Allendale Township History

Before the white man came, the Fox and Saco Indians were the first Indians in the area. Then Ottawas came down from the north and drove them out. The Maskatay Indians resided south of the Grand River, living in peace with the Ottawas for many years. The Potawatomi Indians camped along the Grand River near Bass River until about 1890, living in bark houses, not teepees or wigwams. The first white men to come into the Allendale area were the fur traders.

The first white settlers were the Richard Roberts family from Scotland. Roberts first built a log home which later became a half-way river house between Grand Haven and Grandville. Roberts then built a second home, an imposing structure according to early atlas drawings, called Charleston Village Landing.

Allendale was in a very strategic area for early commerce along the Grand River. This was an indication of its future development. The Ottawa and Potawatomi Indians camped in the Bass River area and were eventually assimilated into the development. After the depletion of fur trading came lumbering and mill work. Allendale pine forests consisting of maple, elm, beech, and white oak were lumbered off and shipped by river to Grand Rapids. No timber was shipped until it was sawed into lumber and, thus, saw mills became prevalent. A large one still in operation as late as 1896 was located in the village of Allendale on 68th Street.

Transportation by water was most convenient and economical. Ferries and bridges were built to provide river crossings for wagons and trucks to reach markets in Grand Rapids. In 1917, the Eastmanville Bridge was completed, the only river-crossing access in central Ottawa County. After sixty years of traffic, this bridge was replaced.

Pearline, a small settlement, developed on the corner along the highway at 56th Avenue and M-45. Having to choose a name, some men at the grocery store saw an overhead sign saying "Pearline Washes Silks Perfectly." Pearline was a pearly white washing soap for cleaning embroidery. Thus, the settlement became Pearline. A few stores, a wagon shop, and eventually the First Christian Reformed Church, were located on that corner. The name disappeared in 1962, and the area is now part of Allendale Township.

In and around the year 1848, formal steps were taken to organize as a unit of government. Allendale was then called the Township of Malta. When this name was submitted to the state legislature, it was changed to Allendale because of the large percentage of Scottish people and because of a Scottish song, "Rose of Allendale."

ENGINE HOUSE NUMBER FIVE, 6610 LAKE MICHIGAN DRIVE. The Engine House was originally constructed in the city of Grand Rapids in 1880. Because of its historical value, it was purchased and dismantled brick by brick in 1981. In 1984, it was reconstructed in Allendale as a Fire Museum. It houses hundreds of relics of the past, including several old fire trucks, horse and hand drawn fire equipment, almost every conceivable old fire fighting tool, alarm system, telephone system and firemen's dress. The museum also houses many displays collected by the Allendale Historical Society.

VILLAGE OF CHARLESTON, 60th AND 62nd AVENUE ON THE GRAND RIVER. At one time, there was a saw mill, a spoke factory, a blacksmith shop, boat docks, stores and several houses in this village. It served as a halfway house and docking point for river traffic between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids. Plat records show between seven and eight hundred lots were recorded. With the decline of river traffic, the town could not survive. As trees became more scarce, the saw mill and spoke factory moved to Grand Haven, causing the rapid fall of the village.

VILLAGE OF BLENDON LANDING. This village was located on a bluff above the Grand River. At the base of the bluff along the Grand River stood a saw mill and shipyard. The village contained a large boarding house, a general store, a school house, an ice house, a blacksmith shop, a saloon and a number of cabins. There were sluices and a spillway for delivering logs from the bluff to the sawmill and shipyard. Every building, even the long stairway to the mill, was painted red. In the shipyard, several schooners were built, and schooner masts were shipped as far as Chicago. The village also boasted a brick making industry.

OTTAWA CITY, 40th AVENUE AND OTTAWA CREEK. Ottawa City was the first city platted in the area. It was located on the west bank of the Grand River and on both sides of Ottawa Creek. The plat contained about five hundred fifty lots and was recorded in 1835, but was never the site of a building.

WARREN CITY, WEST OF BASS RIVER ON THE GRAND. Warren City became another "paper city" and pioneer adventure. In 1837, the plat was entered in the plat book at the recorder's office. The David Smith family and a large population of Indians were the only known residents. About 1840, the county commissioners designated Warren City as the future county seat.

WHITE SCHOOL, 68th AVENUE AND WARNER STREET. White School was the first school, built in the 1850s and made of logs. It was replaced by a cement block structure in 1904. The building burned in 1927 and was promptly replaced.

PARISH SCHOOL, 84th AND BUCHANAN STREETS. As the number of students increased, the building nearly doubled in size. Many school yards given by individuals reverted to original owners when no longer used. This was true of the Parish, Blakeney and Star Schools. The Parish school building was sold to Peter Hoek and moved east on Buchanan Street.

BLAKENEY SCHOOL, BLISS STREET AND 44th AVENUE. Blakeney School was moved west a short distance to the north end of 46th Avenue. Because the enrollment had dwindled to around ten pupils, the school was closed in 1938. The building was sold in 1955 and is now a residence.

KENNETH STEVENS' CENTENNIAL FARM, 7584 WARNER STREET. This is one of only two Centennial Farms in the township. Stevens' great-grandfather, Ronsom Stevens, came to Allendale from a New York farm in 1867. He boated his wife, six children, and a team of horses from Buffalo to Detroit. The family took the train to Coopersville, while a son Edward, age eighteen, led the horses from Detroit to Allendale. It took Edward a week to make the trip.

Stevens purchased the eighty-acre farm from a bachelor who apparently had bargained for it from Galien Eastman of Eastmanville. At first there was a log house eighty rods south of the present home. The lumber industry claimed Edward's life when he was twenty-four. He worked at Bass River for George Eastman. A pile of logs gave way unexpectedly, and a large log rolled over him, breaking his neck. Another son, Harry, took over the farm from his father, Ronsom. Lyle inherited it from Harry, and Kenneth from his father, Lyle.

POST CENTENNIAL FARM, 12144 56th AVENUE. This was the township's second Centennial Farm to be certified. It had been in the family since 1876, when it was purchased by Cornelius and Cornelia Post. The existing house is the third built on the farm. The first was on the north side of the drive. Later, a new house was erected. It burned in 1960, taking the life of Gerrit, a next generation farmer. Another brother, John, who survived the fire, built a new house. It is now owned by two grandchildren of the original owners, Ben Post and his sister, Cornelia Rodenhouse. Neither resides on the farm. The large barns are gone, and some of the land has been sold, but to neighbors it is still the Old Post Farm.

Transcriber: Leslie Coulson
Created: 8 December 2005