W.R. Allen & Son
Written February 24, 1950
by R. Ward Harrison, Editor, Charlton County Herald
A native of Charlton County, William Robert Allen, Sr. was born September 1, 1894 at the old Allen Family Homestead, known as the Dick Allen Place, three miles from Burnt Fort, where he grew up as the youngest of a large family of brothers and sisters, attending the public schools of the community. His father, the late George W. Allen, better known as "Dick" Allen moved to Charlton from Appling County in the early 1860s, settling at a place on the Satilla River known as Allen's Ferry. He lived at this place until 1880 when he moved two miles southwest to a place now known as the Allen homestead where he reared a family of eleven children, having married four times. He died December 12, 1905 and is buried in the nearby Allen Cemetery. George W. Allen (Uncle Dick) was a leading citizen of his community. A Democrat in politics, a member of the Masonic fraternity and a successful farmer and stock raiser, he was a Confederate veteran, having served in the 4th Regiment of Georgia Cavalry. He was captured in battle and held thirteen months in Elmira, New York prison camp. His fourth wife was Miss Mollie Ammons, mother of the subject of this sketch who survived him several years. The late Joseph C. Allen, former Clerk of Charlton Superior Court was one of his sons.
William Robert Allen, Sr., known among his friends as Bob, is a veteran of World War One and served in the US Army for thirteen months during that conflict, ten months of that time being spent in active combat overseas. Early in the war he entered the 29th US Engineers, serving overseas with the Flash and Sound Rangers, an advance group in the forefront of the fighting. Coming safely through the war after serving in the battlefront where the fighting was hottest, he returned to Charlton County at the close of the war and for several years thereafter he was employed in the firm of Buie and Littlefield in naval stores and timber operations. Upon termination with his connection with this concern he was associated with the late W.B. Vickery in the furniture business here and at Woodbine for a period of several years, after which he was with the Stuckey Brothers Furniture dealers in Jacksonville for four years. In January 1941, Mr. Allen, in partnership with the late R.E. Player, established a grocery business at Winokur, taking over the Roddenberry store there. In August, 1941, he acquired Mr. Player's interest and transferred his operation to Folkston, since which time he has carried on a successful retail mercantile enterprise with a complete grocery store and market located next door to the Folkston post office on First Street.
Soon after the close of World War Two Mr. Allen associated his son, W.R. Allen, Jr., with him in the business and the firm is now operated under the name of W.R. Allen & Son, being one of the city's leading establishments. W.R. Allen, Jr. is a veteran of World War Two and soon after he entered the firm the unique slogan of "Two Veterans of Two Wars" was adopted. The staff of war veterans connected with the business has recently been increased to three with the employment of Homer Allen to be in charge of the market department. In advertising, it is pointed out that they "Served their country over there and are now ready to serve you here," The Allen Grocery and Market features a complete line of the highest quality groceries, produce and meat and this, combined with the courteous, accommodating service of the sales personnel, has contributed to its popularity and success.
"Bob" has always cheerfully and willingly taken time out from the heavy demands of his business to contribute in every way possible to the public service and in promoting the welfare, progress and advancement of the community and county. He has been active in civic organizations, has served as a member of the Folkston city council and fully carries out his obligations as a loyal forward-looking citizen. He is a member of the Folkston Masonic Lodge. In addition to his grocery business, Mr. Allen recently became interested in farming, especially the development of permanent pastures on land he has acquired. He is making excellent progress in his pasture development and in the raising of grade beef cattle. This is an undertaking that is certain to contribute greatly to the future development and progress of the county and he is one of its most enthusiastic boosters and promoters.
In May of 1919, Mr. Allen was married to Miss Vandilla Wainwright of Atkinson, Brantley County, who is also a member of a well-known and widely-connected pioneer family. They have one daughter, Rebecca Jean, now Mrs. J.E. Bonner of Jacksonville, and one son, William Robert, Jr. of this city.