article was written by R. Blomqvist during a visit to Munsala in the
early 1900s. At that time the population of Munsala parish was 3173
of which 3126 were Swedes. He wrote as follows:
Munsala church village from the south. The wide flat ground lies before
us. The bumpy road stretches for about 4 kilometers. In the background
we catch a glimpse of the houses, high crowned birch trees and two
steeples: the church steeple and the detached bell tower. Next we
pass the bridge that crosses Munsala river.
my comrade, who is a native of 55 years: "I see no mill here
at the river. Why do they call the place Åkvarnen?" He
replied: "There is no mill here presently, but one need not be
old to remember the mill that stood by the bridge. During my childhood
there was life and movement, in particular a sawmill combined with
the mill. That was then. The amount of water these days is so small
that it scarcely would be enough for a toy mill."
mentioned that I had heard local people talk of the old bridge over
the river, and asked where it was. He told me it was approximately
where the new bridge was built. It was a high arched bridge so that
a man with a row boat could easily travel under it. The bridge was
put up each spring to shorten the route to the pastures at Lappängen
and Granholmen. But it was also used by people who walked to church
from the western villages. Walking over the narrow flexible bridge
was exciting and made the journey to the church an adventure.
said: "In order to learn more about the village and know a little
of what was found here, well wander through the farm groups
and refresh your memory."
the last 50 years the total inhabitants numbered between 400 and 500.
The number of farms rose to 125. The biggest change in the residences
in the later years came as a result of nyskiftet (redistribution).
For many years there was a large settlement along the eastern edge
of the woods. Numerous stone remains and cellar cavities can still
be seen there. Then a road was built to provide relief work during
the year of crop failure, according to my fathers father. "In
my childhood the Taknet plateau was still uninhabited. The farm houses
were grouped together on a high place where the ground was firmer.
The only residence was 2 kilometers away, south of the church."
in Söderändan we see two types of farm houses represented:
the larger house with a room, front entrance hall and porch; the other
cottage with entrance hall, room and a little hall room. Two-story
buildings have been rare here. The interior consisted of a high bed,
benches fastened to the wall, open fireplace with shelves. Forty years
ago many farm houses still had the old style building arrangement
with a loft building that divided the yard in half between the inner
yard and the animal yard. The inner yard, or courtyard, was flanked
by houses and equipment sheds. People entered the animal yard through
a gate under the loft. The animal yard had a sheep house, cattle shed,
wood shed and a barn.
house on the right beyond the apple trees lived Tilda Nyman, the parish
supplier of wedding clothing . No farm wedding was held unless she
was there for three days, taking care of the bridal crown and supplying
the guests with wedding flowers. On the other side of the road lived
Wilhelm Munsin, fiddle player, who was also indispensable for bridal
clothing supplies at each wedding.
west side of the road was a dyer and a tanner. Matts Sundstén,
known as Svarvar-Matt, lived there. He supplied Munsala and neighboring
areas with spinningwheels. The first post office was on the east side
of the road and post mistress Maria Kerrman lived there. Church warden
Erik Viklund lived a little farther on. Otherwise there was nothing
gloomy and mysterious in the atmosphere at Jåfsbacken in olden
right of Kraftens courtyard can be found the rest of the switching
post where previously convicts were firmly tied and flogged so that
blood was splashed and pieces of flesh flew around. This form of punishment
ceased before my time and I never saw it. But many times in the evening
I heard the prisoners in prison guard Matts Lövs courtyard
dragging their clanking chains and shackles.
farther on toward Ribacken lived a prophet and one could see his face
behind the small pane of glass in the door of the entrance hall. He
was called Grönlund. In his younger years he had created bitter
enemies among the village residents. In order to avoid a surprise
attack, he had put a window in the entry door.
lets take a look at the remains of the boat harbor. During my
fathers fathers time he sailed many times in and out the
Skepparklubb straits. From my childhood I remember Broändas
farm house with its mansard roof and Ohls place with its broad
colonades. The rest of the other farmhouses were still here. There
were four farm houses in red and among them four stately loft buildings
with entrance gates. Yes, the loft was a pleasant place where the
young people could hold revels. Skol-Fia lived in one of the small
cottages. She held a school for small children when I began to spell.
