Allensworth, California

Allensworth is an unincorporated community in Tulare County, California.[2] Established by Allen Allensworth in 1908, the town was the first in California to be founded, financed, and governed by African-Americans.[3]

Allensworth, California
Allensworth's restored buildings now occupy Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.
Allensworth's restored buildings now occupy Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.
Allensworth, California is located in California
Allensworth, California
Allensworth, California
Position in California.
Coordinates: 35°51′00″N 119°23′21″W / 35.85000°N 119.38917°W / 35.85000; -119.38917
CountryUnited States
Named forAllen Allensworth
 • Total3.10 sq mi (8.04 km2)
 • Land3.10 sq mi (8.04 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0%
Elevation213 ft (65 m)
 • Total531
 • Density171.18/sq mi (66.09/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code661
FIPS code06-01010
GNIS feature ID2585402

The original townsite is designated as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. The 2020 United States census reported Allensworth's population was 531, up from 471 at the 2010 census. For statistical purposes, the United States Census Bureau has defined Allensworth as a census-designated place (CDP).

Allensworth sits at an elevation of 213 feet (65 m),[2] the same elevation as the huge and historically important Tulare Lake shore when it was full.[4] The community is located in the ZIP Code 93219 and in the area code 661.

History Edit

The town was named for and in part established by Col. Allen Allensworth, a chaplain of the United States Army who escaped slavery during the Civil War.

On June 30, 1908, clergyman Colonel Allen Allensworth and Denison University graduate Professor William Alexander Payne[5][6] established the California Colony and Home Promoting Association.[6] Allensworth and Payne were the chief officers, with the other constituents being miner John W. Palmer; minister William H. Peck; and real estate agent Harry A. Mitchell (all of whom were Black men).[6] The Association purchased 20 acres of land from the Pacific Farming Company with the goal of establishing a town for Black soldiers. The land was situated at the then-extant Santa Fe rail line stop, titled "Solita."[3] The land was divided into individual parcels,[7][3] forming "a colony of orderly and industrious African Americans who could control their own destiny."[8]

Allensworth's reputation drew many from all over the country to the town, causing some to buy property sight-unseen in order to support the efforts. In the early 20th century, the area boasted a great boom and hosted California's first African American school district by 1910.[9]

The town was especially reported upon in 1912 to 1915, the period considered its apex as a thriving community.[8] Its growth was reported in The New York Age, the California Eagle (which emphasized that "there is not a single white person having anything to do with the affairs of the colony") and the Los Angeles Times, which labelled Allensworth as the "ideal Negro settlement."[8]

By 1914, the town had established a schoolhouse, thereby becoming California’s first African American school district. It also had a courthouse, a Baptist church, a hotel, and a Tulare County library.[3]

However, multiple complications occurred in 1914. The Santa Fe rail system moved its railroad stop from Allenstown to Alpaugh.[3] In September 1914, Colonel Allensworth died in Monrovia, California, where he was struck by a motorcycle while crossing the street.[10] The town experienced extreme losses, coupled with severe drought due to water being redirected from the town causing decreased crop yields. Despite this, the 1915 voting registration showed "farmers, storekeepers, carpenters, nurses and more, all suggesting that the colony’s business and industrial output was prodigious."[8]

Many[quantify] residents left the area following World War I.[9]

The California Colony and Home Promoting Association's 1929 blueprint of Allensworth is available for viewership online via the California State Archives.[11]

The town of Allensworth was scheduled for demolition in 1966 when arsenic was found in the water supply.[9]

Legacy Edit

The town was memorialized as a state park in 1974, and hosts seasonal events to preserve its history, which garner "thousands of visitors" from around the state. The area around the park is inhabited.[3] In 1976, the Colonel Allensworth Historic Park was established, a process which was started by Cornelius Ed Pope. Historic buildings from 1908-1918 have been restored in the town center.[12]

A number of the restored buildings are at the center of the 2022 documentary film Allensworth by James Benning. The film had its U.S. premiere at the 2022 Denver Film Festival[13] and its European premiere at the 2023 Berlinale.[14]

Geography Edit

Allensworth marks the eastern high-water shoreline of Tulare Lake, (once the largest U.S. lake outside the Great Lakes,) which supported one of the largest Indian populations on the continent, herds of elk, millions of water fowl, as well as a commercial fishery and ferry service.[15] Other townsites located on this historic shoreline include Lemoore on its northern tip, and Kettleman City on the western shore, while nearby Alpaugh is on the eastern end of a long, sandy ridge at elevation 210 ft. that was once called Hog Island. Due to diversions of the natural waterways since the mid to late 19th century, only a tiny remnant of Tulare Lake now remains. The last time Tulare Lake was full and overflowed its spillway (near Lemoore) was 1878.

