I read there would be a Juneteenth Celebration in Allensworth State Park, so Rob and I made the drive (3 hours) to visit this historic town which had been the only town in California to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans, over 100 years ago. I had read about Brooklyn, Illinois, America's first Black town, but I had no idea we had such a historic place in California. Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day) commemorate the abolition of slavery and is celebrated on June 19th. Although Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, it took until June 18, 1865 when 2,000 troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, for the law to be applied in the far West. Lt. Colonel Allen Allensworth was born into slavery, escaped during the Civil War and joined the Union forces. He became the highest ranking African American commissioned officier in the US military by the time of his retirement in 1906.
When founded, Allensworth was a depot station on the main Santa Fe Railroad line from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the soil was fertile, the water abundant and the acreage was plentiful and cheap. Within in a year, 35 families were residing in Allensworth…by 1912 it had over 100 people, two general stores, a post office, a school and a church.
1912-15 was it’s peak as a thriving community…there was a large poultry farm, a 10-room hotel, a cement manufacturing enterprise, a regional library, grain warehouses, cattle pens…the grass was green and wildflowers grew everywhere.
Tinky Winky wanted to pose with all the volunteers…each one had interesting stories to tell about the people and history of the town.
The Creator’s Star, has six points signifing the six day of creation. Also stands for the six attributes of God: power, wisdon, majesty, love, mercy and justice
Below: Barber Shop This one is dressed as a "Bufflo Soldier."
The term originally coined for the all black US 10th Cavalry Regiment, it became synonymous for all “Negro Cavalry” Regiments which were the 9th & 10th Cavalry and the 24th & 25th Infantry. The name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in 1867. Either based on the soldiers fierce fighting ability (a corner Bufflo will fight ferociously) or because the soldiers dark curly hair resembled a buffalo’s coat, it was a sign of respect. In the library was a Sears Catalog open to these pages.
It was on it’s way to becoming the “greatest Negro city in the United States” (as proclaimed by Delilah Beasley) when several crises led to its eventual decline.
Besides discriminatory hiring practices, refusing to rename the depot from Solito/Solita to Allensworth, the Santa Fe Railroad, in 1914 built a spur line to Alpaugh, allowing traffic to bypass Allensworth.1915 legisation was defeated tha would have created a Tuskegee-like institution.A long standing water problem got worst as the water table dropped too low.And the worst blow of all was the death of Allen Allensworth in 1914 after being hit by a speeding motorcycle in Monrovia. By 1920 it’s co-founder, Willian Payne, left the area. The exodus continued throgh the Great Depression and WWII. In 1966, arsenic was found in it’s water supply. In 1973 the state aquired the land and by 1973 plans were approved to develop a State Park. While we were there, several trains went by, filling the air with sounds of times gone by.