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ALLEN, George Whiting
Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol II, page 194, 1923.
Presented by Nancy Rayburn
ALLEN, GEORGE WHITING. In the language of resolutions by the Rotary Club of Key West, GEORGE
WHITING ALLEN was a patriot of unselfish devotion, a citizen of great intellectual attainments,
a friend of unswerving loyalty, a man of incorruptible integrity, and in that characterization
many citizens of Florida outside of Key West express their heartiest approval.
GEORGE WHITING ALLEN, who died May 30, 1922, was born September 1, 1854, in the City of
Jacksonville, Florida. His parentage was of sturdy New England stock, having settled in the
colonies during the great Scotch-Irish immigration. His ancestors were prominent in the
development of the New England States in the peaceful pursuits of commerce, afterward fighting
in the Revolutionary War with distinction.
His family crossed from Connecticut to Central New York, where some of Mr. ALLEN's brothers
were born. Subsequently Mr. ALLEN's father came to Florida and settled in Jacksonville. In
the early days pioneering was instinctive in these wonderful men. The ambition was instinctive
to convert the primeval forest into suitable human habitation. From Jacksonville Mr. ALLEN's
family settled in Key West. At that time Key West was nothing but a refuge for fishermen
and a way station for shipping; the commercial life of the settlement was entirely maritime.
The citizenship of the small community was composed of several high class New England,
Virginia, and Alabama families. They were distinguished for their intellectual attainments
and social purity. It was within these surroundings that GEORGE WHITING ALLEN spent his
early boyhood days. He afterward went to his father's northern home to school; he was
educated at Ithaca, New York; he returned from school to Key West in 1868 to identify himself
with the people of the adopted home of his parents and to begin the great career which so
sadly ended May 30, 1922. He studied law and was admitted to practice in 1897.
GEORGE W. ALLEN held many positions of distinction, deputy clerk of the State Circuit and
the United States District Courts; he was called to serve as state senator in the Florida
Senate in 1878, and was continued in this service until 1884, when he resigned to engage in
the banking business in Key West. From 1884 until 1891 he was cashier of the Key West Bank,
and when that institution went out of existence Mr. ALLEN organized and became president of
the First National Bank of Key West, and it was his commercial integrity and foresight which
resulted in the present tower of financial strength which we now have in this city. Mr.
ALLEN's financial ability was recognized by other institutions, and he was chosen director
in some of Florida's largest banks.
At the beginning of President McKinley's administration Mr. ALLEN was appointed collector
of customs for the port of Key West. At that time the port of Key West exercised jurisdiction
over territory extending east as far as Jupiter. He served until 1913, when the custom
service was reorganized and a district collector appointed. During the time of Mr. ALLEN's
incumbency of the collector's office many intricate problems were presented, growing out of
the war with Spain. A large number of foreign vessels-prizes of war, were brought into the
port of Key West involving international questions. He coped with every situation with
credit to himself and honor to his country. Key West was the center of war activities and
the discreet, intelligent hand of GEORGE W. ALLEN guided all Government forces.
He was the acknowledged leader in commercial, fraternal and civic movements in Key West.
No project could be undertaken, no enterprise launched with any degree of success unless
GEORGE W. ALLEN approved it. It was through Mr. ALLEN's influence that a right of way was
secured for the extension of the F. E. C. Railway to Key West. The people of Key West and
the State of Florida had unbounded confidence in his loyalty, sagacity and sympathy. Mr.
ALLEN was known favorably and intimately beyond the boundaries of the State of Florida. He
numbered among his personal friends presidents of the United States, cabinet officers,
distinguished jurists, and literary celebrities. The companionship of the great, the friendship
of the powerful, however, never diverted his love and sympathy for the poor and humble.
"He could move with kings and yet not lose the common touch." The humblest citizens of Key
West could receive Mr. ALLEN's wisest counsel, the poorest his help, and all, his friendship.
He married, May 27, 1880, Miss LEONORE XIMINEZ BROWNE, of a distinguished Virginia family,
who survives him. His two daughters are MARY LILLA ALLEN and Mrs. WILLIAM R. WARREN.
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