Just north of Allensworth is the Pixley National Wildlife Refuge, 6,833-acre (27.65 km2) grassland and wetland habitats operated by the Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Of great interest, thousands of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), use this refuge each winter from November through March. Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), are among the 141 type of birds that can be seen here.[16] Burrowing owls are sometimes present.[17] Also present are Pacific pond turtles, once an important part of Tulare Lake's fishery trade with San Francisco.

Adjacent to the town is Allensworth Ecological Reserve. The endangered San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) can be found in this area.[16]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP covers an area of 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2), all of it land.

Demographics Edit

Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[18]

The 2010 United States Census[19] reported that Allensworth had a population of 471. The population density was 151.8 inhabitants per square mile (58.6/km2). The racial makeup of Allensworth was 158 (33.5%) White, 22 (4.7%) African American, 0 (0.0%) Native American, 8 (1.7%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 279 (59.2%) from other races, and 4 (0.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 436 persons (92.6%).

The Census reported that 471 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 115 households, out of which 69 (60.0%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 67 (58.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 20 (17.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 11 (9.6%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 10 (8.7%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 1 (0.9%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 13 households (11.3%) were made up of individuals, and 7 (6.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.10. There were 98 families (85.2% of all households); the average family size was 4.37.

The population was spread out, with 187 people (39.7%) under the age of 18, 66 people (14.0%) aged 18 to 24, 100 people (21.2%) aged 25 to 44, 93 people (19.7%) aged 45 to 64, and 25 people (5.3%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.6 males.

There were 142 housing units at an average density of 45.8 per square mile (17.7/km2), of which 56 (48.7%) were owner-occupied, and 59 (51.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0%; the rental vacancy rate was 11.8%. 220 people (46.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 251 people (53.3%) lived in rental housing units.

Education Edit

The Allensworth School District hosts a single school serving grades K through 8.[20] That school is named Allensworth Elementary School.[21]

Government Edit

In the California State Legislature, Allensworth is in the 16th Senate District, represented by Democrat Melissa Hurtado, and in the 33rd Assembly District, represented by Republican Devon Mathis.[22]

In the United States House of Representatives, Allensworth is in California's 22nd congressional district, represented by Republican David Valadao.[23]

References Edit

  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Allensworth Census Designated Place". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Allensworth, California". Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  4. ^ U.S. Geologic Survey: STRUCTURAL CONTROL OF INTERIOR DRAINAGE, SOUTHERN SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA By George H. Davis and J. H. Green, Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, Calif. "The low point of Tulare Lake Bed is 178 feet above sea level; the divide to the north is 210 feet above sea level" ... "During periods of high runoff, Tulare Lake would fill to an elevation of 210 feet and would discharge north to the San Joaquin River and thence to the Pacific Ocean. Playas or salt flats did not form because through-flowing water periodically flushed out accumulated salt."
  5. ^ "'Promised Land': A Historically Black California Town Honors Its Proud, Painful Past — and Fights for Its Future". KQED. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "William Payne Innovation Lab for Racial, Social, Political and Communal Sustainability". Denison University William Payne Innovation Lab. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  7. ^ Gudde, Erwin; William Bright (2004). California Place Names (4th ed.). University of California Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-520-24217-3.
  8. ^ a b c d "Allensworth: California's First African-American Community". HistoryNet. June 12, 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c "Park Brochure". Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  10. ^ Dixson, Brennon (February 20, 2023). "Allensworth, a one-time Black utopia, could rise again from the Central Valley dust". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  11. ^ "Tract of California Colony and Home Promoting Association: Town of Allensworth - Public Utilities Commission Records, Administration Division Records, Formal Complaints (Cases), Case No. 2699: George P. Black vs. Allensworth Rural Water Company, California State Archives". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  12. ^ Mikell, Robert (September 7, 2017). "The History of Allensworth, California (1908-)". Black Past. Archived from the original on June 11, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  13. ^ "Allensworth". Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  14. ^ "Allensworth". Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  15. ^ Historic Tulare County: A Sesquicentennial History, 1852-2002, By Chris Brewer, page 28, and nearby.
  16. ^ a b Natural Resource Projects Inventory (NRPI) Catalog - Allensworth Ecological Reserve Restoration Project
  17. ^ Checklist of Birds of Pixley National Wildlife Refuge
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  19. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Allensworth CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  20. ^ "Allensworth School District". Tulare County Office of Education. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "Allensworth Elementary - School Directory Details (CA Dept of Education)". Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  22. ^ "Find Your Legislators". OpenStates. Plural. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  23. ^ "California's 22nd Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved May 9, 2023.

External links Edit