royal, Department of Parks and Recreation District Superintendent Kathy Weatherman, Tulare County District 2 Supervisor Pete Vander Poel III, California Assembly Woman Connie Conway, and Senior District Representative for the 62th Assembly District Shelia Futch gave their remarks from the Schoolhouse steps.

At the conclusion of the formal remarks Ms. Alice Royal stood up and took her place behind the covered plaque.  With Park Ranger Steven Ptomey standing on one side of her and Assembly Woman Connie Conway on the other side, Ms. Alice Royal reached down and pulled the black veil off the bronze plaque. The inscription reads:

Established on August 3, 1908, the town of Allensworth was the vision of LT. Colonel Allen Allensworth. Born in 1842, Allensworth escaped slavery during the Civil War and joined the Union Navy. In 1886, he became the chaplain of the 24th Infantry Regiment, retiring in 1906 as the highest ranking African American officer in the U.S. Army.
On June 30, 1908, Colonel Allensworth, Professor William Payne, Dr. W.H. Peck, Harry Mitchell and J.W. Palmer formed the California Colony and Home Promoting Association.  They purchased land at this location to build the town of Allensworth – the only town in California founded, built, governed and populated by African Americans.   

After the plaque unveiling visitors enjoyed refreshments and tours of the park's historic homes and businesses.

Among those present for the unveiling of the plaque were descendants of the town's first families; Anita Zackary, descendant of Col. Allensworth; Mrs. Alice Royal, descendant of the Hackett Family; and Mrs. Josephine Triplett, descendant of the Hall family.

Designation as a California State Historic Landmark is another milestone in the history of Allensworth, California.  August 3, 1908, the town of Allensworth was established.  On February 23, 1972, Allensworth was placed on the National Register of Historic Places; the official list of properties deemed worthy of preservation because they are important to a local community, the citizens of a specific state, or all Americans.  In 1976 Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park was established.  October 11 and 12, 2008, the Centennial of the towns of Allensworth was celebrated at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

Hopefully the park's next milestone is to join the less than 2,500 places that are designated as National Historic Landmarks.

Stephen Hill Sr.

November 17, 2012

Allensworth Inducted into Hall of Fame

On October 15, 2012 Allen Allensworth was posthumously inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. Formed in 1995, the Hall of Fame acknowledges men and women that have made distinguished contributions to the field of adult and continuing education.
Chaplain Allensworth was honored as a practitioner and pioneer in adult education for his educational contributions and achievements during his service with the 24th Infantry Regiment, an all Black regiment of “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Most of the soldiers in the 24th Infantry Regiment were former slaves or sons of former slaves that were not permitted to learn how to read and write. As the regiment’s chaplain the education of these soldiers fell on Allensworth.  However the Army gave chaplains little guidance and very limited supplies and materials. Allensworth took it upon himself to develop an educational program that would later be used Army wide.

In 1891 Allensworth traveled at his own expense to the National Education Association conference in Toronto, Canada, where he lectured on “The History and Progress of Military Education in the United States.” Chaplain Allensworth’s commitment to education not only enriched the lives of the soldiers in the 24th Infantry Regiment but also enriched the lives of soldiers all across the United States Army.

A plaque with a photograph of Colonel Allensworth and a description of his contributions to the field of adult education is displayed at the International Adult and Continuing Education Hal of Fame, located at the University of Oklahoma’s Oklahoma Center for Continuing Education in Norman, Oklahoma. Chaplain Allensworth and the other inductees are profited on the Hall of Fame website.

October 24, 2012

Mervyn M. Dymally Dies at 86

Mervyn M. Dymally, long time advocate for Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park died on Sunday, October 7, 2012, after a period of declining health. 

On March 11, 1970 Senator Dymally introduced Senate Bill 557 that directed the Department of Parks and Recreation to study the feasibility of including Allensworth in the state park system and to appoint a 25 member advisory committee.  On April 3, 1972 Senator Dymally introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 32 that requested that the Department of Parks and Recreation actively pursue funding for the acquisition of the historic town site of Allensworth. 

