Museum the New Llano Colony

Theodore Atworth

Birth: He was born in New York in 1858.  

Description: He was said to have looked like Karl Marx.

He was a man of patience and persistence, with a bright mind.  

Pre-Colony History: He was reported to have been involved with seven colonies - Fellowship Farm, New Clairveaux, Ruskin, Dr. Moore's Health Farm, Norwood, Straight Edge, and Llano.

In 1900 he was living with his first wife (Mary G. Laidler) and children, plus her father, brother and nephew, in New York where he worked as a photo engraver.

In 1905 and 1910 he still lived in New York with his wife and children and still worked as an engraver. He then lived for several years in Massachusetts where his first wife died in 1915.

In 1917-18 he lived in Connecticut, but by 1920 he had returned to New York where he was president of the Straight Edge School of Industry. In 1922 he was living in California. He came to the colony around 1922.  

Family Information: Married to Mary (Henderson) Atworth.

Close friends with Marcus Mardfin.  

Job in Colony: He worked as a gardener for the colony managing the fruit and ornamental bushes and trees. He was considered by many to be the park commissioner for the colony.

He used his artistic skills (developed from years working as a photo engraver) to sketch designs for a model village of cozy cottages along curving roadways leading from the colony's entrance park, which he named "Harriman Circle". He and Mardfin did most of the work required to clean up this park -- which, when colonists first arrived and for some time afterward, was the site of the old, burnt sawmill which had been abandoned by the lumber company.

He and Mardfin worked well together -- he planned the gardens while Mardfin tended diligently to the weeding, terracing and all the details of garden manicuring that seemed so tedious to some rough and ready people.

In January 1929 he and Mary were in Pickett's gladiolus garden, reaping a rich harvest of bulbs for next summer's campaign of flowers.

In 1933 he was appointed the new sanitary inspector for the colony, a position which had been vacant since the previous spring.

In 1936 he spent a day at crate nailing, along with Professor Bennett and Mr. Atworth. The newspaper reported that he was "no slouch when it come to fancy crate nailing -- he 'knows his onions' in that line, and we hope he will come around often and give us more samples of his ingenuity". 

Home in Colony: In 1930 he was living in the colony with his second wife.  

Other Info: In 1928 he was one of the founding members of the local Conscientious Objectors Union and was the first Secretary-Treasurer with O.E. Enfield serving as the President. The organization was planned to be international, composed of people who refused to go to war as a matter of conscience. Charter members included: Theodore Atworth, Mary H. Atworth, Emily H. Dougherty, I.A. Dougherty, Carl H. Gleeser, S. Weislander, Charlie C. Black, John Hight, Lowell H. Coate, W.A. Shutt, F.O. Jernberg, Reka Jernberg, Anna Tabb, Peter Kemp, F. Rosenburg, B. Wade Hewitt, Hamilton H. McClurg, W.J. Hoag, Theodore F. Landrum, C.N. Butts, Mary Snyder, George Snyder, Anna Garrett, Emma Shutt, M.A. Brattland, Richard P. Condon, Jr., Emily Swenson, W.J. Newman, George T. Pickett, Raymond DeFausell, S.E. Baldwin, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Molenar, Earl L. Bosch, Guy F. Rogers, Ora E. Newman, James J. Miller, Bert Busick, Mabel D. Busick, Ole Synoground, C.C. Mickey, Fred A. Jensen, Katie Mickey, F. Rahn and Isaac H. Keyes.

Books and other forms of proposals made by his first wife's brother, Harry Laidler, were often written about in the "Llano Colonist". Harry was a member of the League for Industrial Democracy and dedicated one of his books to three of his early teachers -- one of those being Theodore Atworth.

In 1933 Ida Ann Bartlett began promoting a better social life for colonists who did not dance. She organized Monday night gatherings which would feature cards, dominoes, chess, checkers, etc. Hikes and other outdoor activities would be included as the weather improved. The first party was held in her home and featured Victrola music as the entertainment. Among those present were Marcus Mardfin, Theodore Atworth, C.W. Fields, Ed Schott, H.G. Starkweather, Chester Page, Mr. and Mrs. Hardy, John Black, S.E. Broyles and Boyd Bartlett.

In 1936 he received a telegram announcing the death of one of his daughters who left behind two little children.  

Post-Colony History: In 1940 he was living in Vernon Parish, Louisiana with Samuel and Warren Irwin while Mary lived in her own home in Vernon Parish, Louisiana.  


Sources: US Census: 1900, 1910, 1930, 1940; New York Census: 1905; California Voter Registrations; "Llano Colonist": October 29, 1927, November 5, 1927, December 22, 1928, January 5, 1929, March 14, 1931, May 28, 1932, May 20, 1933, October 21, 1933, June 16, 1934, January 4, 1936, July 4, 1936; "Vernon Parish Democrat": February 7, 1929; "Can We Cooperate" by Bob Brown  

Photo of Karl Marx -- no photo of Theodore Atworth is available, but he was said to have looked like Karl Marx.