Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, May, 1992 Page: 92
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
2. The Matzke Home
I was born February 1, 1907 on Front Street. The house was almost in line
with the old vehicle bridge no longer in existence. It was also next to the jail which faces
Spring Street. The traffic off the bridge had to turn to the right in front of our house and
to the left around an elevated water tower and into Spring Street in front of the jail.
At the end of the bridge there was an artesian well with water coming out of a 1 Y4 inch
pipe and flowed into a concrete water trough where farmers watered their team of horses
or mules, herds of cattle driven through town, horse traders with their horses as they
moved from one town to another for trading or sale.
As there were no laws regarding animal control, since Columbus was
unincorporated, people let their milk cows and other animals roam and graze on the
streets and vacant lots. The artesian well was a gathering place for such animals.2
My mother was ill for several years with tuberculosis. For about the last year
she was bedridden and the children were not allowed to go into her room because of the
contagious nature of tuberculosis. The bedroom where she stayed was adjacent to the
front porch and we would sit on the porch at the window of the room and talk to her.
An older sister, Mary, took care of her during the illness. My father would buy cases
of grape juice for my mother to drink. I don't know whether she just liked it or whether
it was supposed to be curative. When the bottles were empty, my sister would boil them
and we would use them as toys, pretending they were ponies in our bottle-horse playing.
We used beer bottles to pull little wagons with string harnesses.
When my mother died on December 1, 1919 and my father, of a heart attack,
on January 31, 1920, the property was sold to County Judge Will Mayes.3 There may
have been other owners but I believe Mr. [Homer Louis] and Mrs. [Bernice] Koliba bought
the property in 1948 and created a museum in some of the rooms with dolls and old
ironing irons and other items. Mr. Koliba built a small room to the left front of the house
for his insurance office.4
Mrs. Koliba wrote me in about 1964 wanting to know when the home was
constructed as it was going to be one of the homes in the Magnolia Tour of Homes that
year. I wrote my oldest sister, as I did not have the information. She replied that the
home was built in 1902 by a Mr. Weiss or a Mr. Weber- she could not remember which.
The Magnolia Tour of Homes for that year - in the information about the home - stated
that it was built in 1876. I later asked Mrs. Koliba where she got that date, and she said
that as the brochure had to go to print before she heard from me she had done some
research and come up with that date.5
2 Until the passage of laws commonly called "stock laws," animals of various types were allowed
to roam the streets of cities at will. In Columbus, many people, including, it seems, most physicians, opposed
the introduction of stock laws into the early days of the twentieth century. In particular, opponents pointed
to the beneficial effects of allowing pigs to roam the streets, for pigs ate the refuse that was generally
discarded rather cavalierly by people, and that, as it rotted, attracted rats and insects. Ironically, though not
surprisingly, stock law proponents were particularly interesting in ridding the streets of pigs.
Though stock laws had been passed in Weimar and Eagle Lake and in several unincorporated areas
of the county earlier, Columbus had no stock law until February 26, 1927, when the entire county adopted
a law prohibiting "horses, mules, jacks, jennets and cattle" from roaming at large.
3 The county judge was actually Ethelbert Bruce Mayes. He was elected to the position in 1916.
Will Mayas, whose full name was John William Mayes, was Judge Mayes' brother.
4 Homer Louis Koliba's first wife was Zula Kathryn Mayes. Her father, Ethelbert Bruce Mayes, gave
her the home after she had had two children. When she died, the children, Katherine Ann Koliba and Homer
Bruce Koliba, inherited the house. Homer Louis Koliba purchased the undivided one-half interest of his
daughter on December 18, 1951 and that of his son on January 2, 1952 (See Deed Books 161, p. 376 and
162, p. 159, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas).
5 The 1964 Magnolia Homes Tour pamphlet on "The Koliba House" states that "there may be some
controversy as to the year this house ... was built" and only claims that "the original part may have been a
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, May, 1992, periodical, May 1992; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151385/m1/24/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.