Villages in Ostrobothnia home

NEDERVETIL PARISH

On the map Nedervetil parish has the form of a rectangular square which is about 16 kilometers long and over some 10 kilometers wide. The parish bounds in the northwest to Karleby, in northeast and east to Kelviå and Ullava, in southeast to Kaustby and in southwest and west to Terjärv and Kronoby. It is thus on two sides surrounded by parishes with Finnish populations.

Our home parish appeared in the light of history around 1500 as a village of Karleby, which was detached from the large parish of Pedersöre in 1467. The name Nedervetil occurred the first time in a court record from the winter session in Karleby in 1551. There a Jöns Andersson Wettela is mentioned, and in a tax book from 1553 Wettela had 18 farmers. In 1556 Vetil was divided in two parts: Nedervetela with 14 farmers and Öffervetela with 5 farmers. It is clear that Nedervetil arose during the 1500's and 1600's, although previously an older population was found here, but nothing is known about it. For ages the parish has consisted of three villages: Nedervetil village, Överby and Norrby.

Twenty groups of farms belong to Nedervetil village, and most of them were already known in the beginning of 1600. Pelo farm was mentioned in 1550, and Skriko is noted as 3/4 mantal (an assessment unit of land = 1/16 of a mile) tax homestead in 1654. During the Great Strife it became an abandoned homestead, but was resettled in 1754 as a new settlement. Among the first inhabited places in the parish was Murick farm. Also Tast and Kaino in Överby are of an ancient date. The first buildings arose around the river or in its proximity. About 10 farm groups are now in Överby or 'the back', as they call it in daily speech. Tast has become another center in the parish and is probably oldest of the settlements.

Our neighbor parishes Kronoby and Terjärv became independent parishes, the former in 1608 and the latter in 1868. In 1753 Nedervetil had its own district chapel and contributed to the support of 5 pastors. They also had a church building and pastors' homes. In 1755 the expense to the congregation was established at 14,420 copper coins, and the remaining work demanded further payment of 11,160 copper coins. Only 8 homesteads gave a whole barrel of grain toward the pastors' salary; most of them gave only a half-barrel.

Anders Chydenius, who was then a chaplain, had to work with a 'splendid population.' His brother Jakob wrote about Nedervetil residents in 1754 in this way: "Inhabitants are as a rule neat and clean in their houses and clothing, sober, cheerful, hard-working, intelligent, polite and thriving. As farmers they are energetic foremost for their indefatigable diligence applied to the stonefields that are transformed to fertile fields which, as a rule, give 11:23 of grain."

But poverty was great. Chydenius sent a written protest of his distressed situation to his cathedral chapter. He was not certain from where he should get bread for him and his wife. The farmers who gave a barrel of rye to his wages were: "Slotte, Murick Gabriel, Brännkärr, Ålisbacka, Tast, Riipa, Skog and Viitavesi farms. 3/4 barrels were given by Simonsbacka Erik and Nils, Pelo Johan Mattsson, Murick Matts Johansson and Mats Hendricksson, also both Hästbacka and Bastbacka farms, Kaino Erik, Saarukka and Jolcka farms. The remaining gave 1/2 barrel," he wrote in his petition.

Anders Chydenius

During many hundreds of years our people have experienced need, famine, war and many kinds of difficulties. The frost-ravaged winters were severe, harvests were bad and people had to blend both bark and straw in their bread. The following years for Österbotten have been particularly unfortunate: 1600, 1669, 1695, 1697, 1710, 1731, 1740-42, 1821, 1867-68, 1917-19, 1940-44. They represented either a poor year, crop failure year or war years. As example, in Gamlakarleby city and parish the death total for 1697 was 814 and the births were only 131.

From the years of the 1867-68 famine detailed notes about Nedervetil were found. Homestead owner J. Venelius from Såka village in Karleby has described the circumstances of those years in his diary. A part of his report is reproduced:

"No trace of summer appears yet on May 11, 1867. The snow lays in over an ell's drift on the ground and in the woods. The winter supply of cattlefood was used up at nearly all farms. Men tore up the straw-thatched roofs and fed the animals with that, but they starved to death. A small supply was found for people. Likewise, lack of money is great, and for many country people there is a spectre of hard famine.

