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Caino and Torp in Vetil

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Toward the Vetil River Valley

A solitary wanderer shuffled through the backwoods with his knapsack. Along the shore of the river was a good place to search for a suitable place to build a cottage. In Karleby’s outlying land six miles from the coast he found a suitable ridge on the northeastern shore of the Vetil river. Stone Age people had previously used the place as a camping ground and left a trace of their presence.

The river provided fish, and there were forests, game and a little higher up the Karjalankoski rapids provided power to the sawmill. According to Virrankoski the outlying land of Karleby was sparsely populated by southwestern Finns and Swedes, while the number of Tavast and Savolax people was somewhat less. Perhaps we have a little of the genes of the ancient Kyro people or Lapps in us.

The progenitor of the Caino family had 10 neighbors on both sides of the river. The Koskela homestead is believed to have been established by people from Honga in Karleby, but after the disappearance of the family the estate became the parsonage in Vetil. The first master of household at Läspä is thought to have been a “lisping” Swede. Kangas farm continues today to be called Klaavu after Klaus Johansson who was the master of household 1580-1603. The old Torp family continues to live at the Torp homestead. On the same side of the river with Caino there is the somewhat smaller homestead of Puusaari whose first master of household went under the nickname Koira, which indicates that he could have come from Tyrvis (Tyrvää) in Birkaland.

In every day speech, the Klemola homestead also goes under the name Kampeli, from the Swedish “gambel=gammal”. According to tradition the Pollari homestead is the oldest. During Catholic times an earlier counterpart was found in Kyro. Anders (Antti) Savo laid the foundation for the Savo homestead that was later called Heikkilä, and it is thought that the first settlers at Laasanen had come from Savolax. While Olof Olofsson was still master of household at Torp, some new neighbors came; Backala was separated from Pollari and Dunkar at that time. The masters of household also changed frequently. All of these homesteads came to play a large part when the Caino family, together with Torp, expanded their domain.

In both secular and religious matters, Gamlakarleby city, founded 1620, was a central place. The journey was undertaken by boat or on horseback and during the winter, tar barrels were transported along the ice to the city, until Anders Chydenius built the road between Gamlakarleby and Lintulax (now Kyyjärvi) in 1789. From Gamlakarleby to Dunkar the road went along the southern shore and crossed to the north side and stretched from Puusaari and Caino to Saarijärvi.

The Church

In ancient times we belonged to Pedersöre church parish and then later to Karleby. For parts of six generations people had to attend the churches in Pedersöre or Karleby before pastor Ericus Galle received permission from higher authority to build a chapel in the upper part of Karleby parish. Almost immediately a squabble arose between Vetil and Kaustby about the placement of the chapel – both wanted the Lord’s house in their own village and both began immediately to build a chapel. Popular tradition relates that one of the two villages in which the first death occurred could have the chapel. According to legend a gypsy in Kaustby died, but Vetil residents stole the corpse in order to have the chapel in their village. According to Ilmari Wirkkala, it was an innocent child who died and then became the first patron of the chapel and cemetery. According to Wirkkala, the Vetil residents stole the child’s corpse at night, dug a grave at the base of their own chapel and brought someone from Karleby who could read the burial service over the corpse. Wirkkala called Gabriel Torp a corpse stealer, who was rewarded with his image placed at the foot of the pulpit (the Holy Kristoforos). In any event, in 1639 the chapel remained nearly opposite Caino on the south shore of the river. The chapel belonged to Vetil and the villages of Kaustby, Röringe, Perho and Halso.

Hans Henriksson from Caino became the chapel’s parish clerk and moved to Töyra (Brant). Anders Gabrielsson Torp was parish clerk from 1690, and from 1727 it was his son Anders Varg, whose son Erik Andersson Varg served in the third generation. Parish clerk’s brother Henrik Gabrielsson Torp served 1703-1725 as parish sexton. Later son Jakob Kivistö took over the same work. He had gone to school in Gamlakarleby and kept the school for infants.

In Vetil parish registers have been preserved from 1673. Notes were found from that year of the baptism of a child of Henrik Eriksson Lillkaino and of the burial of parish clerk Hans Henriksson. The first bridal couple married the following year: Juryman Jacob Caino’s daughter and a soldier Henrik Hansson Klemola.

The river valley people were lucky to have the services of energetic and efficient parish clergymen. Erik Raumannus, son Elias Forselius and grandson Jacob Forselius were chaplains during the years 1643-1758. The chapel stood for 115 years under the same family guidance.

