Categories
Unique Visitors
31,057
Total Page Views
502,787
View Teri Hjelmstad's profile on LinkedIn
 

 
Archives

Archive for the ‘Finland’ Category

Closing Out Another Year

Each year I spend ten months on genealogical research. I choose an ancestor as my annual project. Then I learn everything I can about him or her. At year’s end, I assemble the information and mail it around to relatives.

I began with more recent ancestors and worked backwards over the years. I have completed character sketches and photo collections for seven of my great-grandparents and their parents. This year I turned to the generation of my 3rd great-grandparents.

I spent most of this year working on Finnish lines, those ancestors of my 2nd great-grandparents Matti Lampinen (1835-1894) and Anna Miettinen (1832-?). Recently-discovered cousins in Finland who also descend from this couple have posted this family tree on the WikiTree website. Now I have most of it in my database, too.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will complete the data entry. The information consists of only the usual names, dates, and places. The family stories we all want to learn have not been preserved on WikiTree, and my family did not save them.

Finnish records available to me can shed no additional light on the lives of these ancestors. I have only church records to look at—birth/marriage/death lists and communion books that list family groups.

I cannot write any interesting character sketches from these basic facts. I will not send around a family story this year.

In its place I can create a massive family tree poster that reaches back into the late 17th century. I can also reproduce photos of family members who remained in Finland when my great-grandmother Ada Alina Lampinen (1879-1948) emigrated to America.

When the calendar turns to November, I will begin creating this year’s family history gift. It will go out with my Christmas cards in December.

Leaving the Lampinens for Now

One of my goals as a genealogist is to put my family tree out there to record it for posterity and to make it available to cousins seeking to find their roots. For several weeks I have worked on posting Finnish ancestors to my website.

A third cousin in Finland has done a tremendous amount of research on our common Lampinen line. We both descend from Matti Henricsson Lampinen (1835-1894) and Anna Miettinen (1832-abt. 1910). My cousin descends from the couple’s daughter Hendrika (1862-1928), and I descend from their daughter Ada Alina (1879-1948). Ada was my great-grandmother.

I have now added Matti Lampinen’s ancestors, as far as we know them, to my online family tree. Some lines extend back to the 1650’s. You can view them on my website (www.norsky.net under the Reed/Bentsen link), or you can look at my cousin’s Lampinen tree on WikiTree (www.wikitree.com).

Next I will turn to the Miettinen ancestors and get them posted.

Following this family’s trail fulfills a lifelong ambition for me. Years ago, when I began my genealogical research in earnest, I started with the Finns. I was so curious about them. Yet I gave up after documenting my Finnish-American ancestors. Doing foreign research was beyond my capability and resources at the time.

Now, with online records and connections to Finnish cousins, the project has become doable for me. I am loving the process of getting to know this family and sharing it with everyone.

Finnish Forbears Discovered

I have a lot of Lampinen relatives, a family I learned about only a year ago. Last fall, a missing person locator hired by a distant cousin in Finland put me in touch with descendants of Hendrika Lampinen Andelin (1862-1928), an older sister of my great grandmother, Ada Alina Lampinen (1879-1948). I visited two of these cousins when I was in Helsinki in June.

Our shared Lampinen surname in Finnish has to do with living near a pond. The Lampinens lived around a large body of water, Lake Pielinen, the eastern Finland area known as Karelia.

My great-grandmother left there in 1905 to come to America as a young bride. Although she had several older siblings, none of them emigrated to the United States. Ada’s daughter, who was my grandmother, always said she knew nothing of her Lampinen family. The Finnish and American branches of the family lost touch with one another when the older generation died.

One of my new-found cousins has posted a large Lampinen family tree on the WikiTree website (wikitree.com). She has done a tremendous amount of research. The tree extends 6 generations back from my ancestor Ada. The earliest ones lived during the mid-1700’s.

Because of my Finnish cousin’s work, an ancestry tree for 12.5% of my heritage has fallen into my lap. This researcher has ready access to many sources I do not have, and she has posted all of those citations on the WikiTree website.

I have spent many days this summer combing through her work to learn about our common Lampinen forebears. As far back as records extend, they lived in villages surrounding Lake Pielinen.

All must have been Finnish with no intermarriages to Swedes, Lapps, or Russians. My DNA test comes up 26% Finnish, a heritage I received from Ada and my Finnish great-grandfather Alexander Mattila (1878-1945).

It would have taken me a lifetime of research to build the Lampinen family tree found on WikiTree. Now, thanks to this cousin, I need not do it. I trust that this native Finn has been accurate and thorough in compiling our shared tree. It has been great fun to study it.

