This is one of the central townships lying south of Grand River. It is well watered, and in some places swampy, having Trader’s Creek and Bass River draining into the Grand River.

This town is now organized is only a fraction of a township, lying south of Grand River, that portion of the original township lying north of Grand River being attached to Polkton. Allendale when first organized, included what is now Blendon and Zeeland. The first settler was Richard Roberts, of Wales, in 1842, who built a log cabin known as the Half-way House, between Grand Haven and Grandville. He was soon after followed by his brother-in-law, Jones. The land is rolling, the soil clay and sandy loam, well adapted to tillage and grazing, and is very productive. The south-east corner of it, about the mouth of Bass River, is very fertile and well adapted to fruits of all kinds. Small fruits and vegetables are grown in great abundance. The area under cultivation is about 4,000 acres, producing over 30,00-0 bushels of grain and over 7,000 bushels of potatoes, for which product it is well adapted. It also produced over 1,000 tons of hay. The taxable value of property is about $132,000, or $120 per capita. The population is about 1,100.

The town as first organized included towns 5 and 6, and part of 7, in range 14, or all of the range south of the river. In 1849 it included the present town, with Blendon and Zeeland. In 1850 the vote for Governor was only 36. In 1851 Zeeland Township was separated from Allendale, and three years later Blendon was organized, leaving but a fractional township in lieu of the large original area. The first town meeting was held at the house of Richard Roberts, and Jeremy Stubbs was elected Supervisor.


A very considerable portion of the township was originally clothed with pine, hemlock timber and lumbering interest was for a long time the chief one in the town. A considerable portion of its forest was purchased by a lumber company, who constructed a cheap railroad for horse or steam power, leading from the river back into the pineries of this and Blendon township, and rapidly exhausted their lands of the best timber. With the failure of the forest other interests received more attention.

It was a late day before it was settled at all, and its subsequent history is that of most other towns where lumbering is the chief interest. The most of the land was purchased for its pine, and held for that by speculators and non-residents. Again, about 1836, the spirit of speculators was rife in the east for purchasing western lands.

Until as late as 1855 a great proportion of the best farming lands was so held-at first, with an iron grip; afterwards, from a disrelish of paying taxes-with a looser hand. Most of the really desirable land on the Grand River was so held, and this is one of the reasons why townships, one or two removes from the river, were settled before those along the side. Back from the river was land that could be bought at Government price, or with State scrip. Near the river land was owned by, no one knew who; and was not open to occupation. Allendale, unfortunately, was in this category, and long remained a place for cutting logs and hunting deer.

In June, 1843, Richard Roberts took up the first one hundred and sixty acres that was occupied by an actual settler, and for several years kept a place of entertainment for travelers. He sold out and moved to the place where he spent the rest of his life. In 1834-4, came Thomas Jones, John Hanna and Ephraim Pierson. In 1844 Robert Scott came on, cleared a few acres and then went back. The family, his mother and brothers, Alexander and James, came on and occupied. He followed them two years afterwards. In 1845, Alexander Milne took up his residence in the town. Morris Reed located in 1847. There were the pioneers; others slowly followed.

In 1851, the Methodist formed a society or class of nine members-Wm. Comfort, Joseph Burlingham, Johnson Balcom, Alexander Milne and their wives, and Lucy J. Spear. This was formed under the ministration of the Rev. Wm. C. Comfort.

About 1854 Albert Maxfield, a local preacher, organized a class of Wesleyan Methodists. Some of the original class joined them and the original society ceased to exist. This society has had an active existence since, and now regular preaching but no church edifice.

In 1872, the Congregationalists organized a society of about fifteen members and with the aid of some liberal people have erected a church on Section 23, about a mile east of Allendale P.O., which is near the old Reynolds’ saw mill, on Section 23.

A boy from Grand Rapids named Burton was the first school teacher, at $10. A month.

The population was in 1850, 168; in 1854, 196; 1860, 245; in 1870, 790; in 1880, 1,074.

C, W. Ingraham was Supervisor in 1876, F. J. Brown in 1877-8; J. E. Blake, in 1879, Edgar Babcock in 1880 and F. J. Brown again in 1881.


