Museum the New Llano Colony



Nicholas Coak

Birth: Born in 1905 in Kirbyville, Texas.  

Description: On his WWII Draft Registration card he was reported to be 6' tall, weigh 130 pounds, and have a light complexion, gray eyes and brown hair.  

Pre-Colony History: First joined the colony in 1927-28, but apparently left at some point. The couple returned in 1935, coming from Texas.  

Family Information: Married to Lilly Coak.  

Job in Colony: In 1927 was hauling lumber at the sawmill.

In 1935-'36 was doing a variety work -- working in the veneer plant, building a lean-to at the planing mill, butchering hogs at the abbatoir on the Quipp place.  

Home in Colony: Lived in a little house just back of the hotel. In January 1936 it caught fire for the second time in a week, at the peak of the roof, around the chimney, but it was discovered and extinguished before much damage resulted.  

Other Info: One of 42 colonists who signed a petition, dated January 10, 1928 and sent to the governor of the state, 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.

In 1936 he helped fight a grass fire that started east of the colony in the early afternoon. A bunch of boys had gone out and extinguished it, or so they thought, but it broke out again and destroyed part of the fence around the Kid Kolony tract. It spread eastward, burned the fence around Fortell's place and threatened the house. Coak, Thomason and Ware managed to put it out before that catastrophe.  

Post-Colony History: In 1930 he and Lillie were living in Springdale, Arkansas with her daughter Marguerite and he was unemployed. At some point before 1935 they must have gone to Texas, because in 1935 it was reported in the colony papers that they'd returned to the colony from Texas.

In 1940 the family of three were living in Joplin, Missouri where he worked as a cook in a restaurant. In 1947 Nicholas and Lillie were still living in Joplin, Missouri.  

Death: Died in 1981 in Lufkin, Texas from Cardiac Failure. He was divorced and his usual occupation at the time was as a cook at a cafe in Jasper, Texas.  

Sources: "Llano Colonist": November 19, 1927, February 25, 1928, May 13, 1933 (Story of Llano), May 20, 1933 (Story of Llano), November 23, 1935, December 21, 1935, December 28, 1935, January 4, 1936, January 18, 1936, February 1, 1936, February 15, 1936; WWII Draft Registration Card; US Census: 1930, 1940; 1947 Joplin, Missouri City Directory; Texas Death Certificates; FindAGrave.com  

 

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