Museum the New Llano Colony



Samuel "Sam" Klette

Birth: Born around 1886 in Kentucky.  

Description: His WWI Draft Registration Card described him as tall, with a medium build; grey eyes and sandy hair. His WWII Draft Registration Card describes him as 5'10" weighing 170 pounds with blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.  

Pre-Colony History:  

Family Information: Father of Victor and Dorothy Klette who are mentioned as arriving with him in 1929 (along with a bushel of sweet clover, six fine milk goats and a number of fat, black and white Moscovite ducks). Another son, Gene, is mentioned as arriving with his wife for a visit in July 1931.  

Job in Colony: In 1930 he was working as a general farmer at the Rice Ranch unit. By October of that year he was the manager at the unit. Colony papers mention him often, doing farm-type work, such as plowing the fields, working on tractors or delivering goods to Newllano and bringing back items needed at the Rice Ranch unit.

In April of 1930, he erected a 90 foot square sign, painted by colonist David Lapidus, which stated "Llano Co-operative Colony; Unit No. 2, Rice Ranch, One Mile South" at the intersection of the Parish Road running North and South through the ranch. In June 1930 he visited LSU in Baton Rouge to see the experimental agriculture facilities there. In August he joined an excursion around Jefferson Davis parish led by Parish agent M.N. Stafford to learn more about agriculture in the area.

Throughout 1931 there are many of this same type mentions in the Colony Diary. On one of his trips to the colony in December 1931, he brought a big drum of molasses and three different kinds of sugar, ranging from the very dark to white, all capable of being turned into the finest sort of syrup. That year the Rice Ranch mechanics included Blair Thomas, Royall Thompson, Adrian Risley, Sam Klette, John Rix, and John Swagger.

In February 1932 he arrived at Newllano from the Premont unit with Bert Cole, Rickey and Ben Roe.

In April 1932 he left Newllano with Harold Kemp to take charge of the new unit in the Sugar Bowl near Thibodeaux, LA. He took forty stands of bees ("every stand chuck full," said Comrade Briggs) since clover grew there in "superabundance". A few weeks later he brought in some pecans which he sold first to Harry Nesnow, charging 5 cents a pound; then both he and Harry tried to "soak" Theodore Cuno when he offered them for 6 cents per pound, though this effort was all in fun.

While at the Isle of Cuba plantation near Thibodeaux, he continued to make frequent trips to colony, to attend meetings or deliver goods such as honey and feed to the main colony, and returned with items needed by colonists there.  

Home in Colony: In 1930 (and through 1931) he was listed as living at the Rice Ranch near Elton, LA. In June of that year, R.V. Shoemaker and sons were putting a French Mansard roof on a bungalow for the Klette family.

In early 1932 was often mentioned as helping with work in the main colony and delivering items from the new unit at Premont, Texas so may have lived at either of those locations at that time.

In April 1932 he lived at the Isle of Cuba plantation in Terrebonne Parish, LA. Colonists living there told tales of the site, about the "big fish, fairly ogling to be caught," and the alligators that came almost to their very doors. Perhaps it was no exaggeration -- in May 1932, Claude Long and Lee Fread visited the location to go "a-fishin". Within a few hours they had caught 200 lbs. of crabs, 100 lbs. of shrimp and 50 lbs. of catfish. 

Other Info: In 1929 he attended a party in honor of visitor, Mrs. Dora Adams, at the home of T.F. Brough.

In October 1930 it was reported that Will Shipman had married Mrs. Casey while living at the Rice Ranch. After the wedding, Sam Klette and the reporter (Aunt Anne) helped them celebrate by going to Jennings, Louisiana with them for supper.  

Post-Colony History: The 1940 US Census reports he was living with his second wife, Ora, in Los Angeles County, California working as a machinist for an oil tool manufacturing company. It also reports that in 1935 he was living in LaCombe, Louisiana.  

Death: He died in 1955 in Los Angeles, California.  

Sources: US Census: 1920, 1930, 1940; "Llano Colonist": August 17, 1929, August 24, 1929, March 29, 1930, April 12, 1930, April 26, 1930, June 14, 1930, June 28, 1930, July 5, 1930, July 12, 1930, July 19, 1930, August 16, 1930, August 23, 1930, October 11, 1930, October 18, 1930, November 22, 1930, December 20, 1930, July 11, 1931, December 26, 1931, January 30, 1932, February 27, 1932, April 9, 1932, April 16, 1932, April 23, 1932, April 30, 1932, May 28, 1932; "Vernon Parish Democrat": March 20, 1930; Draft Registration Cards: WWI, WWII; California Death Index 1940-1997