In her childhood she had visited Svedborgs school and became
a good teacher.
of the pastors house were houses of a minor sort. No great change
has happened here since my childhood. This little house was at one
time a school. In the other house lived Newman who treated chest pains.
And the police constable also lived here.
lets go to Kyrkbacken (church village). The houses there have
changed a lot in recent memory. Along the road east of the church
there used to be a red church stable during my childhood. There were
also a large number of them on the south side of the cemetery wall,
as well as by the autopsy building. South of the slope was a little
cottage that was said to have its origin from a picture on the title
page of "Star of Bethlehem". Near the church was one of
the few two-story buildings in the village. The elementary school
when it was new was smaller than the one now here. There was no school
for infants. Here at the lending storehouse we stand at the highest
point in the village 2 meters above the sea. The rocks here
along the shore were dangerous for sailing even during the time of
there stood the "poor man" by the stone wall by the road
and it reminded us of the importance of remembering the needy. Here
was where the sheep market day was held each year on Helgomäss
Monday. In late autumn the sheep were brought in from the woods so
they could be restored to their owners and also
sheep that others had driven from the woods were sold It was a strange
occasion with noisy people and bleating sheep crowding together. The
owners had an extraordinary memory for recognizing the sheep from
their clipped ear marks. Experts also came from other parishes to
represent village sheep owners.
other side of the glen was a farm group known as Ollandt. They have
not changed much externally as far back as I can remember. Earlier
people here were seen as somewhat strange and perhaps uncivilized.
It was frightful when Ollandt-Jonas beat his neighbor to death with
a spade. And old man Riska, the old eccentric, could not stand to
hear his name because people would ridicule him. One time when he
came carrying a bundle of willow twigs, he met district judge Barck
who said: "What is Riska doing today?" "Im dragging
bark", shouted the irritated Riska. Barck stopped, looked at
the angry old man and laughed at the ingenious reply.
we are in front of Damskata, a little group of 4 or 5 houses, as neat
and tidy today as it was formerly. Further on we see the creeks, Damviken
to the left and Lappnetviken to the right. The tall silver spruce
trees at the gate tell us that we are approaching an old manor house.
Udden is its name. Established by "Robert Sundius, 1830"
it says on a rock. Udden is an unforgetable place. Here the Fria Ord
(ray of hope) provided sanctuary for political refugees during the
days of the Russian military police force. The Martha-idea took form
here for the Munsala district and much culture radiated from district
judge Betty Hallsténs activities. "Welcome, dear
one, to Uddens wife", we read over the door. People with
no place to go were heartily received here.
no longer go farther by boat. We have to go back to the church and
then go by road to the other side. The first house, the municipal
building, formerly was Sexmans and was said to the the wealthiest
house in the village. During the famine year of 1867 the farmer was
one of the few who stored grain and money. He loaned to the needy
but also saw that they assigned their homes to him as security. Later
he ruthlessly took advantage of his rights and became owner of several
of the houses. One woman, who was known for her prophetic ability,
shouted to the farmer: "Those who bring injustice shall with
sorrow perish. Your property shall dissipate as chaff before the wind,
your family shall die out and your name will disappear in three generations."
This prophecy has come true. The property has been divided into 10
small lots and sold. Of the one-time large family there are only small
splinters left and the name is wiped out.
to the east the road goes between closely placed houses. There is
Näsebacken. Just like it was in my childhood. The village veterinarian
Anders-Johan lived there. He cured horses of sprains, spavin and the
strangles. Here on the road were the only large farm houses, but farther
along on the edge of the woods were many small cottages. Old women
and crofters who had no profession lived there. Pellas-Lovis the older
who could conjure lived there. She took the secret of her magic to
the grave when she died at nearly 100 years of age. She mixed a grease
that she gave to patients. Many said that it helped with snakebites.
hill we see millstones. Forty-five years ago two windmills stood there.
