View Full Version : Help with 1910 Letter from Purmo

David Bawden
25-01-11, 18:12
I have found a letter from my great grandmother written in 1910 from Purmo and would appreciate anyone interested in translating it. Always remember, no good deed goes unpunished. I have several others I need help on as well. The first is four pages and her writing is very clear. Written by Greta Lisa Pehrsdotter (1844-1914) to her son, Viktor Peterson in Butte Montana.

26-01-11, 11:49
Hello David and greetings from Somero! Here is a quick translation of the letter:

"Purmo 10th of November, 1910

My beloved son and daughter-in-law, [I hope you] live and are well, that is my wish and may the Lord´s mercy and peace be with you.
I now wish to write a few lines to you, my beloved child, so that you don´t have to think that I have forgotten you. Even if you are far away from me you are as dear to me as are the other [children of mine] because I have felt a mother´s tenderness and have taken care of you all alike without exception but now I feel this becomes too heavy for me and it brings me great pain

<< page 2 >>
when I from your letters hear that you carry such a hatred towards both me and your brothers. You curse Anders for lying down on father´s urn but you should not think that he been allowed to lie down and rest, oh no, he has had to work. You do remember how young and childish he was when your father died and in my opinion he was so friendly towards you and always wished you well as long as you stayed at home. Now he only receives letters from you calling him names. You should not either think that all my days have been amusing here on Bäckbacka?, when you will have to try as hard as I have done and

<< page 3 >>
slave away in [all] my days then you will know what the world is about. You feel that you were pushed away like a beggar but I don´t feel that way, here were no great riches to take from but you did not have to lie down and Anders tried to run along and give you advice. I now want to know if you by now have got any [of the] money back from Henriks Alfred to whom you have lent money and hereby I stop and leave you into the hands of God, he who is almighty and makes things go as He wishes. Many dear greetings from me who is your mother until death. Good bye and live well wishes Greta Lisa Bäckbacka.

<< page 4 >>
At the same time I wish to send to you Selma, my beloved child, a few words. I miss you so much and I remember you so often when I go to sleep at nights. There would be so much to talk about with you but I don´t know how to write it down. Surely it is the most pleasant time for a bird when she can have her chicks left in the nest! I have been in Sudda? to help Herman and Anna. Now I wish to send greetings to Lovisa, it would be so nice to be able to see her and her young ones one more time. I have met with Hanna Nylund, she is planning to come over there by spring. Many dear greetings from me to all of you. Good bye and stay well wishes your mother."


Göran Kuhlberg

Tapio Rautio
26-01-11, 12:19


Jaska Sarell
26-01-11, 13:35
Nice work, Göran!
A note: she has written name Bäcksbacka as Bäxbacka.

:) Jaska

David Bawden
26-01-11, 17:13
Hello David and greetings from Somero! Here is a quick translation of the letter:

Ahh! What an amazing letter you have revealed. It captures family history, the animosity between brothers, motivation for leaving, and the eloquence and heart of a mother.

Thank you for such a beautiful gift.


27-01-11, 07:37
You are welcome!

I believe we now all want to know this: Were the brothers ever able to get along or did the animosity go on forever?


David Bawden
27-01-11, 17:26
At this point, I don't know. I am in contact with the brother's descendants and will attempt to uncover more information. I still have another letter to translate from Purmo but it will have to wait a few weeks as I'm traveling. I'll post it on this string for continuity.

28-01-11, 07:31
Well, we are looking forward to hearing more!

David Bawden
13-02-11, 19:26
Relatives in Purmo are looking for old letters from America but have not uncovered any. My grandfather's mother and older brothers all died shortly after this letter so perhaps no reconciliation was ever reached. Johan and Anders died in 1918 at age 40 and 34, Herman in 1914 at age 30 and Greta Lisa the same year at age 69.

I do have several other letters from Purmo to investigate. Following are four other pages from about the same time period but from my grandmother's farm called Kalijarvi. Her mother was also named Greta.

14-02-11, 01:46
But David...

Aren't these pages exactly the same as you posted 25-01-11 18:12? Did you accidentally upload the wrong attachments.

Btw - at the same time a humble wish - if you have to upload the correct pages once more... Could you save the pictures as jpeg documents instead - with a resolution of approx. 800 pixels wide. (As you can see from the previous letter's picture files the quality is good enough for reading.)

If you look at the space used per page in your "new" version of the letter pages you can see that each page occupies over 1 megabyte - this in comparison with the jpeg versions I resaved for the previous version you uploaded. In principle I don't want to waste storage space unnecessarily - and since you can see the pdf documents use some 20 times more space than the jpeg documents it would be quite a saving if you store them as 800px jpegs.


David Bawden
14-02-11, 16:27
Thanks for the notice on the error on attachment management and size recommendations. I'll see if I can get the correct ones attached.

16-02-11, 13:51
Hello again!

Here is a quick and crude translation of the second letter:

Kaljärvi March 28th, 1921
Dearest sister, I now want to take me the liberty to reply to your letter which arrived to me some time ago. [From] it I see that you are all alive and in [good] health which is a valuable gift to possess. The same joyful message may we who are staying at home send back to you but otherwise there has been a lot of sickness here and

<< page 2 >>
a number of people here have died. Eterback Jal(?) has died a few weeks ago from an illness of long duration and the wife of Kalle’ s Anders at Lassfolk has died [whom] is well known to Maria. Also “Torpajonas” at Millasbacka has died. We have received 5 cards that you have sent but we have not written any replies to them, we were waiting for letters from you before we would reply but you wrote that you have sent [letters/cards] to Viktor too but they have not arrived.