May 25 - rye sprouts stick up from here and there in the fields, but the woods are full of snow. The night of May 26 was the first night that it did not freeze up. The bay is covered with ice and the ice is strong enough to drive on. The day June started, Gamlakarleby River cast off its coating of ice, but the snow lies yet on the north side of the roof. The rye sprouts died. In Kronoby and districts south therefrom it is still not as serious as in Gamlakarleby.

June 10 - a man went by foot on ice over Brednik Bay between Kvikant and Knivsund, but thereafter the ice broke up, and on June 12 the bay was navigable. The country people collected birch, spruce and lingon twigs for cattle fodder, but could not keep the animals alive, and as soon as the snow left here and there in the woods, the men let the animals go on June 16 to pasturage. Two days later one and another attempted to sow grain, but the fields are altogether too flooded with water.

On June 20 the first summer day came. Then some could set out potatoes. So came the heat. Four days before Midsummer's Day the temperature was +32 C. (90 F.) in the shade and in the sun +48 C. (118 F.). With incredible speed the grass shot up, and in 4 days small leaves were next to full size. The grain sprouted and the fields became green. June 25 saw potato tops over the fields and ears of rye gave hope of harvest. Immediately thereafter it became cold again. Up until July 5 there was summer weather. During the rest of July and the first half of August blustery wind came from the north and northeast and it became cooler and cooler. On the 15th of August the wind swung to the south and became milder. Serious famine prevailed in all the farms, but hope stayed with the grain, although it still did not have spikes. The grain deficiency was total and neither flour nor corn could be purchased in Gamlakarleby nor adjoining cities.

The weather was chilly one again. Toward the night of Aug. 21 there was rime and on the night of the 23rd the frost was so strong that potato tops were blackened to the ground. The grain stood green and unripe. One after another men saw the rye die. On the 15th sowing the rye began in Nedervetil, but only a few had their own grain to sow. To the farmers who did not make brandy, the Crown gave a barrel of rye. On the morning of Sep. 3 all stood frozen. The nights of Sep. 5, 6, and 12 were also hard frost nights and thereby treacherous. Men were hoping that the grain would reach maturity. The river and brook dried out during the dry summer.

The need drove people to try different replacement means for bread. They collected different kinds of lichen that, together with straw, they ground to meal. Meal of reed roots was a good substitute and people harvested roots of bulrushes.

Although the need was serious, the farmers who had the ability, must pay the tax. On Oct. 14 it was determined that for the community rate and the right to vote, 1/96 mantal should form 1 vote or tax öre for a mantal of ground. To get parish assessments for the poor from the congregation, the price was 4 mattor of flour or around 200 marks and 2 lisp. straw for each tax öre. The Church ruled that the poor should collect lichen, otherwise they could not receive support. Vasa's support fund was received for the purchase of flour that Juryman Slotte distributed to 73 destitute people for Christmas.

Men also got grain for relief work. From Pedersöre the Crown storehouse sent 13 barrels of rye to grind to flour. To prepare earnings for the destitute the population purchased flax and hemp on debt. One who sent 1/2 lisp. of hemp or flax, received the equivalent quantity of grain. The hemp was ready to process and paid 50 pennis an ell for the work with a reduction for the hemp price. The flax was ready for thread and paid 10 pennis. People purchased wool that provided spinning work to the destitute and the wurst produced shirts for the most needy. A lowering of the church hill would occupy men with relief work, but as that was so hard frozen, no work could begin so they dug the ditch in the pastors' yards instead.

The road from Ollisbacka to Murick also provided relief work and men got 25 mattor of rye as means of payment. The governor's office lent all available grain from loan storehouses and directions for the making of hay flour. The poor who could not provide room in lodgings were given grain, milk or a portion of meat daily. All who owned cows must take milk to lodgings for the poor at Ollisbacka. Two skins were purchased for shoes for the poor. As relief work, the spring flow above Slotte's meadow was regulated and for this work men got 5 mattor of grain.

For Christmas 1868 grain rations were delivered to 40 needy people, and the needy fund provided food, clothes, care and Christian upbringing for 6 needy and defenseless children. In 1869 it cared for 9 children, 1870-for 10, and so on. In 1878 there were 40 people in the community who were unable to pay their taxes and in 1880 there were 48. Later a needy file was compiled. In 1897 there were 9 infirm and insane to support. Compensation for the upkeep varied from 150 to 200 marks a year.

