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Lars Andersson Friis


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I'm sure there are a number of readers who are descendants of Lars Friis, and there are also readers who are descendants of the Sursill family, of which Lars' second wife was a member. He was born 2 April 1696 in Ingermanland and died 21 August 1768 in Karleby, Finland. His father was Anders Frijs, ensign with Wrangel's Regiment and his mother was Maria Mejer from Tavastland, daughter of an armour keeper. Lars became a soldier and endured a life of hardship during the Stora Ofreden (Great Strife), the Northern War 1700-21, until he found peace as a farmer and fisherman in Karleby.

In 1717 he was a volunteer with Wästerbotten's Regiment in Sweden, then advanced to corporal and later to grenadier staff sergeant 1st class with Lövånger's Company in 1718. In 1721 he was sent to Finland by the military as a spy. To understand how dangerous it was for him to undertake a mission as a spy, let us look at the final stage of the Swedish-Russian war. The Czar of Russia decided to punish Sweden for continuing the war. He founded a large navy while the Swedish naval power during the war deteriorated. A large number of Sweden's cities and villages were burned and people were murdered or taken in captivity. Because of the inability of the country to defend itself, the entire eastern coast was on its way to ruin.

On 25 May 1721 Regimental Commander H. M. von Buddenbrock notified the King of Sweden that he had sent a group of soldiers to the east coast. On 8 July the same year von Buddenbrock notified the king that he was sending a report from Lars Friis who had just returned. The gist of the report is as follows:

On 25 June 1721 Staff Sergeant Lars Friis went from Sweden to Österbotten to acquire knowledge. He arrived in Nykarleby (Finland) on the second day early in the morning. A piece of news he heard at sea made him think he should have gone farther south where he suspected the Russian galleon fleet was sailing. So he went to Gamlakarleby and received the following observations from pastor Jacob Falander:

  1. The Russian fleet arrived at Vasa 16 June where they landed 300 cossacks who would use the highway to Åbo; on 20 June the galleons sailed to Åbo.
  2. As soon as they reached Åbo the army would assemble there or at Gefle.
  3. When some of the Russian fleet arrived that spring, there were 10,000 men, half of whom were ordered south of Stockholm and the other half to the north.
  4. Between Åbo and Petersberg there were three regiments of dragoons to hold control over the people.
  5. Russia allowed news to be published as to where the fleet could be found in the north.
  6. Russia also publicized in Österbotten that if refugees came there and took nothing they would be left alone, otherwise villages and parishes would be burned.
  7. In Vasa there was a commander named Sätting with a garrison of 300 dragoons, and a captain in Gamlakarleby with 15 men who would liquidate all sheriffs and farmers throughout the country.
  8. The Duke of Holstein's wedding could take place, but the Duke would be forbidden to have a house until peace was attained.

Lars Friis was in Österbotten between 25 June and 8 July. While in Kronoby parish, pastor Gustaf Bogman allowed him to hide in his bedroom for a night.

Clothing worn by Wästerbotten's Regiment in 1717 was described as rough homespun, preferably in blue; coat and hat lined with blue and gold. In 1719 when they defended the country against Russian landing troops, their equipment was worn out. No more caps with flaps on the side to wear with heavy artillery, and no hats for the enlisted men of black felt with brim raised so it formed three angles. White was the color of the facing in the lining of the collar, and also turned up on the waistcoat and trousers. In 1721 the men began to wear leather trousers and vests.

In 1722 Lars Friis was discharged. During the time he served in the military he became acquainted with Malin Olofsdotter of Grisbacka (Sweden). They were married 1 April 1722 and eventually settled in Palo, Karleby, Finland. After Stora Ofreden there were many deserted homes in Karleby and Lars thought he would take one of them for a farm home. He and Malin had 10 children. Not much is known about her. During Stora Ofreden the church books in most of the parishes of the country burned or disappeared and searching for the origins of ancestors was nearly impossible. Malin and all the women of that time grew up, married, worked, bore children for the world and died after much toil and moil and too many childbirths. It was a common epitaph on their gravestones. Malin was only 33 years old when she died in 1738.

Lars remarried that same year to Maria Jacobsdotter Jurvelius, whose ancestry goes back to Erik Ångerman Sursill. Her father was Jacob Michaelsson Jurvelius who became progenitor for the numerous Jurvelius families of Brahestad. Jacob's father Michael Jurvelius was one of Åbo Academy's first students and he published Oratio de Supberga Jugiende, Åbo, 1645. Jacob's mother was Catharina Michaelsdotter Balt; her father Michael Balt is thought to have come from France. In Finland's history of art he occupied a position as being a

supreme wood carver. Among his work is the pulpit in the cathedral in Åbo, the pulpit in Brahestad's church, and the interior decorating in Uleåborg's church.

