||Hosea A. Peden
||Georgia Estella (Peden) Churchill||Wenona Billee (Churchill) Clark||Other
Mr. Bush , Stella Churchill, Mary Mathis, Geo Allen (sic) England, Jim Mathis
Clara Bush, Frank Churchill, Mildred Dawon, Mrs. Mathis, David McClaire
written on back:
George Allen (sic) England writter (sic)
at MKT Station Eldorado Spgs MO
|Subject: George Allan England
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2008 11:23:31 -0500
From: "Levy, Philip" <plevycas.usf.edu>
I am an historian at the University of South Florida and have been researching GAE for some time. I have an essay about his time in Key West in press and he factors into a chapter of a book I am writing right now. Therefore I was very excited to see the two photos you have posted. As you know GAE is largely forgotten today, but in his day he commanded a considerable audience. I have been hoping to find remnants of his papers but I have had no luck, so every little detail is of value.
I can tell you this about GAE and his travels. While his best known writings were his socialist utopianist science fiction, he made a much larger career as a travel writer and published an enormous volume of material in magazines. For much of the 1920s he published one or more essays every month. This was how he made his living, augmented here and there with flights of fancy like chicken farming. Despite his strong association with New England, GAE was born in Nebraska (1877) and traveled considerably in the midwest. I am sure that the photos you have posted resulted from one of these story hunting jaunts. The hotel business not being as developed than as it would later become, it was his habit to stay with locals on his trips many of whom were flattered to have the author stay with them--and they often received friendly mention in the next essay. If you can tell me the dates of the photos I may be able to pair them with some of his writing.
Thanks for posting these, and I look forward to hearing what ever else you might know about the pics and that GAE visit.
Associate Professor of History
University of South FLorida
Thanks for your email.
You are the first person to contact me about George Allan England since I put the web page on line.
These two photos were found in the stuff saved by Frank and Stella Churchill. It took me a few years to realize that GAE was actually someone important. Once it hit me, I went through all the memoriabilia saved by Frank and Stella but I could not find anything more that mentioned him. The photos were undated.
Looking at Frank and Stella's faces and comparing them with other photos, would lead me date the photos to about 1915 but that would have to be +/- 5 years. These photographs were 'homemade'. Stella Churchill was an amateur photographer and had a simple darkroom and developing setup.
Frank and Stella were pretty good about labeling the photos (that is why I knew it was GAE) but they left off dates of these two.
In Frank and Stella's memoriabilia, I did find a small number of flyers and newspaper clippings that were Socialist oriented. Mostly articles about Upton Sinclair. Frank and Stella may have been in a political organization that expoused those ideas - but I did not find anything that directly pointed to that.
(Mark's added note: in the biography below by Bill Moyer, we learned that in 1908, GAE ran for governer of Massachusetts on the Socialist ticket.)
The fact that Frank and Stella took these photos and saved them for 90+ years tells me that this was a fairly important event in their lives.
Sorry that I can't add more concrete info.
May I use your email on my web page? I will remove your email address unless you might want it on the page so that others may contact you.
|Date: Wed, 8 Apr 2009 20:11:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bill Moyer <ssmoyersbcglobal.net>
Subject: Re: George Allan England
Mark, My wife is George Allan England's great niece, and I've written a biography of him from a genealogical point of view. Will attach a copy, excluding the genealogical tables which probably wouldn't interest you. My theory about why he went to visit Fred Churchill is that he was trying to raise money in his later years to finance diving for Spanish treasure near the Dry Tortugas, which islands he wrote about in "Isles of Romance." He then suffered mysteriously from mental incapacity which I suspect was a result of the bends caused by trying to dive deep and long. A stroke or series of strokes finally killed him. I'll attach the biography. Hope you find it interesting. Best regards, Bill Moyer
George Allan England--a Genealogical Biography
by Bill Moyer, Dallas, September, 2008
My wife’s Aunt Tiz was an interesting person, though she and her husband didn’t live near us and we didn’t see them often. She was an art teacher in Philadelphia when we first knew her, and one story she related at a family get-together on Long Island was how, as a young girl in Maine, she rescued a woman from drowning on Bryant Pond and received a “Carnegie Hero Medal”. She was the only person I knew who had one. One summer we visited her at Bryant Pond, after she and Uncle Don retired, and she showed us a shelf of books written by her father, George Allan England. She said he had been a rather famous author in his day.
