Museum the New Llano Colony

John Szpila


Family Information:  

Description: Called "an inspiration and a fellow that anyone would do well to learn to know and pattern after," and "a Llano jewel."  

Pre-Colony History: Came to the colony from New Jersey, having sent his cash membership payment ahead.  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: In 1928 he and Comrade McGee were running the machines that got out the material. Those two fellows were "careful and painstaking in their work, protecting the machinery and doing their work in the best way possible at all times."

Later that month he was helping Ole S. and Ikey Jensen build a rig for cutting big logs into veneer blocks, a process expected to help save labor.

In October 1930 he was part of the crew at the planing mill that included Cleve Campbell, Kittle, Szpila, Rand, Rickey, Thomas and Parsons.

In March 1932 he, Frank Borello and Bickle were working in the colony gardens.

In 1934 he was sending in crates and crates of splendid turnips, beets, cabbage and greens. In April of that year he was "up to his boot-tops in turnip tops."

In 1936 it was reported that he had been the head gardener, in charge of all the gardeners for many years.  

Other Info: In 1935, after the "May Day Revolution" ousting George Pickett and causing the election of a new Board of Directors, many of the colonists wanted to stick with Pickett. They fought the action in the streets of New Llano and in the Vernon Parish courts. On July 22, 1935 a group of Pickett supporters held their own meeting and elected a board which included George T. Pickett as President and General Manager, Arthur Hoffman, H. Claude Lewis, Oscar Needham, Sidney Young, Sidney Archer and John Szpila.

After the previous information was published in the Llano Colonist  dated September 7, 1935, Szpila wrote a letter which was published in the September 21, 1935 issue of the "Llano Colonist" and spelled out the reason's the overthrow of former General Manager, George T. Pickett, had been necessary. Many colonists subsequently signed a petition in support of the letter.

In October 1935 he was nominated to be on the 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, J.H. "Dad" Ribbing and Cy Horney. The meeting also 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.

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.  

Post-Colony History: Left the colony in 1936 to go to Jersey City, New Jersey where he hoped to complete a book which he'd been working on for several years. At the time, he thought he might be able to return when the task had been completed.  


Sources: "Llano Colonist": September 1, 1928, September 22, 1928, October 25, 1930, March 12, 1932, January 20, 1934, April 28, 1934, September 7, 1935, September 21, 1935, October 12, 1935, April 4, 1936  


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