(To listen to the audio of this blog post, use the purple play button.)
· George T. Allison (1883-1951)
It’s 1:30 Sunday afternoon, April 11, 1943, in Eureka, California, in St. Bernard’s Cathedral rectory. Georgiann Allison, 19, daughter of George and Charline Allison, Hutchinson, Kansas, is marrying Richard Harmon, 21, son of J. Clair and Florence Harmon, also from Hutchinson.
It’s Sunday afternoon, April 11, 1943, near Langdon, Kansas. Daisy May Sherow Jones folds and unfolds a newspaper clipping from the society page, then returns it to her family bible.
As Georgiann dressed for her wedding day, she remembered a high school Homemaking class assignment from her senior year. Miss Marian Brookover, known as “Brookie,” was her teacher. The purpose of the class was to develop homemakers of tomorrow.
Well, Georgiann thought, tomorrow is today.
For the assignment, Georgiann had made drawings of her completely decorated future home. She even described her future husband and three children. Richard Harmon, who Georgiann was dating, was her first choice for matrimony.
Two years later, in July 1942, Richard enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, along with his buddy, Dave Betz. By the spring of 1943, storekeeper (SK) Harmon, and yeoman (YN) Betz, stationed at Samoa, north of Eureka, California, were missing their sweethearts in Hutchinson. They proposed a west coast wedding.
Click to learn about the “Sand Pounders”: US Coast Guard Beach Patrol
Charline Frances Graves was born and raised in Hutchinson, Kansas. In 1904, when George Allison came to town to help C. H. McBurney open his new dry goods store, Charline noticed.
George, 24, and Charline, 19, were married May 21, 1907, in a double-ring wedding in the home of her parents.
Charline closed her eyes and heard the piano music that had played during her marriage ceremony, Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.”
She and George stood under an arbor of green foliage and ferns. Charline’s dress was white Swiss, beautifully trimmed in Mechlin lace. She carried bride’s roses.
As a boy in knee pants and barefoot, George started working for C. H. McBurney’s Dry Goods store in Burlingame, Kansas. Gradually, over the years, George learned the mercantile business. In 1904 he got an offer he couldn’t refuse. McBurney promised him steady work if he would move to Hutchinson with the owner-manager.
Charles McBurney opened “The New Dry Goods Store” in 1905. George Allison became the window trimmer and then the floor manager.
In April 1908, George got another offer. Hostutler & Hipple Clothing and Gents’ Furnishings, lured him away from McBurney’s. The timing couldn’t have been better. Charline gave birth to a baby boy the next month. They named him Burkson Willard.
In 1909, Charline and George were counting their blessings when tragedy struck. Burkson, fourteen months old, became ill and died after a short illness of spinal meningitis.
A small miracle occurred in 1923 when George was superintendent of the Hutchinson-Wiley Dry Goods Company. It had been fourteen years since their baby Burkson had died. Many people were surprised when George and Charline welcomed a homeless baby into their home.
In December 1923, the Allison’s introduced three-month-old Georgiann to their friends at a baby garment shower. Two months later, on February 8, 1924, they officially adopted her from the Kansas Children’s Home Society.
George Allison took a four-year detour from the clothing business when he successfully ran for Reno County sheriff in 1934, and took office in 1935. He was reelected in 1936 and served until 1939. In his two terms as sheriff there were plenty of arrests yet no escapes from the county jail.
After an unsuccessful campaign running for Reno County commissioner, George opened up George Allison Cleaners.
The day of Georgiann’s wedding, she told her close friend, Velma Owen: “Sometimes, I wonder if my biological mother or father are still alive and if I have siblings. Can you imagine them ever thinking about me?”
“You may never know your birth parents,” said Velma. “Have you asked Charline or George for help?”
As the Eureka, California, wedding ceremony ended, Georgiann shed a tear of happiness. She considered her life, about learning she’d been homeless as a baby, about being wanted and loved by new parents, about a future with Richard, including her expectations of raising three children. This was the life she had dreamed and the one she had planned in her high school Homemaking class. Georgiann still had the notebook to prove it.
