Museum the New Llano Colony

Ernest Wooster

Birth: He was born in 1884 at Oregon.  

Family Information: Son of Rufe and Jeannette Wooster.

Brother of Elma Wooster.

He married Pearl Wooster on Jan. 6, 1920 in DeRidder, LA; father of twins, Bobby and Jeannette.


Pre-Colony History: In 1905 he was working for the US Post Office in Stockton, California.

In 1910 he was working as a teacher in a public school while living in Stockton, San Joaquin, California.  

Home in Colony: In 1920 he and Pearl were living in the New Llano Colony at Newllano, Louisiana.

Job in Colony: In 1914 he quit his job as an editor of the "Fresno Republican" to join the colony and publish the "Western Comrade," a monthly general interest political magazine.

The "Comrade" was discontinued soon after the move to Newllano and he became editor of the "Vernon Parish Democrat," a local weekly newspaper.

Also, during Harriman's prolonged absences, he served as Vice-President in charge of the colony. until 1920 when George Pickett was elected General Manager.  

Other Info: After his wedding in DeRidder, a small group of colonists held a "chiverie" (var. spelling - chiravari) outside their residence. The band included an accordion, clarinet, several horns and innumerable cans. After their performance, the crowd was invited into the Wooster home, where they made merry for some time.

He, his wife and mother left the colony in 1920, traveling first to Nebraska for a visit with Mrs. Wooster's sisters, then on to California.

In 1923 he wrote in The Nation that "Llano Colony without a church is also without a saloon, bootlegger, immoral section, jail, or peace officer."

He returned to live in the colony with the establishment of the Commonwealth College at Newllano in 1923 and the return of Job Harriman. That year the Commonwealth College Association designated a teaching faculty of Harriman, Kate O'Hare, Howard Buck, F.M. Goodhue, Frank O'Hare, Wilbur C. Benton, Theodore Cuno, Ernest Wooster, Harold Z. Brown, Ivy Van Etten, and William E. Zeuch.

Unfortunately, the college group were suspicious of George Pickett, who viewed the college as an adjunct to the colony, while Zeuch and the O'Hare's seemed to look at the colony as a sort of school farm. Fights over priorities were immediate and vicious.

At the same time, Harriman and Pickett were struggling with a dispute over colony leadership. Both Harriman and Wooster had been immediately returned to the colony Board of Directors upon their return to the colony (with the establishment of the college), and both were in support of the O'Hares and the college group.

It soon became clear that coexistence with the Newllano colony would not be possible. The Harriman / college group located a new site in Ink, Arkansas, organized the Commonwealth Colony of the Ozarks and they and their supporters moved there over the next few months.

Struggles continued in Arkansas, however. The college group's priorities remained different from the colonists' who had moved there to support them. Before the year was out, the college had relocated again, this time to Mena, Arkansas where it would remain until 1940 and the fledgling colony at Ink had fizzled out.

Post-Colony History: In 1930 he was living in California with his wife and children and working as a newspaper editor.

That year he attended a picnic of ex-colonists at Fullerton, California. Each brought a lunch, sufficient for his needs and the needs of several others. Long tables were arranged under the shade of the park trees. The coffee was furnished by Minnie Pickett and John Will saw to it that everyone was generously served. It was unanimously agreed to form an organization that would organize future semi-annual social gatherings for the group. Minnie Pickett was chosen secretary-treasurer and Dr. Robert K. Williams was appointed assistant secretary.

The picnic was attended by more than 65 ex-colonists including: Minnie Pickett, John and Frances Will and Dorothy, Lottie Brown, Professor Lowell H. Coates, Bert Engle, Victor and Alma Swanson and Elwin, Jess and Mildred Morris, Louis and Grace Petty, Louis and Jennie Conlin, Mrs. M.E. Babb, Norman and Ethel Johnson, Ernest and Pearl Wooster, H.L. and Guy Ward, Mrs. Clara Powers and son, George, Mrs. Ada Harper, Ethel Wright, E.E. Vaughn, J.H. Ryan, Val Brown and wife, Lottie Brown, Miss A.C. Austin, Walter Millsap, Jr. and his mother, Cara Millsap, Dr. Robert K. and Dr. Cecil C. Williams, E. Krause and family, John Van Nuland (who passed around a tub of Llano candy sent by Anton, and it was "great stuff" by all those who tasted it) Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Kilmer, Professor Lowell B. Coate, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Wallace, Mr. and Mrs. Charley Earl, Mr. and Mrs. Suhre, A.L Spann, Frederick R. Johnson, A. Hansig.

In July 1931 he accepted a job with a County Auditor in Santa Ana, California and planned to move his family there within the month. In 1936 he was living in Santa Ana with his wife, Pearl, and their two children, Bobby and Jeannette,  and interested in the EPIC movement.

In 1940 he was living in California with his wife and children and his occupation was tax redemption.

Death: He died in 1962 at California.  

Sources: US Register of Civil, Military, and Naval Service: 1905, Volume 2; US Census: 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940; "Vernon Parish Democrat": January 10, 1920; April 24, 1920; "Llano Colonist": May 10, 1930, February 29, 1936; "Radical Education in the Rural South; Commonwealth College 1922-1940" by William H. Cobb; "Santa Ana Register"; California Death Index; "Southern Exposure": Vol 1; No 3 & 4 (Llano Cooperative Colony, Louisiana)  


Group standing outside the theater; Ernest Wooster standing in the center.

Clipping from the "Vernon Parish Democrat" dated June 7, 1919.

Group outing -- Viola Gilbert is standing to the right, Pearl Wooster is standing to the left of her and Ernest Wooster is kneeling in front of them with the adopted Wooster twins.

Clipping from the "Santa Ana Register" dated July 24, 1931.

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