Harold Allison, long-time naturalist and columnist passes away

Jan. 29—Self-taught naturalist, author and long-time Times Herald columnist Harold Allison has passed away. Allison, who started writing columns for the Times Herald in 1971, died Sunday. He was 87.

A lover of all things history and outdoors, Allison put pen to paper to help spread the word about many of the unknown things that make "Hoosierland" as he often called it, so special.

His popular column "Naturally Speaking" appeared not only locally but also in over 20 other newspapers around the state at one time. Allison wrote about things most has never heard of before. Intracoastal Water? There's a column for that. The Przewalski horse? Meat eating plants? Yep. Getting stuck in mud while fossil hunting? Yes, Allison wrote about that too. It seems there was no topic tied to nature or history of his beloved Hoosierland he had not tackled.

It's estimated that Allison wrote over 4,800 columns during his decades-long career. No two were ever same.

It wasn't just in columns that he shared his loved of Hoosierland. Allison wrote pamphlets including "Monarchs of the Forest," "Indiana's Rare & Unusual Trees," "Indiana Caves and Unique Geological Feature" and "Southern Indiana's Natural Landmarks." He also penned five books including "The Tragic Saga of the Indiana Indians."

He was featured in several naturalist magazines over the years and had been part of several TV tapings as well.

A simple man, Allison's love of the great outdoors was fostered by his parents who took him to Indiana Department of Natural Resources properties. Allison walked every township, 1,008 townships, to be exact, in the state. He collected fossils and artifacts and could have opened his own library with the vast number of books he owned and read.

"Harold was a wonderful person. He was part of getting the museum started and was a big part of Prairie Creek Excavation," said Daviess County Museum Director Becky Kremp. "That was in the early 1970's."

Located around three miles north of Washington, a mastodon bone had been found near the creek in 1973. During an excavation in 1974-75 by Indiana University's Patrick J. Munson, an extinct long-nosed peccary and extinct giant beaver that would have weighed between 200 and 275 lbs. were found in addition to mastodon tusks. The area, which was part of a former glacial lake and marshland known as the Thousand Acre Woods, is now listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

A display with more information on the findings of the excavation as well as some of Allison's personal collection of artifacts, is located at the Daviess County Museum.

Kremp said prior to the pandemic, Allison would often come in to talk with school children touring the museum about the artifacts and prehistoric Daviess County.

"Harold was also very interested in the Native Americans in Daviess County," said Kremp, adding a few years ago, Allison was part of the "Men of Distinction" exhibit at the museum.

One would think studying all things nature would have been Allison's full-time job. It wasn't. He spent 30 years with the U.S. Postal Service but still found plenty of time to spend in his element and helping to promote and save those natural landmarks.

He was a member of the Nature Conservancy for over 50 years and was honored in 2016 for his contributions.

Allison once said,"I've worked to preserve, protect and defend the land in Indiana. Too many people go through life and leave no footprints behind... to me, that is my legacy. I don't have a lot of money and things like that to leave but I have a legacy of natural things that I hope my grand kids can enjoy."

Allison's footprints truly are his legacy. Those footprints helped educate Hoosiers on what's happening in their backyards for many years.

For information on funeral services for Allison, turn to page A3.