Museum the New Llano Colony



Eugene "Gene" Hough

Birth: Born on November 23, 1852 in Wells, Vermont.  

Description: In 1929 his eyesight was still very poor, necessitating the wearing of thick lensed glasses. He didn't look the part of a wild anarchist -- instead he was described as "remind[ing] one of an absent minded professor of "bugology", because of his nearsightedness.  

Pre-Colony History: His father died when he was eleven months old and his mother earned her living as a music teacher and taught Gene his "three R's" in her spare time. She died when he was ten and he was bound out to a farmer until he became of age. He lived with the farmer for two years then ran away intending to join the army. He never got near the war though, he went to work in a Vermont marble quarry where he "unlearned all the things [he'd] been taught at his mother's knee."

In the quarry he worked for five years as a "signal-boy" amongst a gang of Irishmen. From them he learned to swear, smoke and fight. He said: ""After I came out of the quarries, I would fight at the drop of a hat -- and furnish the hat myself."

In Castleton, Vermont he met a painter who took him as an apprentice. He served with him for three years and took up baseball in his spare time. This brought him into contact with students from the state normal school in Castleton and he realized "there was a world of thought from which [he'd been] completely cut-off. He began to study and when he'd finished his apprenticeship was well-advanced, intellectually, of any tradesman.

In May 1872 he became a journeyman painter and began roaming from one city to another. He joined the 'Old International Workingmen's Association', and worked in the Knights of Labor as an anarchist, trying hard to bring about revolution by force entirely. He learned to make bombs but before he was called upon to actually make one, he happened to be in Chicago when the Haymarket bomb killed a lot of people, thereby crushing his ideas of revolution by force.

He left Chicago immediately after the explosion going to Lawrence, Kansas and met General Hugh Cameron who introduced him to the Socialist Party and he began working to bring about revolution by parliamentary action instead of force, coming to the conclusion that labor would have to organize.

He attended a labor convention in Baltimore, Maryland and helped organize the "Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators." He took an organizer's commission and went to the Pacific Coast where he organized painters from San Diego to Sacramento.

In 1887 he bought shares in the Topolopambo Colony in Sinaloa, Mexico; the Kaweah Colony in Visalia, California; and the Puget Sound Colony but never went near any of them.

In 1888 he discovered "Looking Backward" by Edward Bellamy and formed the "Second Nationalist Club" a group devoted to promoting Bellamy's Utopian ideas. He put together some very attractive invitations and sent them to people of refinement and education and to his surprise they came.

Using his influence among labor circles, he then got involved in politics and became the chairman of the People's Party in San Francisco with some success, however the absolute failure of the officials which he'd helped elect soon convinced him that the economic and social systems would never be changed by political action.

He returned to Boston and attended Harvard industrial department where he embraced psychology, efficiency, conservation, employment management and business administration. This led to a job with a large contracting firm where he remained until 1918 when they located him in Boston as their estimator.

He started the Boston School of Social Science and focused his efforts on the school and the Socialist party. When in 1922 he found that he had cataracts on both eyes, he gave up his job and went to the hospital for an operation.

Over the next five years, nearly blind and unemployed he came to see that all effort toward social re-adjustment must come through doing the thing we wish to have done. He'd long been acquainted with Job Harriman through his political work and was aware of his efforts to establish the Llano colony. In 1927 he wrote to George Pickett and on May 1st of that year he arrived in the colony.  

Family Information:  

Job in Colony: In 1927 was running the French Stone Burr Grist Mill in the colony;

In 1930 was listed as a writer on the US census. 

Home in Colony: In 1929 he had a little California style house on a lot 50"x100". The front yard was abloom with flowers and in the back he'd planted a few vegetables.

In 1930 he was listed as a lodger with the Ben Roe family.  

Other Info:  

Post-Colony History:  

Death:  

Sources: "Llano Colonist" October 29, 1927, September 28, 1929; US Census: 1930