The history of Allendale is very brief. It was a late day before it was settled at all; and its subsequent history is that of most other town where lumbering is the chief interest. The land was, the most of it, purchased for its pine, and held for that by speculators and residents. Again, about 1836, the spirit of speculation was rife in the Eastern States; and there was a rage for purchasing Western lands. The man who had little spare cash, came to Michigan or some other Western State; hunted the wilds for land; selected the best, and went off; leaving only the undesirable lots for the one who came to locate a home.
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. This was one of the reasons why townships, one or two removes from the river, were settled before those along its side. Back from the river, was land that could be bought at Government price. Or with State scrip. Near the river, the 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. For several years he kept a place of entertainment for travelers. He sold out and moved to the place where he spent the rest of his life. In 1843-4, came Thomas Jones, John Hanna, and Ephraim Pierson. In 1844, Robert Scott came on; cleared a few acres, and went back. The family, his mother and brothers, Alexander and James, came on and occupied. He followed them his residence in the town. Morris Reed located in 1847. These were the pioneers; others followed slowly.
In 1851, the Methodists formed a society or class of nine members--Wm. Comfit, Joseph Burlinghame, Johnson Balcom, Alexander Milne, and their wives, and Lucy J. Spear. The class 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 other class joined them, and the original society ceased to exist. This society has had an active existence since; has now regular preaching, and some forty members. The society has no church edifice.
The Congregationalists, in 1872, began to bestir themselves; organized a society of about fifteen members, and, with the aid of some whole-hearted sinners, and of liberal people in other places, erected the first, and at present the only, church edifice in the town.
It is to be hoped that the Methodists will take counsel from wisdom, open their purses, appeal to the sinners, and not appeal in vain. That much-talked-against class of people are ever found ready to help, for they believe in the gospel, and like those best who pitch into them the hardest. Make the appeal to them, ye Wesleyans, after you have shown, by your own liberality, that you really believe what you profess to, and be assured the appeal will not be in vain.
The first school in the town was kept by Francis M. Burton, a Grand Rapids boy, who, in consideration of the fact that it was his first attempt at teaching-and further, in consideration of the fact that it was all they could pay-taught for $10 a month. This Burton was a genius in his way. When last heard from, he was in Oregon.
The town was organized in 1849; then consisting of townships 56, 6 and what of 7 is south of the river. The first meeting was at the house of Richard Roberts.
The stump machine is at work in Allendale. Until that has done its work, civilized agriculture can make but little progress. Stumps, whether in the fields or in the human mouth, are unpoetic things. Rhyme to "stump" as you will, it is some word with low association--as "lump, bump, dump, mump, gump, or trump-" he last with double meaning; the one associating it with Gabriel; and the other, with those unseemly pictures with which vacant heads are often amused. A widower with a mouth full of stumps stands but a poor chance, unless his pocket is well lined; and a farm, with these unsightly objects disfiguring it, excites no poetic rapture. But they are disappearing, and the fields of Allendale will yet be as beautiful as her name. The town is one of capacities rather than a developed reality. The views on the river are fine; the land is good, and has a pleasing variety of surface; and the civilization agents are at work. It is easy to see what it will be.
All honor to the person with an ear for music, and with poetry in his soul, who as godfather, named the young town. Were not our harp long since hung on the willows, we would improvise a strain, that should wake some more youthful bard to sing of "Lovely Allendale."
There is but one human name (and that our own) that we can bear. To see borne by a town. Allendale has no such load to bear. Other people feel about as we do. Therefore, we advise all young towns and villages to compliment no one; to imitate no one; but exercise taste and that alone. We said above, there was one excepted name. Should any people choose to give that name to their place,. We should feel the compliment; but should not admire their taste.
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 19 May 2010