Museum the New Llano Colony

William Bingham

Birth: He was born in 1861 or 1862 at England. He came to the US in 1895 and filed his Intention to become a Citizen in 1905; by 1920 he was a naturalized citizen.  

Family Information: Husband of Rose Bingham.  

Description: In 1936 it was reported that he "look[ed] younger than he [wa]s." He could make brooms or play the violin with equal adroitness.  

Pre-Colony History: In 1900 he and Rose were living in New York.

In 1920 and 1921 they were living in Los Angeles where he was listed as an upholsterer on the 1920 US Census plus the 1920 and 1921 issues of the Los Angeles City Directory. She was listed in the city directories as a seamstress.

He and his wife were early members of the colony (around 1917 or 18 - perhaps they hadn't wanted to make the move to Louisiana?), then lived in Los Angeles for about 10 years. In August 1928 they arrived at the Louisiana colony to re-join the Llano movement.  

Home in Colony: In 1930 he was listed as a boarder with the Raymond De Fausell family.  

Job in Colony: When he arrived at Newllano in 1928 the price of cotton was very low and colonists thought they might take advantage of the cotton grower's unfortunate condition, lay in a supply of cotton and put Comrade Bingham to work making mattresses for future sales and use -- in November 1928 he made the first colony mattress and stuffed it with Louisiana moss.

He worked in the broom corn and twine shop and did upholstery for the colony. Neighbors often brought in their broom corn and he made brooms for them on shares. He was also sometimes pressed into service to help sort peanut seed for a large order.

In the fall of 1928 he was dividing his time between crate-making and making brooms. At the crate factory he, and Maxwell and Comrade Hartman were steadily making crate ends, while Roede was kept on the jump overseeing the crate work and repairing shoes and harness while he rested. And at the broom factory Comrade Jeffries, an expert in that line, wanted to teach someone his trade since he was "eighty-five years young."

In November 1928 the syrup-making crew included: Mardfin, Hough, Bingham, Silberman and Rahn who were topping the cane (cutting the seed off for chicken feed); Comrade Gregson who was feeding the cane crusher; Dixon who was placing the cane upon the feeding table; Ward Shoemaker who was carrying the toppers over to Dixon's platform; and Joe Turner who was doing the evaporating.

In June 1929 he was still doing upholstery and broom-making; some of the responsibilities of those jobs included casket trimming and the covering of cab and truck tops.

In March 1930 the colony was building a special delivery truck for Taylor to use when he went out to sell the colony's candy products -- the body was built at the planing mill, the metal work done by Mr. Hoag in the tin shop and the upholstering done by Mr. Bingham.

In November 1930 he finished up the "last long box" for the colony's old saw filer, Comrade Gardner, for whom they would sound Taps that evening.

In January 1932 the broom factory was almost ready to once again operate in the north section of the old dryer building (Roof Garden and theater building) and Comrade Bingham was happy to be restored to his old but better quarters. Comrade Joseph Hough and his assistants had been putting a double floor in that section.

In May 1932 it was noted that Comrade Bingham operated the broom factory with very few labor troubles. His hands worked in perfect harmony -- his right and his left. There were no strikes and no discontent for he had only himself to quarrel with.

In August 1933 he was helping a crew of men chop wood for the kitchen stove. The crew included: Comrade Slaughter, Dad Lloyd, Harry Ribbing, Nichols, Lindwall and Bingham. John Hight was among them, but not having poor sight, pleaded exemption due to sore feet. Shortly afterwards he was reported hot-footing towards Leesville.

In December 1934 he took on an assistant in the broom factory -- Wesley Brown -- who was learning a new trade which would be useful since the soil and climate of Western Louisiana produced broom corn.

In 1935, the demand for both brooms and upholstery kept him busy. Materials were brought in to be made into brooms on an exchange basis -- 430 pounds from the town of Toro in one order, Hornbeck, Parrot, Hildebrandt, Anacoco, Rosepine and Many, all had orders for and each knew the brooms will be first class, though to be sure much depended on the texture and quality of the straw.

At that time the factory was located in the same building as the theater, potato kiln, electric shop and Roof Garden. In August 1935 he was the only employee there. In order to make the brooms, the corn was first combed to get out all the seeds. The non-usable part of the stalk was then cut off and the brush like parts sorted into piles of even lengths. The corn was then dampened before the shoulders could be made and the sewing done.

Not only did he make brooms, but he was an expert upholsterer. At one point in August 1935 he repaired a wheel chair for a neighbor that probably could not have been done anywhere else in the state.

In 1936, no matter what time of day, he could be found at the broom factory shaping straws into brooms and brushes.  

Other Info: 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 March 1929 he and his wife left the colony to make their home in California where Mrs. Bingham would be with relatives who they felt could care for her infirmities better than could be done here.

Three weeks later, in May 1929 they returned, "well satisfied that the Highlands of Louisiana [we]re preferable to Atascadero, Calif."

Rose must have moved to the sanitarium at Pineville, Louisiana soon after their return, because in January 1930 William was called to that location where she "had been for some months." Unfortunately, Rose had "passed into the great beyond ere he arrived and was laid to rest in the Pineville Cemetery."

In 1931 he was often part of the colony theater productions -- in June he was part of a violion trio composed of himself, Hamel and Ivy Young who performed at a colony theater production accompanied on the piano by Mrs. Young. It was a pleasure to see Comrade Bingham with his violin tucked under his chin and watch him swinging his body to the rich rhythms of some classic number.

In April 1934 he was the leader of the orchestra and was a willing and capable teacher of violin, cornet, flute, clarinet, cello, tuba and in fact all orchestral instruments. He'd had many years of experience in teaching and was exceedingly generous with his time and services.

In April 1934 a lovely gathering was held at the home of Frank Brough, another New Englander, to "God-speed" the Fay family to Norfolk, Connecticut where they hoped to arrange their affairs over the next few months and return to the colony in the fall.

Attendees enjoyed music, games and a wonderful lunch. They included: Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Archer, Drs. Robert K. and Cecil C. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. George Matz, Mrs. Maki, Smith Sanford, DeForest Sanford, George Leevey, Wm. Bingham, Dennis Stanley, Forest R. Waters, Mary Emery and the Brough family, consisting of Margaret, William and Frank.

After the May Day Revolution of 1935, he signed a statement supporting John Szpila's letter, which had been published in the September 21, 1935 issue of the "Llano Colonist" and spelled out the reasons the overthrow of former General Manager, George T. Pickett, had been necessary.

In February 1936 he celebrated his birthday with a whole sheaf of mail from various points and an evening snack with his "twin" Charles Derleth.

In May 1937 a friend, Mrs. McKenzie of Washington, visited for a few days, staying at the Joynes home while she was in the colony.

In July 1937 he showed up eleven and a quarter minutes too late to get his name registered for breakfast.  

Post-Colony History:  


Sources: US Census: 1900, 1920, 1930; New York State and Federal Naturalization Papers; "Llano Colonist": August 25, 1928, September 1, 1928, September 29, 1928, November 10, 1928, November 24, 1928, February 16, 1929, May 11, 1929, June 22, 1929, March 29, 1930, November 29, 1930, June 27, 1931, July 4, 1931, January 9, 1932, May 28, 1932, August 5, 1933, October 8, 1933, April 14, 1934, April 21, 1934, December 1, 1934, August 17, 1935, August 24, 1935, September 21, 1935, October 12, 1935, February 15, 1936, February 29, 1936, November 14, 1936, May 22, 1937, July 10, 1937; "Vernon Parish Democrat": March 28, 1929, January 30, 1930; "Can We Cooperate" by Bob Brown  


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