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The history of Allenville: Former all-Black community near Buckeye

Rumble — Allenville was swept away in flood waters, but it&aposs still remembered for its rich culture and history.

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Valley 101: The history of Allenville, an all-Black community in Arizona…

“Main Street” in Allenville, a historic Black community south of Buckeye from 1944 to 1978.

Courtesy of Michael Sullivan


Lost Lake: The Buckeye Shooting No One’s Talking About

Photography by Danny Upshaw
Was the March shooting in Buckeye over land, or perhaps something bigger?

On a warm March night south of Buckeye, on a narrow dirt road running just north of a swampy stretch of the Gila River, two men – one white, one black – met in an angry exchange of threats, name-calling and accusations that finally ended with three shots from an AK-47.

It was not the first time the two adversaries, Scottsdale developer Richard Mladick, 51, and Buckeye laborer Javan Berry, 48, ran afoul of each other on dusty Sunrise Drive. For the past four years, Mladick had been aggressively buying up land on the remote patch of desert while developing his own small recreational lake, and Berry, whose late grandparents had purchased a 10,500-square-foot plot of land on the road back in 1958, had been the lone holdout unwilling to sell. Family members on both sides report a history of heated confrontations.

But their meeting on the night of March 11 would ultimately be their last. Court paperwork states both men had gotten out of their vehicles to argue when Mladick, according to Berry, yelled threats and racial slurs then turned to head back to his Ford F-150 truck. Berry told Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies he believed Mladick was going to fetch a gun from the vehicle when Berry got his own rifle out of his Chevy truck and fired three shots, aiming one at the F-150’s tires and two at Mladick’s legs – intending, he told police later, to merely wound him. Instead, at least one bullet fatally pierced the father of four through the back. Berry – who had placed the original call to Buckeye Police stating that he had shot a trespasser – maintains he never intended to kill Mladick.

Medics with the Buckeye Fire Department attempted to revive Mladick at the scene, but he was unresponsive. Berry was quickly jailed in Phoenix on one count of second-degree murder, with bail set at $500,000. At press time, Berry remains held at the Fourth Avenue jail.

News coverage of the shooting was surprisingly scant, with most reports chalking it up to a “property dispute” gone bad out in the boonies. On Facebook, those who did weigh in mostly focused on the men’s races, with some suggesting, none too subtly, that the story might have gotten more play from mainstream media if the races of the shooter and the victim had been reversed. “So where’s all the outrage and protests?” asked one white poster with a timeline checkered with memes lampooning Black Lives Matter marchers.

Black social media voices, on the other hand, tended to rally around Berry, who some felt was charged too hastily. On AfriSynergy News, a militant-leaning YouTube channel with 66,000 subscribers, host T. West acknowledges the gravity of the event, saying, “Yes, it was a tragedy that Mr. Mladick lost his life. We don’t like that.” But he also faintly commends the shooter for flipping the script on the stand-your-ground defense, which FBI data has shown is argued successfully in trespasser shootings more often against blacks (in which 17 percent of cases find just cause) than whites (1 percent).

“Javan Berry was standing his ground on his property – with emphasis on his property,” West says. “This particular black man did not go down. He did not fall down.”

It’s still unclear precisely where the confrontation happened, but it doesn’t appear to be on the Berry property. County assessor’s maps show the vacant residential land belonging to Berry’s grandparents, Lawrence and Cashie Lee – full cash value: $1,500 – located on Sunrise Drive about 600 yards east of Miller Road, the only access street, but news helicopter shots show the scene of the crime at the intersection of those roads. In his statement to deputies, Berry said Mladick was blocking the roadway with his truck.

But the standoff represented more than a simple property dispute, West believes. Over the course of a rambling three-part, four-and-a-half-hour series of YouTube clips, West, who now lives in Texas but grew up in the area where the shooting occurred, leads viewers through a personal history of Arizona’s long-forgotten all-black town, Allenville, which was built on the same land Berry and Mladick fought over.

