THE VILLAGE OF PELO

The village of Pelo is very old. It has been proven that it was settled as early as the year 1559, but it is believed that its first settlers arrived there hundreds of years earlier. Where Pelo received its name is not positively known. The name was written in many ways: In 1650 it was Palå, in 1654 Pelå, in 1676 Peelo, in 1709 Pahlå, in 1710 Pehlå, in 1730 Pelo, in 1760 Pälå, in 1811 Palo. The Finnish version is Pelola.

 


Fig 1The bridge over the Vetil (Perho) River in the 1930´s

The village of Pelo is situated on Nedervetil hill in the parish of Nedervetil. The main road travels from the Nedervetil church north toward Gamlakarleby quite a stretch along the left bank of the Vetil River. About two kilometers from the church a traveler will see a high wooden bridge leading across the river (since 1952 it has been a steel bridge). On the opposite bank at the edge of the bridge lies Pelo village. The first buildings are on the steep edge of the river, but most of them are in a close group on the hill. The entire village of Pelo with its grain fields gives a visitor the pleasant impression of an old settlement that is well cared for

Fig. 2 These color pictures are models depicting Pelo village as it appeared in 1930. The buildings were made to scale by Gustaf Pelo Plogman. Prior to 1930 there were houses on the left side of the road where there are now fields and sheds. The houses were dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere. At the top of the picture is the old wooden bridge that crossed the Pelo (Perho) river. The road wound its way through the village to Skriko village. The houses were built close to each other and near the road. The farmers didn't live in the midst of their farm land as is typical in America. Instead their houses were clustered in the village and the farm land was further inland from the road.

 

Fig. 3 The large red house in the center of the picture is the Nyman house, built ca 1750. The last resident was Agneta Nyman (1914-1993. She willed the house to the Church, but they had no need for it and sold it a few years after her death. It was purchased by the Gustafsson family who lived next door in the large white house (near the top of the picture). They sold the house to someone who took it apart and rebuilt it elsewhere. The Gustafsson family has a tannery in the buildings behind the house. The tannery was started in 1897 by four Gustafsson brothers: Carl-Johan, Axel, Hugo and Fride, and their descendants still operate it. The Gustafsson house is the oldest house in the village, probably built in the 1700s. Most of the other houses have been dismantled over the years. There are only about 6 houses now remaining in Pelo village.

The village of Pelo is very old. It has been proven that it was settled as early as the year 1559, but it is believed that its first settlers arrived there hundreds of years earlier. Where Pelo received its name is not positively known. The name was written in many ways: In 1650 it was Palå, in 1654 Pelå, in 1676 Peelo, in 1709 Pahlå, in 1710 Pehlå, in 1730 Pelo, in 1760 Pälå, in 1811 Palo. The Finnish version is Pelola.

An old folktale tells that a Swedish king had to flee from Sweden to Finland and settled down to live in the village of Slotte, which means palace or castle - thus Slotte received its name. But the king was afraid to live on the west side of the river, so he moved to the village of Pelo. Historians assume that King Karl VIII, son of Knut, having fled Sweden in 1465 to Finland, lived in these parts.

Interpreters do not accept this explanation, and among them they have different opinions. P. E. Ohls says that the king went across the river on a board, which was paddled; there is a Swedish word "pela" which means canoe. T. E. Karsten says the name came from the Finnish word "pelut" which means husk. Another explanation is obtained by examining the owner's name. According to old tax books Pelle Persson was the owner of a property from 1559 to 1575. With the passing of time the name Pelo could have come from the word Pelle.

The next owner in Pelo, Michel Persson, was probably the son of Pelle Persson. He was owner of the property from 1585-1633. In due time his property was put on the tax roll anew, and since then the village of Pelo has paid the whole assessment unit for land tax.

The next owner was Erik Jönsson. He was mentioned previously in 1635 and 1650. He used the surname Palå. In the year 1637 when they were taking infantry soldiers, he was 26 years old. However, at that time he wasn't taken into military service.

In the year 1652 there appeared a new head of the Pelo household named Mårten Hindersson Pelo. He is the present day Pelo family forefather. It is not known from where he came, but it is assumed that he was a native of a family in Nedervetil and came as a son-in-law to Pelo village.

There were many branches of the Pelo family, using the following family names: Ahlskog, Aurén, Backlund, Brandt, Bång, Barlund, Geddala, Granlund, Gustafsson, Haals, Hedlund, Heinola, Holmlund, Jussila, Järvilä, Kalfholm, Måttis, Nyman, Pelander, Pelo, Penttilä, Pulkkis, Skrabb, Snåre, Tast, Tylli, and Wirkkala.

Fig 4 The following Owner's Marks were used by members of the Pelo family. From left to right: Per Mattsson Pelo from 1759; Matts Johansson Pelo, 1840; Henrik Mattsson Pelo, 1759; Anders Mattsson Pelo, 1759; Johan Mattsson Pelo, 1759; Mattias Andersson Pelo, 1892.

An Owner's Mark (bomärke in Swedish, puumerkki in Finnish) is a legal symbol, a geometric conbination of lines, used to show ownership or interests. It does not always mean that the owner of the Owner's Mark could not read, but it was similar to the coat of arms owned by the nobility. It was a person's visible symbol and applied to the property of a farm or an individual. In olden days the Owner's Mark was a symbol or brandmark which was used to show ownership. One had to choose an existing example as a symbol or brandmark, such as a rune. It then had to be approved by the other villagers.

Owner's Marks have been used as early as 500 A.D. An illegal use of an Owner's Mark was a serious crime in the Swedish law during the period 1347 to 1442. The law of 1798 decreed that every document signed with an Owner's Mark should also be signed by two witnesses.

Owner's Marks were found wherever property and interests were marked. Today many Owner's Marks are found in archives of church records. Many farms have saved old contracts of sale with Owner's Marks. Owner's marks are found on various objects. They do not indicate a year nor show the names of owners. Almost all Owner's Marks in archives are accompanied by the name of the owner and the year when signed. The oldest Owner's Mark in Finland is one on a tombstone from the 13th century, found in Ulvila parish, SW Finland.

During early years of the study of Owner's Marks, researchers realized they could be used in genealogy. Many Owner's Marks, especially in Germany, were inherited from father to son. Certain types of Owner's Marks were typical for families or clans. Many times Owner's Marks without accompanying names are found on documents which show to which families the mark belonged. Because women used Owner's Marks belonging to male relatives, kinships may be found. JP

 

 

 

From PELO FAMILY by Hugo Lagström, 1931. Translated by June Pelo.

Photos and pictures owned by June Pelo

June Pelo

Some other pages related to Pelo::

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Owner's Marks

Owner's marks from Närpes * Bomärken från Närpes * Puumerkkejä Närpiöstä

Owner's Marks from Finland collected by P.O. Ekko
Instructions (in Finnish)

 

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