They were interesting structures for small boys. The windmills were
owned by Wiks-Isak and Erik who used to see dragonfire.
we will take a short-cut back to the main road. Talk quietly for here
at Sandbacka one is always sure to see a ghost where Karl Jussila
shot the Russian hussar who took his horse during the war in 1808.
There is the Lojlax farm group under the large mountain ash and birch
trees. If you read Fältskärens tale, you perhaps recall
Larssons house in Lojlax and the church bell that sank in the
sea here. Larssons house is gone but the old foundation is still
there. It was a typical officials house built in 1777 and constables,
judicial writers, inspectors, customs officers and judges have lived
there. One time a court session was held in the house and the notorious
hero Isotalon Antti was condemned there. The remaining houses are
of a lesser farm house type. The group has a pleasant position with
a view over the bay. Now we will go to the north and follow the old
road toward Lojlaxviken. Here near the river are two houses situated
in natures beauty under birch and fir trees. The large house,
now a farmers house, formerly was the police commissioner Rambergs
house. The house originally was an office building for Sandnäs
glass factory. Here is the parish river to Nykarleby and close to
Munsala church village.
the people from my childhood who stood in the foreground were: Betty
Hällstén of Udden who, even though she lived far away,
belonged to the personalities of the community. Also pastor Gustaf
von Essen, a reverent character in the old village. Teacher Henrik
Wik was clearly a leader among the cultural workers. Anders Westerlund,
local government employee and merchant, also long-time chairman and
cashier was one of the most prominent people of his generation. It
is still a pleasure to read the minutes, purchase documents and contracts
that he wrote. When the elementary school came, Westerlund was the
leader and driving force; he also designed the building. Previously
he had prepared several private school courses for children.
a long time, senior juryman Matts Back with a nickname Backus was
a leading administrator and an advocate for adult education. He sat
as chairman of the elementary school board for 12 years.
holder Anders Strandberg must also be considered one of the notable
village residents for 90 years. During his younger years he had visited
an agricultural school and been a farm bailiff in southern Finland,
as well as a tenant farmer at Kiv military residence where he spread
knowledge of efficient land use. In the olden days he was an teacher
of children and a community cashier. But he never failed to advocate
the use of large plows.
used to say that the good old times had no other pleasures to offer
than weddings, auctions and funerals. Life was strenuous and the standard
of living was much lower than now. But there were pleasures. The farmers
had their festivals each Saturday consisting of a trip to the city.
They brought to market in Nykarleby butter, meat, wood and other agricultural
products. The older people were always glad to get back home, but
we children always remembered the candy so Saturday evening was festive
the lively tar festival which was held several times each summer.
People came from the entire village, especially the young people.
It was not easy work to carry the tar wood and pile it up in the pit
in a circle around the stack. It was a lively party with abundant
good food and drinks. The party closed with a dance and later the
pile was burned and the tar was drawn off to a cask to be held for
a number of horse owners. When ready it was transported to a purchaser
in Nykarleby. It was now his duty to stand for entertainment and as
a rule he did it generously.
not forget the festivals which were a high point for 90 years and
were held out in the open air. Often Gånge Rolf worked as a
speaker at the festivals and there were college students with brass
music and quartet singers. The village rallys held a prominent place.
People were inventive when it was necessary to find games and tournaments
of a comical nature. One example was the fights with hay sacks while
standing on a tall trestle, balancing on the slant, scrambling on
the slippery boards, also running with an egg on a spoon. The audience
had a turn throwing rings. The serving table offered ice cold drinks
as well as the usual beverages. Dance exhibitions were also held.
There were lots of people from near and far at these festivals.
other than agriculture were represented in bygone times, especially
because the village was bounded by the bay. There were fishermen who
had their boathouse at the mouth of the river. There was a smith,
carpenter, lathe operator, miller, tailor, dyer, tanner, shoemaker,
shopkeeper, photographer and other employees in the village.
asked which was more worth living: life in my home village 45 years
ago or life during later years. Previously life was harder but happier.
It depends on the standard one uses. There is truth in the statement
that the toy horse made of wood with ones own hands was equally as
valuable as the toy cars of the present time. The old times made small
demands, but there were more pleasant feelings of tradition and customs,
of romance and myths.