The oldest road in Nedervetil was the winter road. It went from Åbacka (Göstas) to Såka in Karleby. They called it the Tar Road. Because of the freight it carried, it was tarred out to the coast. Another winter road united Gylling with Tast. The roads that were in better condition were used also in the summertime. Men drove then with a wagon train. A similar road ran from Pelo past 'Pjukkostein' to Gunnars. A summer road also was the Notwagen between Loulus and Göstas. Right on to 1700 there had been bad places in the road in Nedervetil. In 1755 there was a road from the pastor's house to the church, but there was no bridge over the river. Men had to ferry traffic over the river until the first bridge was built around the close of the 1700's. This wooden bridge was by no means a strong and durable bridge, but it endured the light road traffic for a long time.

In December 1879 the parish agreed that a new bridge should be built that winter to the pastor's house in the same design as the former. The building contractor was Jakob Kuorikoski. Anders Chydenius arranged for the present national road to Gamlakarleby in 1779. It improved gradually and during the war of 1808-09 both Swedish and Russian troops made use of it. The State eventually took over all the village roads. It took over the important thoroughfare from Murick to Brännkärr to Kronoby in 1947. Newly built also is the road from Pelo to Skriko, which was finished in 1948 with help from the government.

It is not more than 42 years since we got the first electric lights in the community. Before that, petroleum lamps were used. The first oil lamps brought huge excitement. The greatest wonder was how the light could stay in the glass. Before oil lamps, people also used a lamp of simple construction - the turnip lamp. It consisted entirely of a hollowed out turnip with a simple wick soaking up the melted tallow. The light was poor, of course.

Electricity was the great revolutionary invention that gave people a brighter existence. Sandbacka, Kristoffers, Ahlskog, Pelo and Skriko got electric lights in 1918. There were electric works in Sandbacka and Pelo.

It was natural that village settlements were always near water. Fishing was an important part of nourishment and water was the the natural connection. In our area, which earlier was an archipelago, there are traces of each of the former islets built upon. There are a number of surroundings of cultivation that were abandoned. With a clue to their height above the sea, one can determine the time for the first village settlement.

The first time a name from Nedervetil is mentioned was in 1551. There is the name of Jöns Andersson in Wettella, and in the summer of the same year Olof Riip was fined for usurping a plow of Anders Olsson in Wettella. In the tax year of 1553 Wetele had 18 farmers. In 1556 Vetil was divided in two parts: Nederwetele with 14 farmers and Öfferwetele with 5 farmers. In 1559 Övervetil had 14 farmers and Nedervetil 9 farmers. Here is confusion, because of the names given above, 6 of those 14 in Övervetil are in reality Nedervetil residents. In 1549-1585 at the Tast homestead appeared the name of Jöns Björnsson and in 1593 farmer Jöns Jönsson. The Tast homestead was among the largest of the homesteads found at that time in Nedervetil. In 1603 the burial book shows there were 13 farmers in Nedervetil; in 1608 there were 19.

The communal book of 1654 is notable because the homestead names are shown: Simonsbacka 3/4 mantal; Ahlskog 1/2 mantal; Pelo 1 mantal; Murick 1 mantal; Jolcka 1 mantal; Riipa 1/2 mantal; Paasiala 2/3 mantal; Tast 1 mantal; Ollisbacka 1/4 mantal; Kajnå 1 mantal; Ämmes 1/2 mantal; Skriko 3/4 mantal; Skog 5/12 mantal; Knächtilä 1/8 mantal, as well as Brännkiar 1/8 mantal. A total of 19 homesteads. In 1693 the name Wijtawasi appeared, where there was a homestead.

The community's present population has gone up to about 2,000. They are partly descendents and partly incoming native Swedes, while some families are quite Finnish. After the Great Strife when inhabitants fled from the Russian hordes, there was occasion for a Finnish invasion. In the middle of the 1700's Finns have comprised nearly 40% of the whole population. Yet during Anders Chydenius' time the Finnish entry was greater than for the present. Percentage-wise, the community is now Swedish-speaking.

Because the community is a pure farm area, a settlement has not arisen outside of the population distributed in small farm groups over the whole territory, most close to the old watercourse. The roads from the farm groups radiate usually toward the former crossing place, which goes to two near-lying villages that often had a long roundabout way to one another. With present day traffic, that became something of a problem.