After Tiz and her husband, Donald Russell, died, I asked about her father’s books, but was unable to obtain them. I started looking for them at book fairs, and found a few. George Allan England lived from 1877 to 1936 and, I learned, wrote prolifically but with great variations in quality, producing a series of novels and countless magazine articles. Some articles were for Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post, but more often than not they were for “pulp” magazines intended for sale to young boys, full of fancy, adventure, and imagination but not likely to be timeless literature. The paper used for pulp magazines was of low quality, to keep publication costs low, so most of them have deteriorated over time if readers bothered to save them at all. Few ended up in “proper” libraries.
Yet some critics rank England in the class of Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle as writers of imaginative fiction, and some give England credit for being one of the first, and best, writers of science fiction. His most successful book, Darkness and Dawn, published in 1914, is a trilogy describing the end of the world as we know it, the awakening of one man and one woman after 1,500 years of suspended animation, and their adventures in a future world slowly recovering from disaster and partially inhabited by a strangely primitive race of humans regenerated in a deep abyss where their ancestors somehow survived the calamity that wiped out most of humanity. Reading this and other writings by George Allan England, I’ve decided my favorite is Vikings of the Ice, a true account of a voyage with the annual Newfoundland seal hunt. He captured the language of the hunters, the brutality and hardship of their quest onto the ice fields, and the strange admixture of implacable cruelty toward animals with man-to-man, human warmth toward each other. The writing has a brevity and directness about it that reads like Hemingway.
I began putting England’s genealogy together. His sole child, whom we knew as Aunt Tiz, was Isabella Pearl England, born in 1905 in Woodstock Twp., Oxford County, Maine, and died in 1985 in Gulfport, Florida. George himself was born in 1877 in Fort McPherson, Nebraska. His wife, Tiz’s mother, was Almeda Agnes Coffin, born 1877 in Milan, Coos County, New Hampshire, died about 1948 in probably Oxford County, Maine (which is where Bryant Pond is located.) I learned that England graduated from Harvard in 1902 with Phi Beta Kappa honors as well as a special award for writing, and went on to obtain a master’s degree from Harvard in 1903. He started work for a New York insurance company, but soon left corporate life to make his living as a free lance writer, published mostly by Frank Munsey of New York. In 1908, he ran for Governor of Maine, on the Socialist ticket, and he attended an Indianapolis convention of the Socialist Party as the Maine delegate. He and “Meda” maintained their Maine life style as much as possible, and when success as a novelist enabled them to travel, I found records of his return to the U.S. in 1910 from Genoa on the SS “Koenig Albert.” (This was the first time I learned that Ancestry.com has, in addition to census records, ship records showing arrival in U.S. ports of American citizens. This has subsequently been very useful for me in preparing genealogies for friends.)
How would a boy born in Ft. McPherson, Nebraska, get to Harvard and marry a New Hampshire girl?, I wondered. The 1880 Census helped me get started, and opened many new lines of inquiry: there was George England, age 3, parents George A. England, age 42, born in Vermont with both parents also born Vermont, wife H. Pearl England (so that’s where Tiz’s middle name came from!), born Connecticut, both parents also b. Conn., children Paul England, age 12, born Wisconsin (!), Florence England, age 10, also b. Wisc., and George England, age 3, born Nebraska. The other two members of the household were listed as Eva M. Lyon, sister-in-law of the head of the household and “visitor“, 22, b. Connecticut, both parents also born in Conn., and Harriet G. Gleason, servant, aged 52, born Canada with parents from Vermont. Hand-written notes added that the senior George A. England was a clergyman, serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Army; moreover, he was suffering from “overexertion!” The rest of the page, listing neighbors of the England family, was filled with military titles (“Quartermaster, USA, from New York State”, “Colonel, USA, Virginia”, “Major, USA, Indiana”, “Surgeon, USA, Virginia”, “Dining Room Servant, Michigan” and so on. Isn’t it amazing how much you can find out from one census record page?) Clearly, I had stumbled into the middle of a military base! It wasn’t Fort McPherson, though, where England said he was born--this location turned out to be Ft. Omaha, in the Saratoga District of Douglas County, on the eastern border of the state.
