Allen Michigan
Hillsdale County

Allen, MI Depot (1910) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

Village of Allen
The earliest settlers in the township who are now living in the village have been mentioned. Others who arrived later, but have become prominent citizens, also deserve notice.

Bishop A. Johnson, the present township clerk, came to Allen village in 1846, from Genesee Co., N. Y., and with the exception of two years spent in Hillsdale, has resided here since that time.

Albert Prentiss, the present supervisor, was also formerly a resident of New York, and came to Michigan from Steuben County, in that State, in the fall of 1845. The village of Allen has been his place of residence since, and he has been prominent as a citizen of the township.

David Winchester, the father of Andrew and Charles Winchester, of the village, removed here from Dutchess Co., N. Y., in February, 1845, and soon began keeping tavern in the building now known as the "Allen House," W. H. Shelp, present proprietor. It has since been largely remodeled and repaired. It was originally built of tamarack poles by a man named Abijah Masher, probably about 1838-30. Mr. Winchester died in the village at the age of eighty-three. Six children came with him to Allen; also his sister, older than he, who died at the age of eighty-seven.

A man named Randall built a small hotel in 1837, now known as the "old Pink tavern," from being painted that color afterwards.

When the Winchester's came to the village, a hotel was kept by Isaac N. Russell, on the ground where Robert Clark now lives. James M. Burdick informs us that he kept the first hotel at the village himself. The sign post in front of the "Allen House" has been in use 43 Years, having been first set up by Isaac N. Russell in 1830, at which time he was keeping a hotel on the opposite (south) side of the street from the present one.

W. H. Shelp, present proprietor of the "Allen House," came with his father, Henry Shelp, to Branch County, from Lima, Livingston Co., N. Y., in the spring of 1841. The elder Shelp was born on the northern border of the Stale of Maine, and is now residing in this township of Butler, Branch Co., Mich., aged seventy-eight years. W. H. Shelp was born above his father's birthplace, in the lower part of Upper Canada, and when eleven years old removed with his father to the State of New York. He has occupied the " Allen House" since March 25, 1861. Mrs. W. H. Shelp is a daughter of Robert Bell, who settled in Allen, on section 8, April 15, 1836. He purchased of Alonzo Standard on that day the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of the above section. Mr. Standard had built a small house and planted a garden, and was quite comfortably situated when he sold to Mr. Bell. The latter came from the State of Maryland where he had lived near the shore of Delaware Bay. He died in January, 1878; his widow yet resides in town.

John M Ford, from Spafford, Onondaga Co., N. Y., emigrated with his family to Michigan in 1837, and located at Adrian, Lenawee Co. From there he came the next year to Moscow, Hillsdale Co. About 1850-51 he removed to Allen, and from there to Jackson County. He is now living at Allen village with his son Edwin J. Ford who came here and established a blacksmith shop about 1860-62. Another son, Stillman W. Ford, has been in the wagon and carriage-manufacturing business at this place since October, 1866.


Hiram B. Hunt was the first regularly-appointed postmaster in Allen township. Previous to that time Richard Corbus, who lived on Sand Creek, had mail left at his home for distribution, this being before a port-office was established. Mail was carried over the route on horseback. The post office afterwards established at Allen Prairie was in existence as early as 1836-38, and was called Sylvania, which name it bore until about 1849, when it was changed to Allen, to correspond with the name of the town«hip and avoid conflicting with the office called Sylvania, in Lucas Co., Ohio, north of Toledo. In 1839 it was kept by a man named Randall, a blacksmith by trade, and was then located on the site of the present residence of Andrew Winchester. Mr. Goodwin, an uncle to Goodwin Howard, postmaster in 1837, the office being located at that time at the corner north of Mr. Howard's present residence, where the Hillsdale road diverges from the Chicago road, east of Alien village. The present incumbent of the office is Andrew Winchester.

One of the first merchants at the village was Don C. Hewitt, who occupied a store on the ground where Allen C. Howe's residence now stands. Lucius A. Webster was also in business here early, on a small scale. The first important mercantile house wan established by Messrs. Latimer A Fries, of Tecumsch, who sent Dudley Chancy on with a large stock of goods. Mr. Chancy succeeded his employers in the business, and Andrew Winchester worked in his store as clerk when but thirteen years old. The Latimer & Fries store stood on the site now occupied by Andrew Winchester's house, and Mr. Chancy was in business at the name place. David Winchester subsequently built the frame store now occupied by James N. Conklin, druggist, and rented the same to Chancy, This building yet belongs to Mr. Winchester's estate.

