Samuel A. Allerton was a wealthy landowner in Vermilion County who had made his fortune on the agricultural and livestock markets. He was one of the founders of the First National Bank of Chicago. The town was founded on a 3,800-acre (15 km2) tract of land in the southwestern part of the county which Allerton purchased in 1880. It had formerly been known as Twin Grove Farm (because of two very similar 100-acre (0.40 km2) groves of trees in the area). When the C&EI railroad came through the area, he gave them a right-of-way through his land, and then established a grain elevator and platted the village; later he provided land for a park, established a bank, and installed a water system. Allerton himself continued to live in Chicago.
Samuel Allerton also owned the land which later became the Robert Allerton Park, farther west in the Monticello, Illinois area; Robert was Samuel's son who oversaw his father's agricultural interests in Illinois.