I looked up Ft. McPherson on Wickipedia, learning that it was a western Nebraska outpost that served as a staging base for U.S. military operations, including George Custer’s, heading onto the plains to deal with pesky Indians who, for some strange reason, weren’t anxious to vacate eastern prairie and shift further west where settlers might be willing to let a few of them survive. Now that I knew that England’s father was a chaplain from Vermont who had served in Wisconsin before moving to Ft. McPherson, and then retreating to Ft. Omaha by the time of the 1880 census, I could begin to look elsewhere. George’s mother, “H. Pearl”, with a sister named Eva Lyon, was quite likely a Lyon by birth, and from a family with roots going back at least one generation further in the Nutmeg State. I was later to learn that even the name Pearl was not intended as a jeweled embellishment of a little girl’s name, but another old family name in Connecticut. The trail was expanding in several directions at once--every genealogist’s dream.
Next, scanning on Google disclosed the availability of a Harvard alumni book for the Class of 1902. In it was an article by George Allan England, the author! It confirms that he was born at Ft. McPherson, adds that his parents are George Allan England and Hannah Pearl Lyon, that he attended Boston English High School before going to Harvard, and he married “Meda” Agnes Coffin in Allston, Mass., in 1903. (I had to look up Allston, too, learning that it is a residential area just across the river from Harvard--so that’s probably where either of them was living at the time.) He goes on to say he worked for Mutual Life, “developing my imagination and power of handling fiction”, next devoting himself to almost continual application to the typewriter, publishing about 250 short stories, articles, essays, and novels. He visited Europe twice to gather material, and ran for Congress and later the Maine Governorship, on the Socialist ticket, “defeated by the largest plurality ever given in the State.” He concludes with: “I can’t think of anything else, except that so far I have kept out of jail. Member: Human Race, Everywhere…”. This was to kindle my interest to learn more about the man, as well as about his roots, if I could.
If George graduated from Harvard in 1902, I would guess he started four years earlier, in 1899, having attended Boston English High School from approximately 1896 through 1899.
Going back to Ancestry.com, I found many other items of interest. Meda Agnes England and daughter Isabella Pearl England returned to Portland, Maine, from Liverpool in December, 1909, aboard the “S.S. Canada”--one month before George Allan England sailed back from Europe via Genoa in January, 1910. The 1910 census shows George Allan England and wife “Medd A.“ living in Oxford County, Maine. Census records and ship arrival notices gradually fleshed out more of the “England story”. With the mother and daughter was an older woman named Louella Frances Sessions, whom I was to learn later was Almeda’s mother, but bearing the name of a second husband rather than Almeda’s father’s family name. Each little tidbit of information adds mysteries of its own! And the plot thickened: one shipping record, in 1917, disclosed that the “S.S. Havana” carried four passengers including George Allan England (born Nebraska) back to N.Y. from Havana, Cuba, but not accompanied by his wife! Instead, the person listed immediately after his name was identified as Ella Collins, born 1881 in Fitchling, Mass., and she gave her New York address as the Hotel Albert--the same address George gave! Perhaps she was “just” his recording secretary, but then again, perhaps not.
George’s World War I draft card is next, showing his signature, his 1918 address in Portland, Maine, his employment as “novelist” by Frank Munsey Co., of N.Y.C., and the address of his brother Paul, listed as next of kin, working for Bell Telephone in Harrisburg, Pa.. (Why did he list his brother instead of his wife?, I wondered.) A passport renewal application in 1918 gives his address again as the Hotel Albert, reveals that he has previously made trips to England, France, Italy, and Cuba in 1909, 1911, and 1916, and desires to make another trip to Cuba. He adds that his father, George Allen (spelled with an “e”) England, died in Nebraska, having been born in St. Albans, Vermont. In the 1920 census, George was living in Brookline, Mass., but without Almeda. His daughter “Elizabeth” (I’ve since learned that Isabella and Elizabeth are the same name, with Isabella the Spanish version) and his sister Florence Nosworthy were now living with him, as well as Florence’s daughter, Margaret. The ages and places of birth all check out perfectly. George is born in Nebraska, his father in Vermont, his mother in Connecticut. Florence is born in Wisconsin, her father in Vermont, her mother in Conn.. Florence’s daughter is born in New York State, her father in England, her mother in Wisconsin. But George reports himself as “married”, so where is Almeda? She’s in the Oxford County, Maine, census, “Meda England”, living as a Divorced Woman (whether George acknowledged it or not!), aged 43, born New Hampshire and both parents born New Hampshire. She has two boarders, a man and son named Wallace and Charles Andrews, aged 50 and 25, both born in Maine. Just three households away lives a woman named Orinda J. Coffin, aged 67, born in New Hampshire--possibly a relative of Almeda’s, though I don’t know what the relationship may be.
