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History of the Finns in Michigan

Armas K. E. Holmio Translated by Ellen M. Ryynanen

Publication Year: 2001

Michigan's Upper Peninsula was a major destination for Finns during the peak years of migration in the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century. Several Upper Peninsula communities had large Finnish populations and Finnish churches, lodges, cooperative stores, and temperance societies. Ishpeming and Hancock, especially, were important nationally as Finnish cultural centers. Originally published in Finnish in 1967 by Armas K. E. Holmio, History of the Finns in Michigan, translated into English by Ellen M. Ryynanen, brings the story of the contribution of Finnish immigrants into the mainstream of Michigan history. Holmio combines firsthand experience and personal contact with the first generation of Finnish immigrants with research in Finnish-language sources to create an important and compelling story of an immigrant group and its role in the development of Michigan.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Great Lakes Books Series


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-4


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p. 5-5

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pp. 7-15

After World War II Armas K. E. Holmio and other Finnish Americans began to explore their immigrant past. The immigrant generation was fast disappearing along with its organizations and newspapers. During the heyday of immigrant life before the war, few individuals had the resources or the time to preserve systematically ...

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1. The Origin of the Finns

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pp. 17-31

Helmi Warren, who was the daughter of a Finnish-American druggist and, in her own right, a well-known travel agent, has described the situation with regard to Finns during her early school days in Calumet, Michigan, in the 1890s. Most of the children in Helmi's grade were Finnish—flaxen-haired and blue-eyed. But according to American ...

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2. Early Emigration from Finland

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pp. 32-47

Although emigration from Finland reached its peak between 1890 and 1930, that period of emigration was not the only such period in the long history of the country. According to many historians, Finns had moved to Sweden already in the early Christian centuries, and they may well have been the first to settle in some parts of that country. ...

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3. More Recent Emigration from Finland

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pp. 48-71

When Finnish emigration was discussed in older Finnish writings up to the beginning of the twentieth century, it was, almost without exception, treated as a phenomenon that was not a credit to the country, nor to the tribe of Vaino. "Child of Finland, do not trade away your land so fair and sweet," was the sometimes soft-voiced, sometimes ...

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4. The First Finn in Michigan

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pp. 72-75

Until an older document is discovered in the hidden recesses of some archive or other, the story of the life and activities of Finns in Michigan must begin with the picture Fredrika Bremer gives of the few days she spent in Lower Michigan in mid-September 1850.1 There were many gifted individuals in the Finnish branch of ...

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5. The Copper Country

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pp. 76-126

The more recent immigration to America from Finland has no definite starting date. A sailor here and a sailor there left his ship and settled in Boston, Brooklyn, Pensacola, or some other seaport. The California Gold Rush, which began in the spring of 1848, attracted a large number of seamen when they chanced to stop at San Francisco or ...

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6. Gogebic County

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pp. 127-132

Gogebic County is in the extreme western part of the Upper Peninsula, bounded on the east by Ontonagon and Iron counties. Originally it was a part of Ontonagon County. However, because roads to the county seat at the mouth of the Ontonagon River were sometimes impassable, especially in the winter months, the question of setting up ...

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7. Marquette, Dickinson, and Iron Counties

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pp. 133-143

In 1843, when the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was divided into six counties—Marquette, Delta, Chippewa, Mackinac, Schoolcraft, and Ontonagon—parts of the present Iron and Dickinson counties belonged to Marquette County. Iron County was organized in 1885 and Dickinson in 1891, and Marquette County shrank to its present size. ...

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8. The Eastern Counties of the Upper Peninsula

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pp. 144-161

There are no Finnish settlements in the extensive eastern part of the Upper Peninsula as large as those in its central and western parts. The Finnish communities are scattered over wide areas and are at great distances from one another. The southernmost county, Menominee, which thrusts itself like a wedge between Wisconsin and Green Bay, ...

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9. Lower Michigan

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pp. 162-171

The total population of Lower Michigan is thirty times greater than that of the Upper Peninsula. But the ratio of Finns to non-Finns in these two areas was just the reverse for a long time. However, at the height of the lumbering activity of the 1870s and 1880s there were Finns in Lower Michigan by the thousands. When lumbering ended ...

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10. Churches

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pp. 172-218

The oldest influence for unity among the Finns is the church with its congregations. In the Delaware colony every subject of the kingdom of Sweden was a member of the state church and belonged to the local congregation. Broadly speaking, this was also true in Alaska, where the Finnish governors working for Russia invited and attracted ...

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11. The Rise and Decline of the Temperance Movement

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pp. 219-272

The festive drink of the ancient Finns was ale, the "homebrewed beer of the Kalevainens." Just as the Greek and Roman poets praised wine and the beauty of vineyards, so did the Finns of early times praise ale and the cultivation of barley and hops. In pagan Finnish homes, verses on the origin of ale were recited, and magic incantations ...

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12. The Rise and Decline of the Labor Movement

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pp. 273-303

Because of the geographical location and the historical development of Finland, the economic and political movements of Central and Western Europe arrived there considerably later than elsewhere. When fast-growing industrialism and expanding overseas commerce were already revolutionizing social conditions in England and in many ...

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13. The Knights and Ladies of Kaleva

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pp. 304-328

The strongest expression of loyalty to their Finnish heritage among the Finnish Americans has been the activity of the Knights and Ladies of Kaleva. The founder of the Kaleva society was John Stone, who was born in Oulu on September 13, 1865, and attended school there. He came to America in 1887 and settled in the small sawmill ...

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14. The Cooperative Movement

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pp. 329-365

Cooperative activity for the purpose of obtaining economic advantages and achieving security is probably as old as mankind itself. Even present-day cooperatives have roots reaching back hundreds of years. Literature about Swedish and French cooperatives tells of very early cooperative dairies and cheese factories in the Alps region. German ...

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15. Cultural and Educational Achievements

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pp. 366-404

By their very nature, churches, temperance societies, cooperatives, labor organizations, and the Kaleva organization with their extensive publishing activity fostered the development of important cultural values. Because these groups and their activities have already been discussed, this chapter will deal with miscellaneous cultural and ...

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16. The Swedish Finns in Michigan

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pp. 405-412

Broadly speaking, the people of Finland are Finnish, but because of the historical development of the nation, it is a bilingual country. The great majority of the people speak Finnish; a small minority speak Swedish. Serving as a sort of link between these two language groups there are many persons who speak both languages. Among the hundreds of Finns who settled in the Delaware ...

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17. Finland and the Finns of Michigan

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pp. 413-440

Kaisu-Mirjami Rydberg, whose father Riippa had been an editor of the newspaper Toveri in Astoria, wrote in her travelogue how Ragnar Olander, secretary to the managing editor of the Hufvudstadstbladet, the leading Swedish-language newspaper in Finland, surprised his Finnish audience in Astoria with the purity of his Finnish and with ...

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18. From What Parishes Did They Come?

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pp. 441-450

The writer of a history of the Finns in America finds it impossible to give an absolutely reliable report on from where in Finland the Finnish people have come. Sources for such information are either lacking or inaccurate. Church records are usually the most dependable sources, but some churches kept no records. Where there are records, ...


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pp. 451-483


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pp. 485-512

E-ISBN-13: 9780814340004
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814329740

Page Count: 544
Illustrations: 41
Publication Year: 2001

Series Title: Great Lakes Books Series