<< page 3 >>
We thank you for them …. and from your photos I can see that you have eaten too strong food since you have become so fat, if you had stayed as the queen of home and had been eating milk with no fat in it, I believe that you then had been like other people. You [my] sister mentioned that you would send us fish(?)tails which we do not demand from you even though I think that I know how to value what I receive and especially from the church and from America be it little or much

<< page 4 >>
and so may I inform you that we have not made any cross for our mother yet because father and mother are resting very close to each other but I have thought that we should make a +++cross but I wish to mention this to …. Maria who is so strict with what type she wants to have. You must not think that I demand anything from you when I write about this but as you know mother is worth everything we can do. I don´t want to say anything more in this case when I know that I owe her for [so] many things.

As you see, some passages still need to be worked on, but I think you will get an idea of the contents!

Best regards,

David Bawden
16-02-11, 17:14
Ahh, this detective work gets more complicated all the time. Thank you again for your generous translation. I will be off line for a few weeks as I travel. I'll pick up on my letters when I return.

David Bawden
06-03-11, 17:54
The last of the letters I would appreciate a translation are attached. They are incomplete and difficult to read. Only pages 3 and 4 were found. Another short note will be attached when I figure out how to do it.

Again, these have been invaluable to aid in my research. I'm currently working on a book of my Finnish ancestors and am incorporating these translations into it. Thank you.36593660

David Bawden
06-03-11, 18:43
I've tried to translate using google translate but I can't figure out enough of the handwriting to have it makes sense. Any ideas?

07-03-11, 08:38
Livets fröjd och livets lycka "Life´s delight and life´s joy" /

söker jag med dig "I am searching [for] with you" /

Ingen sorg min själ skall trycka "No sorrow will depress my soul" /

blott jag vet du älskar mig "if I only know that you love me" /

all min kärlek dig tillhör "all my love belongs to you" /

Din jag lever "[As] yours I live" /

din jag dör "[as] your I die"

W. S(?) son

This is very touching! The Swedish spelling is normalized to make the text more easily understood. The initial letter that follows after "W." is probably not an "S" but I can´t figure it out...

Göran Kuhlberg

07-03-11, 08:55
The last line is better like this: / din jag dör "[as] yours I die"

The partial letter is a trickier task since the writer seems to have been very unfamiliar with writing but I will give it a try!


David Bawden
07-03-11, 16:57
The writing style appears to be my grandfathers. The signature is possibly V P son (Victor Petterson). The piece was written to his future bride in Finland and she kept it all these years. On another small scrap of paper like this one he had written his mailing address in Colorado where he had found work with some other Purmo friends.

Thank you again for revealing the common human experiences that bring to life my ancestors. I am moved to tears.

Karen Norwillo
10-03-11, 17:21
What a treasure. Who said Finns were "cold" and didn't show their emotions?

19-04-11, 15:30
A crude translation of the letter:

Sid 3: … inte om det är just mycket lönt att gifta sig om man skall börja föda dem som det ser ut här men nu blir det min tur till nästa vinter att gå till skogen väl. Will och Hanna de är väl förlovade nu, de var ner från skogen till jul båda två och då var de vid Nylands så då var det två par brudfolk där. Du vet, Selma och Otto de går...
Sid 4: ... tillsammans än. W-B stoppar där för jag har slutat att ha båda (?) här. Vi har byggt om vårt hus så vi har det räntat ut upstairs. Det kostade oss åtta hundra dollar att bygga så jag tror att du knappt kände igen det. Väl får så sluta då för här är inte något nytt jäst (??) att berätta också vet jag [inte] om du får reda på det här jag är så dålig att skriva och ett (??) så sömnig.
Page 3. ... don´t [know] if there is much idea in getting married if you will have to start feeding them as it looks like here but now it will next winter probably be my turn to go to the woods. Will and Hanna, they are engaged to be married, they came down from the wood at Christmas and then they stayed at Nylund´s so there were two couples who will get married. You know, Selma and Otto they…
Page 4. … are still together. W-B stops there because I have ceased having both here. We have rebuilt our house and we have rented the second floor. It cost us 800 $ and I believe you hardly would recognize it. Well that will be it since here are no news to tell about and also I don´t know if you are able to read this, my hand-writing is so bad and I am sleepy as well.


David Bawden
19-04-11, 18:10
Thank you again Göran for making sense of this difficult partial letter. One does not know if there are important clues to the past in some of these artifacts unless unlocked. Your work has been most helpful and in the book I am writing. It will be out in December. I note you as the source of translation on several pages as the only payment I can give you for your skills and time. I will be posting it on my Facebook page as well as sending copies back to Finland and a copy to SFHS. It will also be available on CD. If interested I could mail you a copy in that format.

The book deals with my Peterson and Nylund grandparents (from Purmo), their parents. and sibings. It includes known biography, interviews, old family photos, and family trees of those who came to America, came and returned, and those who stayed in Finland. I may write an article for our newsletter if there is interest on the process and product. Your work has allowed us to hear their voice. That is an incredible gift you have given our family. Thank you.

20-04-11, 15:12
Hello again David!

It is nice to know that I have been able to help you with the translation of the letters. I am glad to accept a CD copy of the book you are going to publish. Before that, I will see if I can make the translations just a little bit more accurate. Please allow me to spend a few days before I get this part of the work done!