In the 1930 census, the situation has changed. George is living in Bradford, Merrimack County, New Hampshire. He’s 53. His wife, ten years younger, is identified as Blanche P., age 43, born in “English Canada”. As for Almeda, she’s still using the England name, but now she appears as “Neda A. England” (yes, I’m getting used to the fact that census takers are human and write down what they hear), 52 years old, born New Hampshire, living on Hill Street, Woodstock, Oxford County, Maine, with a single boarder, the younger of the two Andrews men.
It was time for a trip to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, to look up records. My daughter and two granddaughters joined me in the summer of 2007 in an expedition through lovely forests and rolling farmlands of east central New Hampshire to visit Milan, Coos County, N.H., then swing east into Oxford County, Maine. They’re close enough together to include both in a one day drive. We looked for tombstones, but with no beneficial effect except to enjoy the scenery and see where the “Old Man of the Mountain” had been. I sometimes enjoy just soaking up atmosphere of places where people have lived, even if I don’t find new and exciting facts. By myself, I then made several visits to the New Hampshire State Records Center, which was moved last year from the old repository east of the state capital, Concord, which was hard to get to, to a much more convenient location west of town and near Highway 89. I found George Allan England’s marriage record to his second wife, Blanche Mildred Porter, a native of Nova Scotia who had previously been married to a man named Kennedy. She and George were married in Manchester, N.H., in 1921.
By now I had read quite a few of George Allan England’s writings and had noticed such things as an early dedication “to Agnes” in a book of poems he evidently had written in his college days, and a later article based on an interview in which he said he credited Blanche for doing a lot of work as his secretary in writing his later books. I eventually found a reissue of Vikings of the Ice that had been released by Blanche long after George’s death, after she had moved back to Nova Scotia and remarried, to a man named George Ernest Churchill. I made a trip to the Vermont State Records Center, located right off Highway 89 in Middlesex, but didn’t find anything new to add to my growing stack of “England notes.” I’ve had good luck there in the past, but didn’t find anything useful this time. I went on to St. Albans and to town records centers in a few small towns nearby, but was only able to add a few details here and there. I can only trace the England line in a very fragmentary way, via inferences but no proof, to Stephen England (1758-1810), a Revolutionary War soldier from Newbury, Mass., who moved to Fairfield, Vermont after the War, and to Joseph Soule (1747-1820), from Dartmouth, Mass., who appears to have been a Tory or Loyalist soldier during the War and to have resettled to Fairfield, Vermont after the War.
By now having become curious about Blanche Porter England, I wrote to the Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, records center, and received helpful information from them about old Yarmouth families, including Blanche’s. Her family, it turns out, traces back to New England prior to the Revolution, after which some of her ancestors emigrated to Canada. I even discovered that she was related to Almeda Agnes Coffin! They were 7th cousins once removed, connecting through their common ancestress, Judith Greenleaf (1625-1705), who married Tristram Coffin Jr. in 1653 in Newbury, Mass..
But I digress! The most productive single area of research I got into was in pursuing the Connecticut connection of George’s mother, Hannah Pearl Lyon (1842-1904.) George’s father, the senior George Allen England, became a Methodist minister/ Army chaplain, and I learned he had gone from his early days in North Fairfax, Vermont (near St. Albans) to Wesleyan College, in Middletown, western Connecticut, for his training, graduating in 1862. The next year, 1863, he married Hannah, who was from Middletown. As I looked into Connecticut records, I learned about the Barbour Collection with copious details of town records, an invaluable tool for genealogy in that state. The Barbour collection allows you to focus on one town at a time, and look for all people in the town with a given surname, such as Lyon.
From them, I was able to establish that Hannah Pearl Lyon England’s parents were Willard Lyon and Harriet Pearl of Ashford and Hampton, Conn., respectively. As is so often the case, the innocent “Pearl” middle name was a clue to an important ancestral line--the Pearl family, who were rather prominent in Connecticut and led to many other early New England families. Harriett was a granddaughter of the Honorable Philip Pearl, Jr., a Conn. State Senator and successful businessman whose life, however, was cut short when he was inspecting a building and it fell over on him! The interrelations between many of these families are spelled out in careful detail in the Barbour notes. Best of all, these records are accessible via the Internet as well as in books that can be purchased from genealogical publishing companies.