It’s Sunday afternoon, April 11, 1943, near Langdon, Kansas. Daisy May Sherow Jones is shaking and crying. She picks up her bible and opens it. She unfolds a newspaper clipping.
As Daisy rereads the article about Georgiann Allison getting married in Eureka, California, Daisy’s grateful. She says: “Thank you god. My baby’s getting married today.”
Click to see a WANTED Poster: 1938 WANTED Poster WANTED Earl Young
Until next time, happy writing and reading.
Jim Potter says
Thanks! There’s also a connection with an earlier sheriff, John Wesley Jones.
What a wonderful blog you had today. You did a lot of research on that one. Had some stuff in it I didn’t even know.
I’m going to forward this to my cousins. they should love it!
Jim Potter says
Steve, thanks so much for sharing the photos! Jim
Charline Graves Allison was my maternal grandmother’s sister. Her name was Marjorie Graves Glass. Very interesting! Georgiann was a very sweet lady. I never knew her story.
Jim Potter says
WOW! I see that Marjorie Emogene (1890-1984) was just 2 years younger than Charline. By the way, in my research her name was spelled Charlyn, Charlene, & Charline.
Marilyn Bolton says
I loved this segment, Jim. I also enjoyed the attachments. I had never heard about the “Sand Pounders”–so interesting.
The Wanted poster involved quite a story! He was killed in 1938 rather than 1928, right? A bad actor for sure!
Jim Potter says
Marilyn, you are a great proof reader! I’m changing the year. Good catch! Jim
Kali (Nancy) Harmon Standish says
Extremely thorough blog Jim. I’m Georgiann’s daughter. Grandpa George and I were as close as anyone could ever get and loved one another more than words can say. I was very young when he passed away from a heart attack and my world was never the same. There is a lot of information in this blog that I wasn’t aware of and would really appreciate having a copy of your source documents. I do have the pictures that you show in your blog but some info such as what Grandma wore when she was married and the music played I never knew. I’ve tried several ways to try and print your blog but can’t seem to get the whole thing no matter what way I try. Would you please send me a copy or a way I could print it for my family history? Almost all of my history is at my home in Kansas right now but I’m in Mesa, AZ. I will sign up for your blog and hope we can continue to keep in touch. Thank you so much for your fantastic blog.
Jim Potter says
I forgot to tell you, I talked with your Grandmother Charline back in February 1985 when she was 97 years old (before she fell & broke her hip in August). I believe I also spoke with your mother, Georgiann. I think she’s the one who loaned me the photos to copy. She told me that she had her daddy’s badge. If you still own the badge, I would sure appreciate a photo someday. I could include it in my book.
Jim Potter says
Kali, thank you so much for writing! One of the joys of researching, writing, and posting a blog, is hearing from people I’ve never met.
I’m working on a book that’s currently titled “Stories of Reno County Sheriffs.” (Your grandfather, George Allison, is the 21st of 32 sheriffs.) Until I get the book published, the blogs are protected from copying, but I will certainly send you a printed copy of the draft chapter.
I’ll also include copies of some newspaper articles, including the description of Charline’s wedding (The Independent, May 25, 1907, page 8). I didn’t mention it, but the double-wedding included Charline’s sister, Hulda. Also, by the way, in my research I saw her name spelled Charlyn, Charlene, & Charline.
Please send me your mailing address but send it directly to my email address, not here on the blog. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope we will stay in touch.
Philip R McDaniels says
I was unaware that George Allison was Sheriff before his brother-in-law and my Grandfather Walter Dixon was elected. I remember Charlene well from our family reunions in Colorado during the 50’s and early 60’s and I considered her my favorite great aunt. At about the age of 16 my Grandparents let me drive part way back to Kansas and after they had fallen asleep she telling me what a good driver I was. That alone scored a lot of points. I remember my mother talking often about playing with Georgiann when they were girls and they both made their way to California to marry during the war.
Jim Potter says
Phil, thanks for sharing. Were your ears burning? I was telling Alex this morning that you’re on my list to contact! My basic question is: Do you have any copies of photos that you could send me online? Or, maybe a photo of a personalized sheriff’s badge?!