“There were at least two, three churches. Here’s where I saw [gospel group] Mighty Clouds of Joy sing,” West says, dragging a cursor over a Google Earth map of what’s now largely vacant land leading up to Mladick’s property, a private 120-acre mini-version of Lake Pleasant – suitable for weddings and events – that Mladick and his partners named Hidden Lake. Mladick’s property line begins about 700 yards east of Berry’s, which sits across the street from a roofless brick frame foundation – the only evidence of Allenville left standing. “That’s where Earl Allen’s tavern was. And I remember Miss Sugar’s! We would go get ice cream and candy there.”

In West’s view, Berry was not only standing his ground on his own tiny plot that night. He was standing ground for Maricopa County’s first and last all-black township – not exactly Black Wall Street, but a BIPOC version of a frontier Main Street. As West sees it, Berry was not simply antagonizing Mladick by continuing to throw spirited family reunions on land the developer sought to fill with upscale hotels and restaurants surrounding his private boating and fishing club. He was fending off the village’s erasure. “Richard Mladick didn’t know the history of Allenville – didn’t want to know it,” says West, who claims he had his own “very threatening” run-in with the developer on a visit a few years back. “In the end, that may have been the problem.”

Jarvis Berry remembers spending time in Allenville with his grandmother.

“I was really young,” says the second oldest of four brothers, behind Javan, all given names beginning with “Ja,” a tradition begun by their father and carried on with the Berry grandchildren. “But I remember spending a lot of time there with my grandmother before the flood came in. They had everything that you could possibly think of in that little one square mile. Stores, a restaurant. It was like a little town in itself.”

Allenville was formed in 1944 as a place for black workers, who were coming to Arizona from all over the country to work in the cotton industry, but who were still barred from living in certain areas before the enactment of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Located about 40 miles southwest of Phoenix in the middle of a floodplain, it was clearly not the most desirable stretch of real estate. The area lacked adequate drinking water, requiring residents to truck it in from the fields in “peach tins, old tomato containers and shortening jars,” according to a 1969 The Arizona Republic article.

Nevertheless, about 800 people lived there at its peak in the late ’60s, before a waist-deep flood on March 9, 1978, finally forced all remaining residents to move – most to temporary trailers and later to nearby Hopeville, a 75-acre community of small homes and trailers formed in 1981 and named by the residents. Still, the community, by now largely the extended families of the founders, remained close. While many of the Berrys, Lees, Shoemakers, Williamses and other clans now live in Buckeye, they’d often visit what remained of Allenville to shoot game (“It’s a Buckeye thing,” Jarvis says) or fish in the lake, an accidental body of water left over from a sand and gravel operation and fed by the groundwater created by the nearby Gila River.

Mladick, a visionary real estate developer originally from Virginia Beach, had already tried unsuccessfully to build a surf-quality wavepool and rafting course called Waveyard in Mesa. Around 2015, he began scouting out the land around the Allenville water body, with plans to build his recreational facility. That’s when the Berry brothers began seeing him on their fishing days.

“When we first met him, he seemed like a cool guy,” says Javar Berry, at 40, the second youngest of the brothers. “He was very easygoing, had no problem with us using the lake, just a very decent guy.” A short while after purchasing the land encompassing the water in 2016, Mladick erected gates around the property, but gave the Berrys a key. “He said, ‘Oh, sorry about that. That’s just to keep all the trash out.’ And we were like, ‘It’s cool. As long as we can still go down there to do our rabbit hunt, dove hunt, catch fish, you know.’ It had always been a little lake that was free to the public.”

Javar says Mladick’s disposition began to inexplicably change a couple years later, around the time Hidden Lake opened commercially. By then, Mladick and his partners had already invested more than $1 million cleaning and stocking the lake with largemouth bass and other fish to turn it into a catch-and-release trophy fishing destination.

“Me, my wife and my kids and their friends went down there just to hang out one day. Richard sees me, and he started going crazy on me. ‘Get the f*** off my property! What the f*** are you doing here? I’ll call the cops!’ And I’m like, ‘Dude, slow down!’” Later, Javar says Mladick began attempting to chase them off of their own small property, too. “I was diagnosed with cancer [in 2018], and my family decided to throw a fund-raiser for me. We had a horseshoe tournament down on the family’s property to raise money, and he called the cops on us, and they showed up in force. There were like 10 cops walking around there with assault rifles.

“Something changed, and I really don’t understand it,” Javar says. “Everything took a turn for the worse.”

