View Full Version : Understanding Farm Names

Terry Reigel
15-12-05, 21:11
I've just turned to trying to clarify my Finnish ancestry - my great grandmother immigrated from the Påvals farm near Esse Ytteresse.

As I work to best record what I'm learning, I find I don't understand the use of farm names well enough to know how to record them. What I think I know:

- Surnames were not commonly used prior to the 20th century, but farm names were later adopted by some families as surnames.

- Farm names are often recorded by modern researchers as if they were surnames in order to help keep family lines straight.

My genealogy software offers me several potential ways to record farm names, and I'm trying to figure out which would serve my needs best. A key question to me is whether my ancestors in the 18th and 19th centuries actually used farm names to identify themselves? Or is their use in that way a more recent invention?

Any insight would be appreciated.

Terry Reigel

Karen Norwillo
15-12-05, 22:04
Terry, I, too, found it quite confusing at first, but I have been using those farm names as surnames. Without the patronymic and farm name, it's almost impossible to keep all the Johans and Marias straight. Those two things proved invaluable in researching. Karen

June Pelo
16-12-05, 01:50
It's my understanding that surnames weren't used in some parts of Finland until recently, and people were identified by their farm names. It has been that way with my family for about 400 years. As people moved from one farm to another, their "last names" also changed. I record the farm names as "last names" separated by a dash:
Henrik Mattsson Borgarbacka-Kulla

In this way I can track them by looking for them under the various farms where they lived. Each genealogist has his own system for recording names, but I follow this system which is used by several known genealogists in Finland.


Terry Reigel
16-12-05, 02:56
Thanks, Karen and June.

One only has to input a couple of generations to understand the merit of using farm names to keep track of families. :)

The point I'm trying to understand is whether they were actually used as names by people at the time. If not, I'd prefer to enter the given name and patronymic as the primary name, so it appears in my output. I'd enter the farm name as an additional name to aid searching.

But if the farm names were actually used at the time I'd simply enter them as if they were surnames.


16-12-05, 13:34
It is assumed, that in ancient times people had family names everywhere in Finland and some of them may be found in farm names. In western Finland the family names disappeared, but in eastern Finland they have always been used.

In eastern Finland the familyname passed normally from father to son, and even wifes were usually documented with her fathers familyname. In some cases about a husband who lived in his father in laws farm were used his wifes familyname.

In Osterbotten it seems to be general to use in documents farms name as a familyname, but in southwestern Finland anything like a familyname was seldom used before the 19- th. century.

In the countyside the farms name seems still to be better known than the farmers actual familyname. So I guess that the farms name was used as a familyname earlier too, at least in some parts of the country

I think that serious researches say, that farm names shoud not be used as familynames.


17-12-05, 17:02
In my home village Sundom (in Österbotten) we have had 25 farm names. At least twenty of them are still in use as surnames – i.e. I know people bearing the names. Some of the names are unique for our village. If you find for instance the name Hortans you may be pretty sure that the bearer has his roots in Sundom.
When people in Sundom for some reason have changed their names, they have often chosen names with a first syllable Sund- (probably from Sundom). So far I have found 17 Sund-names, such as Sundin, Sundman, Sundqvist etc.
Most of our farm names are at least 300 years old, the oldest name was mentioned in 1549. For genealogists our farm names are very useful – much easier to know where to look for a Båtmästar than an Anderson!
I always use the farm names as surnames - I agree with Karen: without surnames it would be quite impossible to keep all the people straight since there were no other names. And in most cases the farm names are the same as the surnames, when such names came into use.
Ulla in Sundom

18-12-05, 02:09
At hiski I found:
21.10.1867 24.10.1867 Tengeliö f. 261 Inh. Isak Sal:sn Wuosku Eva 35-40 Ida

Here we see a farm name Tengeliö and father's given name of Isak and also Sal:sn and I his surname is Wuosku. This child Ida I know because of her birthdate and parish. That from the Republic MI Apostolic Lutheran books. I have checked surname Wuosku at hiski and came up with this listing:
23.8.1860 26.8.1860 Tengeliö 63 Drg. Isak Sal:sn Wuoskuniemi Eva 30-35 Johan
31.8.1862 14.9.1862 Tengeliö f. 63 Sågk. Isak Sal:sn Wuosku Eva Joh.d:r 30-35 Isak
and my Ida
21.10.1867 24.10.1867 Tengeliö f. 261 Inh. Isak Sal:sn Wuosku Eva 35-40 Ida

Why is the first surname Wuoskuniemi and then the rest are Wuosku?

Kaj Granlund
20-12-05, 21:59
You should know the local traditions. But one example: here in Esse we have Enafolk that is also written as Ena. But is still the same area of farms. And the surname to day is Ena. And Kungs that also is spoken about as "Kunusfolk"

Karen Norwillo
05-01-06, 07:06
Have a silly question, but, is there a proper order in which to record those farm names...oldest to newest or last known to birth place. Ex. in the case of Eva Thomasdotter Ena, I have seen her as Ena, Tarvonen t Ena, Tarvonen-Kultalax-Ena. Also, there are two different birth dates for her on TALKO, 6 Feb 1736 and 27 Jan 1726, both with the date of death as 27 Sep 1773. Spouse is the same for both. KAREN

Jaska Sarell
05-01-06, 12:59
Hi Karen,

As to the birthday, the correct one is definetely 6 Feb 1736.
HisKi Lappajärvi:
6.2.1736 7.2.1736 Ena Thomas Thomass: Lisa Eva (tv.)
Also death age in Esse implies the same year:
27.9.1773 10.10.1773 Lapf. Tarvon Hu. Eva Thomasdotter B.verk 37 10
Marriage in Esse:
27.11.1757 Matts Hansson Eva Thomasdr Evijärvi Ena

In my mind, at least for her Kultalax is not needed though her father is from there, but became farmer at wife's farm Ena. Tarvonen is another name of her husband's farm Högkull - apparently some division was made at the time and names appear in rather mixed way. Eva was born at Ena, from where she was married. The matter is more complicated for men, who move to become son-in-law (måg) at father-in-law's farm or move completely elsewhere. There you can see differing solutions for the problem. I use "maiden" name for men in the former case and try to pick some name for the latter, as my software has limited name space.
Thus I'm using the KISS idea myself, but understand others especially if no comments are shown.

:) Jaska

K-G Molander
06-01-06, 09:24
I use the farm names as the location of birth and death.

Example: Anders /Andersson/
born: 14 Aug 1756
Place: Sandbacka, Kronoby, Finland
Died: 20 Mar 1825
Place: Brännkärr, Nedervetil, Finland

where Sandbacka and Brännkärr are farm names.