leaving Gamlakarleby on Uleåborg Road and turning left, one
comes on an idyllic village road winding through the cultivated countryside
toward the coast. Four kilometers along the road is a bridge which
leads over the Gamlakarleby River and Rödsö village is on
the other side, the northernmost of the fourteen villages of Karleby
name was previously written Röttsö and in daily speech read
as Röse. The village lies on an island, properly two islands.
The islets in the river's deltaland have grown over a period of time
because of the rising shoreline. During the time of the first settlement,
the territory was divided into a number of islands. In older documents
one sees the names Laxore, Langore and Littslö. Today the settlements
are distributed on two islands, namely the main island and Langorn.
River has wandered in the past. The original branch is thought to
have gone from the main road bridge northwest to Lidsle farm through
the marsh that now lies in the middle of the village, out to the open
sea by Haras cove. Later the main stream headed north through Lidsle
and Laxore bays either past the present Sund and Bredskär farms
or still farther north through Storlang Sound out to the sea. The
south branch originally went in a wide curve to the southwest and
south around Vittsar village and received the flow from the swampy
ground between Vittsar and Kåustar villages. The stream straightens
out farther on and then through a dam, cutting off the south branch
so that during spring a great mass of water flows through.
earlier times the village farmers administered the meadows and woodlands
outside the village borders. The meadow lands are situated within
Karleby parish, but supplementary wood is found in Halso.
are concentrated in the middle of the main island and the eastern
part around the marsh, also along the river and the bay shore. Only
two farms, Sund and Bredskär, belong to the smaller northern
island. Around the marsh the ground rises to a low hillside which
is very stony. On the north side of the marsh the bedrock juts out
to form the Västerberget. A low hill is also found in another
place in the village. The village boys use Lidsle and Storsjöbergen
as skiing hills. Along the river and bay shore and the valley the
ground is very fertile.
main part of the village territory is small, hilly and stony. Potato
fields have required industrious work. Countless piles of stones which
border the road give witness to the work of past generations. To the
west, facing the sea, are well wooded hills. Along the coast are separate
islets and during western and northwest storms the waves wash up in
hugh cascades on the rocky and stony shore. The population is about
170 to 180 people.
village comprises the following number of homesteads which form separate
groups of farms: 1. Harmas (Härmälä); 2. Kankos (Kankkonen);
3. Silakka; 4. Lidsle and Söderback; 5. Haras (Harald); 6. Väster,
and 7. Bredskär (3 5/12 mantal).
the village embankment are found the following fishing cottages: at
Storlangoresundet - Hansas, inhabited by families of Björnvik
and Borg; between Laxåback and Harmas in the woods around 300
meters from the road - Björnes, inhabited by the family of Karl
Vesterlund; at Harmasbacken - Lindboms, Haralds, Majanders and Lisas;
at Väster - Gretas; between Haras and Kankos - widow Silanders;
at Lidsle - Hagagubbens and Lena-Majas; at Söderback - Karl Söderstroms,
and along the island shore from the bridge to the sea - merchant Viklunds
villa, Karl Hilles and Orres (Karl Silander, Karl Harald, and Fredrik
Kankkonen), also along the sea close to the islands - Anton Silanders.
Group No. l: In the center of the village on the most dominant place
lies Harmas farm. The official name Härmälä is not
used in the spoken language, but Harmas is the usual form. In older
documents a form of the name as Hermans and Hermela is found.
is divided into four parts.Two farms are on Harmasbacken. The third
is in the same cultivation with Bredskär and the fourth, Laxåback,
is situated by the bay shore a kilometer north from Harmas. Both the
stately farm houses on Harmas stand in the north-south direction.
Trees and plants are missing because the ground nearest the cottages
is of gravel. The farm houses are referred to in daily speech by the
Christian name of the owner, while the back cottages are usually referred
to by the owner's surname. Harmas farm group consists of Alfreds and
Mattas and also back cottages of Lindboms, Haralds, Majanders and
Laxåback was separated from Harmas which lies by the bay with
the same name. In documents from that time it was called Laxorebacka.
Originally it was a fishing village a couple hundred meters to the
east from the present residences on the bay shore. The farms have
most of the acreage, meadows and woodland in a square around the farm.
From the farm ground one has an extensive view over the ample bay.
