Monday, July 25, 2022

The Blisard Brothers


Don and Norman Blisard were the Blisard Brothers. One promotional photo shows them in cowboy hats with a mandolin and a guitar standing in front of a microphone bearing a KUOA badge. Their parents were Ben D. and Mary Blisard of Gainsville, MO. Don was born February 22nd, 1919 and his younger brother Norman was born in Corral, ID August 3rd, 1920. The duo are obscure enough that only has a stub. 

Their radio program was on 1290 KUOA-AM in Siloam Springs, AR. The date it aired is uncertain, but their songbook was printed in 1945. Their songbook was published in shape note which is rare enough to narrow things down. The publisher is given as "The Blisard Brothers, KUOA Artists" at 50¢ a copy. More notably the introduction was written by Albert E. Brumley a prolific printer of shape note music into the 1960s.

KUOA started at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville first signing on in 1923. The station was acquired by John Brown University in 1933 who ran it as a christian station mixing Southern Gospel, and other religious music with preaching programs. The founder and first president of the eponymous university, John E. Brown Sr. was a long time radio enthusiast and this was far from his first radio station having owned KFPW previously and had a program on KMPC

The surname Blisard isn't common. Despite that random hits are few. There was  George C. Blisard of Waco, TX writing in the Sylvania newsletter from the service department of Cogdell auto supply advising on the repair of radio sets in 1942 and 1944. A relative perhaps.  A Thomas A Blisard Sr. testified in the HUAC, the House Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States hearings. He gives his birth date and place as 1880 in Philadelphia. But his statements were about Stalin on the radio, not southern gospel. Random searches produce Blisards, but no clear connections. The mystery endures.

Benjamin Donovan "Don"  Blisard was a landscape painter even back in the 1940s. He has some renown even now for his works. Because of that we know that he died in 1989,  his grave is in Aurora, MO and that his wife was Imogene. Hispainting style is similar to Charles Wysocki, which might be how they both ended up on jigsaw puzzles. 

I did find one relevant clipping from the Arkansas Times from January 13th 1969. It helped fill out the family tree a bit. Rex Wayne Blisard of Siloam Springs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Blisard was killed in Vietnam January 9th. He had been born July 15th, 1949. He was survived by his parents (above) and his siblings Dale and Lana; his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Robinson and paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Blisard all of Siloam Springs.

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