With most of the ground divided to the utmost, emigration was a common occurrence. Any great population increase during the near future is not expected. When we see our children attempt to look backward in time to our forefather's lives from the oldest times until our day, we find that their workday was filled with worry and privation. In these barren parts they have never known dreams of greatness and richness. They have instead wedded their life to work that, together with independence, will always be their noble birthmark. Convenience and idleness appeared to them as the root to the world's malevolence. The inheritance they gave us is one with sweat and labor breaking up turf, surrounded by fields of stone. But they have put their love in that hard work, men with sweat and spade and women with distaff and loom. Each stone that waits has a loving thought from hand and heart that soars ahead to an undetermined future. And it is to us, their descendents, that all that care was devoted. It was for our best they worried and endured many trials. Think of that before you exchange your nativeland for an uncertain future at a foreign place. Learn to love your native land.

 

POPULATION CHANGES

Our native region has undergone many destinies which react to population frequency. Changes of the external conditions - from an archipelago to an inland community - must have caused great changes in the settlement. But still other circumstances such as good and bad harvest years, war and epidemics as well as economical conditions have in a decisive way reacted as well to marriage frequency and births and deaths as well as emigration.

The statistical material we have that supports us goes back 200 years and already some of the changes in population development are clearly discernible. Figures shown below give a picture of fluctuations. The figures in parenthesis report comparison numbers for the whole province.

Comparative Marriage Frequency

1751-1760 9.17 (9.5)

1800-1820 10.05 (8.2)

1881-1930 5.42 (7.9)

1930-1940 5.69 (7.9)

1956 5.00

These figures show that marriage frequency from 1800-1930 decreased at the last half. During the 1700's and beginning of the 1800's the locality experienced a rare high economical condition. It was the shipbuilding and it united the need for material and working power, which to some degree explains the high marriage numbers. Notable is that war often caused an increase in marriage frequency. A completely faithful picture of the true relationship is not given in these figures, however, During olden times it was customary to marry several times which isn't shown in these figures.

 

Birth Numbers

1749-1760 56 (44.9)

1761-1770 60

1800-1820 49.8 (36.8)

1881-1930 24

1931-1940 ca 20 (19.87)

1956 13.46

People have attempted to explain the high birth numbers during the 1700's as a consequence of good harvests and early marriage, and partly because mothers brought up children with cow milk. War and anxiety influenced the birth rate. But it seems a cause lies in the large infant death numbers.

Comparative Death Numbers

1749-1760 39 (29.1)

1800-1820 36 (31.9)

1881-1940 15.66 (17.92)

1956 12.00

The infant mortality during the 1700's was dreadfully high. In 1749 in Gamlakarleby the number of dead children under 10 years of age was 76% of all deaths and in 1800, 61%. It is apparent that of the children born in Österbotten, a third died at a young age. The cause is considered to be that mothers participated in the heaviest work in the fields and meadows, besides being uninformed, negligent and deficient in hygiene. For the rest of the public, the cause of death was smallpox, typhus, tuberculosis, dysentery, measles, whooping cough and ague.

Crop failure, epidemics and war have, of course, had an effect to some degree. Information shows that our country since 1750 experienced 17 difficult crop failures, 19 war years and 14 desolate epidemic years. Nowadays only a few die at a young age and we have been able to successfully combat epidemics. TB has been restricted through better hygiene and sanitary care. Our district during later years has one of the lowest death totals in the whole land.

Emigration

The question of emigration is divided usually between an internal movement and direct migration. During the course of time Nedervetil has had to bear both of these. We know through history that the Black Death, great famine and the Great Strife emptied large territories. This checked population growth, but new emigration gradually restored a uniform weight. Direct migration has, on the contrary, left a deep mark in population numbers. Usually emigration has been from the best age group and home districts have missed the needed work power. Statistics before 1893 are not available, but from that year until 1945 there were 709 people, or nearly a third of the community, who emigrated. This movement continues constantly.The main reason is economical, and also political anxiety and oppression caused decreased comfort and increased emigration. For a linguistic minority, a feeling of insecurity lies near at hand.

Population and Denseness

Number Density

1749 367 persons 2.3 per kilometer

1800 1,138 7.2

1850 1,668 10.5 (4.9)

1900 2,201 13.0 (8.0)

1940 2.279 13.3 (10.6)

1956 2.288 13.3 (12.0)

Only meager information was found of the earliest settlement, but one can see that after the Great Strife (1721) the community was nearly extinct. The province was thankful for colonization and up to 1749 the population had grown to 367. Now a lively coming of both Finnish and Swedish has happened.

EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN NEDERVETIL

When the Reformation was established in the North, it became an important task for the Lutheran Church to inform people of the basic Christian instruction. This was found in Luther's Little Catechism. But reading ability among country people was almost non-existent. In such a widely spread congregation with the poor communication of the times, the pastor could not impart any teaching to the children and youth. The church law of 1686 required the pastor to link his preaching to the main parts of the catechism and in such a way instruct the parishioners. People also began to question as to who should go to Holy Communion.

According to a decree of 1644 the parish clerk should live in a parish cottage near the church and read with the children. And the rector had to see that the youth in his congregation learned to read. Also parents had the obligation to teach their children to read the catechism. But it was a long time before this decree could be followed.

In 1596 the Uppsala Cathedral ordained that the pastor should travel through his parish and gather the village residents to catechism examination, and in 1686 church law required a reading examination. The reading examination began with singing and prayer. The pastor went through the important points in the Christian reading and held an examination. After that a short prayer was said. Then a party was held with food and drink, although it had been forbidden by decree since 1743. Both parents, the master and mistress with all the house folks as well as children, journeymen, and servants were obliged to attend the examination.

Catechism examination, reading examination and writing training were the first form of teaching in Nedervetil in the 1700's. Young people were often noisy and ill-mannered in church, so in 1781 the church was forced to appoint a supervisor over the children during divine service. At a reading examination in Murick the same year, farm hand Jakob Gabrielsson was threatened with a school whipping. At a reading examination in 1775 Ahlskog's maid servant Karin Michelsdotter was warned about slow book learning and laziness.

A usual penalty for missing a reading examination and poor knowledge in reading aloud was the log punishment. With legs firmly shackled in the logs, they were punished by sitting outside the church door at the roadside for public inspection. That was a great shame and far from pleasant. For reading aloud poorly a sharp warning was often given. The log punishment was used frequently (probably was what we call a pillory).

"Wisdom should also be knocked in with sticks to prevent lazy machines that take supremacy," the saying goes. At a reading examination the young people were threatened with whipping if they did not better themselves in reading aloud.

At the end of the 1700's they began to require memorizing with the reading examination, and the parents paid a fine for their children if they had not learned their simple catechism part by heart. The fine for this amounted to 4 skilling (or 90 öre or 12 pennis).

As a rule the parish clerk served as teacher and went from farm to farm to teach the children to read. The parents could not teach, for they were not able to do much reading. Minutes from a house examination in 1774 says that Anders Mattsson at Pelo 'should put his daughter Malin in school with Ängman's widow.'

One of the first ambulatory school masters in Nedervetil parish was the above named Ängman's widow. She wandered around the farms and taught the children to read. Another school master from the same time was Gabriel Rönnberg, born 1736 in Burtrask, Umeå parish in Sweden and married to Magdalena Larsdotter Friis. He was a master gardener and had reading and writing knowledge.

The teachers were poorly paid. This consisted of monetary gifts, which the wives paid to the church after each child's birth. This money was mostly to help with teaching poor children, especially after the 1808-09 war, when orphan children were found in great numbers. In 1810 Nedervetil parish had 11 orphans. The parish school master was the first pioneer in the teaching area. Poverty was their life. We cannot fully appreciate nor set a value on their contribution in the 1700's and 1800's.

At the close of the 1800's several self-taught village scholars worked in Nedervetil. Among them were Villiam Hästbacka, a talented young man of 18 years of age. He held school in Hästbacka in 1888, but emigrated in his younger years to America. Another talented young man was Herman Liljander of Pelo. In 1886 he worked as a teacher at Åbacka. His students came to his school in a boat across the river. Selma Abrahamsson served as school mistress in Pelo and Skriko. Under the signature "Flavia" she published a number of writings in religious papers. She was characterized as a 'talented and fine person.'

