August Alfred Strand, a bridge between the past and present

by Lars Granholm

It is interesting how history weaves its paths back and forth and at each turn seems to connect the past and the present. This spring when we came to the market place in Karleby in Finland I met a school friend and introduced her to my wife. As we talked we happened to mention that my wife's maiden name was Kentala. She then asked if we have met any Gentala in US and suggested I check for it in Internet, and found Walter Gentala. After a few e-mail exchanges we found out that we both had genealogy interests in Terjärv and Kaustinen and both had files of about the same number of persons, 13,000 to 14,000. So by GEDCOM we were exchanging files. Walt asked if I had any specific information of Alfred Strand, the grandfather to Lois, born Strand, his second cousin, who lived with his family for a long time when her father was ill.


Of interest were kinship with famous people and Walt had an interesting relative to both my wife and me, Ray Dolby. In Karleby I went to buy a newly published book about the Caino-Torp family from my second cousin Ole Granholm at the Österbottningen local paper and mentioned to kinship to Dolby. He got interested and in a couple of days called that he wants to write a story in the paper, which was published on 18 August 2002 (Ray Dolby).

After the publication I got a call from another relative, Jan-Erik Granbacka, that he had seen the article and he had an English translation for me of a publication, Sågslamp Homestead and Genealogy by Viktor Strand, where many of the Strand descendants are listed, including Ray Dolby and Lois Prang (Strand). Jan-Erik told me also that in 1960 he, as a member of the Terjärv brass orchestra on a tour, flew from Finland to Chicago and on the plane met my mother. She was moving to US after my father's death. She invited him and a few other orchestra members to her place in Chicago. Now further, in Aberdeen, WA the orchestra gave a concert and there Jan-Erik met Alfred's wife, Emma Strand (born Kentala in Kaustinen) and her son Frans. Jan-Erik remembers how happy Emma was to speak Finnish.

The publication also included a picture of a harpsichord piano that was built by Alfred Strand. It also mentions that this piano was sold to a storekeeper Granholm and was kept by the family for 75 years. That was my grandfather Karl-Johan Granholm. It seems, that as the major merchant, he had made the arrangements for Strand to get the necessary parts for building the piano. At my grandfather's home in the Hästbacka village of the Terjärv parish the piano was for many years in a second story "gathering room", where it was used extensively in meetings with family and friends. This room is the subject of a story, appended here. The piano was later at the home of my uncle Elis and it was later donated to the Terjärv museum, Hemgården.

In a strange turn in the history, this room also became my home for some time. During WW II my mother, with my younger brother and me, moved from Karleby to the safer Terjärv and we occupied that room. I attended the grade school there that winter.

Back to Alfred. At the age of 20 he was drafted into the Russian army and he served with the musical corps in Villmanstrand (Lappeenranta) and later in St. Petersburg. With his musical ability he advanced to be the orchestra leader. In 1895 he returned to Terjärv where he founded the Terjärv brass orchestra. All four of my uncles played in that orchestra. This is the same orchestra referred to above, which toured US in 1960.

After the Terjärv orchestra was founded the neighboring Kaustinen village also wanted its own orchestra. They contacted Alfred and he agreed to come there and organize the orchestra. This was with the condition that somebody from Kaustinen makes the track in the snow for him, so he would not have to ski in the deep snow. During the summer he would use a bicycle, which he built himself. Quite often in the winter, while the orchestra was rehearsing, snow fell so he had to stay overnight in Kaustinen. On these occasions he stayed at the home of Abraham Mattsson Penttilä-Kentala and Sofia Mattsdotter Kettu. They had a daughter Emma Sofia, whom married in New York in 1899. In 1898 the Russian army again began to draft Finnish men and many of the Terjärv orchestra members emigrated to US. Some came back but many, as Alfred, stayed.

Alfred's piano is still in the Terjärv museum. I was there in August 2002 to see it. Memories came back as I recalled seeing it in 1949 at uncle Elis' funeral. I tried its faded keys but they were quiet. Next to it in the museum was an old organ. On that I could play "Slumrande Toner" a song about honoring and preserving the inheritances from past generations. That organ had been owned by Maria Åkerblom, but that is another story….!

