Museum the New Llano Colony

John Aiton

Birth: He was born in Largs, Scotland around 1867.  

Family Information:

Father of Clyde and Florence Aiton.

Married to Alice Aiton.

Step-father of Violet Dix and Mary Halahan.

Description: Tall, spare of flesh and as active as a man of thirty, there was always that gentle, courteous air about him that was found in the cultured man, with a dignity that did not smirk of conceit. He was an interesting conversationalist, telling his stories in a straightforward manner that held the attention.

"Reason governed his actions rather than emotions and he longed to be a writer -- not of fiction, but of ancient history dealing with the British Isles before the Christian era."  

Pre-Colony History: In Scotland he had married, had a son, Clyde, and worked as a Superintendent of Agents for an insurance company.

In 1899 he brought his family to the US to live in Dallas, Texas and by 1920 had added a new child, Florence, and become a naturalized citizen. He worked as an accountant for an insurance company. His first wife died in 1920 and he married Alice Roberts.

In May 1928 he visited the colony for several days before he and his wife made the decision to join the colony. During his visit he connected himself up to the orchard crew and tried his hand at farming. He enjoyed working with the crew who were a "most agreeable and busy gang of good fellows," including Bergold, Mardfin, Atworth, Gregson, Hough and some boys.  

Home in Colony: "Comrade Aiton's house had been touched up with paint and looked home-like." A sign on the side of the house told you it was called "The Oaks". Looking at it, you could see five stately oaks, a well kept lawn, and little garden. In the rear of the yard stood a magnificent oak named "The Queen" by Mrs. Aiton. The trunk was about three feet in diameter, height sixty feet and it had a branch spread equal to its height.

He dressed up the place by using his "highly developed artistic traits" to paint designs on the outside of some old tin cans in which he then planted flowers. 

Job in Colony: In 1928 he was helping his wife who had taken charge of the crate nailing section.

In July 1929 he was working as "accountant, postmaster, express agent and bookkeeper in the place of Bob Snyder who [had] recently passed away.

In 1930, he was also a contributing reporter to the "Llano Colonist", for a time writing a column called "John Aiton Says". 

Other Info: He gave the address on Thanksgiving Day, 1928 upon the subject, "What have Llano People to be Thankful For", summarizing three main things -- 1) magnificent climate, 2) the sensible, sane adjustments in the operation of the colony, and 3) the practical way in which all needed improvements were made to materialize just as soon as possible.

In June 1933 he took time off from colony work to travel to Texas to watch his daughter graduate from high school.

In April 1928 he had a cow with a crumpled horn, who used the horn to open gates around the colony.

After the May Day Revolution of 1935, he signed a statement supporting John Szpila's letter, which was published in the September 21, 1935 issue of the "Llano Colonist" and spelled out the reasons the overthrow of former General Manager, George T. Pickett, had been necessary.  

Post-Colony History: In 1946, he advertised his 4-room furnished home on 3 acres of land located just south of the Leesville city limits, near the filtration plant, for sale.  

Death: He died December 19, 1952 at the War Memorial Hospital in Leesville and was buried in the New Llano Cemetery.  

Sources: "Can We Co-operate" by Bob Brown; Scotland Census: 1901; US Census: 1920, 1930; "Llano Colonist": May 19, 1928, September 22, 1928; September 25, 1928, December 8, 1928, July 20, 1929, August 24, 1929, March 22, 1930, March 29, 1930, June 17, 1933, October 12, 1935; Museum Collection: Personal diary of John Aiton; "Leesville Leader": August 29, 1946; December 25, 1952    

John Aiton
John Aiton

John Aiton
Clipping from the "Llano Colonist" dated April 25, 1936

John Aiton and his dog, Dingle
John Aiton and his dog, Dingle (Newspaper clipping around 1940) reminiscing about the Colony.

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