Museum the New Llano Colony

John T. "Jack" Bays

Birth: He was born in 1888 at Kentucky.  

Family Information: He married Lillian (Speer) Bays in 1914 at Oklahoma.

Father of Lenna, Leola and Norman Bays plus Ila and Johnny Dale.  

Description: In 1917 he was described as slender with gray eyes and dark hair.

In 1935 colonists remembered him as a one-time colonist, chemist, teacher, writer and lecturer.

In 1942 he was described as being 5'10" tall and weighing 165 pounds with gray eyes, brown hair and a light complexion.  

Pre-Colony History: In 1920 he was living with his wife and two daughters in Fort Worth, Texas and working as a school teacher.

In 1928 he was the organizer of the Oklahoma Co-operative Company in Oklahoma City which the colony journalist felt was "the most active and successful, outside of Llano, of those that are formulated on economic rather than religious lines." At that time, they had sold $30,000 worth of stock for cash and had 34 working members, "with others waiting their turn to put their money and services into the development of the colony."

In 1930 he was living with his wife and three children in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and was the proprietor of a retail grocery store.  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: In 1931 he volunteered to help with tearing down Cravens, Louisiana, where colonists were salvaging materials from the old sawmill town. 

Other Info: He composed the "Llano Song" while living in the colony.  

Post-Colony History: In 1935 he published his book, "The Way", which presented what he thought was the way out of the economic debacle of that time. In it he quoted much from the New Testament, with the view of showing that "interest" was wrong and prohibited in early days, that "exploitation" was inveighed against centuries prior, and that the troubles afflicting the world at that time were about the same as those in the ages past -- just that with machines everywhere to do the work of man, the age of co-operation and satisfactory social adjustment was about ready to be made. He sent several copies for the colony library.

In 1936 he was kidnapped and buried alive "by a secret terror organization into which he had been induced on false pretenses", but lived to tell about it. The story states that he'd had trouble with the higher-ups of the organization because of his book and he'd been ordered to delete an objectionable paragrah in which he attacked Fascism. Also, at one of the group's meetings, he'd been astonished to hear a speaker state that "no nation, except where the ruling power is one head, can hope to exist; and it would be folly to undertake to wipe out Communism without at the same time destroying democracy." Bays took issue with the speaker and from that moment on he was a marked man.

On August 28, 1936, Mr. Bays received a note that a friend, Mr. Funk, wished to meet him at 8:45 that evening. At the appointed time, a car drove up, the back door opened, and a voice said "Jump in here with Mr. Funk and me," but there was no Mr. Funk. Bays was blindfolded and handcuffed and after driving for an hour or so, taken into a building unfamiliar to himself and placed on trial for his life, which resulted in his conviction and a sentence of death by being buried alive. He was trussed up inside a coffin which was then lifted and carried some distance before being lowered into a grave and buried.

Perhaps the only thing that prevented Mr. Bays from suffocating from fright was the fact that he swooned and lost consciousness, not rousing until he heard the sounds of scraping shovels. He was brought again into the fresh air, once again blindfolded and returned to a short distance from his home at about 3:30 a.m. and ordered to reveal none of the night's proceedings.

In 1935, 1940 and 1942 he was once again living in Oklahoma City with his wife and three youngest children while working as a chemist in Bays Laboratory.  

Death: He died in 1964. His last reported residence was in Oklahoma.  

Sources: Oklahoma County Marriage Records; US Census: 1920, 1930, 1940; "Llano Colonist": August 25, 1928, March 14, 1931, November 2, 1935, November 7, 1936; US Draft Registration: WWI, WWII; US SSDI  


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