HISTORY INDEX>Allen Village & Township

Allen Village & Township
Click here to view full size picture ALLEN AND ALLEN TOWNSHIP

Allen Township derived its name from the first white man to settle in Hillsdale County—Captain Moses Allen. In 1825, Allen had been a part of the team conducting the first survey of the Pottawatomie trading trail running between Detroit and Chicago.

He returned with his family in 1827 and built a log cabin. The ownership of his land, which is slightly east of the present village, was recorded in the land office in Monroe in 1829. Because many others were following in his footsteps, Allen decided to build a tavern in what was to become Allen’s Prairie and later the Village of Allen. (It was the unwritten law of the wilderness to freely give food and shelter to any traveler who appeared at the door) The tavern, Allen, reasoned, would give protection to travelers from weather as well as wolves. Sadly, Allen died in the same year his land purchase was recorded. His wife with the help of other family members continued to operate the tavern until 1835. Some of these early settlers and family members: were James Burdick, his father Icabod, and his brother Ambrose, Abijah Mosher and Daniel Stanton. At one time 28 people lived in the Burdick log cabin until homes could be built. For this reason, saw mills were soon established in the 1830’s to provide lumber for homes and barns. It is interesting to note that these early dwellings often only had blankets for doors. Sometimes windows were brought in the wagons with tools and seeds as the homesteaders made their way to the new territory.

Thomas Reed and his family settled along the Turnpike west of Allen’s land along some vital springs which provided clear cold water. His son, John, bought more land next to his father’s original one hundred land sixty acres and the two men planted one of the early orchards in the area. This family group was joined by a daughter of Thomas Reed, whose husband was Henry Clark.

In 1829 Richard and Joseph Corbus took land near Sand Creek. They also planted an orchard in what was later to become Green’s Orchard. Richard and Daniel Bostwick built the first frame house. Other carpenters came to the region. William Trumper, John Darling and George Smith lived in Allen but walked to Hillsdale to help build the first structures at Hillsdale College as well as homes in Hillsdale.

The Allen Cemetery was platted in 1836 with Richard Corbus recorded as the first person buried here. Moses Allen had been buried on his farm but his coffin was moved and placed near the entrance to the Cemetery.

By 1857, there were nineteen structures in the village comprising homes, a hotel, a mill, a school and two churches. Schools were important to the early inhabitants. The first one was located near the present Post Office. At first these schools were rough log cabins furnished with a wood-burning stove in the middle to provide warmth, a teacher’s desk, and student benches. By 1846, there were six school districts in the Township. This was increased to nine by 1872 and still later there were 13 school districts.

The first Post Office was established in Allen in 1830 and was known as Sylvanus—later in 1868 the name was officially changed to Allen.

Several churches were organized in the village. The Methodist Episcopal Church began in 1833 and it was followed by the First Baptist Church and Society, organized in 1841. The Baptists and the Wesleyan Methodists together built and used a union church during the years of 1844-45.

In these early years most of the land was given over to farming. Farms still abound in the Township today though the hard labor of dawn to dusk and brute force of man and beast has now radically changed. The Village of Allen itself is now known as the “Antique Capital of Michigan.”

Information compiled from 150 in the Hills and Dales

sign in Allen
Allen Mi. [Click here to view full size picture]
Chicago Road in Allen, north side
Allen Hotel and State Savings [Click here to view full size picture]
The Allen Hotel and State Savings Bank ca.1920
early mail [Click here to view full size picture]
This letter recieved at Allens Prairie is believed to be one of the first pieces of mail delivered to Hillsdale County.
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