Museum the New Llano Colony



Laura Merrill

Birth: Born around 1900 in Vermont.  

Description:  

Pre-Colony History: In 1900 and 1910 she was living with her parents and siblings in Vermont.  

Family Information: Daughter of Joseph Merrill and Arvilla Merrill. Sister of Lena Merrill and Bertha, Matilda, Margret, Maud, Pearl, and Joseph Merrill who may not have lived in the colony.  

Job in Colony: In April 1922 she was part of a group of students who helped out at the kindergarten that included Rosa Matz, Ruby Synoground, Laura Merrill, Nellie Kemp, Vinita Thurman and Mabel Synoground. Also she and Ruby Synoground helped wrap bread at the bakery.

She also worked in the cafeteria -- shelling peanuts, setting tables, getting dinner together and washing dishes -- along with Albert Kapotsy, Alice Jaques, John Dougherty, Beulah Gaddis, Ruby Synoground, Laura Synoground, Margaret Seelye, Emma Kapotsy, Vinita Thurman, Nellie Kemp, Margaret Kapotsy, Rachel Jaques and Dora Cryer.

Plus she helped Ruby Synoground wrap bread at the bakery where Charles Miller was also working.  

Home in Colony:  

Other Info: In April of 1922 she was part of a group of girls working in the Kid Kolony kitchen which included Beulah Gaddis, Margaret Seelye, Mildred Seelye, Rose Belorahdsky, Dora Cryer and Laura Merrill -- "as fine a bunch of girls as can be found anywhere in the world".

One of 42 colonists who signed a petition, dated January 10, 1928 and sent to the governor of Louisiana, which objected to the securing of a new charter being issued to the colony. Among other things, this petition claimed that affairs of the colony had been grossly and intentionally mismanaged and conduct of the management so flagrantly opposed to good morals that a receiver assigned by the District Court was necessary to handle affairs. It alleged that management had: 1. Used misleading propaganda which caused hundreds of people to invest their money in the colony, only to be disillusioned and have to leave with nothing to show for their investment. 2. Reduced the colony to a peon camp - these "peons" being poorly fed, clothed and housed. 3. Advocated "free-love", including promiscuous relations of the sexes and other practices contrary to good morals. 4. Expressed contempt for courts and authorities by taking it upon themselves to punish two boys for stealing from the colony store. 5. Prostituted colony schools by employing nondescript persons as teachers, while issuing fraudulent reports and drawing hundreds of dollars from the Parish School funds in the names of certified teachers and by exploiting child labor. The case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court but eventually was annulled and the plaintiff's demands rejected.  

Post-Colony History:  

Death:  

Sources: US Census: 1900, 1910; "Llano Colonist": April 22, 1922, February 25, 1928, April 11, 1933 (Reprinted from the Colonist May 17, 1924), May 13, 1933 (Story of Llano), May 20, 1933 (Story of Llano)