Finally, I have learned the names of those who comprise such a significant portion of my heritage. Not only do I have Lampinen ancestors, but I also have the names of women who married Lampinen men. The tree includes Heinonens, Horttanianens, Kärkäinens, Louhelains, Miettinens, Parkkinens, Ruottins, Turuins, and many more. My cousins and I carry genes from all of them, and now we know who they are.

My Finnish DNA Results

Last week I wrote about discovering a close Finnish relative found via a DNA match on FamilyTreeDNA. My new third cousin and I have corresponded this week and plan a phone call soon.

This connection will help me fill in my American family tree with descendants of our common Mattila family. But what else can this DNA match do?

I realized this week that it can help me categorize all my other, more distant, Finnish DNA matches. Many of the Finns have taken DNA tests, and I have lots of matches with Finnish surnames.

FamilyTreeDNA allows me to sort my matches relative to a known match. I can select my new, close match and then run a report listing all the other matches I have in common with the selected match. Then I can run another report of matches not in common with the selected match.

This technique will yield two results. Because my new cousin is a Mattila descendant, the first list will give me the DNA matches belonging to my great-grandfather Alexander Mattila’s family. The second list will show the matches for my great-grandmother Ada Alina Lampinen’s family.

This will save me a ton of work in analyzing my FamilyTreeDNA results. With the lists at my fingertips, I will know at a glance the family line for each Finnish match.

It took me awhile to realize I could do this even though the technique is so obvious. Most of my prior work with DNA has been on my dad’s side of the family. The process does not work so easily there because he has so many double cousins. Most of his DNA matches are related to him in two ways.

With these Finns I have a different story. When I decide to contact any of these matches, already I will know the surnames we have in common. No need to spend time trying to find how we are connected.

My biggest problem will be deciding who to contact first. I have at least 30 predicted 2nd-4th Finnish cousins who have taken DNA tests. When I submitted my DNA sample, I never anticipated finding so many of my mom’s relatives in Finland.

Year of My Finns

An acquaintance of mine wrote a book about serendipity and genealogy. She explained how our ancestors often seem to reach out to us to help us along in our research. I have experienced this phenomenon several times over the years.

It happened again this year. I had decided to investigate my Finnish lineage in 2019 because I planned a spring cruise with a stop in Helsinki. In an amazing coincidence, some unknown Finnish cousins contacted me last fall. They were interested in corresponding with their American cousins. We wrote back and forth for several weeks. These members of my Lampinen family then met me in Helsinki, and we spent a wonderful day talking about our family tree.

I want to believe that our ancestors encouraged the modern-day Lampinen descendants to look for one another.

Since I returned home, I have immersed myself in all things Finnish. I have added many Lampinens to my online family tree.

This week serendipity struck again, this time during my weekly viewing of my DNA matches on FamilyTreeDNA. A new person popped up, a close match. From the person’s English-sounding name, I assumed a connection on my dad’s side of my family.

To verify this, I ran the report that looks for matches in common with my new match. I was surprised to see that they were all Finnish. I thought I knew all my Finnish-American cousins, so I wondered who this relative could be.

I immediately fired off an e-mail message and received a prompt response. Sure enough, we both have Finnish ancestors. My grandmother Martha Mattila (1906-1977) and my match’s grandfather Alex Silberg (1906-1989) were first cousins. My new match and I both descend from the Mattilas through daughters, and consequently neither of us has a Finnish surname.

I hope to exchange some family information soon with my new cousin. If I am lucky, I can get copies of some family photos.

My Finnish family seems to want to claim me this year, the year I just happened to have Finnish research and a trip to Finland planned. I am happy to belong to these people. I have felt comfortable with the Finns and their culture during my visits. I am even told that I look Finnish. Perhaps my ancestors have done their part to encourage me to reclaim this part of my heritage.

The Lampinen Line

Church records in Finland exist for several hundred years back to the time when Finland became a Lutheran country in 1599. A cousin in Finland has used these abundant records to post much of our common family tree to the WikiTree online database.

We share the Lampinen line. Both of us descend from Lampinen daughters. My first Lampinen ancestor was my great-grandmother, Ada Alina Lampinen (1879-1948). The cousin is descended from Ada’s older sister Hendrika Lampinen (1862-1928).

Our most recent common ancestor, Matti Lampinen, lived in Karelia in eastern Finland near Lake Pielinen. Lush forests surround the lake. Today, Koli National Park covers much of the area.

Matti’s paternal forebears lived around this lake for as far back as we know. They likely engaged in forestry and slash-and-burn farming. Despite the gorgeous setting, life here seemed anything but idyllic, and many of the Lampinens died young.

