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From Log Cabin to the Highest Pinnacle of Society

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(The fortunes of a Yttermark family in the USA. From Närpes Tidning 17 Jan 1976)

Picture courtesy GSF
If a Närpes resident took an auto tour around Seattle, Washington on the American west coast on the way to Mount Vernon, he would not be surprised to suddenly find himself on a fine road that bore the name Kamb Road. Here in this fertile and beautiful Skagit valley a family from west Yttermark has written a noteworthy history. The achievements are represented by Alma and Oscar Kamb and their five sons in Mount Vernon.

What is described here is from a report by Anders Myhrman, from Purmo, who spent many years searching among Finland's Swedes in the USA. In 1978 Myhrman delivered a collection of these reports to Åbo Akademi's library and which now makes up the library's Stencil series Nos. 6 & 7. It is a fantastic collection hidden between the covers. Here one reads the most exciting but truly realistic stories of the fortunes of Finlanders in the great land in the west.

The narrative report on page 62 in Series No. 7 is reproduced below. But first here are some words about the school where the couple Alma and Oscar Kamb had their first apprenticeship. Through the efforts and initiative of Carl-Henrik Lassfolk's "Storhaajinas" - he was a farmer and community leader - Väster Yttermark village opened the door to the parish's first elementary school on 15 Jan 1878. It was built on a hectare of land of a soldier's torp and still stands in the same place today. It was called Jakob's farm at SOFF. At the end of the 1880s Adrian Krook was a teacher at the school. One day he observed two of the students at the school. The girl was Alma Elisabeth Ade'n and the boy was named Oscar Kamb. While the rest of the students had left school without graduating, he gave Alma and Oskar unlimited school time until the day when both students could accept their leaving certificate from the teacher's hand. Perhaps these two students dreamed of a common future. One would not be surprised if the young Alma wrote love notes on small scraps of paper and smuggled them to Oskar Kamb's desk. In the future she would become a widely known writer and poet.

According to Myhrman, Oscar Kamb was born 23 Nov 1876 in Västra Yttermark and Alma Elisabeth Ade'n was born 10 June 1876 in the same village. It would be interesting to know from which farms in Yttermark these two were descended. It is my hope that Einar Lind in NT will give us a report. He is well acquainted with the Kamb family branches and probably can tell who Alma Ade'n's parents were and from which farm she came. Here are some words from Anders Myhrman:

Oscar Kamb went to America as an 18-year-old to his older brother Johan Kamb who lived in Skagit County, Washington. Oscar worked for some years for others, but decided to become a farmer and bought land in the fruit-bearing Skagit valley. In 1901 he married a woman he had known from elementary school named Alma Ade'n, who later became a widely known writer in several newspapers under the signature "Myran". The first home of the young couple was only a tumbledown log cabin.

With a burning fervor the young Oscar Kamb not only devoted himself to his own farm, but also to improving the entire district. One of the most difficult problems the farmers had to combat at the time was the yearly flooding of the Skagit river. Kamb's farm was affected several times with a lot of damage from the flooding. He was the first president of the water association and remained as such until his death. His activity in this area has been highly valued by local government authorities in Washington State. As a token of appreciation, one of the roads through the village bears the name Kamb Road. According to the Skagit County commissioners, Oscar Kamb worked diligently for the construction of water mains and thanks to him, all the farmers in the area have water pipes to their farms.

Oscar Kamb's farm covered 100 acres of luxuriant soil. His specialty was seed cultivation and his farm became a model farm. He also understood about protecting his acreage from frost. It was said that one time all the crops in the area were destroyed except Kamb's. During the night he had built a fire, such as was used in Finland, and the smoke had protected his crops.

The log cabin in which the Kamb couple began their life together was soon replaced by a better and more comfortable house. According to Myhrman, it burned down and a new house was built. In 1938 this was replaced by Kamb's modern home on !McLean Road.

Oscar Kamb died 28 Nov 1948 in the hospital in Seattle after an 8-day illness: kidney and heart problems. At the funeral in Mount Vernon he was honored with a great floral tribute and a large number of the city's people came to pay tribute to Oscar Kamb and his life's work.