Numerous building lots were sold to individuals before the village in regularly laid out and surveyed, and it was not until 1868 that their owners and the proprietors of the adjacent land made a plat of it and had it recorded. The village lies on sections' 9, 10,15, and 16 township 6 south, range 4 west, and its proprietors, at the time the survey was made, were the following persons, viz.: J. C. Remington, C. H. Winchester, Hattie Winchester, D. S. Olmsted, M. L. Olmsted, K. J. Kurd, S. L. Ford, B. S. Brooks, P. A. L. Brooks. Laura H. Lynn, Hiram A. Davis, Roxenia Davis, George W. Elmore, Emily F. Elmore, U. Johnson, Urbane Shepard, Susan Shepard, David Winchester, Jane Hedge, Andrew Winchester, Bishop A. Johnson. Wm. H. Shelp, J. E. Shelp. Albert Prentiss, May K. Prentiss, F. Sherman, S. B. Sherman, Lester R. Watkins. J, W. Walkins, F. Hamburgh, Jane Hamburgh, E. Coon, C. Coon, J. M. Remington, R. A. Remington, William Stone, J. J. Whitney, R. Clark, Mrs. A. Clark.

On the 4th of January, 1869, on addition was laid out by Albert Prentiss, and May 22, 1871, an addition was platted by Goodwin Howard and Erastus P. Norton. The village contains at present (winter of 1878-79) one hotel in operation and a second not now kept as such, 5 stores, 2 churches, a fine union school building, 2 millinery stores, a post-office, 2 wagon-shops, and several blacksmith- and other mechanic-shops, and a stave-factory, owned by John H. Parish. The brick stores belonging to Andrew and Charles Winchester are a credit to the village, and testify to the taste and enterprise of her citizens. Aside from Hillsdale and Jonesville, Allen ranks among the most important villages of the county in the variety and value of her improvements.

Allen Lodge, No# 253, F. and A. M., was organized July 12, 1868, with 29 members. Its first Master was Benjamin W. Brockway. The membership on the 4th of December, 1878, was about 05, and the following were the officers at the same time, viz.: Worshipful Master, C. H. Guy ; Senior Warden, A. F. Brown ; Junior Warden, C. K. Hill; Senior Deacon. W. F. Shepard ; Junior Deacon, E. O. Goodrich; Sec, W. H. Allen; Treas., D. Hall.

The lodge-room is located over the store of Andrew Winchester, and is very neatly fitted up.


A mile north of the village, two small hotels and a saloon have boon built, and one or two dwellings- Quite an intensive business is done here in tho line of buying and shipping stock and grain.

Among early settlers of the township, who have not already been mentioned, are John T. Warn, now living on the Chicago road, east of Allen; William Glasgow, on the east line of the township; A. Hewitt, residing in the southeast part of the township, chosen State Senator at the November election, 1878; and B.M. Balcon, in the same neighborhood. S. George, who lives northwest of the station, is a veteran of the war of 1812, but not among the pioneers of (he township.

The general improvements in the township of Allen are of a high order, and there is manifest evidence on every hand that the first comers to its broad fields were not mistaken in their estimate of its character and advantages. The spirit of emigration was innate in the breasts of many of the early settlers, however, and they moved onward to develop other lands and make room for the incoming tide which look possession immediately after their departure. Today Allen wears as staid an aspect as many older settlements, yet there is withal an appearance of fresh now about it, such as characterizes most of the towns in Southern Michigan. Well may the inhabitants of Allen be proud of their home. Among the many who have furnished information from which the foregoing history has been written are James M. Burdick of Quincy; John S. Reed, Robert Clark, Andrew Winchester, Dr. L R. Watkins. A. Prentiss, B. A. Johnson, W. H. Shelp, and numerous others in the village; and Ira and Washburn Wright, Mrs. Roscius Southworth, Mrs. Jesse Pomeroy, Jonathan Whitney and wife, Goodwin Howard. Benjamin W. Brockway and wife, Isaac W. Sheriff, and others in the township; and Mrs. Daniel Boatwick, of Argentine, Genesee Co.