KOLKA
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Mrs. Arthur Kolka
The Kolka Cattle Co. land near Stacey consists of 5530 acres, and is owned by Arthur Kolka and his sons Donald and Cecil. This land at one time was homesteaded by a number of families; but as the settlers found it hard to make a living, many stayed only long enough to prove up on their claim, then sold for a small sum and gladly moved on. Some were bachelors who found life very lonely indeed. Yet there were always a few who stayed on. Some of them gradually enlarged their holdings and have fine ranches today.
The John Kolka Sr. family were native Estonians who migrated to Canada in 1903, and remained there for 13 years. They came to Montana in the spring of 1916. Soon after coming to this state, they bought railroad land east of Big Pumpkin Creek, between Volborg and Loesch.
One of the sons, Arthur, worked in the mines at Butte for the first two winters they lived in Montana.
In 1918 he went to work at the Charles Simpson ranch and worked there for 31/2 years.
He married Violet Price in 1925. Their first home was the Ira Patton place, which they had leased for four years. They had two children, Dorothy and Donald, while living there.
Next they moved to the Percy Bird place north of Coalwood where they resided another four years, and had two more children, Cecil and Arleen. Times were hard for everyone with the drought of the thirties. It was necessary to sell the cattle for only $10.00 a head. Fortunately, the highway between Miles City and Broadus was being built, and many of the men were able to earn a little cash working on the road.
In 1935 the Arthur Kolka family moved to the Charles Decker ranch near Stacey, which they leased for ten years and then bought.
At the time this ranch was purchased by Mr. Kolka. in 1945, the land was made up of about seven homesteads which Mr. Decker had purchased. They all joined him and he was glad to enlarge his holdings. He had come here in the early days when the range was open, and gradually had been cut down to a smaller range as settlers moved in. Charley Decker was a very fine man, and well thought of by his neighbors. He had lived alone on his homestead for many years before marrying Mary Hamilton. She was loved by all and familiarly called "Aunt Mary" by her relatives and friends alike. Their table always was ready with an extra plate if friends happened by. Charley could tell many good stories of the early days-of roundups, wolves, hunting buffalo, and mining in the Black Hills. He was very conservative and worked hard on his ranch until he retired and moved to Miles City.
The first to be mentioned is the Frank Williams homestead which was one Mr. Decker bought. Frank Williams married Esther Emmons, who was a sister of Carl Emmons. They had six children, and lived in a two-room frame house east of Little Pumpkin Creek, above the Griffin ranch. Frank Williams was a carpenter, and built the North Stacey School, the Billy Glenn house, and the John Gold house. He worked at his brother-in-law, Carl Emmon's sawmill some. In a short while he decided that he could make a better living elsewhere, and moved away.
Next was the Lew Griffin place right on Little Pumpkin, with a nice frame house and pretty trees, which made it one of the envied homes. It was already written up earlier in this book.
The Van Dyke homestead was also bought by Mr. Decker. It was on Little Pumpkin Creek too, above the Griffin place. John Henry Van Dyke came here from Washington D. C. He drove the stage to Selway. He stayed at John Gold's often. In 1914 he took his own life.
Then Charley Decker bought the John Dwyer place, but that story was already told separately.
The Mott Ball homestead on Little Pumpkin Creek was later purchased by Mr. Decker. Mott was married to Mabel Hamilton, the daughter of J. T. Hamilton of Stacey, and a niece of Mr. Decker's wife. Mabel was the first clerk of the North Stacey School. Mott had the mail route out of Stacey in 1915. Balls had six children: Corbin, Mary, Junior, Ruth and Helen (twins), and Jean. Mrs. Mabel Ball still lives in Miles City.
Millard F. Sandusky (known as Uncle to the community) was uncle of Thomas C. Scott. He came to make his home with the Scotts around 1907 and remained with them until 1917, when he returned to his former home in Kentucky. He took up a homestead just west of the Scott ranch. He later sold it to Charley Decker, who owned adjoining land.
Arthur Kolka bought the Tom Scott place from Paul Fetter in 1950. Both the Scott and Fetter families are written up separately. While Fetters owned this place, the huge white house burned. It was replaced by the home in which Arthur and Violet now live.
In 1959 they bought the Ross Decker place, to complete their present ranch holdings. Arthur and Sons incorporated in 1960, and are now known as the Kolka Cattle Co.
Dorothy, the oldest daughter, did office work and also taught the Pine Tree School one year before getting married. Her two children are Allen and Linda Howard.
Arleen worked in Miles City for the P. C. A. and in a law office. She is married to Dick Richardson, and they have two children -Tami and Jeff.
After high school graduation, Donald and Cecil stayed home and worked on the ranch. Cecil enlisted in 1951 for four years in the Navy, during the Korean War, after which he returned to the ranch. He married DeJores Green, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Green, in 1957. They have four girls-Melanie, Marlys, Melissa, and Mona. They live on the home ranch, near Arthur and Violet.
Donald married Mary Rose Gaskill, daughter of Martha and the late Dan Gaskill, Jr., in 1956. Their children are Kenny and Twila. They live on the old Charley Decker place.
Great changes have come to this area of Montana since 1916 when Arthur came as a young man. Now we have modern farming, electricty, TV, and dial tel. ephones. Yes, that's quite a change from walking plows and wash boards.