View Full Version : Learning about the Bastman and Koskela Families

11-06-05, 04:12
My name is Jo Phillips and I live in the U.S., in the state of Ohio. My great-grandparents were Wilhelmina (Koskela) and John Backman, who lived in Wakefield (Gogebic County in the Upper Peninsula), Michigan.

Wilhelmina came to the U.S. in 1901. She was born 10 September 1878, in Lappajarvi, Waasa, Finland. Her parents were Heikki Koskela and Liisa Luoma Aho. Wilhelmina had a sister named Hannah and a brother named Andrew who also came to the U.S.

My great-grandfather was Frans Gustaf Hjalmar Bastman, born 22 Nov 1875 in Kotka or Weberg, Finland. He came to the U.S. in 1902 and the spelling of his name was changed to Backman. I believe he had a sister named Ingrid who also came to the U.S. The Bastmans were Swede-Finns. In a family photo album, there are pictures of an Elin Bastman as well as some Blombergs but I don't know what the relationship is.

I'm very new at this research and have a lot to learn yet. I've been enjoying the many articles that are so helpful and I've enjoyed reading so many of the posts in this forum. Thank you for allowing me to join and I hope to be a contributing member once I've learned more.

11-06-05, 05:37
found at: Swenson S 27-3 = Iron Co, Crystal Falls, Finnish Lutheran (merged with Swedish to form United Lutheran)

Pos Given Names Surname Other names Born Parish Emi. Church

b78mh Johan Koski age 23 when md, Apr 15 1904 Finland unk S 27-3
b78mw Johanna Koskela age 22, ditto Finland unk S 27-3

Edit: ah the code. Left column "b" refers to the second book on the film, page 78, m=marriage, w=wife, h=husband. They married Apr 15 1904.
No idea when they emigrated.

Not many Koskela people around and this girl matches up with a Hanna so maybe she is yours.

To see the UP county lineup, click on Delphi article collection at the top of the page, write granskare into search box and click and then you will be able to scroll to find the counties of the UP. This listing is only of Finnish born people found in church films at Swenson Swedish Immigration Center here in town.

Pastor Hoikka of the Crystal Falls church traveled far and wide across the UP baptizing, marrying, confirming. A busy man for certain. If he knew the individual was from Finland, he recorded that fact - something not usual beyond the membership pages.

Welcome to sfhs and be sure to check out the delphi UP database.



11-06-05, 14:26
After posting my intro last night, I did a lot more reading and browsing and think I found Wilhelmiina's family on the LDS website. If I have the right people, her sister Johanna was born in 1882, which would make the one you found the right age. When Wilhelmiina died in 1960, her obituary referred to her sister as Hannah Rannisto but it's very possible Hannah had been widowed and remarried. Koski is a very common name in the Wakefield area and I do seem to recall that we might be related to some of them (and Korpelas).

I think the Luoma and Aho names Wilhelmiina gave for her mother (on her Naturalization record) might be the names from the farm where she lived because I found a Koskela marriage in Lappajarvi that used them that way.

As you can see, I have much to learn before I understand all this!

We drive out to Rock Island once or twice a year to visit my husband's relatives. Perhaps when I get good enough at all this, I'd enjoy seeing the collections in the library there.

Thank you for the welcome and for the info about the Delphi article. I'm going to look for it now.

14-06-05, 11:37
Hi Jo
This may be the Johan Koski Chuck found marrying in Crystal Falls in the 1910 census index.Heads of Household only are listed.
Surname,GivenName,Age,Sex,Race,Birthplace,County,L ocality,T624-Roll,Part,Page,Subpage,State
Could this be Wilhelmina's brother
I wasn't able to find a listing for John Backman in Wakefield Twp
in 1910 however I did find two Bastman listings.

A site you may find very useful if you haven't found it yet is
which has The Gogebic Range City Directories for various towns
between 1888 and 1947 including Wakefield Twp.
A recent addition to the site is a Wakefield, MI 1925 Slide show.
There is also a photo of the Wakefield Lutheran Confirmation from about 1912 for which they are seeking names.
1928 Wakefield Township Michigan
Backman John married Wakefield miner b/2
1938 City Directory :
Wakefield Township, Michigan
Backman Julius (single) U S 2 Star.R 1 farmer
Backman Minnit (widow) U S 2 Star R I farmer
1947 Wakefield Township Michgan
Backman, Henry (Hilda) ... RFD 1 Wakefield, farmer & miner,
Castile Mine (3)
Backman, Julius ... RFD Wakefield, farmer
Backman, Minnie Mrs (widow of John) ... RFD 1 Wakefield, farmer


16-06-05, 18:03
Hi Jeannette,

Thank you for the wonderful response. I knew about the Mattson Works website but had never spent much time truly browsing it and so I thoroughly enjoyed going through every page last night.

John & Minnie Backman moved to Wakefield in 1913, having been in Brooklyn, NY for the 1910 census. John died in 1930 but Minnie lived until I was 11 so I have memories of her. One of the great things about genealogy is how it helps us see our ancestors as real people. Minnie was short and stoop-shouldered and had white hair that she kept mostly under a "babushka" (it's what we called the white scarf she covered her hair with). She spoke broken English and was pretty old from my frame of reference.