The Barbour records helped explain how George Allan England’s sister, Florence Pearl England Nosworthy, got her middle name, and why she decided to settle in her later years in a small, central Connecticut town that had meaning in her family’s history. She died in Hampton, Conn., in 1936, her obituary explaining that she was a children’s book illustrator, daughter of Rev. George Allen England of the Ninth Infantry Regiment, educated at Emerson College in Boston and the art school of the Boston Museum. Her works included “Songs for Children”, which appeared as a serial in the New York Times in 1916. In the 1930 census of Hampton Township, Windham County, Conn., she appears with her husband, William A. Nosworthy, aged 62, who is listed as a “gardener, private homes” while she, aged 60, is listed as a “magazine artist.” Since her husband is not listed in her obituary, I would guess that he predeceased her, dying some time between April of 1930 and March of 1936.
One of George Allan England’s specialties as a writer was visiting remote islands and reporting back to the Saturday Evening Post about them. In addition to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, his interest extended to smaller, lesser known places such as The Dry Tortugas (west of Florida and north of Cuba), Anticosti, Grand Cayman, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Bird Key, The “Misty Magdalens”, Sable Island, Isle of Pines (near Cuba), and Cozumel (then seldom visited by tourists, he said, and primarily occupied with the chicle trade directed by a man named Adams for the booming U.S. business of chewing gum manufacture.) Stories about the latter islands were compiled in 1929 into what I think is one of his better books, Isles of Romance, which is strictly reportorial and nonfictional, but interesting. On the Dry Tortugas, for example, he talks about Spanish treasure ships lost on nearby reefs, and the Civil War prison where Dr. Samuel Mudd, the Maryland doctor who treated John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, was imprisoned. England read letters from the correspondence of Dr. Mudd with his wife, and wrote sensitively of the Dr.’s predicament and how his family dealt with it.
Among his notes, England suggested he had ancestors including “The Pirate England” and a “Bishop England.” However, I studied everything I could find along these lines, concluding that the “Pirate England” was really a man with another name who used England as a pseudonym. There was no England clergyman I could find in George Allan England’s line. I suspect he was enjoying poetic license as a writer to make things sound more interesting, or perhaps passing along rumors he had heard but not taken time and trouble to substantiate.
England’s preface to Isles of Romance is dated July 15, 1929, at Camp Sans Souci, Bradford, New Hampshire. Last summer my wife and I were staying in a cabin on a small New Hampshire lake named Tucker Pond, about ten miles north of the little town of Warner. Bradford, I noted, was just a few miles west of Warner, so I drove there to see if any record of George Allan England and Blanche Porter England might yet survive. The town historian very kindly took me to the town’s historical library, and showed me maps indicating approximately where the Sans Souci camp might have been, on a nearby lake named Massasecum. She drove me to a house near the lake where we spoke with a gentleman who, many years before, had operated a small store on the lake, to sell groceries and other items to summer residents of the cabins lining the water. He remembered seeing Mrs. England, he said, and that she came to his store occasionally. He then directed me to a particular cabin on the lake front, and when I interviewed the present owners, the Albert Mosely family, they quickly confirmed that one of their two cabins had indeed been called Sans Souci at one time and was the home of the writer George Allan England (who had referred to the place as his “fiction factory!”)
Mrs. Mosely said the Sans Souci sign had been moved to their garage nearby, along with another that had some Chinese characters on it. She then led me into the former England house, pointing out where some modifications and modernizations had been made, but saying it was still mostly as it was when the Englands lived there. Her grandson took me upstairs to the room where he said Mr. England had his typewriter and presumably did most of his writings. It now serves as the young man’s bedroom. A bathroom nearby has a large, old-fashioned bathtub that is probably the same one George Allan England used. As I came downstairs, Mrs. Mosely remarked that some of George Allan England’s books are still in the bookcases there, and she pulled out three small ones she said I could have. I was flabbergasted to put my hands on some of George Allan England’s possessions, and fascinated to study them to see what his interests were. One is Les Origines de la France Contemporaine, by Henri Taine, published by Henry Holt and Co. of N.Y. in 1895. A few small marginal marks here and there indicate that England read it, in French. More impressively, he marked Chinese characters below his signature on the frontispiece and again between the back covers. The second small volume is Italian Reader, by B. L. Bowen, published in 1896 by D.C. Heath & Co.. It appears to be a book for beginning linguists to learn Italian from, and frequent marginal notes and underlinings indicate that George Allan England must have studied it very carefully. He even indulged in a few small cartoons, and, again, some Chinese characters he evidently was practicing. Like the previous book, I would guess that this is something he spent time studying while in college. “Agnes” is mentioned in one small marginal note.
