Museum the New Llano Colony

John Herman Ribbing

Birth: He was born in 1863 in Sweden.  

Family Information: He married Augusta Ribbing in Iowa in November 1886.

Father of Harry Ribbing and other children who probably didn't live in the colony: Florence, Esther (Ribbing) Brown and William H. Ribbing.


Pre-Colony History: He immigrated to America in 1883 and by 1900 had been naturalized. In 1900 he and his wife were living in Missouri with their children and he was working as a machinist.

In 1930 he and his wife were living in Michigan with their children while he worked as a machinist in an auto factory.  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: In 1934 Harry Layer was in charge of the machine shop, assisted by John H. Ribbing , Fred Richter, Leon Caves and Milton Maki. At that time the shop was well-equipped with "a large lathe, air compressor, power hack saw, drill press, planer, grinding wheels, tools and all equipment... [though] the machine shop's present need [wa]s a milling machine so that gears could be made." It had done "such important work as re-conditioning engines, cranes, sawmill equipment, Diesel engine parts, laundry dryer, and so on, in almost endless number."  

In 1935 he was foreman of the machine shop where he made repairs to the colony machines plus did "quite a little work" for neighbors. Work came in to the shop from all over, even as far south as Lake Charles, about 70 miles away.

Other Info: 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, Chester Peecher, E.O. Joynes, Chester Page, Horace Cronk, George Hullinger, Walter Robison, "Chauncey" DuProz, Mrs. Olive Lentz, Mrs. Mabel Busick, Lionel Crossland, Charles Derleth 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 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 July 1937 he and Augusta spent a lot of time beautifying the court at the Llano Apartments (new hotel), making it one of the real show places of the Colony. They cared for about two-thirds of the entire court, while the rest of it "sorta [went] begging -- and to tall grass."

Post-Colony History: In 1940 he and Augusta with their son, Harry, were living in Vernon Parish, Louisiana.  


Sources: Photo Archives; Iowa Marriage Records; US Census: 1900, 1930, 1940; "Llano Colonist": April 7, 1934, March 9, 1935, August 24, 1935, October 12, 1935, February 29, 1936, July 10, 1937



(L to R) John Herman Ribbing, Esther Ribbing Brown, Agusta Swenson Ribbing, Unidentified

(L to R) Harry Ribbing, Esther Ribbing Brown, Agusta Swenson Ribbing, John Herman Ribbing

Contact Us:


Copyright 2018 Museum of the New Llano Colony