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 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 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.

Obviously part of the recipe is missing, but this is all we have. I did locate a similar recipe (this one by Emeril Lagasse) and will share his instructions for assembling the remaining ingredients:

For the filling: In a sauté pan, over medium heat, sauté the bread crumbs in 1/4 cup of the melted butter until they are golden brown. Reserve the sautéed bread crumbs and the remaining melted butter separately. Combine the sliced apples, granulated sugar, raisins, nuts, ground cinnamon and about half of the bread crumbs. Cut the firm butter into chunks and gently toss together with the apple mixture.

To Assemble: Cover a work surface approximately 4 feet by 4 feet with a clean piece of cloth. The cloth is used to facilitate stretching and rolling the dough. Make sure that the cloth is securely fastened to the table. Dust the cloth lightly with the flour. Place the rested dough in the center of the cloth. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large, thin rectangle. When the dough is as thin as it will go with the rolling pin, it is time to begin stretching and pulling the dough. To stretch and pull the dough, place your hands under the dough, and, using your thumbs and the back of your hand, gently begin pulling and stretching the dough. Pull and stretch the dough until it is a rectangle approximately 3 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet. Be very careful when you are pulling and stretching not to tear the dough. After it is pulled to the proper size, let the dough relax on the table for a few minutes. There will be a thick edge around the edges, trim this away. You also want to trim off any parts of the dough that hang over the edges of the table.

Place the apple filling next to the long edge of the dough closest to you. Form the filling into a thick log. Brush some of the reserved melted butter generously over the remainder of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the dough. Using the cloth to help lift the dough, roll the strudel as you would a jelly roll, starting from the filling side. Place the strudel, seam side down, in a horseshoe shape on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the strudel with the last of the melted butter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 35 minutes, Remove the pan from the oven and cool. Slice the the strudel into individual servings and serve either warm or at room temperature.

See Emeril's complete 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 in 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; "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, 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;  

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

Bottom Left Photo -- Drawing of Mary Matz from Llano Colonist.

Center Photo -- Portion of Mary Matz Apple Strudel recipe taken from a letter from Rocina Matz to "Florence."

Top Right Photo -- Clipping from the "Leesville Leader" dated August 2, 1962.

Bottom Right Photo -- Rosa and Mary Matz.


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