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We Find My Anders Abelson

My mother’s family came from Finland, and I plan to travel there later this year. I want to visit my ancestral area.

According to family lore, my immigrant great-grandfather was the son of Andrew Mattila, and he was from Viipuri, Finland. The family also had the names of several other Viipuri family members who had come to the United States. With this information, we identified my Andrew Mattila family in the Viipuri area at the end of the nineteenth century.

He was known in Finland, not as Andrew, but by either the Finnish or Swedish versions of his first name, Antti or Anders. We also learned that in his earlier years, he went by his patronymic name, Anders Abelson, meaning his father’s first name was Abel.

Anders/Antti/Andrew lived and worked in the Viipuri parish from the time of his marriage. Was he born there, too? We wanted to find his birth record to see whether we needed to visit any place besides Viipuri, now Vyborg, Russia. Luckily, many of these records can be found online at

An initial search for an “Anders son of Abel in Viipuri parish” turned up a single candidate. Anders Abelson, son of Abel Ivoinson, was born at the Huumola village near Viipuri on 23 November 1827.

Unfortunately, his birth date did not match all the other records we had for my Anders. The Communion Book records for my Anders’ family and his death registration all report he was born in 1826, not 1827.

Is he my ancestor? I suppose we could assume that being off by a year could be a reasonable mistake, but I was not satisfied with that explanation. I thought we needed to do a more exhaustive search. I wanted evidence that either corroborated or disputed the link between the Anders Abelson we found in Huumola and my family.

We broadened our online search to include all of Finland. Sure enough, we found another Anders Abelson in the Lapinjärvi Municipality some distance west of Viipuri. This boy was the son of Abel Andersson and Greta Caspersdotter, and they lived on the Mattila farm. He was born on 4 November 1826, the exact date reported in the Communion Books for my Anders Abelson Mattila. I believe this is my guy.

When we go to Finland, we can take a train ride from Helsinki through the Lapinjärvi area. My Finnish grandmother’s paternal roots are there.

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