Museum the New Llano Colony

William "Bill" A. Gilbert

Birth: He was born in 1892 in Missouri.  

Family Information: Married Viola Gilbert while living in the colony.  

Description: According to his WWI Draft Registration Card dated June 5, 1917, he was tall with a medium build; he had gray eyes and blond hair. His WWII Draft Registration Card, dated April 27, 1942, was more specific - describing his height as 5'11" and weight 165 pounds with gray eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.  

Pre-Colony History: In 1900 he was living with his parents and three brothers in Arkansas where his father worked as a photographer. In 1910 he lived with his parents and many siblings in Arizona where he worked as a farm laborer.

In 1917 he was living in Arizona and working as a locomotive fireman. He entered military service in October 1917, but was released in January 1918. In 1920 he again lived with his parents and younger siblings in Arizona and continued to work as a locomotive fireman.

At some point soon after that (probably 1922), he was in California, acting as a nurse for Job Harriman, who was ill, when Viola and her mother visited. He came to the colony with Walter and Jennie Conlin, who were returning after spending some time in California, in May 1922.  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: He fired the boilers at the steam plant. In December 1922 it was reported the wood crew seemed to be gaining on him despite his efforts to "burn everything in sight".  

Other Info: The couple remained in the colony until 1924, when they were part of a group who supported the Commonwealth College in their dispute with George Pickett and decided to move with the college to a new site near Mena, Arkansas.

Post-Colony History: In 1930, he and Violet were still living in Arkansas where he worked as a garage mechanic. Viola's step-father, Arthur Voorhees, was boarding with them at the time.

In 1932 New Llano colonists, Doug Bridger and E.T. Hiatt, visited Mena, Arkansas where they saw Billy and Viola. The couple told them that if the colony could soon send a truck that way, there were many things like plants, crates, etc, that could be readily disposed of.

In 1934 he ran for state representative of Polk County and continued to write articles for socialist periodicals for several decades.

In 1940 the couple still lived near Mena, Arkansas where he worked as a salvage man for an auto business. At some point they opened their own small machine shop business at Ink.  

Death: Died in 1976 at Mena, Arkansas; burial was in Ink.  

Sources: Family Source: Karen and Dick Watts; Photo Archives; US Census: 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940; "Autobiography of Viola Gilbert": Unpublished ; Llano Colonist: May 27, 1922, December 30, 1922; WWI Draft Registration Card; WWII Draft Registration Card; US Dept. of Veteran's Affairs BIRLS Death File; Llano Colonist: May 7, 1932; US SSDI;  


William "Billy" and Viola Gilbert.

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