And then I read her Naturalization Application and see that she came to America with some girlfriends. That put her in a whole different light for me, allowing me to see her as a young woman with hopes and dreams.

We'd always thought g-grandfather Hjalmar (John) came from Sweden and the family story had been that John & Minnie met on the ship coming to America. But when I started this hobby, I found out he was a Swede-Finn and that he'd landed in Boston a year before she landed in NYC. There went the family story.

Until a very nice man translated a certificate I had for Hjalmar (John) that turned out to be his diploma from steamship machinist school. So now I've pieced it together - they did meet on the ship but he was a machinist and she was a passenger. I just love that and now I tell people my gr-grandma was flirting with the crew.

So now I envision her as a young woman with hopes and dreams and a flirtatious smile and an adventurous spirit.

I love my memories of her when she's old and frail but I also cherish the new "memories" of her, too.

And I suppose I'm way off topic here......

Anyway, thank you so much for the response. Every little bit helps and the clues just keep adding up and pretty soon I can plan a trip to Finland to really see my heritage.

17-06-05, 02:16
I just got back from the U.P. of Michigan and visited the former Finnish Lutheran in Gwinn (now Grace Lutheran). They still had the old books and ministerial acts books so I was able to find everything. I went to the Finnish center in Hancock and was disappointed in that the microfilms there are of poor quality. This was told to me by Jari Liukkonen, archivist, before I got there - evidently the photographic process was not suited for making such films.

If you want to see the Finnish church books in Ironwood, by all means contact the church and first determine if they are the successor church and then ask if they have the old records books. You just might get lucky. The items here at Swenson are from Swedish churches with exception of two Finnish language churches in Champion and in Crystal Falls.

18-06-05, 02:11
Hi Jo,
I really enjoyed reading your last posting as I have had a similar experience. I'm sure your respect and admiration for your great grandparents will continue to grow as you learn more about their lives.
Another site which may be of use to you is that of the Italian Genealogical Group http://www.italiangen.org/default.htm
It has a large number of searchable NY City databases. Amongst them the New York City Grooms Index. You may be able to pick up the marriage date and details for your great grandparents if you don't have it. http://www.italiangen.org/NYCMarriage.stm

Here is the list of Backman in NY state in the 1910 census. John isn't listed but if they were living with another Backman relative who was the Head of household only his name appears in the index.

Best wishes

18-06-05, 15:50
To Chuck:

First let me say thank you for all the help and tips. This is so nice and I just love this hobby, er, obsession, because I truly believe it attracts the world's nicest people.

I got to browse the records at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Ironwood when I was researching my Dad's German family. I got all settled at their very nice table with all these wonderful old books around me, only to open the first one and find it all in Finnish. I spent about 2 hours there anyway, just fascinated by it all, even if I couldn't fathom any of it. On their wall is a display of confirmation photos dating way, way back, which is also a treasure to look at.

If you're ever up that way again and wish to contact them, they're very, very agreeable to letting people look at the books and I think they'd actually love to have someone preserve them and maybe even copy the data. I wasn't able to offer to help them with that but I did find someone to shovel their roof for them that day. :)

I think I have most of Minnie & John's info once they got to the U.S.A. Fortunately, my Finnish relatives saved a lot of their paperwork and I was able to spend considerable hours at the Gogebic courthouse and Ironwood library filling in the blanks.

However, next time I'm up there, I think I will call their church in Wakefield and see if I can get copies of the various certificates because they would be nice additions to the "book" I intend to make.

Thanks again for helping me and for ALL that you do.


18-06-05, 16:03
Hi Jeannette,

Thank you so much! The NYC database info is wonderful and might help me with some other relatives, too. I found the certificates for their 2 children who died and now have exact dates for them. I have John & Minnie's marriage date but didn't find it on the index yet (under obvious spellings, that is; I'll have to spend some time browsing the "sound alikes").

And thank you for the census. I had had trouble finding them in the 1910 census so I had finally just searched every single person in Brooklyn who was born in Finland and did finally find them. And it is very clearly spelled Backman on the census page so the index isn't accurate. I encourage anyone else who can't find someone to search using other parameters. It was painstaking and time-consuming but it was worth it because I found them.

There's something about seeing your grandmother listed as being 6 months on an old document that's just sort of sweet. My family just thinks I'm weird when I get all excited about these things and so I appreciate you and people like you because it gives me a chance to exchange thoughts and ideas. And having other people share my passion for this keeps me going.

Sometimes far too long into the wee hours of the morning, though. :)

Thank you again!


19-06-05, 01:07
Hi Jo,
I'm sure I speak for Chuck and everyone else at Finlander too when I say we're happy to help if we can. Perhaps you will come across a site which may be helpful to others one day :)

After examining the census of Brooklyn page by page, (yes there are vast numbers of errors in the index, I have to agree but it has also been very helpful too), this link may come in handy

Have you tried the Genealogical Society of Finland site yet?
There are heaps of different categories which may be helpful to your research both in the US and in Finland including HisKi.

Don't wear your eyes out.

11-05-11, 19:08
Jo. My name is Brent Backman and lived in Wakefield, MI. My father is Henry Backman.