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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.

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