Museum the New Llano Colony

Chester R. Peecher

Birth: He was born in 1900 at Illinois.  

Family Information: Son of Ida May and Frank Peecher of Pittsfield, Illinois.

Brother of Vera Peecher and uncle of Richard and Dortha Peecher.

Married Florine Davis of Nebo, Illinois on February 24, 1923.

Father of Frances (Karamales), Robert, Roy, Carl and Lyndle Peecher.


Pre-Colony History: In 1910 and 1920 he was living in Illinois with his parents and siblings.

In March 1928 he was listed as a "subscription renewal" for the "Llano Colonist." He and Florine brought their family to the colony in 1930.

In 1974 he was quoted as saying, "I didn't leave Illinois because I was a coward. I've never been where I couldn't ply my trade as an electrician. This cooperative idea took me over and I said, "The heck with it. Why stay up here with so much uncertainty... They'll furnish me a house, they'll furnish me the electricity, they'll furnish the ice and so on, and they'll furnish money to buy groceries as much as they can... I didn't have no money to buy anything when we got here, and we didn't use any in the colony after we got there."

Home in Colony: In 1930 and 1935 the family was living in the Newllano Colony -- in 1930 Chester's father, Frank; his sister, Vera; and her children were living with them there.

Job in Colony: He was one of the colony electricians and he also operated the lights at the theater for performances.

In 1930 he was helping set out about 5,000 plants in the gardens.

In 1933, he had left his bench in the electric shop to do a repair job on a 50-kw. generator at the Weber-King sawmill in Leesville. He was often called "out-of-town" for extra work like that.

After the rubber tubing was changed at the ice plant in May, 1936, Chester kept an ever watchful eye on the Ridgeway (generator) which was kept running from nine in the morning 'till twelve at night due to the increased demand for the crystal clear ice.

In 1937, when times were becoming hard for the colonists, Mr. Peecher asked colonists to use electricity only when necessary so as not to overload the plant.  

Other Info: He spent some time in the hospital in July 1932, but was soon improving.

On May Day, 1935, some dissatisfied colonists -- most of them younger members who had not yet earned their right to vote on colony decisions -- held a meeting while Pickett was out of town and elected a new Board of Directors that didn't include George Pickett. Doc Williams, an on-again / off-again colonist from the early years in California, was elected President; Eugene Carl, a new member who'd only been at the colony about three months -- he was still a probationer and consequently didn't even have voting rights in colony matters, was elected Executive Director; and Walter Robison, also a recent arrival, was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Pickett and his supporters fought the action in the Vernon Parish courts, but even though the courts ruled the new board was not legal, they also refused to name Pickett's board as the legal directors, so the disagreements within the colony only continued to escalate.

Read the Court Judgment dated September 6, 1935.

In order to claim that an official board had been properly elected after the court judgment had been handed down, the new board and leaders held another election. They advertised for former colonists to send in their proxies and adopted a rule permitting all resident members who had been at the colony more than sixty days to vote in the election, provided too few proxies were received to hold a regular stock holders' meeting.

In October 1935 he was nominated to be on the self-proclaimed "legal" Board of Directors, along with (in order of nomination), Robert K. Williams, E.D. Carl, Lester Caves, Crockett Campbell, John Szpila, Harold Emery, Charles Lawrence, E.O. Joynes, Chester Page, Horace Cronk, George Hullinger, Walter Robison, "Chauncey" DuProz, Mrs. Olive Lentz, Mrs. Mabel Busick, Lionel Crossland, Charles Derleth, J.H. "Dad" Ribbing and Cy Horney.

As expected, less than one fourth the required stock was represented at the Stockholders' meeting, so the colonists proceeded with the election of a new board of directors as planned. Those selected were: Robert K. Williams, E.C. Carl, Lester Caves, Crockett Campbell, Harold Emery, Chester Peecher, E.O. Joynes, Charles Lawrence, and Chester Page. Runners up were Mrs. Mabel Busick, Horace Cronk and John Szpila.

This new board tried to make improvements to colony life, but after the first year, finances were in such a state that the court appointed a receiver to help them straighten out their affairs. Two different receivers tried to calm the colonists and persuade them to work together, but this proved fruitless.

In May 1937, Dwight Ferguson -- the second court-appointed receiver -- appointed two groups to work with him in an advisory capacity as he tried to get the colony's finances sorted out -- first a membership committee who would settle questions about returning members, which might or might not be allowed. This committee consisted of H.S. Stansbury, chairman; George Pickett, E.O. Joynes, R.K. Williams and Carl Gleeser. The second was expected to organize the industrial work so as to ensure that everyone had a job somewhere. That committee consisted of Dr. Williams, chairman; Chester Page, Chester Peecher, Charles Worden and Crockett Campbell.

In June, 1937, as disaster loomed, some control was returned to Pickett when he was asked to be, first the Farm Superintendent, then the Ice Plant Manager, and finally in control of all colony industries. Unfortunately, it was too late; within months the receiver petitioned the court for permission to sell the land and soon began to divide the property into smaller lots which were sold at auction for much less than their actual value.

In March 1935 he was a regular worker with Mr. Ribbing in the machine shop.At the time they were getting quite a lot of work from the outside, even from as far south as Lake Charles, about 70 miles away.

In 1936, Mrs. Caves saw flames shooting up from the chimney of the Roof Garden building. She spoke to industrial superintendent Ikey Jensen, who went over to warn the sweet potato kiln men to go carefully with the pine knots. About half an hour later, Mrs. Caves again saw flashes on the roof of the big building and again she roused the colonists next door. This time Willie Brown rang the alarm on the hotel bell, which soon drew a number of people and the big hose to the scene of the fire.

Meanwhile, Mr. Peecher, in the electric shop next door to the Roof Garden, grabbed the chemical fire extinguisher, ran around, up the stairs, and in through the dance hall door, where he climbed onto the roof through the trap door near the edge of the roof and soon had the blaze out.

Also in 1936, he, along with Rex Dell gave two very acceptable numbers on the violin and the accordion at the theater.

Post-Colony History: In 1940 the family was living in a home in the unincorporated New Llano, Louisiana (site of the old colony) while Chester worked as an electrician at a power plant.

In 1973 he and Florine celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a party hosted by their children at the home of their son, Carl Peecher. Former colonist Sylvester Watson and his wife came from Sulphur, Louisiana to attend.

In March 1988 they celebrated 65 years together -- for this anniversary their 5 children gave them airplane tickets to Topock, Arizona to visit Mr. Peecher's brother.

Death: He died in 1995 at Leesville, Louisiana and was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery at Leesville, Louisiana. Funeral services were held in the Beauregard-Vernon Chapel at Leesville with the Rev. Wallace Palmer officiating.  

Sources: US Census: 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940; "Llano Colonist": March 3, 1928, May 3, 1930; March 26, 1932, July 9, 1932, July 29, 1933, March 9, 1935, October 12, 1935, February 29, 1936, May 23, 1936, May 1, 1937, May 29, 1937; "Southern Exposure": Vol 1; No 3 & 4 (Llano Cooperative Colony, Louisiana); "Leesville Leader": March 8, 1973; "Leesville Daily Leader": March 23, 1988, August 20, 1995;  


(L to R) C.R. Peecher, Homer Loutrel and unknown colonist. At the "old electric shop" with the Roof Garden in background.

Florine and Chester Peecher from the "Leesville Leader" dated March 8, 1973.

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