From Pioneer Stock: Martha Jolley, Young at Heart


Colleen Slater, KP News

“I’ve always loved to dance,” says Martha Jolley, oldest of three remaining Stock children raised at Rocky Bay. She paints, quilts, plays violin, and dances often, which may be why she appears younger than 87.

Her parents and brother Bill emigrated from Germany to Michigan in 1904. On their way to Montana by train, a fellow passenger said Montana was too cold in winter, and they should go to Washington.

From Tacoma, they moved to Victor, on Rocky Bay.

Martha started school at Vaughn with brother Julius, a year older. Her parents thought it better that two children begin at the same time.

Martha recalls doing lots of walking to spend time with friends. Baseball games were played with three or four to a team.

The family of 10 surviving children grew, and their father built a big home on the hill. When Martha was in eighth grade, that house burned down. They had no clothes left. The fire was caused from Stock’s overheated stills.

Another house was built, and still stands on that hill above Rocky Bay.

Brother Bill was a genius, Martha says. He could do almost anything, and set up running water for the house. Mr. Stock fattened beef and hogs to butcher and sell. The family “picked” and sold huckleberries, beating the bushes with sticks.

In 1935, the Stocks started a winery, buying grapes from Longbranch and other nearby places. Their wines were sold in Washington only, usually to taverns. The brothers and Martha’s husband made sales and deliveries.

The Stock winery existed for about 10 years. Martha thinks the men got tired of all the paperwork required by the state.

Martha graduated from Vaughn Union High School, and worked at Woolworth’s in Olympia, spending weekends at her sister’s in Yelm.

One night Frank Jolley asked to take her home from a dance. She said only if he could find an escort for the friend she’d come with. He did. He’d told a friend that evening, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry.”

After assorted other business ventures, Frank and Martha bought her brother Fred’s store in Allyn (where the port office is now). Martha ran the store until they were on their feet, then Frank quit his job with a Shelton dairy to help.

The house had only two bedrooms, so they put in a trailer for the girls, ages 13 and 17. They built onto the building for more store space, another living room and a bedroom.

When a man wanted to buy the store, they sold it and Frank started working for Mason County’s road department.

Frank built a cabin on Coulter Creek for a getaway. A woman wanted to buy it, so they had a three-way move: The woman moved into the cabin, the new owner moved to the store, and the Jolleys bought a house on the hill. Martha always wanted to live there, overlooking the water, and has done so for 44 years. The couple celebrated 59 years together before Frank died.

A neighbor’s daughter asked if Martha, a talented artist, would paint a picture for a new pasta company label. Tavolata pasta, sold by Sam’s Club, now sports her painting of an Italian scene.

A granddaughter, a California film producer, recently interviewed relatives in Martha’s sunroom, where many of her oil paintings hang. She plans a documentary on Martha, “probably about 10 minutes long.”

Martha laughs about her bits of “fame” and continues to keep busy with her various projects and dancing that keep her young at heart.