Museum the New Llano Colony

Theodore Atworth

Birth: He was born in New York in 1858.  

Family Information:

Married to Mary (Henderson) Atworth.

Close friends with Marcus Mardfin.


He was said to have looked like Karl Marx.

He was a man of patience and persistence, with a bright mind.

Pre-Colony History: He was reported to have been involved with seven colonies - Fellowship Farm, New Clairveaux, Ruskin, Dr. Moore's Health Farm, Norwood, Straight Edge, and Llano.

In 1900 he was living with his first wife (Mary G. Laidler) and children, plus her father, brother and nephew, in New York where he worked as a photo engraver.

In 1905 and 1910 he still lived in New York with his wife and children and still worked as an engraver. He then lived for several years in Massachusetts where his first wife died in 1915.

In 1917-18 he lived in Connecticut, but by 1920 he had returned to New York where he was president of the Straight Edge School of Industry. In 1922 he was living in California. He came to the colony around 1922.  

Home in Colony: In 1930 he was living in the colony with his second wife.  

Job in Colony: He worked as a gardener for the colony managing the fruit and ornamental bushes and trees. He was considered by many to be the park commissioner for the colony.

He used his artistic skills (developed from years working as a photo engraver) to sketch designs for a model village of cozy cottages along curving roadways leading from the colony's entrance park, which he named "Harriman Circle". He and Mardfin did most of the work required to clean up this park -- which, when colonists first arrived and for some time afterward, was the site of the old, burnt sawmill which had been abandoned by the lumber company.

He and Mardfin worked well together -- he planned the gardens while Mardfin tended diligently to the weeding, terracing and all the details of garden manicuring that seemed so tedious to some rough and ready people.

In April 1928 the orchard crew included Hewett, Atworth, Bergold, Linkletter, Mardfin, Hough and Gregson.

In June 1928 the orchard crew, including Bergold, Mardfin, Gregson, Atworth, Hough and Rosenberg, were looking after the orchards and picking plums. New trees had been planted, though budding and grafting was to be done later, and crops had been planted between the trees and a new vineyard had been started.

Later that month, Roe and Bergold turned their teams over to Tom Davidson, the farm manager, who was making good use of them in the farm fields.

In September 1928 he 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 January 1929 he and Mary were in Pickett's gladiolus garden, reaping a rich harvest of bulbs for next summer's campaign of flowers.

In 1933 he was appointed the new sanitary inspector for the colony, a position which had been vacant since the previous spring.

In 1936 he spent a day at crate nailing, along with Professor Bennett. The newspaper reported that he was "no slouch when it come to fancy crate nailing -- he 'kn[ew] his onions' in that line, and [it was hoped he would] come around often and give more samples of his ingenuity". 

Other Info: In 1928 he was one of the founding members of the local Conscientious Objectors Union and was the first Secretary-Treasurer with O.E. Enfield serving as the President. The organization was planned to be international, composed of people who refused to go to war as a matter of conscience. Charter members included: Theodore Atworth, Mary H. Atworth, Emily H. Dougherty, I.A. Dougherty, Carl H. Gleeser, S. Weislander, Charlie C. Black, John Hight, Lowell H. Coate, W.A. Shutt, F.O. Jernberg, Reka Jernberg, Anna Tabb, Peter Kemp, F. Rosenburg, B. Wade Hewitt, Hamilton H. McClurg, W.J. Hoag, Theodore F. Landrum, C.N. Butts, Mary Snyder, George Snyder, Anna Garrett, Emma Shutt, M.A. Brattland, Richard P. Condon, Jr., Emily Swenson, W.J. Newman, George T. Pickett, Raymond DeFausell, S.E. Baldwin, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Molenar, Earl L. Bosch, Guy F. Rogers, Ora E. Newman, James J. Miller, Bert Busick, Mabel D. Busick, Ole Synoground, C.C. Mickey, Fred A. Jensen, Katie Mickey, F. Rahn and Isaac H. Keyes.

Books and other forms of proposals made by his first wife's brother, Harry Laidler, were often written about in the "Llano Colonist". Harry was a member of the League for Industrial Democracy and dedicated one of his books to three of his early teachers -- one of those being Theodore Atworth.

In October 1931 Comrade Atworth presided at the Open Forum where Comrade Morgan spoke on the subject of "Science and Life" intimating that COHESION (sticking-togetherness) is the principle of life both in inorganic and organic life. McDonald, Raicoff, Lentz and Tuber also talked on the subject.

In 1933 Ida Ann Bartlett began promoting a better social life for colonists who did not dance. She organized Monday night gatherings which would feature cards, dominoes, chess, checkers, etc. Hikes and other outdoor activities would be included as the weather improved. The first party was held in her home and featured Victrola music as the entertainment. Among those present were Marcus Mardfin, Theodore Atworth, C.W. Fields, Ed Schott, H.G. Starkweather, Chester Page, Mr. and Mrs. Hardy, John Black, S.E. Broyles and Boyd Bartlett.

In 1936 he received a telegram announcing the death of one of his daughters who left behind two little children.

Post-Colony History: In 1940 he was living in Vernon Parish, Louisiana with Samuel and Warren Irwin while Mary lived in her own home in Vernon Parish, Louisiana.


Sources: US Census: 1900, 1910, 1930, 1940; New York Census: 1905; California Voter Registrations; "Llano Colonist": October 29, 1927, November 5, 1927, April 21, 1928, June 9, 1928, September 15, 1928, December 22, 1928, January 5, 1929, March 14, 1931, May 28, 1932, May 20, 1933, October 21, 1933, June 16, 1934, January 4, 1936, July 4, 1936; "Vernon Parish Democrat": February 7, 1929; "Can We Cooperate" by Bob Brown  


Clipping from the Vernon Parish Democrat dated February 7, 1929.
Clipping from the "Vernon Parish Democrat" dated February 7, 1929.

Photo of Karl Marx -- no photo of Theodore Atworth is available, but Atworth was said to have looked like Karl Marx.
Photo of Karl Marx -- no photo of Theodore Atworth is available, but Atworth was said to have looked like Karl Marx.

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