WILD ANIMALS

A strong feature in village daily life was the struggle with wild animals. It was mostly wolves and bears that periodically made existence unsafe for both people and cattle. Small children were never safe outside. The family men were mostly out hunting or fishing, so the women often met the danger. Preventive measures were taken. The early dwellings were built with such a narrow entrance that one could only crawl to enter. Then the men erected protection for the stock, and loaded the barn roof with big stones to protect against the bears. Traps were placed in surroundings and pitfalls dug in the beast's walkways. Protection was provided by building in a square, forming an inner yard, where the little ones were fairly well protected and under permanent supervision. A similar construction can still be seen in several villages (Rippa, Pelo). The last bear in the area was around 1825. Nowadays bears have disappeared and only a few wolves are seen. The last wolf was shot in 1950 in the borderline area toward Terjärv.

GHOSTS

At the time the main road went past the cemetery and church, a wayfarer could see spirits float over the cemetery during a dusky evening and night. Sometimes the horses were forced to stop right in front of the church and they would not be able to continue. They shook and trembled with fright. If a person said a prayer or spoke God's name gently, the invisible went away and the way was free.

It was more difficult for the farmer from Kaustby when he was driving in the dark autumn from the market in Gamlakarleby. When he came in front of the church, the horses sprang loose from the cart. The farmer hopped off and tightened the harness but as soon as it was tightened, the strap sprang loose again. That happened many times. As quick as the farmer got harnessed and started to drive, the strap sprang again. Then he realized that he had to go with the ghost and when he had said a prayer, he could continue his journey.

In Tast a long time ago there was a bandit who died. When a man came to the church to ring the knell for him, the bell stuck. No matter how the man attempted, he could not get it to move or to ring.

Two brothers at Pelo one sunny summer day were occupied with laying a straw-thatch roof on a barn. During a meal pause, when they sat at a roadside ditch in the proximity of the barn, there came walking from the past their late father's father. Both saw him clearly. He was clothed in the same manner as he was when they last saw him alive. Their father's father went inside the barn but he did not come out. The brothers were not at all frightened. When they went to the barn to see where he went, the barn was empty.

One New Years evening a man saw two cows go out and scratch for food in the snow. When the man went there to examine things, the grain turned to two fellows who took him away to the edge of the woods. There they disappeared as if swallowed up in the ground.

During the Great War a Russian courier had been murdered at Tast. After that, no one could live on the farm, for all who attempted to live there became destitute.

OLD HABITS AND CUSTOMS

When electricity, motorcars, telephones and other modern inventions came into man's ownership, the old customs and practices that left their impressions on the countryside and its life during olden times disappeared. The old customs were, to a great part, dependent on seasonal changes and the work that was performed, of the life that was lived and of the deeply rooted experiences in life's place.

Many old customs and practices were associated with festivals. Late in October people began to prepare for Christmas. They slaughtered sheep and cows and butchered enough animals to pro-vide meat for a whole year. After butchering the meat, they salted it down in a barrel, and part of it was smoked in the sauna. The blood was taken and baked into bloodbread. The guts and bowels were cleaned and filled up with sausage and roasted in the oven.

After this followed the malting of rye and corn. They needed malt in great quantities for the beer they would brew. The grain was soaked in water until it sprouted. Then it was put in the sauna and fired so that it became strong and the sprouts dried. Then it was ground in a mill and the malt was ready to brew. There was a separate great vat for brewing. The home-brewed beer was sweet and good. In large farms they made a thousand liters which provided drinking for the whole year. Yeast was not bought, but they took the sediment from the brewing vat and saved it for use during the year.

Many weeks before Christmas, the baking was started for there were many assortments of bread to have on the Christmas table. First they baked hardtack (crisp hard rye bread). It had to be hard and dry and baked in such an amount that it covered a whole year's need. Then they baked sourbread, yeast bread and limpa (rye meal bread). The last day before Christmas they tidied up. The floor and tables were scoured white. Log walls in the house were decorated, benches fixed to the wall and the fireplace opened. On the wall was an open shelf for vessels and a bread pole was in the ceiling for the hardtack. In the 1700's it was still customary to spread straw on the floor on Christmas Eve day.

Father Christmas greeted and brought presents. Then at six o'clock Christmas morning they all drove with ringing sleigh bells to church - burning torches shone here and there through the drifting snow. The torch pole was dipped in petroleum and it burned until the return from church. The days were very short at that time of the year, so it was dark most of the time. On the return trip the men drove in competition, for he that was first home from church also got his harvest taken in first during the year.

During the third day of Christmas the farmers were summoned to a parish meeting where they jointly discussed the parish needs, and during Hilarymas Day the youth gathered for a big dance.