Between the buildings and the road stands some aged mountain ash and
a birch with bushy crown.
bay shore meets the sloping green farmland of the dwellings and on
the west side is a building consisting of cart shed, stable and fodder
barn. The remaining buildings are uphill at an angle to the shed beside
the road leading to Sund and Bredskär. The dreamy stillness and
solitary surroundings make a strong impression on the visitor.
Group No. 2: The four Kankos farms belong to this group. They lie
two and two and comprise the territory from the island in the south
to the marsh in the north on each side of the road that leads through
the village. Kalles and Jannes lie on the south side toward the island,
and Eiros and Mastäres-Jannes on the north side toward the marsh.
When one wanders from the island bridge along a walkway there is a
view between the bushy crown of the birches of the farm buildings
of the two first named farms, with a long building toward the south.
The road goes across the farm yard beside the stairs to Kalles and
through an open gate in the long building. The cow houses are uphill
beside the road directly after it passes through the gate. During
the time of rain, water flows from the roof down on the road, leaving
a dirty clay mixture. As a contrast, picture the green idyllic courtyard,
the neat farm buildings with plantings on the south and the desired
view over the fields, the beautiful birch avenue and in the background
the islands and glittering waves - a mood charged with beauty.
and Mastäres-Jannes lie apart from the above mentioned farms.
Mastäres lies on the slope near the marsh on the south side,
and Eiros higher up the hill nearest the above mentioned farms close
to the road that leads east to Söderback and Lidsle. The outbuildings
are placed away so they have a sunny location. Earlier the village
road went before both farms down to the marsh shore. The way to Haras
goes to the west along the marsh shore and the road to the dwellings
on the north side of the marsh and the road used to go east from Eiros
to the east shore of the marsh where the wide Donabacka branched out
with the easterly branch at Lidsle and then westerly around the marsh,
following the northeasterly edge to the dwellings north of the marsh.
The present main road through the village goes from the above mentioned
Kankos farms along an earlier old road to the west and down to the
middle of the marsh where the road goes over a dam to the north shore
of Väster farms.
Group No. 3: There are three Silakka farms, two of them lie east of
Harmas hill. Their land stretches from the village road in the south
to Lidsle and Laxåback bay in the north. The third farm is Sund
which lies on the southeast shore of Langore. The land forms a square
around the farm. This farm lies as a passage along from the other
so one has difficulty distinguishing one from the other. But when
looking at a map, one can see they belong together for their meadows
and woodland lie side by side. It is obvious that the three homesteads
originally were one, then later divided into three parts. The original
that is now called Gammel farm lies on a plain east of Harmas hill
about two meters from the village road. Silakka-Nygård lies
close to the village road on the eastern slope of Harmas hill. Below
them beyond the outbuildings and dwellings is an older cottage built
at an angle. The stable and animal building, also fodder barn and
wood shed are built around a backyard where the grain is gathered
on summer evenings before milking time.
steep shore beside the bridge that leads from the main island to Langore
lies Sund farm. The dwelling stands with the gable toward the stream
where in the spring the breaking ice froths the water from Laxåback
bay down toward Gras bay and past Bredskär to the sea. On the
bare hill, where not a tree is found to shelter from sun and wind,
stands a beautiful loft with the long side toward the road and at
an angle to the dwelling - nowadays it is the only one in the village.
In the lower floor of this building is the stable, fodder barn and
shop and on the upper floor two rooms. The outbuildings are on other
side of the road.
Group No. 4: Lidsle and Söderback comprise the village's eastern
part. They form the number of homesteads under the official name of
Lidsle. Lidsle farms lie on the northeast side of the island at Lidsle
bay. Of the four homesteads, only two are separate - Hermans and Lill-Jannes,
and the other two are in the same cultivation with Söderback
farms. The cultivated land lies around the farms. The buildings are
uphill around the square courtyard open to the north. About 500 meters
from the farms to the west higher than the ground through the trees
is found Lidsleberget. The hill is an immensely good ski hill. From
this highest node, one can take a run and steer the skis between trees
and through the thicket down to the level - a real man's test.
two Söderback farms comprise the southeast part of Lidsle. They
have a splendid position on the river bank with a wide stretch of
fertile acreage and cultivated meadow-land. The farm buildings are
placed opposite each other and close beside the long outbuildings
with square courtyard open to the south. About a kilometer from both
dwellings toward the east a wide shore separates a parcel where a
brother to one of the Söderback farmers has placed his residence.
Group No. 5: Haras farms lie southwest of the marsh by the little
brook that runs from the marsh to the west out to the island mouth.
The three farms are placed in succession along the shore of the brook.
