Museum the New Llano Colony



Levi Curtis "L.C." Thomas

Birth: He was born in 1849 in Pennsylvania (the 1920 US Census states he was born in Bohemia).  

Family Information: Married to Mary (Keith) Thomas.  

Description: In 1932 it was reported that the colony had two very fine "Dad" Thomas'. Levi was apparently considered to be "Big Dad" -- the column said that Big Dad had joined in Fresno and been a stalwart ever since. He kept the cemetery in nice shape. "Little Dad", C.S. Thomas, was in the planing mill and cabinet shop.

He was the colony's "left-handed violinist."  

Pre-Colony History: In 1934 he told John Aiton the story of his life, starting with his family in Pennsylvania. The old home place had a creek with a slope. They built a dam across the creek and established a mill there for food and sawing wood. As a child, he built his first "violin" using boards and strong thread his mother had given him which served for a while, until he eventually was able to buy a real violin and became the leader of an orchestra much in demand for dances.

In 1870 he was living in Pennsylvania with his parents and brother and working as a farmer. In 1880 he was still farming in Pennsylvania, but now living with a wife, Susan. After his marriage his father had given him some land and he'd built a nice home and furnished it well. When his wife became ill, he sold out and moved to Wisconsin where he learned telegraphy and went to work for a railroad, but by spring they had to return home. As they stepped from the train, the first news came that his bank had failed, with $14,000 of his money in it. His wife died soon afterward.

He opened a laundry, a restaurant, a cigar shop and married again, but soon felt obliged to "get a law court to cut the tie" and after that he went West. In 1910 he was divorced and living in Fresno, California as a boarder in the home of Mary Keith while working as a merchant, selling peanuts and popcorn -- on the corner of J and Fresno Streets for nine years. In 1912 he married Mary, and in 1916 they traded their home for stock in the colony. They lived at the Antelope Valley location for 18 months and made the move to Louisiana on the train chartered by the colony. He was a registered Socialist from 1914-1918 while living in Fresno.  In 1920, he was living in Newllano, Louisiana with his wife, Mary.

After two years in the Louisiana colony, he and his wife moved to Oklahoma and later to Shreveport, LA working for money to invest with E.G. Lewis of Atascadero, California in oil stock. After a couple years of this, it became known that Levi was bankrupt and all was again lost. He wrote George Pickett that they were ready to return and went to live at the Rice Ranch for 3 years until his wife took sick and passed away.  

Home in Colony: In 1930 he was listed as a boarder with the Rezin E. Waters family.

In 1933 it was reported that Tom Farrell would occupy the "Rose Cottage" while "Dad" Thomas was away on a trip to visit his family in Pennsylvania. In 1934 he was 85 and living alone in a colony home (probably still the "Rose Cottage") most days not even touching his violin -- he decided to move into a house that was nearer the hotel.

He had a fall at his home in February, 1936. Dr. Reid from Leesville was called. After that Charles Boydelatour stayed with him.  

Job in Colony: In April 1928 the hotel dining room crew included: Dad Thomas who washed dishes; Mother Waters and Mrs. Mickey who dried them and helped serve at the counter; Mrs. Tabb who looked after the dining room; John Davis who kept them supplied with wood and was the real handy man around the hotel; and Mrs. Moore who was the manager of that most important service industry.

In June 1928 he was part of the breakfast crew at the hotel, along with Mrs. Hewitt, Mrs. Daugherty, the Misses Allie Belle Hewitt and Laura Synoground.

In 1930 he was listed as doing jobwork in the colony. After his wife passed away, he returned to the colony proper, in Newllano, and spent much of his time cultivating the land in Harriman Circle, by himself, with a hoe, growing corn on every part of it. In February 1932 Dad Lloyd, Carl Bradshaw and Bickle were sorting peanut seed in the sweet potato kiln while L.C. Thomas, Louis Rohr and Comrade Hartman were sorting peanut seed in the south wing of the commissary building.  

Other Info: He often played the violoin in colony theater programs -- in November 1927 he played a pathetic violin solo, stirring the tender feelings of the audience with his soft and tender touch.

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 1933 he left with his brother and grandson for his brother's home in Pennsylvania; he planned to be gone until September if he could "stand it that long". He hoped to visit the exposition at Chicago on the way. In September 1933 he sent a letter describing his trip -- how Erie had changed, his brothers home, and visits with his three children whom he had not seen for 30 years.

Post-Colony History:  

Death: He died in 1937 at St. Barnabas House in Pennsylvania of myocardial failure and senility.  

Sources: US Census: 1870, 1880, 1910, 1920, 1930; California Voter Registrations; California Birth, Marriage and Death Records; "Llano Colonist": November 26, 1927, April 7, 1928, June 30, 1928, March 9, 1929, November 2, 1929, February 27, 1932, March 26, 1932, August 5, 1933, September 16, 1933, April 14, 1934, May 26, 1934, February 29, 1936; Pennsylvania Death Certificates  

 

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