His four sons also lived there. They were: Karl Walter who was a well-known scenario writer in Hollywood in the 1930s. During the war he worked through the government information service but returned to Hollywood in 1944 and wrote the majority of great scenarios, of which the most well-known probably was Carnegie Hall.

The second son was Roy who was a construction engineer and he has been active with bridge building. During the war he worked on landing bridges for airplanes.

Boyton studied (as well as his older brothers) at the University of Washington in Seattle and took his examination in both national economy and law. He was in the army during the war and a few years later was a lawyer for the US government in the Philippines. Later he settled down as a lawyer in Mount Vernon, but is also a "gentleman farmer" in his hometown.

The youngest son Rufus inherited the farm from his parents and lives with his family on the Kamb family farm.

Alma Elisabeth Kamb

Alma Elisabeth Ade'n was born in Väster-Yttermark, Närpes on 10 June 1876 and grew up there. Later she and her older sister Ida went to Helsingfors for training as a nurse or midwife. Alma received her subsistence as a maid in a teacher's home. When she was finished with her studies she traveled with two others to America - to Colorado where her father was at that time. First she became a student nurse in Aspen, Colorado, which was a mining area. Her older sister Ida and brother Karl had emigrated earlier to Montana.

Alma began to correspond with a friend from elementary school, Oscar Kamb who had settled down as a farmer in Mount Vernon, Washington, The letter-writing led to her travel to Mount Vernon and their marriage in 1901. There were still many pioneers in this part of the state. The roads at certain times of the year were nearly impassable. There was no doctor in the area and Alma was often called to serve as a midwife. This created many hardships but she wanted to serve her fellow creatures and was glad that she could give any help under difficult circumstances. During this time she gave birth to four sons and raised them.

Mrs. Kamb had literary interests and talent. After a day's work she went home and took a fantasy flight. During many nightly hours her pen filled many pages. In the course of the year she wrote hundreds of articles, short stories, columns and other publications with an optimistic philosophy. She signed her articles "Myran" and became widly known under that name. Her works were published in the Svensk-Amerikanska Posten in Minneapolis, Svenska Amerikanaren Tribunen in Chicago, Svenska Posten in Seattle, Vestkusten in San Francisco and our own FA-Norden and Leading Star. Alma "Myran" Kamb died 6 Nov 1961. Some time before she had said to a friend: "It is marvelous to die."

She read a lot during her life and in reading, found her intellectual and spiritual nourishment and inspiration. On a loose page that was found after her death, she had written:

We strewed no flowers when sorrow was great,
But friendship's maid has gold in her veil,
And life always has a solitary moment
As long as you wander in the land of books.

Reproduced by Bertel Nordgren from Anders Myhrman.

From the book Axplock 3, table 600, page 101:

Helena "Lena" Gabrielsdotter Kamb married farmer Johan Erik Mickelsson Kamb "Sänkas". In the marriage were 8 children:

  1. Lena Johanna, b. 14 Nov 1863, d. in 1940s. Emigrated to America.
  2. Johan Vilhelm Sänkas, b. 28 Mar 1865. Emigrated to America 1886.
  3. Erik Henrik Sänkas, b. 21 Sep 1867 (was father to Ellen Kamb Levin and to my father Sigfrid.)
  4. Gabriel Lind, b. 28 Apr 1870, farmer at Kamb home in Väster-Yttermark.
  5. Karl Petter Kamb, b. 21 Dec 1872.
  6. Edla Elisabeth Kamb, b. 11 Jul 1874.
  7. Ida Kamb, b. 11 Jul 1874.
  8. Karl Oscar Kamb, b. 23 Nov 1876, d. 28 Jan 1948, in Washington. Emigrated and became a farmer in Mount Vernon, Washington State. Married Alma Elisabeth Nixholm (Ade'n). Their life story is related in"Från timmerkoja till samhällets högsta tinnar".

Put together by Elof Sänkas, their relative. Norden 17 Mar 2005.

Translated by June Pelo


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