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Nebraska...Our Towns

Allen

Dixon County

Henry and Elizabeth Holmes Allen, founders and ambassadors for Allen.
Early Drug Store, remodeled in 1988 for Village office and library.
Aerial view of Allen looking north, 1980s. [Security State Bank]

Henry Allen deeded 40 acres of land to the Pacific Township Company in 1890 for a town near the "Pacific Short Line" railroad. After a good deal of discussion it was decided to name the town "Allen."

The town grew rapidly and soon the Methodist Church, a hotel, and a bank opened their doors. The post office was ready in June 1890 with 132 individual boxes. Mail arrived three times a week.

A well was dug for water near the railroad section house at the foot of the hill, but it was not sufficient for the town's needs. Water had to be hauled in barrels for culinary purposes. Cisterns were constructed to gather rain water for washing and bathing. Finally in 1913 good wells were established. Another new well was sunk in 1987, the same year that new transmission lines were also added to serve the community.

By 1893 Allen was a busy town, with new businesses arriving each week. There were general stores, hardware stores, lumber yards, dray lines, a meat market, grain dealer, livery stable, real estate office, coal & wood dealer, two doctors, and an undertaker.

Many of the first buildings were built on a hill (such as the house in the picture). The townspeople decided to "lower the town," so buildings were first propped up high enough on poles so that Jack Milligan and his team of mules could work beneath them to remove the dirt. Then the buildings were lowered to the new ground-level.

By 1913 the business district had grown to include several drug stores, barber shops, a saloon, restaurant, dentist, veterinarian, and an auctioneer.

Fire swept through the business district in 1913 and again in 1914, but people immediately rebuilt. In 1948 a fire struck the Cash Store, which also rebuilt. Since Allen is primarily a farm community, elevators were among the first businesses. Two elevator companies were in operation by the railroad for many years, but fire destroyed both of them. They did not rebuild. A Farmers' Co-op was organized in 1915, and is currently the only one operating. The railroad, now part of Burlington Northern system, continues to serve the community.

The United Methodist Church and the First Lutheran Church are very important parts of the community. Our school system, which also ranks high in importance, is an accredited K-12.

The slogan "Small in size -- but big otherwise" is used to describe the town of Allen. Although many of the old businesses are gone, we are still a progressive town in the center of a beautiful and friendly farm community. Allen is "home" to many descendants of pioneer families as well as transplants to Nebraska.

Plans are now being formulated to celebrate our centennial in 1991.

 

By Pearl M. Snyder, Allen, NE 68710 Typist Julie Sullivan