Museum the New Llano Colony

Mary (Mesnyak) Matz

Birth: She was born at Bosnia Herzo-Govina, Hungary in 1880.  

Family Information: Married to George Matz.

Mother of Rocina (Rosa) Matz.

Description: In 1907, when she came to America, she was 4'11" tall with a dark complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.

During the colony days, she was described once as being five-foot-five, one hundred pounds with stern features. Sometimes called the "kitchen dictator" due to her dislike for impropriety. The weight of responsibility and an outraged social consciousness had left its mark upon her features. But when she smiled, a contagiously attractive grin replaced the severity.  

Pre-Colony History: In 1907 she and her daughter, Rocina, traveled from Bremen, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland on board the SS Rhein. They listed Mary's uncle, George Matz, as their relative in the country.

In 1910 she and her daughter were living in West Virginia with her uncle, George Matz.

The family arrived at the colony from Cleveland, Ohio during the California days and probably were on the chartered train that brought most of the colonists from California in November 1917. In 1920 George and Mary were married and living at a Leesville, Louisiana address with their daughter, Rosy.  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: In charge of the hotel kitchen where three meals were prepared each day to feed the colonists. Her job was difficult -- she had to take whatever food was allotted to her by the commissary and make sure it was first of all cooked well, then distributed proportionately and equally.

In 1920, Mrs. Matz was rejoicing, for at the end of July she was to be relieved from her job of managing the hotel. At the time, she expected to take up work in the laundry after a little rest.

In December 1920 she and Mrs. J.C. Crawford were in charge of the Xmas dinner at the hotel, and with their corps of assistants, were expected to be produce a most delicious spread. The newspaper stated, "Each of these ladies are au-faits in the culinary art, so we'll say no more till next week."

In 1933 she was in charge of preparing the noon-day meal at the hotel, having as her assistants Mrs. Cole and Mrs. Watson. In April 1934 she and Mrs. Watson continued to prepare the dinner (lunchtime) meals there.

In January 1934 she and Chester Page were preparing dinner with the help of Mrs. Mahler and Mrs. Watson.

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

In June 1935 Cy Horney, Mrs. Hewitt and Mrs. Frank Harris were getting dinner ready at the hotel. Katie Bell Goin had charge of the silverware and her sister, Iola Goins, helped with the washing of the dishes. Mrs. Matz had a sore foot and was unable to help at the time.

In January 1936 Sarah Murray and Bondell Banta were the dinner cooks, also helping, along with Mrs. Matz and Jane Lentz to serve the meal. Cy Horney was the dishwasher, Lucille Carr the wiper, Mrs. Murray did the scraping and Ruth Wooley cleaned the silverware.  

Other Info:

She was one of the members of the colony when George Pickett first named General Manager.

In April 1934 -- the scene at the hotel dining room included Chet Page changing the numbers on the line-up board; Motherly Mrs. Wright wiping the trays, handing one out to each in the dinner line; colonists filling food tins for those at home. The girls and boys behind the counter; Mrs. Watson and Sylvester forking out spuds, boiled or baked; those nice kids filling glasses of water and shuffling stacks of cornbread. Mrs. Matz grinning over her 20-gallon pot of fine Hungarian soup; Mary Fay keeping her braids out of the gravy as she twirled in the serving line; and Lafe Murray, assistant chef, snipping off scraps of meat and getting the tip nipped off his finger for punishment.

Portion of Mary Matz' Apple Strudel recipe taken from a letter from Rocina Matz to "Florence." Obviously part of the recipe is missing, but Emeril Lagasse has a very similar recipe at

Post-Colony History: In 1940 she and George were living in a home in the unincorporated New Llano, Louisiana (site of the old colony) while he worked as a carpenter. Their adopted son, George E. Kabotzy (born in New York) lived with them.

The two were living in Leesville in 1946 when her husband died.  

Death: She died in 1962 at Alexandria, Louisiana and was buried in O'Banion Cemetery at New Llano, Louisiana.  

Sources: Baltimore Passenger Lists; US Census: 1910, 1920, 1940; "Vernon Parish Democrat": July 29, 1920, December 23, 1920; "Llano Colonist": April 11, 1933 (Reprinted from the Colonist May 17, 1924), December 23, 1933, January 20, 1934, April 7, 1934, April 28, 1934, May 19, 1934, March 9, 1935, June 5, 1935, January 18, 1936; "Can We Cooperate" by Bob Brown; Corresondence dated August 3, 1988 from Rocina Matz to "Florence"; "Leesville Leader": May 23, 1946, October 3, 1946, August 2, 1962;  


(Left) George Matz and (Right) Mary Matz with their daughter Rocina and her son, George Benz.

Drawing of Mary Matz from "Llano Colonist."

Rosa and Mary Matz.

Clipping from the "Leesville Leader" dated August 2, 1962.

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