Museum the New Llano Colony



Charles "Charlie" Anderson

Birth: He was born in Sweden around 1852. He immigrated to the US in 1881 and had been naturalized by 1930.  

Family Information: Sometimes a nephew or a grandson showed up to visit him, but they never stayed long. They missed the attractions of the cities they'd left behind, so they always left soon, having seen "Uncle Charlie" one more time.  

Description: He was a big man physically, pure Swede, who always sized things up practically. "You might try any wiles on him you liked, but you had to be mighty plausible with your notions or you just got a big 'Haw, haw, haw!'"  

Pre-Colony History: "Having a magnificent physique, he did well coal mining in Pennsylvania, bought land, acquired houses and became well-fixed as he believed. He farmed awhile and contended with sickness, accidental injuries, and family break-ups, same as all farmers do, until something finally drove him to Llano and here he stays."

He joined the colony while it was still located in California and was one of the members of the colony when George T. Pickett was first named General Manager.  

Home in Colony: In 1930 he was a lodger with the John Aiton family.  

Job in Colony: For some years his special job was to make charcoal out of the tree stumps and many a bushel of it was taken to the blacksmith shop. To do this he burned the stumps that had been left behind by the logging industries -- a job which required "digging, shoveling, chopping and arranging for the proper draft". It was with great satisfaction that he spoke of the thousands of stumps he'd removed or turned to charcoal and he was justified -- in fact, he was sometimes referred to as "Charcoal Charley".

He also had a gift for gardening -- his plants looked good even when others didn't. Often, while working in the fields, he'd set out traps and catch a rabbit or two for the colony's pots.  

Other Info:

In 1929 the theater program featured camera pictures of Llano, California and Newllano which were shown on a white screen while George Pickett paid tribute to the Auld Lang Syners who had been part of the pioneer days of the colony including: Peter, Dora and Harold Kemp; L. Roedemeister, Dad Thomas and Mr. Fox; Septer, Runa and Rhea May Baldwin; Chas. Anderson, Anton Van Nuland and Theo Landrum; Susan and Albert Moore; William and Mrs. Newman; Arthur, Donna, Donna 2nd and Dolores Goble; and George Pickett himself.

In 1934 he still ate heartily at meal times and smiled at everyone who gave him a kind word, then crept back to his room and garden, close to the new tower with the firebell on it, though he suffered from "stiff back, stiff arms, legs that hurt infernally, and headaches, all have been endured or cured for some years now."

Post-Colony History:  

Death: He died in March 1934 and was buried in the colony cemetery. Since he'd been a radical all his life colonists gave him a "red" funeral with the "Internationale" sung instead of a religious piece. Comrade Weatherwax read a passage from the Communist "Manifesto."

When Bob Brown discussed the funeral with Chet Page later, glad that the music had not been religious "cater-wallin'", Chet remarked, "You've got it wrong, Charlie was fond of music. He wouldn't have mind the hymns. He wasn't a bit narrow-minded."

After his death, his son, Irving Anderson, visited the colony to settle his affairs.  

Sources: Photo Archives; "Can We Cooperate" by Bob Brown; US Census: 1930; "Llano Colonist": January 5, 1929, March 9, 1929, March 26, 1932, April 11, 1933 (Reprinted from the Colonist, May 17, 1924), June 30, 1934, November 17, 1934  

 

Charcoal Charley
Hand-written on back of photo: "Charles Anderson (Charcoal Charley); Used pyrolitic process to produce charcoal. Photo furnished by Joseph K. Lentz".

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