The church will be your guide today if you search for Torp and Caino. You come to Torp a kilometer south from the church. A birch avenue stretches along the road where you will find some old red farm houses inhabited by descendants of Olof Torp. If you turn to the left over the river and drive a scant kilometer along Kirkkotie you will come to a ridge. Swing to the right and you have before you a stately farm group consisting of old Caino farms. A half kilometer farther lies the Lillkaino farm where you can see older farms amidst the new buildings.

War and Famine

It was seldom that a visitor came to the outlying land, but the tax bailiff and enlisted soldier came down the road to all of the smallest farms. When the people went to war the residents of many farms disappeared. The Kangas homestead was deserted in 1643 when Johan Olofsson Torp settled there, and the same year Hans Gabrielsson Torp took over the deserted Puusaari. Two generations later the descendants moved away and Anders Johansson Kangas, also of the Torp family, became master of household. Erik Olofsson of the large growing Torp family took over Lillkaino in 1636 after two unknown masters of household.

During the era of greatness, the homesteads were divided into sections (rote) of 10 homesteads for the drafting of soldiers. A man was taken from each section. During the Thirty Years War a list was made of all the capable men fit for the armed service, of which 10 were taken. In the rote list from 1630 the following names were found: Hans Olofsson is 20 years old and “old” Olof Olofsson is 60 years old. According to Reijo Ojala these two were from Torp. Then Hans Olofsson, born ca 1610, would be the grandson of Olof Olofsson, if Olof had a son named Olof. About Erik Olofsson, age 29 years, it said that his two brothers are soldiers. One is thought to be Erik Lillkaino-Torp and the brother is thought to have managed his escape home from the war. Or perhaps a son whose name we don’t know was left on the battlefield? Perhaps Olof Olofsson had died (in the war?) and Hans Olofsson was thrown out? In Röringe a Hans Olofsson was found, according to the list, 53 years old and deaf, but son Johan is 18 years of age. Then Hans Aho’s birth year could be 1577 and he could have had a son Johan and a NN daughter.

In 1637 Johan Henriksson Caino was at the point of having to give up his farm- hand to be a soldier. Juryman Johan Caino’s son Gabriel was also forced to go to war, but managed to return unhurt from the war. During the Thirty Years War (1618-48) the number of houses in the upper part of Karleby parish was reduced from 51 to 43. The famine years (1695-97) were difficult but, according to Virrankoski, the consequences were not as disastrous here as in the neighboring parishes of Lochteå and Kalajoki. Caino and Torp managed to take care of their tax debt but many farms were deserted. Many next-of-kin had died. During the last famine years over 200 dead were buried. It is true that some were beggars who came from other parishes, but after the calamity years the deaths averaged 20-30 per year.

Stora Ofreden

The Great Northern War 1714-21 took the men and the home district would remember tales of Stora Ofreden’s hiding places, of kidnapping and heads that were speared on a fence pole. After the Battle of Napue many fled to the woods and lived in terror of the kalmucker (people living in the area around the Volga river) and the hundturk (a mythologic creature). When the enemy began to retreat there were many people who returned home to cultivate their land. But when fall arrived there were new rumors of the enemy’s advance. Chaplain Jakob Forselius related how the valuable articles of the church were hidden just in time because on 28 October 1714 the cossacks rode into Vetil. Then followed a time of violence and war. “One gang of robbers after the other passed through the parish, destroying, burning and murdering.” This continued until 15 December 1715 when the enemy guaranteed the inhabitants peace if each returned to his home and paid the tax that was imposed time after time.

But the envy and spite of the inhabitants let them see each other’s hiding places. “The violence went on in the name of justice and those who first complained were the innocent.” According to Forselius, it was an officer’s farmhand who, without his master’s knowledge, tortured and tormented people in his hunt for hidden money and articles of value. One subjected to torture was Jakob Caino, who had taken over the deserted Närvilä homestead. The Russians took away many children from many families; two of the chaplain’s children were taken away. One of Gabriel Torp’s children was taken also. After that no more of Gabriel’s children are among those who disappeared. It is thought the boy had been returned during a prisoner exchange. There is a question about Gabriel and Gustaf, who both married here. Olof Johansson Kangas’ son Jacob was taken away.

Chaplain Elias Forselius did not go in exile in Sweden during Stora Ofreden. Instead he hid in the woods where he baptized and married his church members. Notes of the burials are missing from the church books from the close of 1714 to the beginning of 1716. The notes began to reappear in March 1716 when Forselius received a promise from the Russian commander that he could return without hindrance to carry on his duties. That same day he held burial services for about 20 of the dead. It is impossible to know how many of these were killed by the Russians, except for one. The court documents relate that Erik Andersson Huntus was killed by the Russians in 1714.