The third little book is La Triade Francais, published by D.C. Heath in 1898. It is a book of poems, all in French. About half of the poems are by Victor Hugo. George Allan England’s intense usage of the book is evidenced by scribblings in both pen and pencil, indicating translations here and there of particular French words or phrases. There are no humorous notes or cartoons in this book, which England also probably used in college.
Returning to New England this summer (2008), I found George Allan England’s official record of death, in the New Hampshire State Archives on Fruit Street in Concord. He died 26 June 1936 in Ward #6 of the N.H. State Hospital at 105 Pleasant Street, Concord. My daughter, who is a nurse at Concord General Hospital, tells me the State Hospital is the one commonly used for patients needing long term care or mental care. The official record states Mr. England was a patient there for two years, ten months, indicating he entered in August of 1933. It adds that the cause of death was “encephalomalacia, left parietal caused by occipito temporo cerebral thrombosis”, contributing cause “auricular fibrillation cyst of left cerebellar lobe, duration 8 years.” If the original downturn in Mr. England’s health was eight years before his death, it occurred approximately in June of 1928. My daughter, and one other nurse I talked to, said they think Mr. England had a stroke in August, 1933, probably a very severe one that left him unable to care for himself. The “contributing cause” a full eight years before his death sounds to them like a combination of atrial fibrillation, a problem in the top chamber of his heart, plus possibly a cyst in the brain or a clot that eventually moved to the left side of his brain and caused a severe stroke.
In the Woodstock, Maine, Historical Society in Bryant Pond, Maine, this summer, I was given by the custodian a copy of a two page article about George Allan England written by his son-in-law, Donald Russell (my wife’s Uncle Don.) Don said that England knew Joseph Conrad, wrote movie scripts, and was such a good friend of Ernest Hemingway that he sometimes stayed in the Hemingway home in Key West. Don added that England tutored Franklin Roosevelt for three years while both were at Harvard. Don also said the reason England had been able to attend Harvard was that he had a wealthy aunt in Boston who offered to pay his expenses in the hope that he would later become her coachman, since she had four horses and two coaches and needed reliable help with them. Don also said England obtained a PhD from Harvard, edited “The “Crimson”, wrote plays for the Hasty Pudding Club, and by 1910 had attended Cambridge University in England for two years as a Rhodes Scholar. This is the first time I have heard this information, and I don’t know whether it is true, but Don would have known as much as anyone about his father-in-law, from information probably relayed by Don’s wife, our “Aunt Tiz”--George Allan England’s only daughter.
To check the Roosevelt comment, I looked on the Internet and confirmed that Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945, five years younger than George Allan England) did indeed attend Harvard from 1899 to 1904, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1903 but remaining one additional year to serve as editor of “The Crimson.” He then went on to Columbia to study law, and passed the New York State bar exam but did not complete his Columbia Law degree, then married Eleanor Roosevelt, his cousin and the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1905.
The Bradford, N.H., library has a small section dedicated to local authors, including George Allan England. His obituary from the Concord Monitor is inside a copy of Darkness and Dawn. The obituary, I would guess, was based on information provided by Blanche Porter England, the author’s widow. It says Mr. England became discouraged with writing for a living in his later years, and tried chicken farming while also making treasure hunting expeditions to the Caribbean in 1929 and 1930. Coincidentally, just before going on vacation this year, I “Googled” George Allan England’s name and found two amazing photographs on the Internet (the middle name is spelled “Allen” but the pictures, in my opinion, are clearly George Allan England.) The photos are said to have been in papers saved by Stella Peden Churchill, depicting a visit of “famous pulp novelist” Mr. England with an Eldorado Springs, Missouri, building contractor and promoter named Frank Churchill. Sadly, the date of the visit is not given, but after looking up as much information as I could find about Frank Churchill, I conclude that he is not from Nova Scotia nor connected to Blanche’s future husband there. My guess would be that England traveled to Eldorado Springs organizing his treasure-hunting company. He is well dressed in the pictures, wearing tie, jacket, and coat--as is Frank Churchill.