On Midsummer's Eve, young birches were tied to the farm staircase and the walls in the big cottage were decorated with mountain ash berry flowers. Straw was scattered on the floor.

The first of May was the children's special festival day. Then children jumped around in great flocks with bells and cowbells around the neck and they had such amusement. Then the May fire was lit.

There was a fire watch, and a sighting man carried a rod that was used year after year. The old men of the village were always one of the sighting men while the other was a younger apprentice.

The search baliff had an important role in the old society. If he saw a predatory animal, it was his duty to call together the farmers to chase. And if some cows went astray and were left in the woods, it was a job for the search baliff. When searching ended for the day, a man called the folks together by blowing in a goat horn.

Alexander Hansén said that the area men on a certain day, probably during the summer, used to ride in a big company around the church. They were clothed in homespun attire, but the significance of the very old custom is not known.

The men always went black-clothed to Holy Communion, and during Sunday forenoon the children had to stay out.

The custom of cremation survived yet at the close of the 1700's and the beginning of the next century. Men stated that it was a frightful and unpleasant task. During the winter months all the dead bodies were collected in the ash cellar that was found in the back slope at the north side of the church. They did not dig graves when the ground was frozen. When it first thawed in the spring, the men dug a big common grave for all the corpses that collected during the winter. They turned the bodies into the

grave and burned them. Then the men who performed the job got drunk with brandy, for they could not bear the stench.

Banns and weddings followed many customs that do not occur any more, at least to the extent as earlier. On the Friday before Pentecost all the couples who intended to take out banns traveled to the city to go shopping. The fiance purchased the clothing and adornments for his bride. To the city they rode in a long company with the escort of the best horses leading the bridal pairs from all the parishes in the neighborhood. On the return home the young people went to a banns party. They were dressed in all conceivable manner and both coffee and strong drinks were served right into the morning. Fights also happened sometimes.

A week before the wedding a carriage boy traveled around with an invitation bidding people to the wedding. And when the wedding day arrived, preparations were made for a thousand persons, to lodge them and treat them with food and drink for three days. The wedding was held on week days in the middle of the week, and the marriage was performed in the wedding yard. The wedding chamber was beautifully decorated with home-woven bridal sheets. The guests were provisioned richly and between mealtimes they found all kinds of jokes and pranks. One prank was to hold a trial with a prosecutor, judge and jury. The one to be prosecuted received a summons. He was prosecuted for a crime of a humorous nature. The culprit could ask for a representative during the legal proceedings.

At a wedding in Pelo, "Hansas Kalle" (Karl Hansén) danced himself purple with another's wife. Hansas Kalle was prosecuted for undue advances to another's wife and was summoned to appear at legal proceedings. He asked Emil Högnäs to be his representative at the trial, and the judge was Judge Gustaf Bishop from Kronoby. Hansas Kalle was taken in with handcuffs to the trial, but the judge acquited him and he did not have to pay any fine.

Between mealtimes people played at different games and sports. They lifted cart wheels, ran in sacks, ate white bread from a hanging cord and ran races. Small prizes were awarded and there was great hilarity.

Reading examinations could also be in progress for three days. He who held the examination paid for both meat, coffee and strong liquids for the reading examination guests. As soon as the pastor finished the examination, a dance started. They could be in progress for two days and nights with intermission only during mealtime.

The Market Fair was an occasion to drag many people from all the surrounding communities and from the far Finnish parishes in the country. Then the servant's free week was held. Several days before the fair a long caravan of carts and horses stretched along the main road to the city. There one found thousands of horses during fair day and a gaudy folk life with a strong element of gypsy. The first Saturday in Lent was the young people's special Fair Day. In huge flocks young people strolled around the city, and for a block in the center of the city they congregated. There youths sought their future fiancees. The men treated the girls to treacle. Both dipped their fingers in the treacle and sucked away with daintiness. There was no coffee room. On Sunday afternoon and evening people gathered in some yard and told stories. Then jokes flowed unrestrained.

Among the most known story tellers was Matts Hongell, also called "Big Hongell" owing to his tall growth. Countless amusing stories about him are yet in vogue among the population. Other eccentrics were "Skriko-Alix", "Smedas Liander" and "Pelo-Gambel Kalle".