The first two, Sovelius and Thylins, with the long side and Anders
with the gable toward the brook. On the land between the brook and
buildings are planted trees and bushes, so that during the summer
the farms are embedded in a luxuriant green. The outbuildings stand
in a long row on the other side of the road, so that a shapely village
street is formed. The original dwelling had been placed higher up
the hillside where one can see the obvious remainder of foundation
stones of the building. Haras hill is beside the connection that earlier
joined the marsh in the middle of the village with Haras bay.
Group No. 6: Väster farms comprise the territory on the north
marshy shore south of Harmasbacken. The farms are found close to the
upper marsh leading the village road on the eastern slope of Väster
hill. New Väster lies a half kilometer to the east with Donabacka
at the north part of the old village road. At the beginning of the
century there were two buildings to the west that divided the land
and the dwellings. Blacksmith Matts Väster lived in the north
end and his brother Karl Väster in the south. The outbuildings
are by the side of the village road. On the other side of the road
was where the smith worked. There Matts Väster liked it best.
He was least a farmer, mostly smith and designer, and for household
purposes he was a miller. It was a delight to see the old man with
the forge, the anvil, or file bench. Grimy and black as a Moor he
was, but quick, eager and talkative. On the highest crown of the hill
stood the windmill built in the form of a round tower.
was a meeting place for the village boys. The hill was an excellent
skiing hill in the wintertime for the younger families. On the ice
below the marsh they from the smithy skated and gathered before a
huge bonfire on Saturday and Sunday evenings. But best of all, when
it was too cold to play and romp outside, they always got to gather
inside both houses at Väster, now in one house and then in the
played pledge games, singing games and circle games. They told fairy
tales and were happy. They would hear the smith or his superstitious
old woman tell a story that caused them to shiver with terror and
gave food to the wildest fantasy. The children carried on also at
Karl Väster's. He was a perfect contrast to his brother, taciturn,
quiet and utterly reticent. His wife Kalles Bigg complemented her
husband in the most charming way.
old people at Västerbacken - Smeda and Nenna also Kalle and Bigg,
were pictured as a four-leafed clover that a child seeks but seldom
finds in our Lord's pasture.
Väster was in the same cultivation with one of the homesteads
at Kankos. The place was therefore uninhabited. No dwellings are found
there, only some outbuildings after they took down and moved away
Group No. 7: On the north shore of the brook, where it passes Sund
through Gras bay where the current flows into the sea lies Bredskär
farms. According to tradition the people came from Bredskär in
Sweden as fishermen, giving the name Bredskär after their home
place. Later a man came with the name Möller and the place is
currently called Möllers after him. The name Bredskär is
used only to denote a homestead member. Möllers is Rödsö
village's most scenic place. There on a beautiful summer day one goes
along the road like an avenue and sees the glittering waves through
the leafy trees to the west and the high dark pine forest rising in
the background, around the quiet and colorful cottage, fascinating
one as before a work of art.
road leads to the open square courtyard to the east. A pretty path
leads to the sheds on the shore and on both sides are planted mountain
ash. The aged boathouse and fishing shed show that the builders during
the course of time had confidence not only in the earth but also in
the gift of the sea. If one stands in the courtyard and listens, one
hears the roar of the waves that hit the shore.
of soldier cottages were originally found in the village and when
distribution of work ceased, most of them left. Only the place name
gives witness of their occurrence. A similar croft that lies between
the island bridge and Orres was the origin of a later settlement.
Three homesteads, Harmas, Kankos and Lidsle, gave opportunity to the
army's chamois makers in the crofts. From Kankos homestead the land
was an idyllic place. The ground was fertile and the chamois maker
had the ability to create hominess around his cabin. When the place
was no longer needed for chamois, it was leased to a tradesman in
town. He used the place as a summer villa. Later he built a big kitchen
garden with berry bushes, apple and cherry trees. The area between
the villa and the village road was turned into a beautiful park. The
villa, orchard and park were a unique sight worth seeing - the pride
of the village. During the nice summer evenings the village youth
strolled through the villa area. The splendor and beauty of nature
gripped all. The silence created a quiet devotion to the young minded
and everyone was enriched on his way home. I remember so well when
all this glorious-ness was devastated. The villa was no longer rented
and it decayed along with the orchard. The land was sold. The stately
trees were chopped down. Time has thrown a veil of tragedy over the
villa area. On the former park now grows wheat, rye, corn, clover
and timothy. Not far from where the villa stood is the village elementary
following buildings were found on each farm: dwelling house, an outhouse,
stable, fodder barn, cart shed with staircase to the attic (the older
type of loft building), also food shed, cattle house, sheep house,
pig sty, wood shed, granary and bathhouse.
dwelling house was a building of one story. As a rule it was erected
during the former half of the nineteenth century. From an open stair
one comes into a dark father's father's cottage. From there a door
leads to the daily cottage and another to the front cottage or big
cottage, as it is sometimes called. Inside the daily cottage are found
two end rooms and a chamber between both cottages and the grandfather's
stock raising and fishing are the main industries in the village.