Alfred's masterpiece is not dead, its "Slumbering Tunes" are still there, but it needs some help to again bring out its music for present generations. Next summer Terjärv will celebrate a "Hembygdsfest", a home area gathering with music and song. Alfred's brass orchestra and other will play; the musicians will be the descendants of Strand, Kentala, Granholm and many others. It certainly would be fitting if Alfred's piano could take part in this. But it needs an extensive restoration, which a small museum, established by donations, cannot well afford.


Lars Granholm

Below follows a translation of what my uncle Teodor Granholm wrote in 1937. This was published in the booklet that was given out at the family reunion of my grandfather's descendants in Terjärv, Finland on July 7, 1982.


My childhood home is situated in the village of Hästbacka in the Terjärv parish. My parents moved there in 1888 and built a small house in the Smedjebacka homestead during 1888-89.

That site has a vast view overlooking the village with its fields and rather magnificent hills. One can even follow the tranquil river's winding turns for kilometers on its journey through the green meadows. Here I had experienced my happy childhood. My father ran a small country store, combining that with farming. Even though we were many children who had to have food and clothing, our parents managed relatively well, considering the conditions and needs of those times. We had good parents and a good home, which we always longed to visit, even after we were self-supporting and had established our own homes.

The relationship between children and parents was always good, as well as among the siblings. Even now, though we have flown the nest, has any disagreement marred the close relationship among the siblings as established in the home. That this feeling grew strong through the influence of good parents, I can best describe by citing a letter I found after father's death. In 19O8 he built a new store with an office and on the second floor a "gathering room" for the family.

Since he, in this letter, with no word mentions the new business facility, I assume that he considered a happy, shared considerate family life more important than "gathering in the barns". My father had not attended even grade school, because there was none then in the village. He had a beautiful handwriting and through self-education obtained an abundance of knowledge in widely varying subjects.

The letter reads as follows:


I sit today - a Sunday - contemplating my half finished new dwelling, which will contain a heated room on the upper floor. The thoughts wander to a long harbored wish to make this a room for the family to gather. May this be our "gathering room" where we together will be able to exchange views of the experiences of life, both in the material and spiritual world.

The need for a closer understanding of each other within the family, in these social times, is clear. The young get enthusiastic and are cradled in the different maelstroms of life, both good and bad, healthy and harmful, for body and soul. The elder in the family, who, in accordance with the laws of nature, are more conservative - with a narrower, older view of things - often have a difficult time comprehending and appreciating the justification of all the new ideas, because of the reason that the older ones have passed their development phase, i. e. experienced their youth and won a certain perception of the wisdom of life, as well as learned the value of life, and realized that not everything that glitters in the fantasies of youth is gold. Only a small percent of the carats, which are contained therein, are real. These differences in viewpoints, it appears to me, should already within the home and family be settled to the extent possible in order to be applied in the practical life. All achievement must have a reason (inner conviction) to gain understanding.

Every society requires cooperation among its members to attain the goals of the society. The state requires loyal and cooperating citizens. How important, for this reason, is cooperation in the home, which must lay the foundation for all civic and spiritual life. If this is neglected - which often is the case - the reasons and consequences are clear. The family members find no compassion for each other and consequently cannot act in consonance with each other. The outcome will be disagreements and fights. Initially in thoughts; thoughts give birth to words and reap action.

Going back to my reflections about the half finished new building, I wish we would reach a higher plane in this warm attic room, here we could bring our higher and warmer thoughts to be exchanged. The elders' thoughts to possibly rejuvenate, and the youngers' to mature. The thought itself in neither young nor old. It is eternal - immortal, though always new. But sowed, it gives birth to action, good or evil.

May we learn to live a life in real unity. To now and then isolate the thought from the everyday; its struggles and worries for tomorrow, taking one day at a time, as it is us given. Share its pleasures and pains in common understanding among young and old.

Let us remember, when we look down from our new attic window over the hills and vales, that we are no higher beings. Let us turn our eye toward the height from where the all-seeing eye, in its mercy, looks down upon us, searching out the innermost thoughts in our hearts.

May He lead and teach us to think and live the real family life!