On the way home from New England, I attended a reunion of my high school, the Lago Community High School of Aruba, Netherlands West Indies, and had a rather unusual conversation with Ann Nixon, Lago Class of 1957, about Ernest Hemingway. She said she used to write copy for a Miami radio station and learned to fly so she could travel around south Florida on her own. She loves visiting Key West, she said, especially Hemingway’s home. Her other favorite place to visit in Key West, she said, is the private museum of Mel Fisher, the man whose company is bringing up silver and gold from the Spanish treasure galleon, Nuestra Senora de Atocha. I mentioned I am writing a biography of George Allan England, adding that George Allan England’s son-in-law wrote that England was a friend of Hemingway’s and sometimes stayed in the Hemingway home there, also that England was quite an adventurer, having visited the Dry Tortugas and written about them in his book, Isles of Romance. She jumped at the mention of the Dry Tortugas and said she and a friend once took a skin diving trip there, finding beautiful reefs protected by U.S. Law as a nature preserve. The reefs on which the wreck of the Atocha was found, she added, are in the Dry Tortugas area! I suppose it is possible that Mr. England might have obtained information about Spanish galleon wrecks on sand bars near the Dry Tortugas. Incredible as it sounds, he may actually have been on the trail of that vast treasure, though I can’t imagine how he could have raised enough money and obtained the right kind of equipment that the Atocha recoveries have required. But if he had any clues to the presence of Atocha or a similar vessel, no wonder he wanted to raise money to attempt a salvage, and no wonder he could interest adventurous types in participating in such a venture.
“Wikipedia’s” article on “Google” says Mel Fisher looked for the Atocha for 16 years, then, after his success in bringing up gold, silver, and other valuables, had to fight lawsuits for eight years from the State of Florida, which claimed the treasure. The U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled in favor of Fisher. The article adds that Atocha was part of a fleet sunk in 1622 by a hurricane while carrying copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gems, jewels, jewelry, and indigo from Cartagena, Porto Bello, and Havana, en route to Spain. The wreck lay in about 55 feet of water, which would have required “hard hat” diving equipment in England’s day but is now reachable by scuba diving. It’s sad to think that, based on what we now know about George Allan England’s health, even if his 1929 or 1930 expeditions had been successful, he was soon to be felled by heart and stroke troubles that would have killed him long before his pursuit of the treasure would have paid off. (I wonder if his heart and stroke troubles might have been brought on by attempts at deep diving in 1929 and 1930?)
I’ll conclude with the hope that readers of this article may feel inspired to read a few of George Allan England’s compositions. I liked some of his novels, found others rather tedious, but all imaginative. One, about a super airplane, describes a flight to Mecca by a group of raiders in an attempt to steal the Kaaba! Another describes an attempt to corner the world supply of oxygen in order to charge people for using it! Another describes the building of an artificial heart--something scientists and creative thinkers have been aspiring towards for a long time, it seems. He also wrote some humorous short stories and travel reports, such as one on Carcassone in France that I suspect he visited in 1909 when he returned to America via Genoa while his wife, daughter, and mother-in-law returned via Liverpool (my guess would be that they went abroad together, then split as England struck off on his own to do research.) On the genealogical side, I would be happy to print charts for those interested in England’s ancestry or that of his wife, Almeda Agnes Coffin. My sources are mostly Ancestry.com, WorldConnect, the Barbour records in Connecticut, other Internet sources, and as much as I’ve been able to glean from brief visits to the New Hampshire Vital Records Center in Concord and the New Hampshire Historical Society Library. The Coffin family has been pretty well researched, by many others, as early settlers of Nantucket Island. Other lines include Parker, Soule, Lyon, Farnam, Pettingill, and of course Pearl.
In the frontispiece of his first published book, Underneath the Bough, in 1903, England wrote: “Offered to Agnes, its inspiration, in this the tenth year of her reign.” Both George Allan England and Almeda Agnes Coffin were born in 1877, so would have been 16 years old in 1893. Where could they have met? Boston English High School is a likely possibility. Don Russell wrote that Almeda attended Emerson College in Boston, which is the same college George’s older sister, Florence, attended. Florence was, however, 7 ¾ years older than George and Almeda, so it’s unlikely the girls would have been friends in those early years of their lives. Attendance at Boston English High School is the more likely way that George and Almeda got to know each other.
