Museum the New Llano Colony

Bernie Stevens

Birth: He was born in 1896 at Iowa.  

Family Information: Son of George and Cora Stevens.

He married Leona (Hayes) Stevens in 1931, while living in the colony.  

Description: In 1918 he was described as tall with a medium build, blue eyes and light hair.

One of the "Colonist" papers described him as a slim, highly mental-type of red-headed young man with the ease of a business man and the sangfroid of a statesman.  

Pre-Colony History: He grew up in Iowa, living there with his parents in 1900, 1910 and 1920. In 1918 he was employed by the Consolidation Coal Co.

While living in the colony he described how, at the age of 14, he had discovered the fact that the cost of production on his family's farm was more than they could get for their produce, so he left the farm and went to Chicago, where he had developed his mechanical ability in machine shops and in the automobile industry, winding up in the airplane field as an aviator, but still, he found no security, no guarantee.  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: In July 1930 colonists rejoiced at his return, bringing with him his parents and Sam Klette's truck which he'd driven back from Illinois. They had missed their "able garage foreman" during his absence.

In September 1931 one hundred fifty sacks of beans and peas were picked in the forenoon by a volunteer crew of men, women and children. The crowd gathered a little after 7 am and was divided into different crews to look after different fields; by 11:30 the job was done. Volunteers included: Killian, Butts, Lloyd, Baldwin, Waters, Doc Williams, Quentin, Fred Busick, Roscoe Busick, Byron Busick, Vivian Busick, Graves, Webb, John Allred, Melvina Hullinger, Fred Levan, Goeke, Eldred, Tom Farrell, Claud Allred, Earl Swenson, Mackie, Frank Collins, George Collins, Boydelatour, Cleve Campbell, Mr. Caves, Clarence Long, Harry Rennick, Dee Kurtz, Pittman, Edminster, Walter Fread, Clarence Fread, Mrs. Herron, Woodruff, J.W. Gilbert, H.M. Wood, Winegar, Bert Moore, Lindwall, Ole Synoground, Rohr, Carnahan, Hoens, Mrs. Wooley, John Neill, Robert Roe, Warren Roe, Nesnow, Bartrum and B. Stevens.

In April 1932 he and his wife had moved to the Rice Ranch to become mangers there.

By November 1932 he was manager of the Sugar Bowl Unit in South Louisiana, though in November of that year it was reported that he'd been confined in a New Orleans hospital for the past three months.

In July 1933 he was working at the dentists' office on a set of plates. He was "an artist at mechanical dentistry but was the sort of person who might bob up anywhere due to his versatility." He was an auto mechanic, industrial foreman, and cared for numerous other jobs.  

Other Info: In March 1933 he attended a good-bye party for the Sanford family, along with Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Banta, Mrs. June Black, Sybil Black, Mr. and Mrs. DuProz, Mr. and Mrs. Hess, Mr. and Mrs. Brannon, Cyrus Horney, Mr. and Mrs. Marve Sanford, Lou Colt, and the Messrs. Githens, D. Sanford, Beanfellow, and Starkweather.

In May 1933 he celebrated Marvin Sanford's birthday, along with DeForest and Smith Sanford, Anita Brannon, Florence Anderson, Mrs. Ivy Hoag, Mr. and Mrs. DuProz, Cy Horney and Leona Stevens.

Post-Colony History: In 1934 he wrote a column for the Colonist titled "Ozark Colony News". He had first visited the new site, near Mena, Arkansas in October 1933 and was impressed with it's possibilities. Fred and Florence (Roe) Hamel joined him at that location in February, 1934, along with four of the Roe children and definite organization plans were agreed upon and adopted.

The colony there was similar to Newllano, but it was decided that on the first of December every year, they would divide all available colony money, excepting necessary running expenses for the following year, between themselves. The work there was mostly agricultural after his arrival, though the sawmill had provided lumber and cash.

He remained at the site at least through 1936, though at some point before 1939 he and Leona divorced.  

Death: He died in 1983 at San Diego, California.  

Sources: US Census: 1900, 1910, 1920; US Draft Registration: WWI; "Llano Colonist": July 19, 1930, September 5, 1931, December 12, 1931, April 16, 1932, November 12, 1932, March 4, 1933, May 6, 1933, July 29, 1933, April 14, 1934; US SSDI; California Death Index  


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