Scattered across a wide-open street grid on a flat plain in the southern San Joaquin Valley, this reconstructed town commemorates its founder, Col. Allen Allensworth (1842-1914), a retired military officer who helped establish it for fellow African Americans.Born into slavery, Allen Allensworth escaped during the Civil War, serving as a civilian nurse for the Union Army before joining the Navy. In 1871 he became a minister, and in 1886 joined the US Army as a chaplain for the all-Black 24th Infantry. By the time of his retirement in 1906, he had attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, making him the highest-ranking African American military officer at that time.Col. Allensworth devoted his retirement to promoting self-sufficiency among US blacks. Founded in 1908, the town of Allensworth initially grew and prospered as a railroad transshipment center for agricultural products, but after Col. Allensworth was killed in a road accident in Los Angeles in 1914, it began to decline. In 1976, the state of California set aside part of Allensworth as a state historic park, and has since restored several buildings while making plans to rebuild a score more. Although Col. Allensworth maintained a home near Los Angeles, he lived part-time in the Allensworth Home (1911), a reconstructed prefabricated bungalow on the corner of Dunbar Road and Sojourner Avenue; it is now furnished in period style. Also on view are the Allensworth School, Singleton's General Store (1910), the Allensworth Hotel and the Tulare County Free Library.
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