Most farming is self-supporting with respect to bread-corn and potatoes.
Milk handling has had good results. Before separators came to be used,
the village together with a neighboring village had a dairy where
the milk was cooled, stood a day and night and was hand skimmed. Later
the village shared a dairy with a hand-driven separator. Then Gamlakarleby
shared a dairy with modern equipment.
of skilled fishermen have carried on with fishing, but a number of
farmers have also been occupied with fishing. Whitefish and herring
and different sorts of scaly fish have been caught and sold in the
market in town. Whitefish and herring demand costly tools, good boats
and experience. Herring was fished at dawn in the Botten sea. It was
an experience that one never forgets to put out in an open boat and
lie at anchor, swinging in the swell of the light summer June night.
But a dark autumn night could give another kind of impression. While
the crew alept in the boat, a gale came up and the men saved what
they could of the tools and with sail scudded, shouting all the way.
Countless times costly fishing tools were lost, but one was glad to
be spared his life.
cottage wall in Eiros hangs a stately portrait of farmer Matts Gustafsson
Kankkonen. He is portrayed full length with two firearms. On his chest
are two medals. There is a rifle on his shoulder and the other by
his foot. At the bottom of the picture is the following: "Farmer Matts
Kankkonen: for displaying bravery for the national defence of the
town of Gamlakarleby against the English attack June 17, 1854 in favour
of commemoration with silver medal with superscription 'for bravery'
to wear with the ribbon of St. George's Order."
Kankkonen was born 1814 at Eiros homestead in Rödsö. From
earliest childhood he was intently interested in fishing and hunting.
He trained himself to be a marksman. During the Crimean war he took
part with distinction in parrying off an English landing attempt in
Gamlakarleby and was summoned to Petersburg, where in audience with
the Tzar he received a medal for showing bravery and marksmanship.
village boys often gathered in his chamber at Eiros to hear him tell
of the battle at Halkokari, his visit with the Emperor, wolf hunting
at Korplaxmossen, big pike, etc. An exhuberant fantasy and realistic
description, together with the actual relating to boyish friends at
Eiros father's father gave lifetime memories to those who were there.
change of the century saw a number of people go to America from nearly
every farm. Emigration was estimated to be about a third of the village
village had no primary school. But knowledge of reading and writing
was common, for the older generation had received teaching in the
ambulatory village school from Pikku-Måttis-Mari, Hilli and
Hanna Sundback, among others. Many also visited the first parish elementary
school at Ventus, where they received teaching from the clever school
master Gustaf Andersson. Later Rödsö transferred to Vittsar
elementary school district and school attendance became common. There
are scarcely any persons of my own age who did not receive Matts Remell's
teaching. His lectures in mathematics, geometry, natural science and
singing should justify anytime in today's modern school. In 1903 Rödsö
became an independent school district with their own elementary school.
young people were all members of Gamlakarleby's association. The Rödsö
temperance society with their own singing choir had many members.
The moral level has always stayed high. Children born out of marriage
are not found in the village. The District police superintendent and
police have not had cause to visit a homestead in Rödsö.
meetings have usually been well visited. During Sundays and holy days,
as a rule a number of family members from each farm visited the church.
The journey to and from the church was undertaken with horse. In the
summertime they sat comfortably in the rocking line cart and in the
winter, snug and cozy in the church sleigh. The mood and peace in
the home during Saturday evening and Sunday forenoon have left an
impression never to be forgotten.
evening the young people gathered to play and dance in the yards where
the front and large cottages were lit up for the purpose. Athletic
practice in the wintertime of skating and skiing and hitting balls
in the spring, was generally anticipated.
decades have not been able to obliterate the memory of a safe childhood
and youth time, through living in Rödsö village. Memories
from simple, good farmers homes where industry and responsible feelings
were an educational cornerstone have been a good ballast during life's