are 12 villages in Pedersöre parish, the same number as the apostles
on the parish church altarpiece. The most northern village is called
Lepplax. For some reason, guidebooks do not mention this name. The
railroad cuts straight through the wooded area to the east between
the Kållby and Kronoby stations. A half mile of the coastal
road, which loops through this area, is mostly a forest road east
of the houses and fields. Along to the north, about 100 meters from
the border toward Kronoby are two farms close to the road and a half
mile from a signpost at the entrance to the village where one gets
a westerly view of the settlement.
the southern end on a granite plateau a half mile above the pine forest
is an outlook tower that was raised for geodetic measurements. From
this platform one has a panoramic view of the nearest square mile
of Pedersöre, Larsmo, Kronoby and Esse parishes. Straight to
the west a mile away is the high tower of Pedersöre church, in
the northwest Larsmo church, between them the factory chimneys in
Jakobstad, and in the northeast Kronoby church. Through this sector
can be seen a glimpse of the fjörds and straits of the inner
archipelago and still closer, the scattered buildings of Lepplax.
Jakob's sons, there are also 12 homes in Lepplax. The magic has been
obscured over the years, but the glory around the village shines with
increased radiance. The springlike grove with trees and arctic raspberry
blossoms, bird-cherry blossoms and lily of the valley; the warm summer
shore with startled pike darting out to deep water; the clear autumn
cowberry woods with large and noisy birds flying; the winter ice creviced
with nettles from shore to shore, the sharpness of the cold - all
of this and much more would take many pages to describe with affection
the bittersweet fruit of being away for many years in a different
country. But naturally it is not something remarkable. Similar sights
are seen in hundreds of villages along the long and narrow coast of
Österbotten. A thousand sons of the coastal land gaze at similar
childhood memories during a quiet moment.
names of the homes were earlier engraved in my memory. The stores
were near the school in the village, where the road from the east
branches off to other points of the compass. There were three branches.
The first to Svensbacka, Bodö, Väll and Abbors and then
went north. The second had a westerly destination to Klubb, Emtö,
Södö, and Söderström, and the third went south
to Skepparnabba, Riv, Lunabba and Finne. The distance from the center
to all three terminal points was about two km.
house held more than one family, from 2-8, so the total number of
families was 54. In addition, some well-to-do also lived on this land;
they had the largest homes. The number of well-to-do has been reduced
during the later generations and 20 small cottages have disappeared
with them. The number of farmers has remained about the same, but
a family of children the same size as patriarch Jakob's is presently
a rarity. The following shows a substantial reduction in the total
population. In 1917 there were 470 Lepplax residents living at home,
but in 1943 only 344. The number of farmer families is 303, 88% of
the population. The remaining 12% consists of 2 teachers, 2 shopkeepers,
1 sawmill owner, 1 fisherman, 1 blacksmith, 1 tailor and 1 laborer
with his family. For a half century the list included a lot of crofters.
house names and many other names reveal their former villages. Abbors
and Väll are near each other on the north shore of Abborsviken;
Bodö is idyllically secluded not far from them. Bodö is
to the south and Väll is to the north. Near the southern edge
of the bay is Svensbacka and Emtö.
relates that other than simple city travel, there was another sort
of travel involving shipping. Many old people still remember the last
representative of the distinguished class of farmer skippers - "Captain"
Julius Malmström. He was a home owner at Söderholm and in
the 1800's used to travel to Sweden on his own ketch with potatoes
and butter. According to tradition, shipbuilding was carried on in
Lepplax. In later years rusty nails could still be seen in the water
at Plassen in Söderholm. Surely there were many Lepplax residents
among the 80 ships carpenters from Pedersöre parish at the shipyards
at Karlskrona during the 1600's and 1700's. Jakob Simonsson Klubb
was a worthy representative. He was familiar with many trades and
in old age he worked at the shipyard in Kronstedt. In the autumn of
life his deep and noisy laughter will live long in memory. "Klubbe"
died in 1931 at age 91. The same year he died his colleague Jakob
Riff "Riffen", who was seven years younger, built beautiful and seaworthy
rowboats at Finnholm where his cottage still stands in peaceful solitude.
There has been no large-scale boatbuilding in Lepplax for decades.
Rowboats and motorboats are built for personal use.
true that we do not now find a counterpart to the known Rijf church
building dynasty whose famous member was Jacob Thomasson Rijf. He
was born in Lepplax 1723, the son of a Riv farmer Thomas Karlsson
Rijf, also a noted church builder. Perhaps the time for rural architects
is gone, but a roomy and respectfully solid house can still be built
in Lepplax - from the ground up including painting, decorating and
electrical installation, plus furniture, practical and tasteful -
without the aid of help from outside the village.
known blacksmith of his time was farmer Gustaf Vesterlund of Emtö
(1862- 1918). His wheel harrow won great respect and is still in common
use. Vesterlund sold his patent to the agricultural firm Björkenheim
can mention capable lathe operator Matts Englund as a representative
of a dying profession. The serious and taciturn Englund, who died
in 1926 at age 73, left opinions to his talented brother, Karlfeldt's
event that is part of history, was the big cattle drive to Hummelholm
on15 August. In the early days the largest part of the holm was common
grazing ground for all of the village cattle; they were driven out
to the bridgehead at Holtos channel. Milk cows, which were driven
each evening to the summer cowhouse near Bofjärds shore, took
a shorter way by boat over the fjörd.
many centuries plucky farmers cultivated in Lepplax. Their labor was
a humble sight that inspires respect for the stone walls that surround
the fields. Many village sons, who rest in Pedersöre church cemetery
after a full life of work, deserve a memorial. Some time near the
turn of the century Töysä resident Juho Rantaaho, together
with a couple comrades, came to Lepplax to seek work, which was available.
The comrades soon left, but "Jussi" had caught the attention of a
village daughter and stayed for life. He learned Swedish and earned
respect with his work. At his death in 1941 he left behind him reclaimed
land without equal in the recent history of Lepplax village.
thump of the flail has been replaced by the hum of threshing machines,
oil lamps by electric lights, isolation by daily postal service and
radio. To a large extent, Lepplax today is like Lepplax of yesterday
when an emigrant, who returned after a quarter of a century in America,
can soon recognize his home in his childhood village. But there are
other changes in Lepplax and one dares to hope that the changes include,
with all possible leniency, all that is beautiful and valuable of
the olden days, and that the new changes will become as beautiful
as the old, which is the best.