Allen Chapel A. M. E. Church

Allen Chapel A. M. E.

” In September 1891, Peter Blakely called together a group of people in an effort to establish the first Black church in Rockford.  They met in the home of his mother-in-law, Maria Donley, who lived at 212 South Main Street. The Donley home became their meeting place until December 1891, when they were able to purchase a small house located at 206 So. Winnebago St., the present site (in 1980) of Allen Chapel.  The present building was erected in 1917. Later, the church was dedicated as Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, by Bishop Archibald J. Carey, in 1920.

Text source: the 1980 Anniversary program of Allen Chapel

Picture:  the 1954 Anniversary program of Allen Chapel

Source: Vertical File of Booklets and Programs, Local History Room, Rockford Public Library

Blakeley, Peter

A former slave, came to Rockford in 1865, at age 20 and a Civil War veteran was a native of Charleston, SC where he had run an underground railroad in 1861.  He gained his freedom from slavery in the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Was the butter and vegetable man for the people on National Ave. Grandfather of Harriet Blakely 5 children born to Peter and Hattie Blakely, first home at 715 George St., Later called Woodlawn Ave.
Source: Nuggets of History Summer, 1985