Museum the New Llano Colony

 Joe (Goldberg) Olberg

Birth: According to his biography on written by a family member, Joseph Goldberg was born in Russia in 1868 and immigrated to the United States in 1886 when he was around 18, entering the country through New York.

At some point between 1900 and 1909 the family changed their surname from Goldberg to Olberg.  

Family Information:

Description: In 1937, Mr. Atworth, Rex K. Dell and Olberg visited the Kapotsy home in Leesville for a musical evening. Another attendee stated "You wouldn't think by looking at him that Joe Olberg could dance a jig!"  

Pre-Colony History: More from the biography found on He married Fannie Levine, a native of Sweden, in 1890. They had a son, Adolph, within a year, while living in New York City, and in 1893, while living in Pennsylvania, a daughter named Sophia.

The family soon moved to North Dakota where, in 1894 he completed the naturalization process. In 1900 the family were still living in North Dakota, however life on the prairie proved to be very hard and sometime between 1900 and 1907, they returned to New York, where Fannie died of tuberculosis at age 35.

Before the year was over, Joseph married Clara Malkin and they had two sons, William and Louis, both born in New York. In 1909 his daughter, Sophia, died at the age of 16 and on January 1, 1916 his son, Adolph, who was living in Los Angeles and engaged to be married, suddenly took his own life. In 1920, 1921 and 1922 the couple and their two sons were living in Oklahoma - in 1920 Joe was working as a dealer in junk; in 1921 he was a laborer; and in 1922 a steel worker.

At some point after 1922, Joseph and Clara divorced and Joseph was living alone in Oklahoma City. He married a woman much younger than himself named Glenis Bussell. In 1927 he was working as a confectioner.

In 1928 they had a child, a daughter, and named her Sophia. The family came to Newllano, but apparently were not totally content with the lifestyle.

Joe purchased forty acres from the colony which was located about 2 1/2 miles southwest of the town. In November 1930, the colony carpenters erected his home and a barn on that property -- "an outside job that was undertaken in order to assist the comrade in building on his own farm and at the same time bring a cash revenue into the Colony."  

Home in Colony: Even though he'd purchased property from the colony for his own home, he continued to co-operate with them - frequenting their businesses, joining them for celebrations, and attending many social events.  

Job in Colony:  

Other Info: He created metal sculptures which were displayed along with other colony crafts at the parish fair and other events.

In January 1931 and December 1932, Olberg ran paid advertisements in the Llano Colonist for co-operators who wanted "to join an independent self-supporting colony where real co-operation and the Golden Rule is practiced.

He promised to respond to each inquiry with a printed leaflet. According to Llano Colonist writers, this leaflet promoted "Down with Pickett and Pickettism!", "Please do your utmost for our assistance and the GOOD OF LLANO - YOUR LLANO!"

Apparently not one to miss a party, in May 1937 Joe attended a birthday party at the New Hotel. "Every part of the hotel was equally the seat of the party, for the guests made themselves at home at every part of the hotel -- strolling along the porches, playing on the grass in the patio, sitting on benches chatting pleasantly." 

Post-Colony History:

In 1940 he, Glennie and Sophie were still living in Vernon Parish, Louisiana and he was unemployed.

At some point prior to 1941, however, Glenis left Joseph. Shortly after, she took Sophie to live with her. She later married Richard B. Graham and lived in the Leesville, Louisiana area until his death, then moved to Sulphur, Louisiana to be near her daughter, Sophia and her husband. Joe remained in Leesville until his death.

Death: He died in October 1946 and was buried in the New Llano Cemetery.  

Sources: US Census: 1920, 1940; Oklahoma City Directory: 1920, 1921, 1922, 1927, 1928, 1929; Photo Archives; "Llano Colonist" November 15, 1930, January 10, 1931, December 31, 1932, February 13, 1937, May 1, 1937;


Joe Olberg showing some of his iron work.

Clipping from the "Llano Colonist" 1931-1932.

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