Allen's Grove founded by four brothers

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Ginny Hall | February 14, 2014

If you travel on County X southwest of Darien you will come to Allens Grove. This community lies partly in Darien, Sharon, and Clinton townships. The latter is in Rock County.

Allens Grove was founded by four brothers - Pliny, Sidney, Phillip, Jr., and Harvey Allen in 1844. Some accounts say that Sidney and his wife explored this area in 1843 but they returned to their home in New York.  The following year the four brothers, their father, Phillip, and their families came to this area by way of Racine.  A fifth brother, Asa, and his son came in 1846.

Sixty five people in all came with their group to what would be Allen's Grove.They brought with them a doctor, blacksmith, shoemaker, lawyer, carpenters and storekeeper.

According to the 1882 History of Walworth County, the Allens bought over a thousand acres of land.

Allen's Grove was platted in 1852 by Pliny Allen.At one time the community boasted a fine hotel, stores, shops, a doctor and a dentist, a blacksmith shop, a mill, two churches and an academy.  A cheese factory was just to the west, over the county line in Rock County. It was built by Simon Noyes in 1865.  By the time the 1882 History of Walworth County was written, Sidney Allen was the only member of that founding family to remain in this area.

The original plat showed eighteen streets. Allens Grove has a park of three acres just west of the county road.  At the west end of the park is a historical marker, giving the history of this small community.

The first blacksmith was Jacob Harp. The first lawyer was A. Woodard.The first doctor was J. C. Allen.The first carpenters were Harvey Allen and a Mr. Young.The first shoemaker was a Mr. Greer.The first resident minister was Rev. Calvin Waterbury.

Phillip Allen, Sr. died in 1845.By 1882 four of the brothers had also died.They are all buried in the Mount Phillip Cemetery southwest of this community.You used to be able to just drive south on Clinton Street to arrive at the cemetery.Because of the I-43 road construction it is now necessary to head back to County X.  Turn right and drive to Summerville Road, turn right onto Townline Road and proceed to the cemetery. 

If you want to see the Allen tombstones drive onto the center road.At the top of the knoll, stop and you will see the Allen family gravestones. 

Pliny Allen served as chairman of the Town of Sharon supervisors in 1846 to 1848 and again in 1855. 

The railroad came through the community in 1855 and that spurred its growth.The old feed mill was struck by lightning on April 19, 1916 and burned to the ground.The only thing inside the building was a gasoline engine. 

The general store dated back to 1846 when the community was founded.It also served as the post office beginning in 1846, with Phillip Allen, Jr. as the first Postmaster.The building remains but the store has been closed for several years.

In the 1856 the Allens established a preparatory school for Beloit College in the upstairs quarters of the general store.In 1861,there were 159 students and three instructors.In 1870 enrollments dropped and the Academy was discontinued.The first principal was Mr. Parks.The last principal was Melzer Montague who later became the county superintendent of schools.

The first public schoolhouse, a 25 by 40 foot structure, was built in 1847.Miss Mary Wallingford was the teacher.The building was also used as a church.On September 28, 1868, at the annual school district meeting it was decided to raise the sum of $200 for teacher's wages, $12 for incidentals, and $40 for fuel.School would be taught for four months in the winter, taught by a male and five months during the summer, taught by a female.

On November 13, 1873 a special school district meeting was held to raise $600 to purchase the Academy and grounds from Beloit College.  On March 23, 1881 a special meeting was called for the purpose of voting on building a new schoolhouse and raising $3000 for it.The motion was made but it wasn't carried until the annual meeting in July.  The 1909 building of white brick cost $3000.

Carrie M. Kitt taught 25 students, primary and grades 1-4 in 1910.She had 92 books in her library.She received $45 a month.Fred W. Dahmen taught 18 students in grades 5-8.His salary was $70 a month.He had 158 books in his library.Their report indicated that they had just begun the second year in the new building with new desks and a new heating system. 

In the spring of 1916, the school burned and a new one was built.In 1919 the district voted to call the school, Oakwood School.In 1929 the school was organized as a two-room graded school.July 1, 1969 the district merged with Darien School and that fall the students attended that school.The school board sold the schoolhouse and property to Clarence Henschel who made it into an apartment building.

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