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Clergyman from Pelo Became Prisoner of War


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Picture courtesy GSF
Agneta Nyman of Pelo village, Nedervetil, has always been interested in genealogy and especially families of clergymen. She acquired her interest in genealogy from her father Axel Nyman who was a good story teller and had a good memory. She has found that 13 clergymen have come from Nedervetil which is a lot from such a small parish. She can recount all branches of her family and said that when one lives in a house from the 1700's it is natural to know ones ancestors.

In the 1600's and 1700's there were four family branches in Pelo village, one of which was the Pelander family. Agneta discovered that in the 1700's a clergyman named Petrus Pelander lived in Pelo village. The Pelander family was a gifted family and many of them became merchants in Gamlakarleby. In the early 1700's Petrus was a chaplain at Viborg. He was married to a clergyman's daughter, Charlotta Elisabet Hammarman, born 1695 at Kymi. No information has been found as to when Petrus was born. In 1710 when Viborg was captured, Petrus was taken as a prisoner of war and sent to Siberia. He was kept there until 20 January 1723 when he was released and became a clergyman in Lappajärvi.

Charlotte, the first known "lotta" (member of women's services) followed her husband into war. She did not abandon him when he was taken prisoner and went with him to Siberia. Five children were born there.

In the prison camp the Pelander family was deprived of all their possessions and they went to Lappajärvi stone-broke. They were so poor that during a visit to the parish in 1723, officials requested parish members to gather necessities for the family.

Petrus Pelander did not work long in Lappajärvi. After 14 months as a chaplain, he died leaving his wife and five children in poverty and misery. Charlotta then married his successor, chaplain Samuel Simali and had a son Abraham in that marriage. When Samuel died, she married his successor, chaplain Tuomas Wilckman. They were married for six years before he died 17 March 1774 at 49 years of age.

Charlotta's name still lives on in Lappajärvi. She was an unusual clergyman's wife. She not only took care of her own family, she concerned herself with others. She took many adopted children. She had a great sense of self-sacrifice and could reconcile with the poor widows who lost what they had. Despite her poverty, Charlotta gave small sums of money now and then to the church. She brought up her own children to sacrifice also. A note was found in a church book in 1741 and 1742 that little Abraham Simalin and Gustav Pelander gave a small donation to the church.

The parish also drew from Charlotta's efficiency. In 1728 she went to Vasa at the expense of the parish to "talk loose" a chaplain's dwelling for the parish. At the same time she had "talked loose" a horse that belonged to the parish, which the minister was allowed to use as a fringe benefit. Of Charlotta's children, it appears that son Gustav Pelander became a minister and worked first in Jakobstad and later in Alajärvi.

Pelo village is situated on the Perho river about two kilometers north of Nedervetil parish church. An old tradition says that a king of Sweden had been forced to flee his enemies and went to Finland. He lived for a time at a farm in Nedervetil which was later called Slotte. But he didn't feel secure there so he fled on a raft over the river to another village now called Pelo. Anders Chydennius in "Om Gamle Carleby II" thought that King Karl VIII Knutsson fled Sweden between 1465-67 and sojurned in Finland.

Over the years historians have disagreed on the origin of the Pelo name. Someone thought it came from the Finnish word "pelossa" (in fear). Another thought it came from the word "pela" (paddle with oar), and another thought it came from the Finnish world "pelut" (husks or chaff). The final conclusion is that it came from the name of a person. Thus only the names Per or Pelle could be considered. The first known farmer was Per Persson. His first name was alternately written as Per, Peder, Pelle and Pell.

By Siv Högnäs from ÖSTERBOTTNINGEN, 29 Jan 1989

Translated by June Pelo

Note: Petrus Olofsson Pelander was the son of my seventh great grandfather Olof Mårtensson Pelo, thus Petrus was my 6th great granduncle. JP

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