top of page

The Allins

               James Allin (1788 – 1869) was the man who made the physical being of Bloomington possible. It was he who donated 22½ acres of land for the beginning of the city. The funds from the sale of those lots on July 4, 1831 were used to set up the city government.


               Allin came from North Carolina by way of Kentucky, Indiana and Vandalia, Illinois. In Vandalia, Illinois he was active with the county government. The settlers of Blooming Grove had plans to create a new county and county seat that would make their business dealings with government authorities more convenient. Allin’s prior experience in Vandalia worked to the advantage of Bloomington. Allin joined in this movement, circulated petitions and sent Thomas Orendorff and James Latta to Vandalia with the petitions. Because Allin had already donated land to the new county, it was a foregone conclusion that “Bloomington” would be the county seat.

              When he arrived  in Bloomington in 1829, he had a load of goods to sell. He sold them out of another man’s house but the next year he set up the only trading post in what would soon be McLean County near Grove and East Street.


               Like many of the men of Illinois, Allin was concerned about acquiring as much land as he could. Actual money, however, was scarce in Illinois and amassing enough cash to purchase land could sometimes be a problem. When Allin’s son William (1818 – 1857) was just ten years old Allin had sufficient funds to purchase more land in McLean County. In order that his neighbor be unaware that Allin was making the move to purchase the land, Allin sent young William on horseback to Vandalia to file the papers and pay the price. Vandalia was 100 miles away, on unmarked roads and trails. This would have been quite the adventure for William. The story goes that William was just leaving the assessor’s office in Vandalia when the neighbor saw him and knew that he had been outwitted!


               William married Judith Ann Major, another pioneer of Bloomington. Their son, William (1845 – 1921), would go on to fight in the Civil War, along with other men from Bloomington in the 145th Ill. Infantry in Co. I. This was a regiment of “100 day” men recruited for a final push toward Union victory in 1864. William would have been about 19 years old at that time and anxious to join friends in the army. He died at the Veteran’s Home in Danville, IL in 1921.


               William and Judith’s daughter, Carrie (1843 – 1924) married Walter Rogers, a farmer and Quaker related to the Benjamins. They had two daughters, one of whom was Aline. She married Percie Getty, the proprietor of a men’s clothing store in Bloomington. They lived in Bloomington and had three children.  Their son, Roger Getty, was the Vice President of the Corn Belt Bank when he died in 1965, leaving no descendants.

               To read a full biography of James Allin, follow the link below to the McLean County Museum of History's website.

bottom of page