At an early date the late Richard Roberts built a saw mill and a spoke factory, and a store and blacksmith shop arose in a place south of the Grand River, about a mile east of Eastmanville, and as considerable pine was cut here, it was for years a place of considerable actively. In 1872 the mill machinery and the store were put on two flat boats and moved to Beech Tree, two miles east of Grand Haven, and the mill is still running. The glory of Charleston has departed.

One of the early settlers who deserves honorable mention is Giles T. Woodbury, who retired from partnership with Mr. Albee in the Grand Haven tannery and took a farm in Allendale in 1862. He died in 1867, aged 48 years.


The late Richard Roberts was born near Balla, Wales, October 18, 1812, which he left April 8, 1843, and came from Utica to Buffalo by canal boat, thence by steamer to Chicago, and thence by steamer to Grand Haven, and thence to the wilderness of Allendale.

Thomas Jones was the friend, partner, and fellow townsman of the late Richard Roberts, emigrating the same year from Wales to Allendale. He was elected town Treasurer, and also to other town offices. In 1852 he went to Wales and married Miss A. Roberts, (Richard’s sister) returning the same year, and by diligence and industry he accumulated a competency. He and Richard Roberts cleared up their farms together in the summers, and logged and lumbered in the winters. Soon after building their mill at Charleston their partnership ceased, Roberts retaining the timber, and Jones, the land stripped of the timber. The farm of 320 acres was in Section 22 and 23, and is the best farming land in the township, being well-watered and rolling, and well adapted for fruit and grain and grass growing. In former times Jones’ inn was the favorite stopping place between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven. Mr. Jones died September 12, 1880, leaving an

Unencumbered estate of $20,000. His wife and three children survive him. John E., his son, manages the farm, and Mary A., the youngest daughter, teaches in the district. Mr. Jones was for years the first post master, the office being called Allendale P.O., and was kept in a log house.


J. E. Blake, farmer, was born in New Hampshire in 1827, and was brought up to the mercantile business as a clerk in his father’s store, receiving an academic training. In 1848 he went to California, going into mining, but owing to failing health, returned and spent a year in Georgia. In 1860 he settled in Allendale and was employed by the late Richard Roberts. He has been Supervisor of the township, and is one of the leading spirits in everything that is brought forward for the development of the township.

Henry O. Brown, farmer, was born in St. Lawrence County, N.Y., in 1837, settling in Hillsdale County, Michigan, in 1849, and in Blendon in 1858, and in six years came to Allendale, where he is still living on Section 17. He married in 1863 Miss Anna L. Taylor, and has three children. He is highly respected citizen.

H. A. Cooley, farmer on Section 14 and 15, was born in Ohio in 1829, and settling in Talmadge in 1845, being one of its oldest settlers, is an engineer, having followed that profession for 28 years. He now resides in Allendale. He married in 1861 and has seven children.

Henry C. Cooley was born in Knox County, Ohio, in 1834, and in 1846 came to Allendale, engaging in farming and lumbering, and in 1867 was elected township Treasurer, and re-elected three times in succession, and has been two terms of two years post master, first in 1865m and next in 1870. He married in 1860 Miss Amanda Blood, of Walker, Kent County. Mr. Cooley is a veteran of the last war and receives a pension for being disabled in the service. He enlisted as a private in the Army of the West August 11, 1862, and received his discharge April 24, 1864.

George Latham was born in Ontario County, N.Y., in 1829, and in 1841 he came to Ottawa County. There was then but one grocery between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven, that of Mr. Steele, of Lamont, and the only school was at the same place. Mr. Latham has a forty acre farm on Section 23, Allendale.

Robert Milne was born in Aberdeenshire County, Scotland, in 1816, and came to America in 1852, settling in Georgetown, remaining there on Section 13 six years, clearing up sixty acres, when he sold out and purchased on Section 27, Allendale, consisting of eighty acres, which he has cleared up, and it forms part of the village of Allendale Centre. The carpenter’s and the blacksmith’s shops and several other buildings being on his land. He was married in 1839 to Miss Elizabeth Miller, of native place, and has had twelve children, of whom but three survive. These are: Robert, born 1847; James, 1849; Mary, 1851. Mr. Milne, among others offices, has been Justice of the Peace two years.

Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 12 June 2010