Young people sometimes held the great dances at some farm. There were oil lamps in a cross below the ceiling and four musicians played violins. The boys brought brandy. At some big dances a "small bride" performed. They were men who were dressed as a bride. The disguised charged 25 penni admission of each dance visitor. At some dances there were no musicians, but some song-proficient girl on duty who warbled dance melodies. "Juhos Tilda" in the Pelo community was distinctly remembered as a good warbler.

A long time ago Nedervetil had its own native attire. Both men and women wore their costumes. But the custom to wear native costumes in everyday life has gradually disappeared. People wore clothes of homespun in the winter and of wurst in the summer. They wove all that they needed on the farm. During the winter the women sat with teasel, spinning wheel and loom. And people made all they needed of furniture, household utensils, sleds, carts, etc. Some people traveled a long way to find work during the winter. They worked with shipbuilders in Kronstadt and Petersburg, and many Nedervetil residents worked at church building in Utsjoki.

As part of their wages servants always got shoes and wool, and a year's wages could amount to 30 marks. The servants got to sit at the same table as the master's family and ate the same food. Therefore they could serve many years in succession on the farm.

Tailors and shoemakers went from farm to farm and sewed clothes and shoes. Hides and skins were smeared with tallow and pitch oil before shoe makers began work. Also women dressmakers went around. But usually women themselves sewed everything for their own farm's needs. Other skilled workers who wandered around were the carpenter, watchmaker, and tinsmith. Some people can still remember the Russian who sold material, the itinerant peddlar with his geegaws, dish seller, basket maker and also a part musician and neighborhood eccentric.

There was an ancient practice of bleeding to purge the body of impurities. A horn cup was made from the shaved tip of a cowhorn, and a bit of calf bladder was tied over the small end. The afflicted part of the body was lanced with a copper axe and the large open end of the horn was placed over the wound, and suction was applied by drawing on the small end of the horn with the mouth. This was usually done by an old woman called Cup Woman who practiced this bloody handiwork. The patient usually went to the sauna after bleeding, and then to bed for a good night's rest.

The farmers traveled to the city every Saturday to sell their products at the market place - butter, meat, wood or hay.

When a woman had a child, it was customary that the nearest relatives came with a banquet meal. They came driving to the farm with butter, meat, bread, raisin soup, wool, etc. The giver was in turn bidden to good provisioning in the yard. Another olden day custom that people mention was the family parties. When a man guested near-relatives, people drove in on Saturday afternoon and left on Tuesday or Wednesday. They were not in any hurry. Relatives were obliged to repay with a similar lengthy feast.

Farmers in former times had a strong bond with old customs and outgrown methods. A third of the ground always lay fallow. This was true particularly of back fields where they would sow rye. Fallow acreage was grazed over during the early summer by the sheep. Then it was plowed and harrowed and during the whole summer it was kept black through industrious harrowing. The 18th of August was when they sowed rye, with a spring sowing day the following May 25.

Another form of work help was found when men were away in America. The "American Widow" had to do both the reaping and hay making.

The time between sowing and haymaking was no lazy man's time during olden days. The men had long fences to repair and perhaps to build. Great farms had many kilometers of fences to keep in condition. In the early spring they hewed wood for the fences. They were held with split spruce plants, or with spruce twigs that were heated in fire. That way they got a sturdy fence that held for 30 years.

Immediately after summer came leaf taking time. They could not take the leaves when the moon was waning, for in that case the sheep would not eat the leaves. Sheaves of leaves were dried on drying hurdles and they needed a thousand sheaves for the winter needs of the sheep. In earlier days all hay was cut with scythe and corn was cut with the sickle. How heavy and laborious all work was! We have only a weak conception of how, days at a stretch from morning to night, men kept at it until all was threshed. The most a man threshed during a day at Hansas Kalles was 8 riar, that gave 25 barrels of grain. The men began at 5 in the morning, requiring that they heat the sauna each day and bathed in the evening. But when horses came into use, it became easier during threshing time.

From the above examples we see that our forefathers followed the same old customs that their forefathers followed from the past. For them it was natural to follow the rhythm that during many hundreds of years stressed both work and lifestyle. The good old times are now a phrase that we cite in our life of speed and hurry. We esteem our forefathers, and if we maintain some of their old customs in remembrance, that is also a brilliant statement of their work.

Translated from Swedish by June Pelo, 1982, from "Nedervetil Kommun Hembygdsbok" 1958. Most stories were by Helge Skog.

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