View Full Version : Copper County, UP of Michigan

June Pelo
12-07-14, 21:33
By Ryan Olson
Gazette Writer
HANCOCK — Viljo Lohela, of Hancock, said he’s proud of his Finnish heritage.
He is among the estimated 18,000 people of Finnish ancestry in the Copper Country, according to the 2000 census.
Dining at the Kaleva Cafe in Hancock Friday morning, he said he identifies himself as an “American of Finnish descent.” Lohela, whose parents came from Finland, said he’s proud so many people in the area claim Finnish ancestry.
“There’s a lot of people here proud to be Americans too, but they’re proud of the descent,” Lohela said.
According to the 2000 census, nearly a third of about 55,000 Copper Country residents identify themselves as being of Finnish descent. The percentage of people of Finnish ancestry throughout the rest of Michigan and the United States is far less — 1.02 percent and .22 percent, respectively.
Jim Kurtti, director of the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University, said the large number of Finns in the Copper Country doesn’t surprise him. He said there are many possible reasons why the Finnish population remains so large locally — primarily the migration from Finland to work in the region’s copper mines.
“This was very much a funnel for many of the Finns coming into the U.S.,” Kurtti said.
He said the large number of Finns in the area helped establish Finnish culture in the area with many commercial services catering specifically to Finns.
“There were enough Finns here that it has affected the cultural impact of the area,” he said.
Brian Hoduski, museum curator for Keweenaw National Historical Park, said the migration into the Copper Country during the 1800s mirrored immigration throughout the country.
“The ethnic mix today is reflective of the mix of the immigrants that came principally from Europe to work in the mines and to better their lives,” Hoduski said.
According to the census, 17.59 percent of the Copper Country claims German heritage — close to the 15.24 percent nationwide. About 9.3 percent of the Copper Country linked their ancestry with the English — above the 8.71 percent of people across the country.
Hoduski said many European groups came to work in the mines, and their families chose to remain.
“Their families stayed in the area because the Upper Peninsula is similar to the countries of origin,” Hoduski said.
One possible reason those of Finnish descent continue to dominate the Copper Country in the area of ancestry is because there are few new people moving into the region.
“Pretty much the population has been here for awhile,” Kurtti said.

List of all Houghton County Cemeteries, source: www.michigancemeteries.libraryofmichigan.org
and a source from: http://mi.gov/hal/0,1607,7-160-17445_19270-60689--,00.html

13-07-14, 17:04
I checked a book of my paternal grandfathers' ancestors, etc., and, I was surprised to see several Lohela names listed from Hancock! Some of my grandfathers' ancestors were named Lescelius, and, in the book there is an Eileen Lescelius who was married to Ephraim Lohela. They had three children, Carl, Henry, and William, so, I wonder if Viljo is connected to them.