Oak Harbor Publishing
P. O. Box 270458
Louisville, CO 80027
Stokes McMillan
Judge John F. Allen was generous with his Newport land. He freely allowed its usage in order to provide for the happiness and
contentment of his tenants. But when their affairs conflicted with those of his family’s, there was no misunderstanding where
his priorities lay. Although he was a wise and patient Southern gentleman who typically exhibited a regal demeanor, he was
also a savvy businessman and politician who knew there were times when power and authority were called for to achieve one’s
objectives.

For over twenty years, several black families had attended the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, which they had built with the
Judge’s permission on a scenic location on his land. When “Little Pat” Smithson, the Judge’s grandson, married, he wanted to
build a house on that same spot, so he brought his desire to the Judge. Judge Allen then met with the church pastor and
elders and asked them to move their church a few hundred yards east along Highway 14 to another spot of land that he would
provide. To sweeten the deal, he and his family would donate $450 to the church coffers. The churchmen cheerfully agreed to
move their place of worship.

After a few weeks passed with no action, the Judge again approached the leaders and repeated his desires, saying, “Now y’all
said you were goin’ to move, but you haven’t done it yet, so I want to get goin’ on it. When are ya’ll goin’ to do this?”
The church leaders replied that they would start moving the building in two weeks.
Two weeks passed, then three weeks…still, nothing was done. The situation finally climaxed one Sunday morning during a
Pleasant Grove service. The pastor was in the middle of a passionate sermon, railing his congregation with fire-and-
brimstone, “Amen!”s filling the chamber, when the building’s two front doors flew open. Heads turned rearward to see Judge
Allen striding down the aisle with a straight-ahead stare and determined scowl. The wide-eyed congregation was hushed as he
marched directly to the pulpit and motioned for the preacher to sit. Red faced, the Judge paused and stared down at the
surprised church members, all of whom he knew. Then, with a slow and deliberate voice, he addressed them.

“All right. I done told you people twice to move this church, and now I’m tellin’ you the last time. If it ain’t gone two weeks from
now, I’m goin’ to burn the damn thing down.” Finished, the Judge nodded to the preacher and strode back up the aisle and out
of the church, pulling the doors shut behind him with a firm SLAM.
Not long afterward, the church was moved and Little Pat built his house. The church and the house are still there.
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church