In February 1995 Leading Star published Erik Ångerman's family line, part of Genealogia Sursilliana. Some years ago a Swedish newspaper published an article with the following interesting information:

In Ångermanland in the 1500's a farmer/shopkeeper went to market at Uppsala (Sweden). During Gustaf Vasa's war of 1521-23, he took a large consignment of various herring to the army. He delivered not only the usual inexpensive salt herring but also some "sour herring" but this delicacy was not acceptable and there were complaints about rotten food. Eric Ångerman was prosecuted for false delivery and thereafter he acquired the nickname Sursill (sour herring). The Swedish people liked nicknames and in Stockholm's city directory from that time there are names such as "Lasse Skånsk Sill"; "Martin Surlax", etc. Erik Ångerman was clever enough to avoid the cruelty and took the nickname as a family name and officially called himself Sursill.

His daughters all married in Österbotten and were first ancestresses for an extra-ordinarily widespread family. One son had seven daughters who also married in Finland and likewise had a large number of descendants. In the middle of the 1600's these Sursill descendants had gained such a prevalance that most of the families of public officials in Österbotten have a kinship with each other. Presently there is hardly any family in Österbotten or in all of Finland that is not connected to the Sursill genealogical tree. The simple Erik Ångerman Sursill is progenitor of over 1,500 large families through all classes of society, spread over the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries, Germany, France and America.

Lars Friis and Maria Jurvelius had eleven children. Many members of the Swedish Finn Historical Society are descendants of the children from both of Lars Friis' marriages. He died 21 August 1768 of gallstones or kidney stones, at age 73 and left 13 living children. His widow gave the church a donation for ringing the bell and the bier clothing. His last resting place was not under the church floor nor in the church yard. Toward the close of the 1700's prominent people were still buried under the church floor. But the old church was so small and burial places were limited.

No, Lars Friis' remains were buried in a more barbaric manner. One can see a bone basket in the church yard with the year 1701 on it and read the following:

You wretched child of a human,
Who the world's path shall wander,
Consider yourself mortal, and see
Now how it is for others,
Your haughtiness and what
Your world built in the name of bliss.
Here is found a poor farmer
Who would like to rest with those
Of higher station.
These plentiful bones
All have here a haven.

The dead did not lie long in the grave they were lowered in. After some years - about three - they were taken out of the graves, the coffins emptied, and their contents shoveled into the bone basket with all the muscles, tendons, etc. so the air and the sun would dry them. The bones then sank down through the bottom of the bone basket into a walled cellar in the ground.

After Lars' death an estate inventory was held at the Hilli home in Korplax village. From his first marriage were daughters Anna Maria, married to Zachris Thomas-son, Catharina, married to Anders Porko, Magdalena, married to Gabriel Rönberg and Helena, married to Fenrich Humble. From the second marriage were daughters Maria, married to Jakob Harald, and Anna Catharina married to Hans Härmälä. There were also sons Anders, Isak, Johan and Nathanael, plus three minor daughters.

Among the personal property items of his estate were a silver bowl and mug, Russian rubles and Swedish Karoliners, schnapps boiler, 4 pewter bowls, 6 flat pewter plates, 1 pewter beer pot, and many iron tools. There were also many fishing instruments: a large seine; 13 herring nets, 33 whitefish nets, bream nets, 28 pike hoop nets and 16 string bags. In addition, he left a sea boat with sail, 2 net boats, 1 skiff, a fish house and a little net house. Evidently he had no interest in books, leaving only a Bible and two psalmbooks. Among the livestock were 3 horse, 17 cattle and 17 sheep. There was also an old leather saddle, now in the Museum of History in Vasa, and silver spurs at the Österbotten Historical Museum in Vasa. There was not much furniture except for a drop-leaf table and 10 old chairs. His widow received wearing apparel, bed clothing and 1/3 of his holdings. She outlived her husband by 14 years and died 11 August 1782 at age 76. Her estate was sold at auction and the sum shared with her heirs who were: Granlund, Anders Hilli, Harald, Väster, Porko, Hans Möller, Friis, Härmälä, Merijärvi and Härmälä.

Excerpts from Lars Frijs i Karleby och Hans Ättlingar

June Pelo

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