On March 12, the day after the shooting, a distraught Jennifer Mladick went on Facebook to share news of the tragedy with friends.

“Last night my husband was shot and killed,” she wrote above a beatifically smiling family portrait. “This was a senseless, selfish act by a horrible man and family who has terrorized us for years. We built an amazing business we worked so hard to build, near a small sliver of land that his family owned and he felt he had the right. The right to shoot our signs, throw them in the canals, trash our roads. The right to sit on his property and drink, throw parties, burn shit, turn my guests away, dig up access roads to try to get to my lake and so much more.”

Mladick was contacted to answer a few questions by email but replied with only the following statement: “Richard was a lifelong entrepreneur, visionary and dreamer. Born a passionate outdoorsman, whether it was fishing, hunting or surfing, Richard was always up for a new adventure. He was a devoted dad to his four children and one of the hardest working men most people would ever meet. His welcoming smile and outgoing personality will be greatly missed by all that knew him. This is the greatest tragedy my family could ever imagine and has left a void in my family’s hearts that is unfathomable and inexcusable.”

Jarvis Berry denies that he or his brothers shot up the Hidden Lake signs and says the only sizable party they threw was the fundraiser for Javar. As for Sunset Drive, the only access road to both the Berrys’ and the Mladicks’ properties, Jarvis says the battle over that began when Mladick erected a gate at the entrance off Miller Road.

“We tried calling him to open the gate, and he never would,” he says. “Finally we had to call the sheriff’s department to have the gate removed, because it was blocking access to our properties. They came down and talked to him and made Mladick move it back to where his property line is. After that, it was constant harassment.”

Javan Berry’s booking photo Photo courtesy Maricopa County Sheriff’s office

Jarvis shows a cellphone video of him inspecting a 4-foot-deep trench he says Mladick’s crew dug alongside Sunset, to keep his family from driving onto their own plot. “We filled the trench in front of my family’s property. We come back out a week later, the thing is dug up again. Twice, this happened.”

He shows another video of a truck he identifies as Mladick’s coming upon his in the night, and shining a bright searchlight in his window. The video shows the truck turning around and then beaming the light again. A third video shows an ATV, driven by a man Jarvis identifies as a Hidden Lake business partner, spinning out in front of his truck and clipping its front end.

Jarvis then produces photos of three garbage bags full of days-old carp left on their land in time for what was going to be another family horseshoe tournament, canceled this year on account of the coronavirus. Jarvis believes the rotting carp were left there by Mladick as a Godfather-esque horse’s head to intimidate them.

“After all that, the sheriffs just told us, ‘You guys leave them alone, and we’ll tell them to leave you alone. There should be no issue.’” Jarvis says that was working until that fateful night, when Javan, leaving the property with his uncle, George, after doing some cleanup there, came upon Mladick’s truck blocking his path out to Miller Road.

Attempts to reach Mladick’s business partners for comment were unsuccessful, but a woman who went to high school with some of the Berry family spoke to PHOENIX on the condition of anonymity. She questions the Berrys’ contention that the shooting was self-defense, based on information that’s been made available to the public. (MCSO homicide detectives declined to release any information, stating only that the investigation is ongoing.)

“Richard didn’t have the gun on him from what we have seen reported,” she says. “Javan just thought he was going back to his truck to get one. But how does he really know that? There are videos Jarvis has posted of interactions with Richard, and Richard just got back into his truck and took off. For Javan to go and pull out an AK-47, not a pistol or a regular .22 rifle, but an unreasonable weapon to just have sitting in your truck, and then to shoot at an unarmed person? That is murder.” (Berry’s defense attorney, Quacy Smith – who also doubles as a church bishop and gospel singer – failed to return multiple requests for comment.)

Jarvis, a youth sports league organizer who previously ran for a seat on the Buckeye City Council, says Jennifer Mladick recently took out a restraining order preventing him from getting within range of her property, which also prevents him from getting to his family’s. He says he’s also been contacted by Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck, who further urged the Berrys to stay away from the Mladicks, and has shared online threatening posts from the regular fishing community at Hidden Lake. “His family should get out of town now,” one reads. “There are a lot of anglers who are pretty pissed and would love to visit the lake and clean up those trashy roads.”

