Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

93rd Birthday for Sotka Twins

The twins were born April 6, 1931 in Astoria, to Abraham Fredrik Lyla and Katherine (Sackrison) Sotka whose grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Finland. The couple settled in Eden Valley. Corliss and Norman graduated in 1949 from Naselle Grays River High School. Corliss married Joseph Edward Florek in November 1950 and Norman married Phyllis Rae Boldt in February 1951. Joseph and Corliss’ children are: Joseph Edward, Jerrold Samuel (deceased), Carolyn, Kristy, Katherine Joanne, John, Kenneth (deceased) and James. Norman and Phyllis’s children are Darrel, Diane and Marilyn. This story was written by Alta (Smith) Meserve who was the owner and editor of the Grays River Builder. The story ran in the Grays River Builder newspaper on July 29th 1937.

Grays River, Wa. The Sotka Family Story

One of the finest citizens of the Crooked Creek country is Abram Sotka. He is a man to whom much credit can be given for he is a self made

man in the strictest sense of the word. Abram Sotka was born in Finland and is the only survivor of a large family. In the year 1853 in which he was born there were no educational advantages for the poor and little for the rich. His father was a small farmer who eventually lost his farm and thereafter lived by day labor. The only school afforded him was a few weeks of Confirmation school. Even the rich were not very well served in those days. Mr. Sotka remembers when the first school was organized in his neighborhood but it was not for people like himself. He wisely decided to arrange his life along lines where there was greater opportunity and when he was 18 a brother who had come to the new country sent him a ticket and he started out with a group of his fellow countrymen bent on the same errand. They went first to England embarking at Liverpool. His ticket cost him about $40 to cross the ocean but a few years later when he came from Michigan to Astoria he paid $100 for a ticket. He was eighteen years old when he crossed the ocean. He went directly to Michigan where he worked in the mines and on the railroads until he had saved enough money to repay and join his brother in Astoria in 1882. In Astoria he fished and worked in a saw mill.

He was married in 1885 to Mary Tano. Mrs. Sotka was born in Sweden but they lived so close to the border of Finland that it was the most used language so she learned Finnish instead of Swedish. She was the middle one of eight children. All but three of them remained in Sweden but she came to America in 1884. She had been running a boarding house until their marriage. After their marriage the Sotkas remained for a time in Astoria but one morning decided to visit Gabriel Karvonen who lived at Crooked Creek. They were delighted with the place. It was quite to their liking and accordingly they bought 80 acres from him and found themselves farmers. There were already buildings and some clearing. A small house was down on the river bank and they had about 14 cows, a few sheep and other animals. To this they added 80 acres of school land which they purchased and these two tracts make the present Sotka farm. Clearing of land and keeping up their work kept them busy for quite some time and they were bothered quite a little by freshets which came up frequently and surrounded the house with water. It was so inconvenient that as soon as they could they built a new house (1906). This is the present Sotka home. It is roomy, comfortable type, one of the substantial kind that gives a family a feeling of pride and security. Peter Tervo and Mr. Lanto were the carpenters and you will find traces of their handiwork on many homes in this part of the country. Both Mr. and Mrs. Sotka are members of the Finnish Lutheran Church in Naselle and have always lived in such a way that they have carried the respect of their neighbors and have been of use to the community. He was always keenly interested in education as he had abundant opportunity for realizing its benefits. He was eighteen years a member of the school board. When he first became director they had five months of school which has gradually increased until they have now nine months. He was one of the first directors of the Lower Columbia Dairy Association and is still a director. He spoke of their earlier attempt to buy out the Osbourne creamery. Of their six children there are still four living and all occupy satisfactory places in the communities in which they live. Fred stays on the place with the old folks and assists in the management of the farm. He was married to Lila Sackrison and has two attractive children, a girl and a boy. Mrs. Sotka is a member of the famous Eden orchestra, playing one of the violins. Fred has been school director for many years. August Sotka’s mind ran to civic duties and we find him one of the early road supervisors and after that he was County Commissioner. He built the road link connecting Rosburg and Crooked Creek and also the Rosburg bridge which afforded a connection for the people south of Rosburg with the Ocean Beach highway. He was in the spruce division of the service during the world war stationed at Tillamook. Miss Ida Junttila became his wife in 1921 and they have two daughters, Evelyn, who is ready for high school and Mae, a winsome miss of six. Mrs. August Sotka was one of the organizers of the Eden Orchestra. They live on their own farm which they purchased from Eric Junttila, an uncle of Mrs. Sotka and later they added 60 acres, which they bought from Fletcher Olmstead. Then there is Ernest. We can’t say so much about him for he is an old bachelor and his case is similar to that of a mother when you say that you have said it all. His family still have hopes that he may make “history” some day and maybe he will. I didn’t have the opportunity to get any details concerning that, only that he lives at home and helps with the farm and makes himself generally useful in the family and community. He and his brother built an electric system which furnishes adequate light and power for all their needs on the farm. They do not have electric extension into Crooked Creek but their privately owned power plant is very efficient, and their lights cost them nothing which is quite a satisfaction. The last of the Sotka children was a girl, Martha, who was a bride of last year and left the Eden community to live at Grays River when she became Mrs. Lloyd Worrel. She is a talented young lady being one of the leading pianists of that area. She took her first instruction from Mrs. Elmer Durrah and has been the pianist for the orchestra for many years. I talked to Mr. and Mrs. Sotka and the family in the evening and they looked so contented and free from care that I asked, “How long since you have quit active farming?” “Haven’t quit yet,” chorused the entire group. So I leave the picture with you of a man who began at the bottom and with his loyal helpful partner made the long hard climb to comfort, prosperity and security in their old age. Surrounded by their family and old neighbors they carry on from day to day equal to the tasks that come to them and able to enjoy a serene and comfortable old age. As the twilight thickens about them they can look back at their life with few regrets and the rest of us are glad to have them still with us and hope it may remain that way for many years yet to come. As transcribed by Wahkiakum County Historical Museum volunteer Evelyn (Morris) Huerd #610.

 

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