Telling the history of Claremore…one story at a time
REMEMBERING CHARLIE ALLTON
In 1896, Charlie Allton was born to Joseph and Susan Ramsey Allton in Cooweescoowee District, Indian Territory.
Sue Ramsey was born near Panther Creek in 1866, the first Cherokee baby born in the Cooweescoowee District after the close of the Civil War. Her grandfather, John Mosely, came to this section in 1833, before the Trail of Tears. Both of her parents died when Sue was small, so she was sent to the Cherokee Orphan’s Home to live and to be educated. Later she attended the Cherokee National Female Seminary in Tahlequah.
Joe and Sue were married in 1888. In 1896, just before Charlie was born, Joe was badly injured by a horse and never recovered. Sue took care of her invalid husband for 33 years. She provided for her family, educated her sons and taught them to work by her fine example.
Charlie attended Eastern University Preparatory School, the forerunner of Rogers State University. When he was little, he sometimes rode his old mare to the front steps of Preparatory Hall. Later, Charlie generally walked from the country to college hill. He was a straight-A student, but never went on to college. At school, he met Pearl Henson, and she became his wife in 1919. “She was the only sweetheart I ever had,” he said.
In 1960, Charlie began a career as the Rogers County Clerk and served in that position for twenty years. Before that, he worked as a teamster, drayman, and worked for an ice and ice cream manufacturer in Claremore. George Lawrence once wrote, “There wasn’t a kid in the city that didn’t know Charlie Allton and his ice wagon. In the hot summer, we would hang on the back of his wagon and beg for a chip of ice while he was in our block…he was our friend.”
Lawrence continued, “Charlie was occasionally a guest speaker at the school pep rallies. His wisdom, his wit and sense of humor was just plain ‘ole common sense…down to earth…Charlie knew us all a lot better than we knew ourselves, and he always had a warm and kindly smile. I personally don’t believe that there has ever been another person that took as much interest in the students and the school. He was an inspiration to us all.”
Charlie’s rise to fame came when he became the “Introduction” to the annual Gridiron show. He wrote and presented original prose about pioneer days compared to today. The Oklahoma House of Representatives designated Charley Allton as Poet Laureate of Oklahoma. After one presentation at the Gridiron, more than 600 spectators gave a rousing ovation for the Claremore oldtimer who with tears in his eyes said, “You’ve made an old man very happy.”