A Narrative History of The People of Iowa Volume IV 1931
CLARENCE EDWARD ALLING. Among the persons whose biographies appear in this work, some are eminent in the sense that they have held high public office or accomplished notable achievements that have attracted wide public attention or are the heads of important concerns. Some of these have achieved their eminence by virtue of their own force of character and ability while others occupy their positions through the efforts of those who preceded them or through
a fortunate combination of circumstances. Another here have been but little in the public eye but are nevertheless truly representative of the great substantial class of people whose careers are not favored by any fortuitous
circumstances but who overcome innumerable daily obstacles in the important job of contributing their bit as citizens to the sum total of what is the real commonwealth of Iowa and passing on to their children the true ideals of the
state and the pioneer. Even though this class of people may not achieve eminence, they are recognized by historians as the real backbone of a nation, and it is altogether fitting that the children of such parents who have labored against considerable odds in order to give them an honorable heritage, good educations and the foundation of noble characters, should desire to have such a career perpetuated in a public record.
In this last group is Clarence Edward Alling, of Keokuk. Only as a result
of the insistence of his children does this record appear, as Mr. Alling,
himself, feels that he has failed to achieve all that he had hoped and that his
career hardly merits public notice. Nevertheless, those who know Mr. Alling
and his wife appreciate the fact that they have lived highly useful lives in
their community and have passed on to their children and grandchildren a
heritage more valuable by far than wealth.
Mr. Alling was born November 24, 1874, in the vicinity of Orion, Richland
County, Wisconsin, son of Calvin Porter and Emmarett Evaretta (Perrin) Alling.
His father, Calvin Porter Alling, at the request of his children, compiled,
at the expense of considerable labor and with the assistance of his wife, a
very interesting family history, the high points of which are recorded here
for the ready reference of succeeding generations.
According to this record the family originated in this country in the
immigration from England in the days of religious persecution of three brothers,
Henry, Jonathan and William Alling, who landed at Plymouth Rock at an uncertain
date, not so long after the famous Mayflower. They were of Puritan stock
and faith and were among the earliest of the pioneers into the wild, unbroken
wilderness of the vicinity of what is now Boston, Massachusetts. Later Henry
moved west, William south, and Jonathan, from whom this branch of the family
is descended, never heard from either of them again. The records of the next
four generations or so have been lost and next came Elisha Alling, of whom
but little is known except that he was the father of David Alling, who married
Clementina Clapper Judd, thus introducing into the family the Judd line,
descendants of a line of English nobility.
It is worthy of note that the family record indicates that they have always
been pioneers in spirit. Pioneers seldom remain in one place long enough to
reap the financial rewards of their efforts, but they are a type of people
highly indispensable to the development of a new nation in a wilderness, not
only because they were pioneers but particularly because, wherever they went,
they carried with them the rock-ribbed principles of character that have been
the true foundation of a great nation. Thus David Alling moved west in 1827
to Ohio, in the then primitive wilderness of what is now the City of Warren.
When the family had grown up most of them moved west again, this time to the
new frontier of Wisconsin, near Platteville, and David died in Nebraska,
where he had gone with his youngest son, Edward. He was nearly ninety years old when he died.
One of the sons of David Alling was Calvin Porter Alling, Senior, born in
1812, and at an early age became famous over a wide area as a crack marksman and hunter. At about eighteen years of age he became an apprentice in the Remington Gun Works and at about twenty-two years of age invented the world famous Gaintwist rifle, which was immediately adopted by the company and has since been almost universally adopted by gun makers. He never had money enough to patent it and so failed to profit much from it. His son and only child was
Calvin Porter Alling, Junior, father of the subject of this review.
Calvin Porter Alling, Junior, has left a most interesting record of his own
experiences from boyhood on, which were always of the true frontier type that
makes most excellent reading but which can be touched on but briefly here.
He was born in Braceville, Ohio, April 2, 1840, and at three years of age
moved with his father to Grant County, Wisconsin, and at six years of age made a long trip with his parents to visit relatives, traveling by stage coach, boats and other pre-railroad methods of travel over four states. While on this
trip he saw his first railroad train, at Cincinnati, Ohio, probably the first railroad west of the Alleghenies. He served in the Federal army during the Civil war for a continuous period of four years, one month and twenty days. He participated in many important battles.
