Museum the New Llano Colony

William H. "Bill" Burton


Family Information:  


Pre-Colony History:  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: In March 1922 he, along with Gertrude West, Mrs. Dougherty and Mrs. Norgard, was a worker in the office.

In April 1922 he had been working night and day in order to get the colony's income tax roll made out -- no other corporation was based or worked on the same principle that the New Llano Colony did and it made a big job of bending, twisting, and squirming in order to make their report comply with the law.  

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

In 1927 he, Sid Merrel, Dan Cryer and Doc Thurman accused the colony directors, especially George T. Pickett, of mismanagement, specifically that affairs of the colony had been grossly and intentionally mismanaged and conduct of the management so flagrantly opposed to good morals that a receiver assigned by the District Court was necessary to handle affairs.

They created a petition (eventually signed by 42 persons) that alleged that management had: 1. Used misleading propaganda which caused hundreds of people to invest their money in the colony, only to be disillusioned and have to leave with nothing to show for their investment. 2. Reduced the colony to a peon camp - these "peons" being poorly fed, clothed and housed. 3. Advocated "free-love", including promiscuous relations of the sexes and other practices contrary to good morals. 4. Expressed contempt for courts and authorities by taking it upon themselves to punish two boys for stealing from the colony store. 5. Prostituted colony schools by employing nondescript persons as teachers, while issuing fraudulent reports and drawing hundreds of dollars from the Parish School funds in the names of certified teachers and by exploiting child labor. The case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court but eventually was annulled and the plaintiff's demands rejected. Read the entire story here.

Because he was the U.S. Post Master for the colony, it proved difficult to simply expel him from the colony. Pickett took the stand that his old friend "Bill" had long been a faithful member of the colony; that the years of steady grind amid hardships and opposition and struggles had so worn him down that his mind had become unbalanced and he begged him to take a year's vacation and go away for a change; however he is only rarely mentioned after the case was settled, and only in reference to the attempted takeover.

Ironically, J. Homer Clark recalled the situation in 1936, following the May Day Revolution which ousted Pickett from control of the colony, and kindly suggested that Pickett should heed his own advice.  

Post-Colony History: In August 1928 it was reported that copies of circulars were being broad-casted telling of an attempt to start a colony near Alexandrie, LA [sic] by some people who had been colony members.

Pickett responded in the Llano Colonist: "If any one who has ever been in the Llano Colony, lost faith in our methods and still believes in cooperation, by all means let us urge you to join with these people in their venture. They are in a country where good land is to be had, a good climate and other natural advantages. There is no reason why they should not succeed equally as well as the Llano movement if not better, from the start, because these people have had lots of experience from years of cooperative effort and from all angles of the game... We are glad to tell you to write to W.H. Burton who is their acting secretary and whose address is Newllano, La., if you want further information."


Sources: "Vernon Parish Democrat": April 28, 1921, "Llano Colonist": March 25, 1922, April 15, 1922, February 25, 1928, August 11, 1928, April 11, 1933 (Reprinted from the Colonist May 17, 1924), May 13, 1933 (Story of Llano), May 20, 1933 (Story of Llano), February 15, 1936; "Monroe News-Star": January 29, 1927  


Clipping from the Vernon Parish Democrat, April 28, 1921.
Clipping from the "Vernon Parish Democrat", April 28, 1921.

Board of Directors, 1925
Board of Directors, 1925 - Septer Baldwin, Sid Merrel, Ole Synoground, Carl Gleeser, Louise Gaddis, George Pickett, Bill Burton, Peter Kemp, Dan Cryer.

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