Today we continue looking at the life of George Francis Allison, prominent early Twentieth Century businessman and community leader. First, we’ll complete a look at his biography from “The History of Florida”:
“May 20, 1920, recorded the marriage of Mr. ALLISON and Miss SYBIL CARRINGTON, daughter of LUKE N. CARRINGTON, a leading member of the bar of Brunswick, Georgia. Mrs. ALLISON graduated from the Georgia Normal Institute, and prior to her marriage had been a successful and popular teacher in the schools of her native state. She is an active member of the Baptist Church at Live Oak, and is a valued factor also in club and social circles in this community.”
George F. Allison was in favor of technical advances in the area and getting the best to Suwannee County. The Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce said that he was “everything that spells progressiveness.” His association with Dr. Marvin Price led to the Alimar Theatre, a combination of Allison’s last name and Price’s first name. The movie theater served the community for nearly 60 years before burning down.
A 1920 ad for the Allison Motor Co. stated, “The Ford Coupe has an especial appeal for real estate folks because of its splendid up-to-date appointments. A comfortable and dependable motor car every day of the year — shine, rain, or snow. Equipped with electric self-starting and lighting system and demountable rims with 3 ½ inch tires all around it, brings the owner all those established dependable Ford merits in economy in operation and upkeep, with assured long service…”
A November 1920 Suwannee Democrat noted, “The Allison Motor Co. advertised the new Fordson Tractor. The tractor had large metal wheels.” A September 1921 Suwannee Democrat article described one of Allison’s successful business ventures through his Allison Motor Company:
“The largest demonstration of Fordson tractors and power farming implements ever held in this section of the state was given yesterday by the Allison Motor Co. Hundreds of our farmers and businessmen accepted the company’s invitation to be present and after viewing the belt pulley work consisting of corn mill, wood saw, and saw mill, which was given on the Allison lot. At noon, lunch was enjoyed.
“Following this demonstration of plowing, harrowing, and cultivator packer was given on the Parshley field on E. Howard St.
“Business men have joined the farmers in the promoting power farming and the results to be obtained form this demonstration will mean much to Suwannee County. The sawmill operated by the tractor was especially interesting.
“Allison Motor Co. thus put on the first power farming demonstration ever held in this section and Mr. George F. Allison is due a great deal of credit for the advancement being made along this line in the county.”
Unfortunately, George Allison died on February 2, 1927 at the age of 46, just four years after “The History of Florida” was published. His Allison Motor Company, under his widow’s leadership, managed to soldier on until July of 1933, when the Suwannee Democrat noted:
“An important change in the business personnel of this city occurred last week when final arrangements were completed transferring the Ford agency in this city from Mrs. George Allison to Mrs. Ida Meeks and her son, F. D. Meeks. Live Oak’s newest firm will be known as Meeks Motor Co.
“H. C. Philyaw has been engaged as sales manager, a position he filled for many years under former ownership. Meeks will serve as general manager of the business with Francis George in charge of the parts department.
“The repair department will be in charge of Jack Reed and A. E. Futch, two mechanics thoroughly familiar with all makes of cars. Mr. Meeks stated that the parts department would be increased and that Ford owners could secure any part within a few days.”
Mrs. Sybil Allison, raising her young children, continued to be a part of the community until her death on May 20, 1983 at the age of 83, outliving her husband by some 56 years…
The Allison House, a historic Colonial Revival home located at 418 West Duval Street purchased by George Allison in 1920, survives to this day.
Join me next week as we delve into the history of the Allison House!
Eric Musgrove can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 386-362-0564.