As we have searched the church records, my cousin and I have put together this line of Lampinens, beginning with Ada and Hendrika’s father, our common ancestor Matti Lampinen:

  1. Matti Henricsson Lampinen (1835-1894).
  2. Henric Mårtensson Lampinen/Lambin (1806-1837). Henric died of typhoid fever when his son Matti was not even two years old.
  3. Mårten Mårtensson Lambin (1769-1808). Mårten died of an unspecified fever when his son Henric was an infant.
  4. Mårten Mattson Lambin (1730-1772). Again, this father died of an unspecified fever, leaving behind a young son.
  5. Matts Lambin (1702-1765). Finally, this father lived to see his son grow up.
  6. Paul Lambinen (?-1739). This father lived long enough to see a grandchild.

We still need to locate birth information for Paul Lambinen. If we are lucky, we will be able to identify his 17th century parents.

People tell me that Lampinen is a common surname in Finland. The name means pond. I wonder how many of the other Lampinens originated in the same area as mine. Perhaps we are all related.

I keep working to get as much of this tree posted to WikiTrees I can since my cousin started it there. By putting the information out, I hope we can find more descendants of the Lampinen line.

The Finns, Round Three

A recent visit to Finland and a meeting with my third cousins there made me keen to fill out more of my Finnish family tree. I had worked hard on it twice before, but neither time did I exhaust all the research I could do. I started with my Finnish ancestry when I first set up a genealogy office in the 1980’s. I later returned to this line of research before I took a trip to Finland in 2014. Despite this effort, I knew I could do more.

I had begun my initial search with my immigrant great-grandparents, Alexander Mattila and Ada Alina Lampinen. That time I collected American records like naturalization papers, birth and death certificates for children born in the United States, and census records as they became available. I gathered quite a bit of information not only on my great-grandparents but also on several of his sisters who immigrated around the same time. This gave me a running start at learning more about their families in Finland.

Family Search has digitized many Finnish church records. This source enabled me to compile some short family trees before the Finland trip five years ago. I found the research slow-going due to my unfamiliarity with both the Finnish language and the script used in the 1800’s. My husband/tech advisor helped me with this task. He powered through my family tree back through the 18th century and pulled copies of all the documents he found. I ran out of time to process it all before our trip. Since then, much of it has been in a manila folder awaiting further action.

Now I have connected with a Lampinen cousin who has posted much of our shared family tree on WikiTree, a free site for genealogical collaboration. Right away I joined this site so I could work with her. This summer I dug out the 2014 folder and turned my attention again to the Lampinen records. Item by item, I am listing them as sources in my online tree and adding information where I can to my cousin’s Lampinen tree on WikiTree.

The public site also offers the option to add DNA test results. My direct maternal line is Finnish, and I have taken an mtDNA test. I am hesitating on whether to share my test on this site. I know that once I put it out in the public arena there will be no clawing it back. I have no strong incentive to share it because I have no mystery Finnish ancestors to identify. The church records have enabled us to extend my family lines without needing DNA clues. I suppose I will wait for someone less fortunate to contact me with a share request.

I still have a thick stack of documents to work through this year. I hope to compile it all and create a fan chart of my Finnish ancestors in time for Christmas. Most years I write an ancestor character sketch for distribution to relatives, but the type of research I am doing this summer yields few family stories. A distilled family tree taken from pages and pages of documents will allow everyone to see our roots at a glance. Preserving this information in a non-digital way can help ensure its survival.

An Exchange of Health Histories

Look at your family tree and you will see many of the health problems that will affect you someday. We all have heard this common wisdom.

I had a rare opportunity to do so last month when my Baltic cruise included a one-day stop in Helsinki. My relatives in Finland were eager to get together.

We spent the morning in a conference room at the new Oodi Central Library. There we compared family photos and swapped stories. One of my cousins also thought to bring up the idea of illnesses that might run through our Lampinen heritage.

None of us carries the Lampinen surname today, but we all descend from Matti Lampinen (1835-1894) and Anna Miettinen (ca. 1832-?). This couple was of Karelian stock and lived in eastern Finland.

Karelians have well-documented histories of heart disease. The cousins reported that many in their families suffered from this. The same is true among my Finnish relatives in the United States.

The cousins also told me that members of the small Karelian population tended to marry one another, and this in-breeding resulted in the prevalence of allergies and asthma among these people. I also see this tendency toward allergies in descendants of my Finnish great-grandparents.

Looking at my extended family tree confirmed some of the health predispositions I had already observed in my small group of Finnish-American relatives. I added the information about heart disease and allergies to my family health history when I returned home. I also sent it around to my American cousins.

