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From Pennsylvania to Nebraska and Indiana to Texas, the news on June 20, 1946, focused on the unexpected death of Maj. Gen. Allen Wyant Gullion.
“General drops dead while listening to fight,” was the headline that appeared in hundreds of newspapers that carried the Associated Press story. According to AP, Gullion suffered a massive heart attack while listening to the Joe Louis-Billy Conn fight on the radio – a much-anticipated rematch that ended with Louis retaining his heavyweight title in the eighth round on June 19, 1946.
Gen. Gullion, a distinguished veteran of World War I and WWII, was born to Edmund Asbury and Atha Hanks Gullion on Dec. 14, 1880, at Eagle Creek in Carroll County. His parents, at one time, were editors of The Carrollton Democrat. Allen and his brothers, Walter and Carroll, all went into the military. Allen and Walter both graduated from West Point; Walter rose to the rank of major. Carroll Gullion rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
On Ancestry.com, I came across information about the family posted by John E. Gullion of Okla-homa, a third cousin once-removed to the local Gullion brothers. According to John, the Kentucky branch of the family descended from four brothers who served in the American Revolution, one of whom died on a British prisoner-of-war ship.
Maj. Gen. Gullion, a descendant of Revolutionary War soldier Jeremiah Gullion, retired from the U.S. Army on Dec. 31, 1944.
An article reprinted in the local paper from a Jan. 6, 1945, report in the Army & Navy Journal, lists his achievements: For his military service, Gullion was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Oak Leaf Cluster and the Legion of Merit.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Centre College in 1901, then earned a bachelor’s degree in military tactics from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1905. According to the University of Kentucky’s Distinguished Alumni website, he earned a bachelor of laws degree in 1914 from UK, which also gave him an honorary doctorate of law degree in 1942. He also received honorary doctorates from the University of Hawaii in 1935 and Centre College in 1939.
Additionally, Gullion was a graduate of the Army War College and the Navy War College.
According to the reprinted Journal article in The News-Democrat: “This broad education gained while performing the duties of a Regular Officer, peculiarly fitted him to popularize Selective Service during World War I as an assistant to Maj. Gen. Enoch Crowder, then Provost Marshal General; to represent the United States at important international conferences; to act as Administrator of the National Recovery Administration for the territory of Hawaii; to serve as the Judge Advocate General of the Army; to create and develop the Office of Provost Marshal General for the current war [WWII], of which he was the head, and to develop the framework of the organization which will repatriate the seven million nationals of conquered states impressed for labor in Germany.”
The article dances around the fact that Gullion participated in establishing internment camps for Americans of Japanese ancestry following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, according to a Wikipedia article that goes on to state that Gullion, in 1943, was investigated by the FBI for “his part in forming an extra-military organization known as the SGs, intended ‘to save America from FDR, radical labor, the Communists, the Jews, and the colored race.”
That article attributes this information to the book, “FDR,” published in 1985 by Ted Morgan.
A report in the June 27, 1946, News-Democrat states that Gullion’s ashes were buried in the New Castle Cemetery next to his parents’ graves. “In accordance with the written request of General Gullion, his ashes were sprinkled in a grave 15 inches deep, 15 inches long and 15 inches wide by [his son] Captain Gullion. In his will, General Gullion said, ‘Let my ashes be buried without a container, as I desire to become a part of Kentucky as soon as possible.’”
He requested a short service with a prayer and two hymns, “My Faith Looks Up To Thee,” which the article says was sung at the funerals of his parents, his wife and their young daughter, Margaret Helen), and “The Son of God Goes Forth to War.”
The funeral was officiated by the Rev. W.J. Clark of Sparta, pastor of the New Castle Christian Church. The event was attended by his sons, Edmund and Allen; daughter Atha (Thomas) Moorman; and daughter-in-law, Mrs. Philip Gullion of Danville, Ky. His daughter, Ruth Simplich was living in Honolulu at the time, and his son, Lt. Philip Gullion was in Austria and could not attend.
The obituary says that Carrollton residents at the service included Gullion’s cousin, Frances Geier, and friends Mrs. W.W. Masterson, Mrs. Austin Adkinson, Hallie Masterson and Ella Gaines, Mrs. W.R. Fisher, Mrs. Cora M. Gullion, Mrs. D.H. Jett, Jenn W. How and Minnie Walton, and O.S. Lee and O.G. and R.K. Kipping.
“Ghent relatives attending the obsequies were Mrs. J.S. Brown, Mrs. Ed Gex, Mrs. Hattie Heady and Miss Birdie Bond. On Sunday, Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Bond, H.C. and T.B. Bond called on the home of the General’s brother, Lt. Col. Carroll H. Gullion.”
Phyllis McLaughlin is a professional genealogy researcher and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.