He married Emmarett Evaretta Perrin, daughter of Aaron Perrin and granddaughter of Solomon Perrin, of Marseilles, France, a descendant of a family of title and estates, well known in the early history of France. Solomon Perrin was an artist and a gentleman of leisure. On a visit to the United States he met Miss Sarah Neal Bott, of Virginia, whose father was so proud of her beauty that he engaged the young artist to paint her portrait, being a man of means and a large slaveholder. The two fell in love and when married were given a beautiful home by the bride's father, where all manual labor was carried on by slaves, who were so well treated by the young master and mistress that their loyal devotion to them was extraordinary. Thus they were free all their lives to enjoy life, and love and art and to raise a charming family. In this way there was introduced into the family another strain somewhat different from the pioneer love of adventure, namely, the love of the aesthetic and the
On his return from the Civil war Calvin Porter Alling, Junior, bought eighty
acres of timber land in Richland County, Wisconsin, to which he moved his
bride and where they lived for three years, later moving to the vicinity of
Orion, Wisconsin, where Clarence Edward was born, the fifth of a family of then
children. Of the others five have died and the remaining four are: Charles
Calvin, Aaron Angelo, Sarah Florence and Alfred Tennyson.
In 1880, when Clarence Edward Alling was six years of age, the family moved
to Bloomington, Illinois, in a covered wagon, the family being so large that
the boys, even the six-year-old, walked most of the way alongside the wagon.
At Bloomington the boy received his first business experience, by selling
newspapers at a tender age. After a short stay in Bloomington the family moved
on, again by covered wagon, to Southern Kansas, in the Flint Hills of Cowley
County, a very stony, hilly piece of grassland. In this frontier country he
had to walk three miles to school, generally barefooted.
At fourteen years of age Mr. Alling worked at his first regular job on a
ranch, at eight dollars per month. He attended high school at Burden, Kansas.
During vacation periods he sold books and Bibles and even school furniture,
completing his high school work in Wichita, Kansas, about 1890. He also
attended Fairmont College, now Friends College, in the same city for a few terms.
He then began his business career in the grocery business in Wichita, and in 1896 moved to Perry, Oklahoma, where he was engaged for a number of years in the real estate and insurance business and also in the nursery business, in
partnership with his brother Charles. Those were boom times in the very new country of Oklahoma, but shortly afterward the reaction set in, with the inevitable collapse of real estate values, which forced Mr. Alling to close out his real estate, insurance and abstracting business. A recent moving picture play, Cimmaron, attracted wide attention because of its vivid portrayal of the exciting days of the opening up of the Oklahoma Territory. It is interesting to note that Mr. Alling and his family lived through those same stirring days of the building of an empire. His brother Charles made the first run into Oklahoma in 1889, riding an Indian Comanche pony from the Kansas border. Mr. Alling later helped him put in his first wheat crop and in 1904 he rode a horse all over the Lawton,Oklahoma, district to locate a claim for his sister, Florence, who had drawn a number from the great Government land lottery. This claim later sold for $9,000.
It is important to note that Mr. Alling's chief talent is in sales work.
His mother was really a genius in this highly useful art upon which modern
business is so strongly dependent. Mr. Alling's father was an inventor and
somewhat of a dreamer. He developed many interesting devices, including a
self-binder of a very practical type, for which patent he was offered $10,000 by the McCormick-Deering people, but he held out for a high price and finally failed to sell it at all. He also invented a twin-screw propeller for steamships
and other things later coming into general use, but lack of capital in the terrible hard times of the early '90s, together with an impractical nature from a business standpoint, made his inventions an expense rather than a help to the family income. This fact caused his wife to undertake to add to the support of the family by using her genius for selling and trading. She made many thousands of dollars over a period of years, dealing in real estate,
notions, magazine subscriptions, etc.In this work she found that her son Clarence Edward had an aptitude, and she started him in similar work at an early age. At ten years of age he sold notions to the neighbors all over the hills in Kansas, and about 1885 he and his mother traveled up and down the creeks and valley with a one-horse spring wagon, soliciting subscribers to a little paper called Farm and Home, securing a total of over five hundred subscribers in a very thinly settled community and thereby winning the second prize in a subscription campaign carried on by that paper over the entire United States. They often had to accept chickens, eggs and other commodities instead of money, as money was scarce those days. His mother also at one time had several hundred young people, in Wichita, Kansas, selling spices, silks, etc., for her, in which she proved a very successful sales manager.