Javar recalls earlier days with Mladick, when relationships between the families were harmonious. “At first, he was interested in learning about Allenville,” he says. “He’d say, ‘Can you give me some history about it? Maybe I can rename some stuff out here and re-create some things like they used to be and dedicate it to the people.’


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Asheville: Early Beginnings at a਌rossroads

Before the Europeans arrived in what is now North Carolina, the land aroundਊsheville was a part of the Cherokee nation. 

After the American Revolution, Colonel Samuel Davidson and his family received a land grant from the state of North Carolina to settle in the Swannanoa Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This early settlement in 1785 paved the way for the future of what would become the city of Asheville. 

In 1792, Buncombe County was established with a city called "Morristown" as its county seat. In 1797, that਌ity was renamed Asheville after North Carolina Governor Samuel Ashe.

As a city in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville was an outpost in 1797. Frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett traveled through in the early days. Asheville primarily served as a crossroads of Indian trails on a plateau surrounded by mountains and rivers on all sides.

When the railroad arrived in the area in 1880, it transformed Asheville and Buncombe County into a resort and therapeutic health center. Asheville became a hubਏor visitors searching for a mountain escape, its population climbing to 10,000 permanent residents in 1890.

Asheville&aposs Tradition of Attracting Pioneers, Philanthropists and Artists

As Asheville began its rise to prominence in the 1880s, it continued to draw visionaries, poets and explorers -- a tradition that lives on today.

Among the most notable, George W. Vanderbilt came to Asheville in the late 1880s and purchased 120,000 acres to build a grand estate: Biltmore. The endeavor would took six years to complete. Vanderbilt commissioned renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds and gardens, and famous architect Richard Morris Hunt to help him plan the house. Biltmore Estate has withstood the test of time and remains America&aposs Largest Home. 

Author Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville in 1900 and grew up in his mother&aposs rambling boardinghouse, known as "Dixieland." Wolfe is one of the giants of American literature, and Asheville is the backdrop for his autobiographical novel, "Look Homeward, Angel."

The boarding house where he grew up is still preserved in downtown Asheville today (pictured left). You can explore the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site with a guided tour.

How the Depression Preserved Asheville&aposs Rich Architecture

As Asheville rose as a hub in Western North Carolina, confidence soared. The city moved its public library into a beautiful new building and constructed a brand new courthouse. 

But when the stock market crashed, Asheville was hit hard. With so much bonded debt to pay for new construction in the "Roaring Twenties," Asheville had no money to invest in urban renewal projects that were so popular in other cities following the crash. While growth slowed in Asheville, the difficult times actually helped preserve the city&aposs historic architecture. 

The magnificent buildings built during the boom years were spared as a result of Asheville&aposs commitment to repay its debt. This is why Asheville remains a snap shot of what an American boomtown looked like during the turn of the century. As you explore the city, you&aposll see restaurants, galleries and independent shops housed in elegant art deco buildings.

You can explore Asheville&aposs richਊrchitecture and history along the Asheville Urban Trail. This self-guided walking tour of downtown Asheville featuresꀰ sculptural trail station that help bring Asheville&aposs history to life.

African American Voices Speak of Rich History and Vibrant Future

We meet our guide Joe Greene at the WRES studio next to Jack of the Wood on Patton Avenue, as the groovy sounds of R&B, soul, and funk emanate from the station’s speakers. The music brings smiles and an occasional booty shake from &hellip read more


Sustaining Community in Rural America: A History of Allenville

Local history and interviews with residents illustrate the different ways that members of small farming communities such as Allenville created and sustained community throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Don't miss The Lands We Share traveling exhibit, Oct. 10-19, under the Dome. The exhibit focuses on six unique farms across three regions of Wisconsin, including the Allenville Farm in Winnebago County, and the rich history and stories that go along with them. Hear farmers tell their stories, look at historical artifacts and take time to ponder compelling photos of life on the farm. The exhibit is associated with The Wisconsin Farms Oral History Project, an initiative of UW-Whitewater’s Public History Program. The project focuses on the history of food and farming in Wisconsin, particularly as those relate to race, ethnicity, and cultural diversity. Exhibit courtesy of faculty and students from four UW campuses (UW-Whitewater, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Madison).


