August 31, 1873 –
September 22, 1951
Fannin County, Georgia
photo taken in 1895
North Georgia fiddler Robert Allen Sisson was the Tennessee State Fiddle Champion in 1921. He went by the name of Allen Sisson, and is buried as Allen R. Sisson.
Born in the North Georgia mountains, Allen was influenced to play by his uncle, Ira Arnold Sisson, a well-known fiddler in his own time, who had been a sergeant in the First Regiment of the Georgia Infantry, State Guards, Confederate States of America. It was said that Allen began playing the fiddle while still in “gowns”. By age twelve, he was regarded as the best fiddler in North Georgia.
Allen Sisson was employed by DSC&J mines of Copperhill, Tennessee, as a section hand foreman on the mine railroad.
In 1925, Allen Sisson was invited to the Edison studios in East Orange, NJ, to record ten tunes he had written. The music was recorded on Edison Blue Amerbol Cylinders and on Edison’s proprietary (thick) 78 rpm records.
On February 25, 1925, Sisson recorded Walking Water Reel, Kentucky Wagoners and The Rocky Road To Dublin. On February 26th, he recorded Grey Eagle, Katy Hill Reel, Cumberland Gap, Farewell Ducktown, Kaiser’s Defeat March, Sally Brown and Rymer’s Favorite. Existing recordings have been collected by, and are in the possession of grandson James Carson Sisson.
When Sisson returned home to New Jersey, he brought the first radio to the area. People would come from all around to hear both the radio and Allen’s fiddling.
As a little girl, granddaughter Marily Garmony spent a good deal of time with Sisson and his wife Annie. Allen always had his fiddle handy, played Marily many tunes and tried as best he could remember to teach her how to do the “buck step”.
The Sisson family tradition lives on. In June of 2000, a Sisson gathering was held in Florence, KY, and all of Allen’s tunes were played in remembrance. The invitation advised all comers to “be sure and bring your clogging shoes”.
—Thanks to James Carson Sisson for the photo and biography