Other memories of the Russians remain. In 1716 Malin Aho died in chidbirth, and after that she had a child with a Russian guard. The child also died. Malen Huntus had a child, who also died, with a Russian dragoon, N. Simon.

On Bertelsmäss a Russian corporal was at the parsonage collecting taxes when the Finnish partisans attacked. The Russians thought that Forselius had betrayed them. The pastor managed to escape at the last minute and lived in hiding in the woods. When the enemy retreated on 27 May 1717 a total of 40 dead were buried. Baptisms and marriages continued in a secret hiding place in the woods, so notations of them were not always made.

When the division was forced on us in 1733, Caino, Torp and Läspä formed rote (section) 42 that maintained the Kapsinkangas soldier’s croft. The croft was where the youth place is located today; the first soldier was named Höök. The first, with the name Björn, was a farm boy from Laukas, Johan Mattsson, who was married to Maria Eriksdotter Töyrä of the Caino family. Johan took part in the Pomeranian war.

The War of 1808-09 and Autonomous Times

During the war of 1808, the Russians and Otto von Fieandt’s troops chased each other through Vetil. They fought at Kokkoneva in Perho. The battle left a memory in the form of cannon balls that the Olympiad champion Arsi Harju’s mother’s father (with ancestry in the family) trained with, using them for the shot put. Men also made war in Vallila, Sillanpää and at Dunkar. The hardship was not the same as during Stora Ofreden, but Caino residents hid themselves at the edge of Jauhoneva in Pakopirtinkorpi. The livestock were driven to hiding. Yet many cows ended up in the Russian pots. They also broke into the storehouse and stole grain. The Russians had some kind of staff in Lillkaino. The heads of the household at that time were Johan and Erik Josefsson. According to tradition a Russian took a horse from Lillkaino and rode it to Sillanpää. The head of household got the horse back by bribing the officer who had lodged with him. The men of the village shot to death a Russian adjutant and buried him between Lillkaino and Seppälä. The grave was found later. The adjutant’s badge of rank is thought to still be in Vetil museum.

A fever killed many of our ancestors during the war. In 1808 there were 153 of the chapel congregation who died. During the previous year between 50 and 55 died. In the following year 111 dead were buried.

“My beloved brought me to America in a coach of glass…”

At the end of 100 years tar burning ceased, wooden masts were no longer needed and homesteads became so small that they no longer could be divided. The people who didn’t own land were unemployed and only one of the sons could inherit the farm. Many began to dream of the land across the sea, because America promised cookies and gingerbread.

During the years 1867-1930, 1,870 emigrant passports were issued to Vetil residents. Most overseas travelers were farmer’s sons or dependent tenants. Many had worked as carpenters in Viborg or as clockmakers in St. Petersburg. Many of them were never heard from again and many wives and children waited in vain for letters. But there were also many who returned home with money for the farm, and with new ideas for house building and farming. Oiva Kainu traveled six times from Vetil and visited Australia, America and Canada. He had worked as a woodsman, miner, in ironwork, as a shipyard worker, as an agricultural worker, in a sheet metal plant, in a bicycle factory, and other miscellaneous work. With sadness, people received word of mining accidents that cost the lives of fathers and sons.

There was also the risk of ending up serving three years in Russian military service. That increased the motivation to set off over the sea. There was a summons to arms in Vetil in 1918 and all proceeded to the front. Of all the men capable of military service, 166 went to America. And the pastor wrote in the church book: “Without a lawful excuse” (for non-appearance).

Women also traveled across the sea to realize their dreams. Alma, nee Läspä, wrote in 1934 that she now had her own house, with dining room and separate bedroom. Her husband was three inches taller than she was, slim and neat. “So we have a golden nugget called Matti Elias. In this country people do not want many children; it is alright, I don’t want any more.” But there was also another side. “Here people are so cool and crude; such feelings exist here that are not found in Finland. Here they don’t celebrate Christmas or Midsummer – everything is the same.”

After the war Finländers gathered help for their homeland. Selina Saari wrote from Minnesota in 1940: “Here we pray a lot for Finland. We help with money and clothing. President Herbert Hoover is the primary head of help for Finland. Coffee parties are organized everywhere. The income goes to help Finland."

During the years after the war, 3,800 American packages came to Vetil. Everyone knew the aroma of genuine coffee coming from some farm, so people in the village said: “You have received an American package.”

Marjatta Pulkkinen

Sources in addition to those mentioned in the text:

(English translation by June Pelo)


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