Museum the New Llano Colony

Harry C. "Wax" Weatherwax

Birth: He was born in 1877 in Michigan.  

Family Information: In May 1934 he married Elizabeth "Bessie" Weatherwax.

Description: When he registered for the draft during WWI he was described as being of medium height and build with brown eyes and black hair. His passport application in 1918 went on to say he had a rather high forehead, a straight-medium nose, dark moustache, round chin, dark brown complexion and an oval face.

In 1932 he was described as "a man who has many accomplishments." He was a real mathematician and acquainted with celestial mechanics. He could operate in calculus as easily as most of us operate a knife or fork. Besides being an expert piano tuner, and musician, he was a good singer, a Marxian and really knew how to raise, cultivate and care for tobacco and potatoes.

Bob Brown saw him as "an upstanding, outspoken proletarian from Michigan."  

Pre-Colony History: His WWI Draft Registration card is undated, but at the time he was working as a machinist for the United Motors Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1918 he applied for a passport for travel to England and France as an employee of the National War Work Council of the YMCA.

In 1927 he was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he advertised as a piano tuner. In 1930 he was still living in Michigan with his cousin, Margaret Weatherwax, and working as a clock repairer.

Came to the colony in March, 1932 -- around the same time as his friend, Ludwig Mahler.  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: Soon after his arrival, he and Krengel were building a test-wall of Louisiana clay, with a view to discovering if rammed earth homes could be built here.

In October 1932 he was the Dean of Mathematics in the colony school (also "janitor plenty-penitentiary - yes that is the way he said it") and taught first and second grade Algebra and Plane Geometry. Other instructors were: Dwight Ayres, Miss Josephine Glavincheff, Miss Elsa Gaylord, Mr. Danner and W.R. Gaylord. He also taught Marxian economics in evening classes.

He drove the "honey wagon" in the colony, though he was a piano tuner by trade. In August 1933 he caught a ride with Jack Carnahan in his wagon and workers knew he must have been on his way to tune someone's piano -- otherwise, they'd expect to see him on an outside job with peanuts or potatoes at the farm.

In 1934 he was busy hoeing in the colony gardens when one of the "Llano Colony" reporters came along. He told them "Gee, that man Cole is a worker. He can hoe three rows to my one!"

In June 1934 he was working as the handyman in the hotel dining room. In August he was transferred to the crate factory.  

Other Info: In August 1932 he signed a protest against colonists E.G. Webb and Walter Groth remaining in the colony "to save them".

He often participated in theater productions. He could whistle a tune while accompanying himself on the piano which proved very popular. In November of 1932, he was part of two male quartets -- one included Doc Williams at the tenor end with Weatherwax next to him, Professor Ayres whanging away on first bass and of course the trombone bass of the music boss, W.R. Gaylord, on the second bass.

The other group consisted of Bill Page who sang first tenor with a lyric quality, Weatherwax second tenor, Ayres first bass with a mellow baritone quality, and young Oliver Gaylord sounded a trombone quality in the second bass end.

He smoked the strong colony tobacco in an "antediluvian meerschaum", which was "viewed as a sure recipe for solitude, for no one not similarly addicted would stay within forty rods. Meerschaum, a beautiful German word for sea-foam, seemed slightly appropriate as the smoke from the pipe brought on something akin to sea-sickness."

In September 1932 he gave a blackboard demonstration of how eclipses work to the children at the Kid Kolony. In December 1933 when the Marxian Study Class was organized, they selected Weatherwax to be the instructor. That same month he spoke at a meeting of the Worker's Study Club on the subject, "A Fair Day's Pay for a Fair Day's Work".

In May 1934 he entertained the assemblage at one of the colony meetings with a recital of his experiences while "away in the far north". Harry had been in Chicago for 3 days and witnessed the May Day parades and demonstrations there and while gone "had taken unto himself a wife."  

Post-Colony History: In 1936 he and his wife were living on a farm northeast of Leesville. In January 1936 they made a trip to the colony and while he tuned the piano at the roof garden, Bessie greeted friends at the hotel.

In February 1936 Charley Derleth stopped by to visit the couple at their farm and discovered that Wax had been ill for a week, but was almost recovered. "Their woodpile was not any smaller after his visit."

In June 1936 Ed Brown visited the couple on a Sunday morning. He found these two good friends of the colony happily at work on their little plot, but always ready to stop for a chat and a cup of coffee.

In 1940 he was living in Vernon Parish, Louisiana with his wife and working as a gardener at his own home.

In 1944 they were living in Pennsylvania when his wife, Elizabeth, died.


Sources: WWI Draft Registration; US Passport Application; Grand Rapids, Michigan City Directory: 1927; US Census: 1930, 1940; "Llano Colonist": March 5, 1932, March 12, 1932, April 9, 1932, June 18, 1932, August 6, 1932, September 10, 1932, October 15, 1932, November 5, 1932, November 19, 1932, December 10, 1932, August 5, 1933, December 23, 1933, May 12, 1934, May 19, 1934, July 14, 1934, August 11, 1934, January 4, 1936, January 11, 1936, January 18, 1936, February 29, 1936, June 6, 1936, August 15, 1936; "Can We Cooperate?" by Bob Brown; Pennsylvania Death Certificates  


Harry Weatherwax around 1918.

Image of a German Meerschaum as an example of the sort Weatherwax might have owned.

"Harry Weatherwax -- One of Llano's Solid Rank and File Co-operators, for Whom No Task Is Too Hard and Whose Unfailing Good Nature is Contagious; a Musician and a Confirmed Marxist." (Clipping from the "Llano Colonist" dated March 10, 1934.)

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