Museum the New Llano Colony

Esther Allen

Birth: She was born in Illinois around 1880.  

Family Information:


Pre-Colony History: In 1880 and 1900 she was living with her parents and siblings in Illinois -- in 1900 she was working as a school teacher there.

In 1910 she was listed as a "pupil nurse" at the New York Hospital in the Borough of Manhattan.  

Home in Colony: In 1930 she was boarding with the Septer Baldwin family. In 1936, she moved out of the hospital building into the south wing of the women's dormitory (the last home of "Mother Pickett").  

Job in Colony: She was the circulation manager for "The Colonist" for several years and wrote in the "Colonist Diary". She had been a trained nurse in New York City and sometimes worked as nurse in the colony hospital.

In September 1928 she was on the college faculty along with: Lowell H. Coate - Superintendent and instructor in Sociology, Economics and Public Education; E.C. Bennett - English and History; Benjamin Roe - Scientific Agriculture; Guy F. Rogers - Mathematics; Eugene Hough - Psychology; F. Hamel - Spanish, German and Latin; Mary Erma Wilson - Voice and Piano; R.B. Snyder - Director of Orchestra, Wind and Stringed Instruments, Chorus and Ensemble; Geo. T. Pickett - Industrial Science; Daisy Daugherty Domestic Science; Edna Mae Coffin - Manual Art, Sculpture and Architectural Drawing; Austin McLane - Journalism; Nell Rogers - Botany; Hope Shoemaker - Shorthand, Typewriting and Book-keeping; Mr. Daugherty - Intermediate Grades; Mrs. A.E. Bennet - Primary Grades; Esther Allen - Health and Hygiene; Mary H. Atworth - Librarian and Instructor in the Art of Expression; Anna Tabb - School Nurse, Dr. J.P. Kimmel - College Physician; Alice Pickett - Girls Counselor; Theodore Atworth - Oil and Watercolor Art; Alma Wilson Bell - Dramatic Art.

In late 1932 General Manager George T. Pickett asked Doc Williams and Esther to collaborate in the matter of building up the subscription list. Doc praised her work, since they'd worked very well together previously, and still did on the oil subscriptions. She replied that Doc had always been THE forceful running mate and she just tagged along.

In June 1934 she and Martha Dougherty helped Doc Williams with the printing of the cards for the Oil and Mineral Dept.

In July 1934 the regular crew at the print shop included: Lloyd Potter, Harold and Mary Emery, Ben Low, Roy MacDonald, Anna Loutrel, George Leevey, Afton Lewis, Howard Stansbury, Mr. Ranft and Irene Hewitt. Esther Allen, Mrs. Weatherwax and Bertha Richter helped out on the days when the "Colonist" and "Democrat" were mailed out, plus both DeForest and Marvin Sanford could be seen there a good share of the time.  

Other Info: In 1929 she enjoyed a picnic with the Brattland family. They stopped alongside a railroad spur over which ties and other cut timber were hauled to the main line for shipping. While they lunched, an antique locomotive chuffed by trailing flat cars, burning fat pine knots and accordingly belching great black clods from its huge smoke throat. Continuing along, they visited the ghost towns of Cravens and Fullerton, which had only a few years before been bustling with life and activity.

In 1932 she joined Doc as he visited the colony looking for stories for the diary. They visited the Farm (welcomed by Ben and Mary Roe), the cow barn, goat ranch, and Chicken Unit No. 2 (the hill side dotted with a dozen or more small houses and the long chicken houses and the yards a regular show drift with white leghorns from a distance). While at the farm, Ben tried to impress on them that he'd planted a fig cutting six weeks ago, and it now had a fig on it. Baldy wanted to pull the fig, but Ben said, "the Idea".

In April that year, the "Colonist" printed a letter from "Ambassador George" who was in Washington at the time - "I want to thank Esther Allen and Dr. Williams for the efforts they are making in raising funds to keep me here in Washington where I am doing everything possible to connect up the Llano movement with a definite program for the development of a just economic and social system."

That same year she explained to three new male colonists that "this [was] a man's colony, notwithstanding the fact that the co-operative life should interest women immensely because it liberates them from individual household drudgery [and] offers them economic freedom with all that involves."

In November 1935 it was reported that she would soon return to the colony from an unknown location, which she did do in December. Neither report stated where she'd been, but the latter said that she'd been gone nearly a year.

In November 1936, Doc Williams took Esther, who had been ailing for some time, to Shreveport for treatment. It was thought she would recover very shortly there. Mrs. Mattie Turner, who had been nursing Esther for the previous three weeks, went along to care for her on the trip, but returned that day to the colony while Esther stayed for her treatment.

In March 1937 she was all worked up and excited in the office early one morning, and no wonder! She had just received in the mail a new hearing apparatus. She lost no time in giving it a test-out. The first adjustments were somewhat disappointing, but she kept working at it and a number of colonists stood by talking in turn and at various distances - Rex K. Dell, Mr. Joynes, Mr. Pollard, Mr. Atworth, Glen Burns, Chet Peecher, Irene Maki, Crockett Campbell, Doc Williams, and one or two others. Gradually she improved its adjustment until her hearing reached nearly normal and far beyond what her old hearing tube could do for her.

The instrument was called the Acousticon and worked on the "bone conduction" principle. It consisted of three parts: band around the head, microphone, and battery. These were carried out of sight, concealed by head hair, and in clothing. She was highly elated at the success - as tickled as a kitten with a ball of yarn.  

Post-Colony History: Esther also had another streak of good luck. She had been in contact with some friends who had offered her a home in Cincinnati. In March she announced that she would leave the colony within a few days for her new home. She had not been in the best of health for some years and hoped to find a home where she could reside in peace and comfort. It was reported that she'd been a loyal worker in the colony for many years and would be greatly missed by many friends.

By 1940 she had returned to the area and was renting a home in the unincorporated New Llano, Louisiana (site of the old colony).  

Death: She died in Rapides Parish in 1944.  

Sources: U.S. Census: 1880, 1900, 1910, 1930, 1940; "Can We Co-operate" by Bob Brown; "Llano Colonist": September 15, 1928, September 22, 1928, March 2, 1929, March 12, 1932, April 23, 1932, June 11, 1932, December 29, 1932, June 9, 1934, July 7, 1934, September 8, 1934, December 29, 1934, November 23, 1935, December 14, 1935, February 29, 1936, July 11, 1936, October 17, 1936, November 14, 1936, March 6, 1937; US Social Security Applications and Claims Index; Louisiana Statewide Death Index  


Esther Allen from the Llano Colonist July 11, 1936
"Esther Allen -- Popular Circulation Manager of The Colonist, whose name is a household word with thousands of co-operators who enjoy her chatty, inspiring letters." (Clipping from the "Llano Colonist" April 28, 1934.)

Esther Allen from the Llano Colonist July 11, 1936
Esther Allen -- Clipping from the "Llano Colonist" dated July 11, 1936.

Esther Allen from the Llano Colonist July 11, 1936
Clipping from the "Llano Colonist" dated September 22, 1928.

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