Not everyone has the good fortune to compare health notes with distant relatives. I am glad one of the cousins I visited that day wanted to trade this type of information. All of us now know more about what lies in our genes.

The Trip—Part 3

Our third genealogy stop during our recent Nordic vacation put us in Helsinki, Finland. We had no idea we would do anything but go sightseeing there when we booked the trip. That famous genealogy serendipity stepped in to change our plans.

A Finnish finder of lost relatives contacted me last fall and put me in touch with a couple of third cousins in Finland. I mentioned to them that I would be in Helsinki in June. “We must meet you!” they responded. And so we made a plan.

Our ship, the Zuiderdam of the Holland America line, docked in Helsinki about 7:00 a.m. the day of our visit. My husband/tech advisor had done some advance planning for us, and he knew of a bus stop in the docking area. We left the ship, boarded the bus, and headed into Helsinki.

We had arranged to meet my cousins at the new Oodi Central library in the heart of the city’s cultural district. Completed in 2018, Oodi serves as Helsinki’s living room. This peaceful, open-plan space has new facilities not formerly seen in libraries. Only about one third of the building contains books. A café, restaurant, public balcony, movie theater, AV recording studios, and a makerspace (complete with 3D printers and sewing machines) occupy the rest of the building.

The library was completed with the climate in mind, using local materials. The façade consists of Finnish spruce planks. The glass-enclosed upper floor offers a panoramic view of the city, including Kansalaistori square and the Finnish parliament. Already one upper corner has become known as the best spot in Helsinki for taking selfies.

My cousins could not have been more welcoming. One had reserved a study room. She promptly unpacked tea and cookies for us to enjoy while we talked genealogy. Another unrolled the massive family tree she had created. I brought along all the unidentified Finnish family photos I had recently received from a cousin in Minnesota. We talked and talked about our Finnish forbears.

At lunchtime we walked through a city park on our way to a restaurant. The cousins wanted to show me a statue there. My grandma’s cousin, Ida Andelin, had served as the model. The subject of the statue, the Weeping Woman, comes from a character in Finland’s epic poem, the Kalevala.

When we reached the Kuu restaurant, we enjoyed a traditional Finnish meal. My husband had venison stew, and I had perch. Being from a landlocked state, I order as much seafood as I can when I am near the water. Afterwards, my cousin handed me a few pieces of Fazer Pihlaja candy, the oldest candy produced in Finland. It’s good, and I have since learned that I can order some more. I plan to do so and share it with the rest of my family.

The day in Helsinki could not have gone better. I learned a great deal about my family. I had an insider’s view of Finnish life and experienced warm Finnish hospitality. My cousins urged me to return someday and promised that next time we would go to the sauna. We’ll see.

 

 

Old Photos

A woman sitting next me at a genealogy meeting earlier this week told me about a family photo album she acquired recently. It had been for sale on eBay.

She recognized it because she had seen it in person, years ago. Its owners no longer wanted it but did not make the effort to offer it to other family members. Instead, they posted it for sale online. Genealogists cringe at this behavior.

I had my own experience this month with family photos belonging to another. My mother’s cousin on her Finnish side inherited their grandmother’s photo album.

It contained many images of relatives in Finland, all taken a hundred years ago and more. None had labels.

A few years ago, this cousin visited me and brought along the album. She had no idea who the photo subjects could be, and she asked me for help in identifying them. It saddened both of us that I recognized no one although I could see a strong family resemblance to my Finnish grandmother.

The cousin took her album home again, and that was that. She died a couple of years later. I assumed the album passed down to her son. I did not pursue the idea of acquiring a copy of the unfamiliar contents.

Last fall a couple of our more distant cousins in Finland contacted me. We began exchanging family information, and they asked about family photos. I mentioned the cousin’s album.

They wondered whether I could get my hands on it. Perhaps they could identify some of the people.

Their interest encouraged me. I contacted the cousin’s widower and explained that I may have discovered a way to add some value to her album. I asked for scanned copies of the photos to share with our Finnish cousins.

He replied that he had no interest in keeping these pictures. Nor did his son. He would send me the originals.

The photos arrived in the mail a few days later. My husband/tech advisor has scanned them all.

I will e-mail them to my Finnish cousins to see if they recognize anyone. When I visit them next time I am in Helsinki, I will take hard copies of those and some other family papers. We plan to meet at the new Oodi library in Helsinki to discuss our family history.

Without their encouragement, I may not have acted to preserve these photos. They, too, might have ended up on eBay or in the trash. Instead, I now have digital copies that I can share with all my Finnish-American cousins. With some luck, I may be able to tell them who some of the people are. I just wish my mom’s cousin was still around for this exciting opportunity.