Residents of Glenallen prefer old version of town's name

Monday, July 29, 2002

GLENALLEN, Mo. -- Along the way, somebody forgot to tell the people of Glenallen that the spelling of their town changed.

Not that it would matter much, anyway.

The two-word spelling is listed in two different phone books. The local newspaper uses the two-word spelling. Even the current postmaster, Louise Acup, thought the spelling was two words for several years before someone presented her with a Bollinger County history book.

And the residents there write it as two words.

Eldon Woodfin, a council member for the village, said it was two words.

"I've lived here since 1968 and have been on the council almost all of that time, except maybe six or eight years," Woodfin said. "I always used two words. The record may show it's one word, but nobody pays attention to the records."

According to state and post office officials, the correct spelling of the small town near Marble Hill is one word.

But a short drive around town revealed that the people who live here prefer a space and a capital A.

One resident after another said they firmly believe the correct spelling is Glen Allen.

And, in addition to the village hall, one sign after another stated the same thing:

Glen Allen Village Hall.

Glen Allen Baptist Church.

Glen Allen United Methodist Church.

Old Glen Allen Road.

For more than 100 years

It turns out that Glenallen has been one word since 1894.

The book "Bollinger County: A Bicentennial Commemorative Book 1851 to 1973" says the town was originally spelled with two words, but changed in 1894.

The Missouri Department of Transportation recognizes this history. Brent Fisher of the state's mapping department said the state usually uses the same spelling as the local post office. The post office also changed its name to one word in 1894, he said.

The Bollinger County history book said the word "Glen," meaning valley, represented the topography of the town, which is located between a pair of creeks.

The town is believed to be named after Thomas Allen, who purchased some property in the area in 1871.

A year later, the town had a post office. Twenty-two years after that, town leaders changed the name to one word. The book does not give an explanation for the change. Regardless, the decision didn't stick.

"It's two words," said Ruth Barker, who runs Barker's Grocery Store in Glen Allen. Barker has lived in Glenallen since 1966.

"I never did see it any other way," said May Anderson, who lives next to the village hall.

James Wells and Goldie Dry both said it was two words. Even Jake Deck, who has grown children of his own and whose roots in the area goes back three generations, uses the two-word spelling.

Acup said she doesn't say anything when she sees mail addressed with the two-word spelling. She said she enjoys her job and loves the people, and she doesn't want to upset anybody.

"I don't think they pay much attention, and in this small community everyone knows where it is and they just spell it how they want to," she said. "I don't think they care too much. Even if you have two words, it's still going to get there."

Wells, who has lived in Glenallen 26 years, said he didn't care what the official spelling was.

"I'll never be convinced," he said, laughing.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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