In 2007 Assemblymember Dymally, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, spoke out against the mega-dairies scheduled to be built near Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.  Dymally and the California Legislative Black Caucus sponsored Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter’s Assembly Bill 576 which would have created a 2.5 mile buffer around the park. 

According to Cal State Los Angeles political scientist Raphael J. Sonenshein , “Dymally built one of the most important black political organizations in Los Angeles”.  In 1962 Dymally was elected to the California State Assembly, in 1966 he became California’s first and only black lieutenant governor. Dymally served as a U.S. Congressman from 1981 to 1993.  He was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus from 1987 to 1989.

In 2002 at age 76 Dymally was elected to fill the same Assembly seat he won in 1962.

After learning of Dymally’s passing Congressman Charles B.Rangel said:
“I had the great honor of knowing and serving with Mervyn while he served in Congress.  I always admired how tirelessly he worked to advocate for civil, economic and human rights issues.  I will never forget working with Mervyn to pass the ‘Rangel Amendment’ in the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 to end apartheid in South Africa.”
Dymally is survived by his wife of 44 years, Alice Dymally; his daughter Lynn Dymally; his son Mark; and three sisters.

We will always remember Mervyn Dymally’s unending dedication to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

October 21, 2012

2nd Annual “Ghost Tour” fundraiser

Spend an evening with international ghost-hunter Barry Fitzgerald and veteran Bigfoot researchers Kathy Strain and John and Montra Freitas. Enjoy an evening exploring the unexplained and at the same time help the Portville Ghost Society raise money for Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

Barry Fitzgerald co-lead investigator of the television show Ghost Hunter International has over 17 years of experience in paranormal investigating. Kathy Strain, author of “Giants, Cannibals & Monsters:Bigfoot in Native Culture”, has cataloged Bigfoot sightings for more than twenty years. During this time she has never seen Bigfoot but “has discovered a Sasquatch nest… and swears she was once close enough to the creature that dirt was still falling from the sides of deep, 14-inch foot prints it left behind.”

John Freitas has conducted Bigfoot fieldwork and research for over 30 years. He is a trailblazer in “call blasting”; playing loud recordings of supposed Bigfoot sounds to attract a Bigfoot or get one to call back. Montra Freitas co-created and hosted the first “Operation Odyssey” a training camp for Bigfoot researchers. She is the former curator of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.

Only 50 tickets will be sold to this exclusive fundraiser.

The evening will include:

  •  Presentations
  • 4 locations to investigate paranormal activity with Barry Fitzgerald and the Porterville Ghost Society
  • “Call blasting” at an offsite location (transportation provided)
  •  Stargazing (weather permitting)
  • Raffle for:
             Bigfoot items
             Autographed books
             3 chances for an overnight stay at the park
What:    Ghost Hunt & Bigfoot event fund raiser
Where:  Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
When:   Saturday, November 3, 2012
Time:    5 pm to 1 am
Cost:     $75 per person (only 50 tickets will be sold!)

For more information visit the Porterville Ghost Society facebook Page.

October 07, 2012

36th Annual Rededication

Join the Friends of Allensworth as we celebrate our 36th annual rededication at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. This event is sponsored in cooperation with California Department of Parks and Recreation.

When: 10:00am to 4:00pm, October 13, 2012
Where: Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, 4011 Grant Drive, Earlimart, CA 93219.

One of the founding principles leading to the establishment of the town of Allensworth is education.
Allensworth became a school district February 8, 1912, so this year marks the 100 year anniversary of a school district established by African Americans in California.

This special Annual Rededication is presented to renew the commitment of the citizens of California to help the Department of Parks and Recreation preserve the history of the ethnically diverse contributions made in the development of the state of California and our nation. Our children get to have an enjoyable history education day with square dancing, tour of the historic buildings, including the two room school house, and games with prizes for the winners. Adults also get free tours and great entertainment in a fabulous outdoor event. There are also arts and crafts and food vendors for your enjoyment.

For more information including directions to Colonel Allensworth SHP visit: