By Larry Hamblen <email@example.com>
George Ransome Hamblen, wife, Mary Ellen Young,
daughter of Charley and Sarah (Whittenburg) Young;
and Willie Hamblen, daughter of George and Mary.
George was fire marshall in Sherman.
GEORGE RANSOME HAMBLEN: Born February 14, 1858, in
Berry County, Missouri. He was named after his maternal grandfather, George
A. Ransome. The family moved back to Franklin County, Arkansas in
1859 and then back to Missouri in 1864. In 1867 they resettled in Franklin
County, Arkansas, until 1878, when they moved to Texas.
George moved to Sherman, Texas in 1879. He married Mary Ellen
Young, daughter of Charley and Sarah (Whittenburg) Young. Charley Young
was born in South Oak, Tennessee. Sarah Whittenburg was born in Tennessee.
Mary Ellen Young was born May 18, 1862, in the State of Texas.
On July 22, 1893, George joined the Sherman Fire Department.
When he went to work for the fire department Tom Forbes was fire chief
and the equipment consisted of three horse-drawn wagons. Working with George
at that time were George Althoff, captain; Gus Moody and Leslie Turner.
At this time the fire department consisted of four paid men and a bunch
Tom Forbes served as chief for about a year. After he resigned
Abe C. Tyree was appointed by the council in his place. Mr. Tyree served
as fire chief until, May, 1895, when the council appointed Lee Totten in
his place. Mr. Totten resigned after holding that position for two
years. His place was filled by Wes Chapin, who served for eight years.
Ernest Arnoldi then became fire chief and was leader for eight years.
George R. Hamblen was made fire chief in 1913, and then on September 17,
1917, he was appointed fire marshal.
As the city of Sherman grew one or two men were added to the department
every few years. When George was made chief the number had been increased
from four to sixteen men, with one extra man. Several pieces of apparatus
and new equipment was also added. One of the important pieces of apparatus
was the purchase in 1902 of the ladder wagon which was still in service
when George retired. One of the most important improvements a short time
after the central station was built was the location of Station No. 2 in
the east part of the city. For a number of years only one wagon was kept
at this station. When the first piece of motor equipment was purchased,
the steamer pump at the central station was moved to the fifth ward station,
according to George at his 34th anniversary with the department.
One of the big fires recalled by George before he was elected
fire chief was the burning of the compress. He and other members of the
department fought this blaze for ten hours, before getting it under control.
A large amount of cotton on the platforms was destroyed. Other big fires
were a drug store and cafe in the 100 block on North Travis Street, the
two big oil mill plants on North Willow Street and the burning of nineteen
residents in the north part of the city.
Perhaps George's most trying time with the fire department
was in 1930 during what is called Sherman's Day of Lawless Shame.
The essence of the incident was that a mob which gathered for the trial
of a black man accused of assaulting a white woman, became incensed when
it was refused custody of the man. In the mad, frenzied atmosphere of the
mob, rocks were thrown into courthouse windows and by 2:00 p.m. fire broke
out when gasoline was hurled inside.
The courthouse burned all night, as the crowd thwarted attempts
of the fire department to extinguish the blaze by slashing fire hoses with
knives. The defendant had been placed in a steel vault for his own protection
when the mob became mad, and was presumed roasted to death in the blaze.
About midnight leaders of the crowd recovered his body after dynamiting
the vault. Later indications where he survived the fire but was killed
by the Dynamite blast. The body was dragged through the black section of
town, and hung from a tree, under which a fire was built.
The Grayson County Courthouse was destroyed with valuable
and historic records of the county. The black business section was destroyed
and never rebuilt. For two weeks following this incident, Sherman was under
martial law. At the request of Sherman citizens and community leaders,
State Militia and Texas Rangers were stationed there.
In December of 1932, after almost 40 years of active service,
George retired from the fire department. For a while following his retirement
he was retained to assist his successor as fire marshal, J. L. Estes.
His wife, Mary, died October 14, 1917. George survived her
by 30 years, dying October 4, 1947, 89 years, 7 months, and 20 days old.
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and of the Odd Fellows.
1. Willie Hamblen b. Dec. 11, 1886
2. Charles Kelly Hamblen b. Sept. 1892
3. Jessie B. Hamblen b. Sept. 1895
TENNESSEE HAMBLEN: Born September 23, 1865 in Springfield, Green
County, Missouri. She was the daughter of Pleasant W. and Lucinda (Ransome)
Hamblen. She was named in honor of the state where her mother was born.
The family moved back to Franklin County, Arkansas by 1867.
Then on to Texas, finally settling for good in Sherman, Grayson County,
by 1883. Tennessee lived the remainder of her short life there. She was
called "Tena" and "Tennie."
In April of 1891, while her father and brother, Frank, were
away on a business trip, Tennie became ill and died on April 21. Her father
and brother did not know of her illness and death until they returned home.
Tennie did not marry. She was a beautiful young lady, as her
picture reveals. All we know about her is revealed in her obituary:
Funeral Memorial Card of Tennie Hamblen
"The funeral of Miss Tena Hamblen last evening was a very sad, impressive
occurrence. The young lady was much beloved, especially among the young
people. The floral offerings were numerous, emblematic of the purity of
the deceased and the esteem with which she was held. The carriages were
laden with flowers, and at the grave the casket was literally buried in
them. This was a very sad death, made doubly so because of the absence
of the father and son (Tena's brother) could not be reached by telegrams.
They are somewhere in the Southwest on business."
Tennie & Emma
EMMA HAMBLEN: Born October 9, 1868, White Oak Township, Franklin
County, Arkansas. She was the last child of Pleasant W. and Lucinda (Ransome)
Hamblen. She moved with her parents to Texas in 1878, and the family finally
settled in Sherman, Grayson County, by 1884.
Emma married John Breckinridge Kelly on October 18, 1892. John
was born February 23, 1863. John and his brothers owned a mule trading
business in Sherman. Emma's father was also in the stock trading
business, among other things, and it could be that through his business
dealings Emma met John. John
was also the sheriff of Sherman for a while. Also, he was a fireman
with his brother-in-law, George Ransome Hamblen.
John was knocked off a ladder at a cotton gin fire by falling
debris and caught by another fireman. He was cold and wet and bruised.
He developed pneumonia and died on February 21, 1905. He is buried in the
Hamblen family plot in the West Hill Cemetery. Emma raised her family,
after her husband's death, on a garden, a milk cow and chickens. In 1910,
following the death of her mother, Emma inherited all of her mother's interest
in Lots number Four (4) and Six (6) in Clock Twenty-seven (27) in the O.T.P.
of the City of Sherman, Texas, less that already deeded to her brother,
George. Emma also received one-fourth of the remainder of the estate.
Emma died January 21, 1941, and is buried by her brother,
George R. Hamblen in the West Hill Cemetery. Children:
1. Hal Ransom Kelly b. January 26, 1894
2. Fred Hamblen Kelly b. January 16, 1896
3. Mary Goldie Kelly b. February 9, 1899
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