Museum the New Llano Colony



Gustave (or August) "Gus" Kretzschmar

Birth: Born around 1860 (he was in his mid-70's at the time of his death).  

Description: Once described as "slender cheroot-shaped". He was a man of long experience in garden and farm work.

Philosophy was a great part of Kretzschmar's life. He was well-traveled and knew a number of languages, was quick with a joke, and had a deep spiritual understanding that soothed and sustained him.  

Pre-Colony History: He arrived in the colony in April, 1930. He confessed to suffering from wanderlust and had most recently come from California. Prior to that, he'd lived at Hilo, one of the Hawaiian Islands, near the vast crater of Kilauea.  

Family Information: At his death he left "but few relatives", none of them within the colony.

 

Job in Colony: It having been decided that if the tobacco users must have tobacco, then it must be produced within the colony. Bill DeBoer started the first crop. After 10 years of growing and curing tobacco in Sumatra, Kretzschmar was an expert at curing the leaves and making fine cigars and soon, he also began growing tobacco.

Both, along with Comrade Slaughter, produced good tobacco crops, but when it came to how it should be cured and prepared, each had their own ideas. They all proved to be successful at this part also -- DeBoer produced smoking tobacco, Slaughter specialized in chewing tobacco, and Kretzschmar had the cigar end of the enterprise.

In 1932 Kretzschmar raised about one ton of tobacco on 1 1/2 acres of ground which he proclaimed to be a very fine quality that would bring top price if they could raise it in a commercial quantity.

Also in 1932, he and his confederates announced they had compounded a natural twit sweetened with honey which was really excellent.

The tobacco was well-received by almost all the colonists, as this had been a matter of strong disagreement in the past -- the non-smokers had always resented the fact that, as one colonist said, "More cash is used for tobacco than for shoes."

Obviously even the non-smokers took pleasure in the tobacco gardens when one was quoted, "Looking out my window I see Gus Kretzschmar's seed tobacco in bloom -- strange, what pretty blossoms the vile weed can put out." Speaking for the other side, Eugene Hough added, "If you were to look along the streets of Llano today, or rather tonight, you would see many proud Llanoites strutting along with a stogy at proper angle, as serenely as an Pittsburgh Bozo."  

Home in Colony:  

Other Info: He often wrote poetry for the "Llano Colonist" -- one entitled "1931" ended like this:

Send a blessing instead of a curse,
To those who wish you no well;
And boundless joy will come to you
As a prosperous future will tell.

Another, titled "Newllano" ended like this:

It seems the world is blindfolded
As yet and cannot see;
The noblest aim we have at heart,
To make men - what men should be.



 

Post-Colony History:  

Death: He was found one morning in May 1934, lying ill on a colony path by Peter Glavincheff, who helped him to the clinic where Dr. Kimmel diagnosed him with heart disease. He lived in the Health Home after that, where Israel Ginsberg kept a close eye on him until his death in December.

He died in December 1934 at the Llano Colony. He had suffered for many months due to kidney and heart problems, but died peacefully and to his own satisfaction, as he had frequently remarked that he was "eager to embark on the Great Venture".

His funeral was held from the health home where a group sang "Abide With Me" followed by a brief address by Professor Brown on the uncertainties of life. While the body was lowered the choir sang "Now the Day is Over".  

Sources: "Vernon Parish Democrat": April 17, 1930; "Llano Colonist" April 26, 1930; May 3, 1930; August 2, 1930; January 10, 1931; August 15, 1931; September 26, 1931; August 27, 1932; November 5, 1932; December 24, 1932; July 22, 1933; November 18, 1933; April 28, 1934; May 26, 1934; December 22, 1934  

Photo: Tobacco farmer at the New Llano Colony -- possibly DeBoer, Slaughter, or Gus Kretzschmar.