Finnish Immigrant Women & Their Families Represented in a Study

JoAnn Hanson-Stone, Ph.D, scholar in immigrant history, oral histories and an adult educator, conducted interviews in the Brimson-Toimi communities of Minnesota. Following are excerpts from some of the interviews.

Six families were represented in the study of Finnish immigrant women. These included five sets of immigrant parents, and one set of maternal grandparents. Each narrator’s family is described, along with dates of immigration and settlement in the Brimson-Toimi community, and the types of work performed by Finnish immigrant fathers and mothers, if known, prior to and after acquisition of the homestead.

Amanda (Manda)

Amanda was the second of six children born in her family. Her father was born in Pyhajarvi, Finland and emigrated to Minnesota in 1910. He courted his wife through the mail and paid her ticket to Brimson, Minnesota in 1914. She came from Rautu, Finland and married shortly after her arrival in Brimson.

Amanda’s father homesteaded and worked in logging camps. He was also a carpenter and an expert in building with logs. The six children born to Amanda’s family in Brimson are Uno, born in 1915; Amanda, born in 1916; Sheila (Bertha), born in 1919; Irene (Siiri Irene), born in 1922; Tauno, born in 1923; and, Sylvia, born in 1926.

Clara

Clara’s parents met in Brimson and were married in 1920. Clara’s mother came to the United States via Canada in 1909, accompanied by two older sisters. Her mother and sisters were born in Tampere, Finland. The mother and aunts worked as domestics and cooks before getting married. Clara’s mother met her first husband and were married in 1914. He owned a homestead in Brimson which he used as a hunting retreat while working as a lithographer in Chicago. In

search of employment, the young couple moved to Astoria, Oregon and had two children, Cora, born in 1916 and Tauno, born 1917. Her husband died in 1918 in the flu epidemic.

Clara’s mother, then, left her oldest daughter with relatives in Oregon and returned with her son to their homestead in Brimson. She remarried in 1920. Her second husband came to the United States from Urais Vaasanlaani, Finland in 1909 and was employed at a local sawmill at the time of their marriage. She and her second husband had two children, Lillian born in 1922 and Clara in 1924. The family lived on the 160 acre homestead in Brimson, Fairbanks Township. Clara’s father also drove a school bus for School #55 where Clara and her siblings attended grade school.

Eleanore (Vienna Eleanore)

Eleanore was the youngest of seven children. Her father emigrated in the early 1900's and returned to Finland for his wife and two children between 1906 and 1908. The immigrant family left Iisalmi, Finland for Toimi, Minnesota and their 160 acre homestead. Mary (1904) and Arvid (1905) were born in Finland. The remaining children where born in Toimi: Wayne (1909); Arne (1911);

Lempi (1913); Olavi (1914); and, Vienna Eleanore (1916).

Eleanore’s father homesteaded and ran logging camps. Eleanore’s mother died in 1921. In 1926, Eleanore’s father married a local widow who also had seven children. There were fourteen children when the families were combined. Eleanore’s step mother cooked for lumberjacks working in her husband’s lumber camps.

Jennie

Jennie’s mother and maternal grandmother, emigrated from Parkano, Finland in 1920 and 1921, to join her maternal grandfather who settled in Brimson in 1905. Jennie’s grandparents had been separated by geography for sixteen years. During this time, her grandmother worked in Finland in a lemon drink bottling factory and was a seamstress, sewing by hand for people in the community. Her grandparents had two more children after their reunion in Brimson, Eugene born in 1922 and Eino in 1925. Jennie’s uncles were the same age as she and her sister. They were playmates growing up in Brimson.

Jennie’s father arrived in 1913 from Kankaanpaa, Finland and settled in Aurora, Minnesota on the iron range. Her father worked odd jobs as a miner, logger and railroad worker. He came to Brimson in 1921 to visit neighbors and met Jennie’s mother during his stay. They were married in 1923. Three children were born to the family. Jennie was born in 1924, a brother, who died at birth, in 1925, and a sister, Helmi, born in 1926. After renting various houses in the village of Brimson, Jennie’s family settled on a homestead in 1936, located across the Cloquet River from her grandparents homestead in Brimson, Ault Township.

Tynne

Tynne’s father emigrated from Jyvaskylla, Finland to the United States in 1901. Tynne’s mother emigrated in 1902 from her home in Oulu, Finland. Her parents met in Hibbing, Minnesota and were married in c. 1907. Tynne’s father worked in the mines on the iron range. After their marriage, her parents lived in Virginia, Minnesota and operated a boarding house. In 1916, the family moved to Toimi, Minnesota, Bassett Township, where they raised ten children.

Six children were born prior to their move to the homestead: Leo (1908); Gertrude (1910); Helga (1912); Eino (1914); Helen (1915); and, Tynne (1916); and, four children were born in Toimi: Helia (1918); Arnold (1920); Clifford (1922); and, John (1928). Tynne was the sixth child born two weeks before the family moved to the country. Tynne’s father worked in logging camps during the winter months as a teamster. Her mother handled the farm chores and attended to the children.

Excerpts from the Internet.

June Pelo

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