Museum the New Llano Colony

Martha D. Dougherty (Alternate spelling Daugherty)

Birth: Born in Waco, Texas on March 28, 1874. Her father, W.C. Dodson, had been a well-known architect of Waco, a 33rd degree Mason and for more than 40 years an elder in the First Presbyterian Church of that city.  

Family Information: Wife of W.A. Dougherty.

Mother of John C. Dougherty.  


Pre-Colony History: In 1880 she was living in Texas with her parents and six siblings. Her father was the City Architect. In 1900 she still lived with her parents in Texas, along with three siblings and an aunt. In 1910 she was living in Texas with her husband and young son.

Martha had never attended public school; she had private tutors until she entered college. She graduated from Waco Female College and from Ward-Belmont, a woman's college in Nashville, Tennessee. Afterward, she took a six-week's course in A. & M. Normal College, where she got a certificate to teach school.

She had never even heard of socialism in a time when Socialistic ideals were being broadcast through every civilized country. In fact, she knew nothing whatever of a working class movement prior to reading about the colony in the "Southern Ruralist" early in 1918. After her arrival, she was at first disappointed by the lifestyle -- at the time colonists were enjoying a straight diet of beans, sweet potatoes and coffee without sugar. For six weeks she barely spoke to anyone, giving herself time to understand the new ideas, but after a while she began to see things in a new light. Her husband, W.A., came to the colony in August 1918 with 22 head of Holstein calves and heifers, 200 fig and 500 plum trees. Martha and their son, John, followed in October of that year.  

Home in Colony: In 1932, she and the Skinner family moved into the Ole Synoground house (the Synogrounds having gone to Premont, Texas to run that unit).  

Job in Colony: Her first job in the colony was shelling peanuts by hand and grinding them in a common little meat grinder for butter; she then was promoted to timekeeper, which position she held for four years -- until George Pickett took hold of colony affairs and that job became obsolete. She then became Pickett's filing clerk.

In March 1922 she, along with Burton, Gertrude West and Mrs. Norgard was a worker in the office.

After 10 years in the colony, she took a much needed vacation to visit a friend in Houston, Texas. At the time, she thought it would be for good, but after 14 months she sent a letter to colonists saying that she'd like to return. When asked later why she'd returned, she replied, "In Newllano I have a feeling of security that is lacking on the outside." After her return to the colony, she often helped out in the cannery, sewing room, and with meal preparation.

In September 1931 she was working at the cannery, under charge of Mrs. Walter Fread, canning pears on shares.

In December, 1931, George Pickett took Martha and Mr. and Mrs. Ray Bradshaw to Houston, Texas where all but Pickett would remain to act as salesmen in the three Llano foodstores obtained in that city through fellow co-operator, J.E. Wilson. These stores were well established, simply needing capable and trustworthy operators who would be willing to live on a communal basis. An excellent apartment house containing 16 rooms was available where a community kitchen and dining hall could be established. Mr. Wilson also mentioned how quite a number of people could be fed on the "waste" foods from the stores. These might include food in damaged, dirty, or unlabeled cans and/or fruits and vegetables with "spots" which were "unsaleable" to the fastidious trade. (NOTE: The fate of those stores in Houston has not been verified, but for several months they were frequently mentioned in the "Llano Colonist" and then never mentioned again.) In February 1932 she returned for a visit from Houston.

In May 1934 she, Mrs. Matz and Mrs. Ribbing were the regular ironers at the laundry.

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

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

One of 42 colonists who signed a petition, dated January 10, 1928 and sent to the governor of Louisiana, which objected to the securing of a new charter being issued to the colony. Among other things, this petition claimed 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. It 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.  

Post-Colony History: In 1947 she attended a Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Mrs. Gussie Frusha for the old folks of New Llano. Attending were: Ed Mansfield, Ed Clark, Joe Noggles, F.R. Waters, Ed Merrill, S.E. Broyles, Ted Landrum, I. Ginsberg, Mrs. Martha Dougherty, Mrs. Ida N. Bartlett and Mrs. Alice Sontag.  

Death: She died in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1949 and was buried in the O'Banion Cemetery at New Llano, LA.  

Sources: "Llano Colonist": March 25, 1922, February 25, 1928, September 14, 1929, September 19, 1931, September 26, 1931, November 28, 1931, December 19, 1931, January 2, 1932, February 13, 1932, September 3, 1932, April 11, 1933 (Reprinted from the Colonist May 17, 1924), May 13, 1933 (Story of Llano), May 20, 1933 (Story of Llano), May 19, 1934, June 9, 1934, July 14, 1934, July 28, 1934; US Census: 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930; "Leesville Leader": December 4, 1947;


Photo is labeled: College Group: (Back Row) Pete Harmon, John ?, Mrs. Garrett, Dad Gleeser, Mrs. Dougherty (Front Row) Mr. Stocking, Mr. Black, Mrs. Busick, Miss Wilson (Two of the men in front are not identified).

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