Hidden Valley Hops Farm brings hop growing back to Winnebago Co.

WINNEBAGO CO., Wis. (WBAY) - A Winnebago County man started producing a particular crop, bringing back a tradition that has been long gone from the area.

“The lupulin is what the brewers are looking for, so that is what flavors your beer.” said Justin Gloede.

Gloede knows a lot about growing hops.

“These [hop plants] will actually start growing at three feet a week during their peak during the summer,” said Gloede.

He started Hidden Valley Hops on his family farm in the Town of Winchester around 2016, and has since expanded to producing eight different varieties of hops: Allenville (Cluster), Tahoma, Super Saazer, Chinook, Hallertauer, Nugget, Tettnanger, and Cascade.

“I was looking around online trying to figure out what I could plant out here, I have a pretty big green thumb,” said Gloede. “So, I found the history of Winnebago County and found out this used to be a big hop-growing mecca.”

The history of hop growing in the area has deep roots.

“From the 1850s to about the 1880s Wisconsin was one of the largest hop-growing centers in the United States,” said Lee Reiherzer, who has studied and written on the history of beer.

Reiherzer says in that time, Winnebago County alone had about 150 acres of hops grown in the area, started by a man named Silas Allen who brought hops to Allenville.

“The hops you see back there come from the last of Silas Allen’s hop yards,” said Reiherzer. “The family gave up hop farming in 1879, those hops have been growing wild on that hop yard ever since.”

“So I went and grabbed some, and started growing them, and the rest is history,” said Gloede.

The aptly titled “Allenville” hops are a type of hop not grown much anymore.

“It’s a form of hop that’s called ‘Late Cluster,’” said Reiherzer. “So it has a very unique flavor and it really fits in with this profile of the beers that were brewed here during that period.”

They are considered an exclusive Hidden Valley Hop product, which intrigues Bare Bones Head Brewer Jody Cleveland.

“I have a beer that’s Oshkosh lager, it’s kind of my tribute to the old beers that were around, and to be able to have an ingredient in there that was actually around when those beers were made I think would just make it a little bit better,” said Cleveland.

Cleveland already used Gloede’s product to make a hop fresh type of beer, and says the brew went over well with customers.

“People want that connection to where they’re from and where they live,” said Cleveland.

It can take a few years to get a full harvest from hop plants, but there’s excitement in seeing an old tradition crop back up.

“What Justin is doing here is he’s really bringing back that lineage of hop growing in Winnebago County,” said Reiherzer.

“Anytime I do anything historical at the brewery it gets more people out and it’s just a great conversation starter to talk about where things were and where they’re going,” said Cleveland.

Gloede certainly hopes to keep it growing.

“Bring more local hopes to local breweries and local home brewers as well,” said Gloede.


18 Replies to &ldquoAllenville Railroad Bridge&rdquo

Rails to Trails make great spots for geocaching trails.

Why are there two sets of rails on the bridge?

Why are there two sets of rails on the bridge?…That is such an easy question, I will let Keith Robinson answer it!

Keith must be asleep at the throttle. He normally checks in right away.

I’m going to give a non-scientific guess: I think the second set of rails is to insure that the load-bearing rails don’t spread. The last place in the world you would want a derailment would be on a bridge. If you pile up a train on the land, it’s not that big a deal to pick up the pieces and rebuild the track in a matter of hours.

Taking out a bridge would be a Big Deal.

Here’s an explanation I found online (and which supports my theory): “Double tracks reinforce sleepers (railroad ties) and prevent them from moving in and out of place. That being said, the main rails hold the sleepers in place and the sleepers give support to the train passing by. But on a bridge, the expansion of the bridge occurs at different rates than the track it self, thus a system is designed so that the railroad tracks are semi-free to move.”

Sleepers/ties are defined as rectangular supports placed under and perpendicular to the rails. sleepers function to transfer the weight of the train to the rockbed below and also to hold the rails in place and at the correct gauge.

I was away from my computer for more than 48 hours do to the NASCAR races being in KC for the weekend.

The extra set of rails are known as Guard Rails. Their intent was to help keep a locomotive or car over the rails and away from the bridge structure in case of derailment.


Watch the video: Allenville (July 2022).


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