And so it was that Mr. Alling has found his career in sales work. He is today sales manager of the KKK Medicine Company of Keokuk, having started in that line of work as a salesman in 1905 and becoming general agent in 1907, when
he moved his family to Keokuk, where they have lived ever since and where he owns a very attractive home property high on the bluff overlooking the river and the famous Mississippi River Power Dam. He became sales manager of the
firm in 1907, in which capacity he has continued most of the time since. In the fall of 1913 he left the KKK Company temporarily to organize the Consumers Wholesale Supply Company, one of the earliest experiments in farmers'
cooperative buying organizations. More than 2,500 members paid more than $50,000 into the capital stock of the company under the excellent promotional direction of Mr. Alling, who then in 1914, opened their first cooperative sales store for the convenience of members, in a two-story, fifty-foot front building on Third and Main streets in Keokuk. On the opening day the store was filled to capacity, the doors closed and the streets blocked by people seeking admittance. Samples were thrown out from the top floor windows to the people below. Business proved heavy from the start and branches were opened for the
convenience of distant members at Ottumwa and Salem, Iowa, and Nauvoo, La Harpe and Loraine, Illinois. However, because it was a pioneer idea in merchandising and seemed to threaten the prosperity of existing merchants, the
organized opposition to the plan was so great as to finally force failure upon it, only to find it soon, replaced with the newer menace to old time merchandising methods as embodied in the chain stores, now to be found up and down that same Main Street. The experiment was perhaps just a little ahead of its time, but it was an excellent demonstration of its time, of the organizing and sales ability of Mr. Alling.
His only political experience was his election to the school board at Perry,
Oklahoma, at the age of twenty-five, but he and his family have always been
active in many civic, community and church enterprises. Recently, when the
Keokuk Y. M. C. A. needed funds for remodeling their building, Mr. Alling
conducted the finance campaign successfully by clever sales organization, in
which again his talents were publicly demonstrated. Those who know Mr. Alling
most intimately feel that this organizing talent of his has never found its
fullest opportunity and had a better opportunity been presented him by a
different combination of circumstances it might well have proven more profitable to him financially. As it is, however, he has raised a family of four children in moderate comfort and provided them with good educations and a good start in life, while at the same time establishing a permanent home for himself and wife and contributing valuably to the affairs of his community, and is now able to face the best years of life with no regrets, although some disappointments, such as are the lot of most people, and with the love and respect of his family, friends and fellow townsmen. He is still young enough to look forward to an interesting future.
On June 16, 1895, Mr. Alling was married to Miss Lida Rogers at Wichita,
Kansas, and to this union two children were born: Clarence Lester, born April
5, 1896, who has followed in his father's footsteps and is now a commercial
traveler for the Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago; and Hazel, born June 13,
1897, and died July 12, 1897. Lida Rogers Alling died July 2, 1897, and on
October 25, 1898, Mr. Alling married Miss Flora Elizabeth Starbuck, of Spring
Hill, Kansas, at Perry, Oklahoma. She was born November 16, 1875. To this
union were born three children, all living; Ruth Elizabeth, born August 5,
1899, married Leslie L. Bever, of Keokuk, who is boys' work director of a
department of the Detroit Y. M. C. A., and they have a daughter, Patricia
Florence; Florence Emma, born August 31, 1901, married Dr. Irving Akerson, a medical graduate of Iowa State University, and they live at Boston, Massachusetts; where the Doctor is an instructor at Harvard University, and they have one daughter, Marjorie Ruth; Calvin Edward, born February 5, 1904, who is not yet married and lives in Detroit, Michigan, where he is employed in the home office
of a large insurance company.