Museum the New Llano Colony

Rhea Mae Baldwin


She was born in 1917 at Palmdale, California.

Family Information: Daughter of Septer Baldwin and Runa Baldwin  


Pre-Colony History: Her family was living at Llano, California when she was born and they came to Louisiana with the main body of colonists.  

Home in Colony:

The Baldwin's lived in a rather fine home which had been built for Mr. Irwin, who went on to start the Christian Commonwealth Community which, although a separate organization from the Llano colony, existed as a co-operative neighbor.

Job in Colony: In July 1928 the girls on the junior part of the canning crew included: Ruth Shoemaker, Captain, Vivian Busick, Irene Hewitt, Rhea Mae Baldwin, Iris Busick and Helen Daugherty.

As a student, she spent some time typing in the office, possibly as part of her educational/vocational training. In 1929 she was part of the office force, looking after the "lighter details of the place."

In May 1930 Maxine Palmer helped the Mesdames Oberleitner, Hewett, Kimball, Hardy, and Lacefield; the Misses Lois Thompson, Bonnie Mason, Florence Case and Rhea Mae Baldwin; and the Messrs. Petersen, Wichman and DeBoer serve dinner under the direction of Mrs. Walter Fread.

In 1931 she volunteered to help tear down the buildings at Cravens, an abandoned sawmill town, for materials to be used in the colony.

In July 1931 the veneer plant was going in full force with Johnny Dougherty, Long, Ole Synoground, Carl Bradshaw, George Jensen, Slaughter, Ray Bradshaw, Fred Hamel, Hoag and Roede on the job; as well as Bennie Brown, Jimmie Brown, Helen Joe Dougherty, Lucille Oberlitner, Rhea Mae Baldwin, George Maki and Jimmie Dix.

In 1933 she often helped in the bakery which was managed by her mother.

In 1934, she was among a group of high school girls including Iris Busick, Margaret Brough, Nona Crotts, Vivian Crossland, Erma Hayes, Afton Lewis, Irene and Myrtle Maki, Crystal Schutz, Jeannette Woolley and May Gossett who reported to the orchard to help with berry picking. 

Other Info: She was one of the members of the colony when George T. Pickett was first named General Manager.

In April 1928 Miss Wilson was teaching piano classes to several boys and girls in the colony. The Girls' Melody Way Club had had twelve weeks of classes and included Hope and Ruth Shoemaker, Beatrice Jensen, Lynn Rogers, Rhea Mae Baldwin, Irene Hewitt, Vivian and Iris Busick, Mary and Myrtle Gregerson.

In 1929 the theater program featured camera pictures of Llano, California and Newllano which were shown on a white screen while George Pickett paid tribute to the Auld Lang Syners who had been part of the pioneer days of the colony including: Peter, Dora and Harold Kemp; L. Roedemeister, Dad Thomas and Mr. Fox; Septer, Runa and Rhea May Baldwin; Chas. Anderson, Anton Van Nuland and Theo Landrum; Susan and Albert Moore; William and Mrs. Newman; Arthur, Donna, Donna 2nd and Dolores Goble; and George Pickett himself.

In February 1929 the colony orchestra consisted of Violins: Guy Rogers, William Bingham, Albert Wichmann, Warren Fread, Joseph Silberman, Rhea Baldwin; Flute: Clyde Mickey; Clarinets: Frank Rahn, William DeBoer, William Newman; Saxophones: Raymond DeFausell, Florence Roe, Arthur Goble; Trumpets: Louis Reodemeister, Benjamin Roe; Horn: Benjamin Couchman; Trombone: George Pickett; Tuba: Fred Hamel; Pianist: Mary Erma Wilson.

In April 1929 she attended a birthday party held for Billie Busick (five years old) and Charlotte Hewitt (turning four) at the home of Mrs. Minnie Hewitt.

She was often part of the theater programs and was one of 16 girls who wound the broad ribbons round the Maypole at Llano's birthday party in 1932 (other dancers included Nellie (Kemp) Bradshaw, Laura (Synoground) Swenson, Ruth Shoemaker, Sylvia and Ruth Tuber, Verda Bradshaw, Hortense Self, Esta Caves, Helen Emry, Vivian Busick, Irene Hewitt, Myrtle and Irene Maki, Marguerite Killian, Winnie (Ogden) Dougherty, Flora Young and Iris Busick.)

In 1932 she played the violin in the newly organized Junior Orchestra which was being organized and taught by Fred Hamel.

In November 1933 the weekly bridge club met at the new home of Mrs. Myrtle Bradshaw. Those present were Misses Ruth Shoemaker, Vivian Busick, Mary Lou Monk, Doris Layer, Rhea Baldwin, Lloyd Potter, Earl Swenson, Lionel Crossland, Roy McClean, John Dougherty and Fred Busick.

In March 1934 the High School assembly elected the new student body officers: Vivian Crossland, President; Iris Busick, Vice-President; Afton Lewis, Reporter; and Rhea Baldwin, Jeanette Woolley, Irene Maki, Program Committee.

In the summer of 1934 many of the colonists wanted to commercialize the colony dances by charging admission to outsiders so they could hire bands to come. After several bitter debates on the subject, it was finally agreed that colonists could lease the Roof Garden on evenings when it wasn't being used by the colonists, hire a band and charge admission if they so desired. In July 1934 a group including John Dougherty, Roy McLean, Rhea Mae Baldwin, Lloyd Potter and Roscoe Busick did lease the facility for Friday July 20th when Tony Babin would play, and July 26 when they would have a Mexican orchestra. They announced that outsiders would pay an admission fee of 75 cents.  

Post-Colony History:

She left the colony in 1935 to live in Idaho with her parents.

At some point prior to her parents' deaths in 1954, she married James Cunningham. Her last residence listed with the Social Security Administration was in Arizona.

Death: She died in 1995 and was buried in Farmington, Washington.  

Sources: "Can We Cooperate" by Bob Brown; US Census: 1920, 1930; "Llano Colonist": April 14, 1928, July 21, 1928, February 16, 1929, March 9, 1929, April 27, 1929, July 20, 1929, May 3, 1930, May 17, 1930, March 14, 1931, July 4, 1931, May 14, 1932, December 10, 1932, April 11, 1933 (Reprinted from the Colonist May 17, 1924), July 22, 1933, November 4, 1933, March 3, 1934, May 12, 1934, July 21, 1934, February 16, 1935; "Vernon Parish Democrat": February 28, 1929;; US SS Applications and Claims Index; US SSDI;  


The Baldwin family -- Septer, Rhea Mae and Runa.
The Baldwin family -- Septer, Rhea Mae and Runa.

The Septer Baldwin home.
The Septer Baldwin home.

Photo is labeled (spelled as labeled): Grammar School - Clarence Fread, Myrtle Fread, Byrn Busick, Iris Busick, Vivian Busick, Reah Mae Baldwin, Lin Rogers, Mary Gregson, Helen Joe Dougherty, Warren Shoemaker, Myrtle Gregson.
Photo is labeled (spelled as labeled): "Grammar School - Clarence Fread, Myrtle Fread, Byrn Busick, Iris Busick, Vivian Busick, Reah Mae Baldwin, Lin Rogers, Mary Gregson, Helen Joe Dougherty, Warren Shoemaker, Myrtle Gregson".

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