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.