Born in Ohio in 1861, he went to Texas when he grew up and at the age of 27, became the youngest sheriff in the Lone Star State. First elected as the Midland, Texas Sheriff in 1888, he served six terms.
After so many years in Texas, Allison moved to Arizona and in 1903 and joined the Arizona Rangers, where he served for two years until the organization was disbanded. During his tenure, he reportedly killed Three Finger Jack in a chase following a train robbery at Fairbank, Arizona. He was also credited with capturing the outlaw pair of the Owens brothers and Tom “Bravo Juan” Bowes.
At other points in his lifetime, Allison served as a Texas Ranger; the Roswell, New Mexico chief of police; a bodyguard for former Tombstone boomtowner and mining magnate Bill Green during the vicious 1906 mine strikes at Cananea, Mexico; a West Texas constable; and a stock association detective. He is most noted for leading the posse that caught and killed Mexican revolutionary turned outlaw Pascual Orozco in 1915.
Along the way, he was known to associate with and befriend such other Old West characters as John Hughes, Thomas Rynning, Frank Canton, Frank Hamer, Charles Siringo, and a young George S. Patton, who would say of Allison: “The most noted gunman here in Texas.” Though known for his fearlessness, lack of bravado, and deadly aim with a gun, there were also some allegations that all was not a perfect lawman. Having a serious gambling habit, there were claims made of misappropriation of funds at various times and Allison sometimes left his positions under a cloud of suspicion.
However, he was still working on the side of the law in 1923 when he was shot down and killed by two infamous cattle rustlers named Hill Loftis (aka Tom Ross) and Milton Paul Good.
Working as a detective for the Texas Cattle Raisers Association, he and Horace Roberson, another detective, were in Seminole, Texas on April 1st to testify against the two cattle rustlers. The night before the trial, Allison and Roberson were sitting in the lobby of the Gaines Hotel when in came the two suspected cattle thieves, immediately opening fire with a pistol and a shotgun. Both detectives were killed. Allison’s death was recognized as the end of the frontier-era in the Lone Star State. His funeral was heavily attended by numerous Texas lawmen and cattle kings.