Growing up my father had a tradition. As we would travel back and forth to the mid-west, at each hotel stop he would grab a phone book. He would open it and look for any Finnish names he could find; Jarvi, Koski, Niemi, etc. When he would find one, he would dial the number and ask them if they were in Finnish. Success would often end with a long conversation with someone he had never met, and often would never meet in person, about their Finnish history. I used to think this odd or at least unique. It was only much later that I would find this would be common of Finns of his generation.
Why Start Blogging
The idea of this blog started on a recently trip to Ohio. I wasn’t sure what to do on a free weekend. A personal event reminded me of a store that sold Finnish goods during the winter in Lake Worth. I also knew that in the summer their shop would open in their hometown of Fariport Harbor. I decided to go for a quick trip to get some Finnish mustard and who knows what else.
What I found was a community of proud Finnish-Americans that had built a long standing community in Fairport Harbor since the 1900’s. They story was proudly told in the Finnish Heritage Museum in the town’s old police station. I decided to take a tour. What I found is what I think my father found when he would search the phone books, interesting stories of Finnish-American history. For me this was over a shared pot of strong Finnish coffee with pullä.
Why Finnish Not Done
Finnish Not Done has been a mantra I’ve used to describe myself. It started as a simple pun on words to state to people the background of my last name. The first time I used it formally was as my team name during a weekly pub trivia game. Oddly that night one of the questions had Finland as its answer. I should have seen the signs.
I plan to share stories over the next few years that I discover. While my father used to use the phone book, much of my searching will be done through the internet. I want to bring all these stories together, in one place and I want to put them into historical context.
I don’t think I’m the only one with Finnish roots that’s interested in learning more about a culture often ignored in New World history but still a strong part of it. Finns were maybe not front and center in history of the New World but absolutely they were there shaping things in interesting ways.
What follows are stories that are …
Finnish Not Done.
You’re right……while raised in a Finnish family—my material great grandparents were the first Finns to settle ‘between the lakes’–Lakes Cayuga and Seneca in New York State–in 1919-20 –I knew very, very few others whose family was of Finnish descent. There had been other Finns who had settled to the south about a decade earlier. My grandfathers family was Maki from Rudyard in Michigan’s UP and coming from Kaankaapaa, Finland. My grandmothers family was the Westerlund’s from Ishpeming, Mich and from Viipuri, Finland. This area of New York State was a regular back roads community of Finlanders. It was said that on any Saturday night you could take sauna from over 3 dozen communities scattered between the lakes. I am so proud to be Finnish–well half Finn anyway.
Finnish…really not done…
Thank you for the information. I’ve been a little swamped with work and have let the blog slow. I have several project that I plan to work on that are history related.
Hi thanks for the fun Finnish history stories. You have its a great site but please please add navigation widgets. There is no way to find archives of all the blogs you have written. Its really easy to add a widget for that, you find them by Googling for instance: adding archives navigation widget wordpress.com
Thank you for the note. I’ve been a little swamped with work and have let the blog slow. I had the categories created but only just had the time to build the menus. I hope you will enjoy the easer discovery. I have several project that I plan to work on that are history related that I never finished.
Thanks for reading.