A Nebraska State Census recently turned up the information that “young George” apparently was originally called George Philip England. This could have come from his mother’s ancestor, Philip Pearl, or perhaps from his father’s father, “Philo” England. Evidently the budding fiction writer liked “Allan” better, and chose it as his own middle name after slightly altering the spelling but keeping the sound, perhaps because it was his father’s name and perhaps because it recalled Ethan Allen, the Revolutionary War leader often credited with founding the State of Vermont. It was also a Soule family ancestral name, since George’s great great great grandmother on that side was named Elizabeth Allen--four generations earlier, the ancestral couple in this line who immigrated from England were named George and Hannah Allen. (I find no connection between this Allen family and Ethan Allen’s.)
One of the more curious England publications I have found via the Internet is called Keep Off The Grass, published in 1919 (“After the war”, the author points out) by Small, Maynard & Co.. It is illustrated with cartoon drawings by the author himself, giving a good sense of the whimsical, humorous side of his nature. Most of the humor, aside from the drawings, derives from plays on words. One example: “It makes a lot of difference whether the Germans have Gott or have not Gott away with it.” In the beginning, he lists the “Dramatis Persiflage” or characters in the book, including “Edward, A Human Being” and “Henrietta, His Wife.” He says the book was written mostly in and around Portland, Maine. One of the characters is named “Isabelle Pearl”! Knowing the genealogy of the author gives a reader just a tiny bit more understanding and appreciation of how his mind works.
|Subject: Re: George Allan England
To: "Bill Moyer" <ssmoyersbcglobal.net>
Date: Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 10:38 PM
Thank you very much for the biography of your wife's great uncle. It makes very interesting reading. May I post it on my web page about GAE?
|Date: Thu, 9 Apr 2009 11:10:49 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bill Moyer <ssmoyersbcglobal.net>
Subject: Re: George Allan England
You're welcome to post it, Mark. Glad you found it interesting. Evidently his father died when he was still pretty young and he was taken back to New England by his mother and other relatives. I'd love to find out more about his high school in Boston, and I imagine there are writings by him at Harvard if I knew where to look. Incidentally, my Dad was from Caplinger Mills, Missouri, in Cedar County near Eldorado Springs, so I have been to Eldorado many times, drunk the water, attended the 20th of July picnic. Dad's grandmother died in Eldorado and so did one of my aunts. So I was particularly interested to learn from you that GAE had been there too!
Best regards, Bill Moyer
|Subject: Blanche Porter England
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 12:52:24 -0400
I just found your website and was thrilled to see two pictures and a biography of George Allan England. His 2nd wife, Blanche Porter, was my great aunt.
Blanche was the daughter of Wilbur Porter Sr. & Clara Kelley of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
My grandfather, Wilbur Porter Jr. was Blanche's brother. He immigrated to the U.S. shortly after 1900 and settled in Massachusetts.
I don't know very much about Aunt Blanche; however, I do have a nice picture of her. It was taken aboard a boat and she is standing with two men. I do not know the identities of the two men, but I am wondering if the gentleman on the left (with the mustache & glasses) could be George England. He definitely would be older than the pictures on your website. It's hard to tell with the mustache and glasses, but his ears seem similar - especially the one on the right as it seems to stick out. I could be completely wrong.
I have attached this picture for you. If you happen to locate another picture of George England, I would be interested in seeing it.
Thanks for your email.
I'm always pleased to get emails like yours. They make what could be dull genealogy, come to life.
I would say that odds are that the man on the left is George England. The ears are a good likeness. And his somewhat 'tilted' stance.
May I use your email and photo on my web page? There are a few people who are interested in George England and maybe my web page will serve to connect up a few of them.
Yes, please do use my email and photo on your web page.
I see what you mean by his 'tilted' stance. The man with Blanche has the same stance as the 2nd photo on your website.
A family member told me that the 2nd gentleman could possibly be one of Blanche's brothers. I will let you know if I find out.
Google has digitized many newspapers and I just did a search on GAE.
I found this letter from his wife:
I can't tell if it was Blanche Porter or GAE's first wife.
|Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2010 16:12:59 -0500
Subject: George Allan England
From: Rich Howie <rs.howiegmail.com>
I found your website and the articles to GAE. I am a cousin of GAE and have a newspaper article that you might enjoy. I have also sent in along to Bill Moyer as he is here in Texas where I reside.
It is a very large file as it is the full newspaper article on GAE. You will have to unzip it.
|Click here for the article - its a 2MB+ jpg file. I have an 8MB+ version. If you would like it, email me.|
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