“We knew nothing of our mother’s family. They all stayed in Finland.” This was the only information my grandmother could offer when I asked her about my great-grandmother Ada Alina Lampinen’s family. How do you build a birth family with so little to go on?
In genealogy we work backwards in time, so I began looking for data on Ada herself. My mother told me she had died in Hibbing, Minnesota on the twelfth of May, 1948. Mom also knew she had been 27 years old when my grandmother was born in Minnesota in 1906, suggesting that Ada was born in 1879. Lastly, Mom also recalled her grandfather saying the family was from Viipuri. Another daughter kindly visited the genealogy library at Iron World in Chisholm, Minnesota and found the family’s 1905 immigration papers.
Thus armed with a time frame and an approximate location, we began our search for the Lampinens in the Finnish records. Here is where my husband/tech advisor came in handy.
He located Finnish newspapers online (http://digi.lib.helsinki.fi/index.html) and found a 1904 marriage announcement for Alex and Ada (Lampinen) Mattila in Viipuri. This confirmed our location, and began our dive into Finnish parish records.
These records can be found online, too, at Finland’s Family History Association (http://www.sukuhistoria.fi/sshy/index_eng.htm). Luckily, the index offers a country-wide search, because we found no birth record for Ada in Viipuri parish. Using the broader search, we finally located an 1879 birth and baptism record for Ada in Juuka parish. We learned that her parents were Matti Lampinen and Anna Miettinen who married in 1856. So what about the rest of her family?
The Juuka parish registers for many of the years in which the Lampinen children would have been born have not been indexed. Now I am searching the Juuka images page by page to find them. In addition to Henric (b. 1857) and Anna Valborg (b.1859), this week I located the birth and baptism record for Eva Stiina (b. 1861). I still have 18 years of records to search before reaching Ada’s own birth record in 1879.
Although this is a slow process, I am eager to learn how many sibilings Ada had. Soon we will no longer be saying that we know nothing of her family.