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Letters from Johan Richard Nyström


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Johan Richard Nyström was born in Kallis village, son of Johan Johansson Nygård, born 1823 at Indola in Linnusperä, later farmer at the Nygård home in Kallis, and died there 22 December 1881. He married 5 May 1848 to Brita Johanna Kallis, born 15 October 1827, died 27 May 1866 of a stroke. She was the daughter of farmer Matts Mickelsson Kallis and his wife Anna Maria Mickelsdotter Keldo from Kyrkbacken (church village). There were eight children born, but only four survived. The oldest of them was son Johan Richard, born 28 August 1848 (Nyström). He emigrated to America 1867 and died in Richmond, USA 24 Decemb er 1913. His life was related in the previous obituary notice that appeared in Österbottningen some time in the beginning of 1914. In addition, letters were found that he wrote home to sister Maria Sofia.

Brother Anders, born 25 Aug 1850, emigrated to America 1873 and died there, unmarried. It is thought the brothers lived a large part of the time in the same place.

Sister Maria Sofia, born 28 November 1852, died 25 Mar 1955, married 25 Jun 1876 to farmer Johan Viktor Jacobsson Kallis or Nyström, born 19 Jun 1850. They were parents of Emil Nyström who owned Kallis sawmill and Alfred Kallis, grandfather of Bjarne Kallis here in the city.

Sister Lovisa, born 10 Jul 1864, died 27 September 1916, married 20 November 1889 to farmer William Andersson Nynäs, born 3 January 1867, died 2 Aug 1917. Their son's daughter is Ann-Maj who was married to cantor Witting in Munsala, and son's son Gunnar Nynäs is presently farmer at the homestead. Lovisa, youngest of the siblings, was only 17 when their father died. Her mother died when she was only 2 years old. In the church book it states Lovisa was master of the farm for a short time before it was sold. Sister Maria Sofia had married five years before their father died.

Now we will see what the letters tell us. The earliest letter was dated 1875:

My beloved sister 'fia", hope you are well.
Many thanks for your letter of 2 January that I received 28 February whereof I find that you have sent greetings. That/Who is the only comfort and friend here in the world. Your letter was welcomed many times. While it was the first that I ever received from you, I hope it will not be the last. Your letter included more than news, namely that you are betrothed. God grant that you will be happy. You asked me for help to prepare you for the long journey through life. I will herewith send 50 dollars - in Russian money amounting to 71 rubels 43 kopeks silver. I bought a bank draft through St. Petersburg in consideration that you could have the exchange sooner than in English. I know, dear sister, that this money is too little to fulfill the "thousand and one needs", but we must consider the economics since our share of the inheritance lays in two empty hands, but if God grants health I hope to live to be independent yet.
It would have been far better if you had not used a veil for the eyes when I was home, without saying plainly that you intended to get married so I could have given you two times as much money with less trouble than this draft is worth, but since you follow the old practice "to be false when one proposes", because to love one another correctly is to love their faults. As soon as one ceases to revere and respect one another, our happiness is nothing.
My dear sister, the more I think of our future the longer I think that we will be separated. Before the road has been long but now it is inordinate since I cannot hope to find you home in case my wandering some time shall end at Kallis, but we shall hope for the best. I remind you not to hold any "secrets" hidden from pappa. It is no shame that he did not have money to give. If I send you some marks we both ought to love and respect him as a father. Greet pappa that I soon think to answer his letter.
Dearest sister perhaps these lines are not unkind? But it is better for me to write what I think than to sit here and wish and congratulate with the pen and the heart be aware of how foolish it may seem, so it is as well a brotherly opinion.
If there is someone at home that remembers me, so greet them from California that I am well, but wish to travel home again because it was truly nice that I had the privilege to visit Viktor Åsmus, as well, as a brother-in-law. Greet Tilda that I have had three letters from Henriksson from Baltimore. Many greetings to pappa and Lovisa also Intul and all our relatives and friends. Many greetings to the young people that I hope to live to meet them again after a long time, so perhaps I will have the means to stay at home at least a year. Now I have to bid you the usual goodbye.
Signed by your brother J. R. Nyström

From the above letter we see that Richard Nyström was home on a visit, and in the churchbook there is the following note: home 1874, new certificate 14 July 1874 to A.M. And also that sister Maria Sofia had money to get married. She married 25 June 1876. Among these preserved letters was one found dated 4 March 1876 and written by brother Anders. They had sent a letter and did not know if Fia and brother-in-law Viktor had already celebrated their wedding. Brother Richard sent greetings that he would write later. The letter surely came to their sister before the wedding since it was written in March and the wedding was at Midsummer.

The following letter was found, dated:

San Pablo, California 29 January 1882
Dearest sister and brother-in-law, may you be well.
According to God's will father was taken away and we all feel sorrow, concern and grief. You must miss him more than we since we have been separated so long but we hope that God who has protected us as usual will continue to accompany us in the future. Without his will nothing is done, also through his mercy we can be reunited in the blessed land where there is no death or separation. There we shall forget each other's faults, be forgiven and forget the pain and suffering that has followed us. Yes, there we will delight with the blessed in all eternity.
Now dear sister, brother Anders and I have pondered over what is best to do with our sister Lovisa and the house. I have written a letter to Lovisa and one to father's brother Matts. I wrote one to Anders father's brother but not about the same matter. We have left the whole thing in father's brother Matts hands. We hope you will help him as much as you can. I left the house to Anders and he will see that father's brother Matts shall take care of it until he comes home, but he cannot come for one or two years. He wishes that you and Viktor shall rent it to father's brother Matts and let Lovisa live with you at our expense. She could help you a little but we do not want that she will be a slave as long as we live. Think about this and let us know as soon as you can. You can see exactly in father's brother's and Lovisa's letters, both have the conditions. We will write more as soon as we hear from you and hear how the entire business stands. I have now written four letters and hope you will excuse me if I bid you goodbye until next time, but not before I greet you all a thousand times. Farewell.
Sadly signed by both brothers Anders and J. R. Nyström

In this letter one can learn that his father died 22 December 1881 and the letter is written 29 January 1882. In the letter he gave the property to his brother Anders. Richard was the oldest and it was customary that the oldest son inherited the property and the girls got no sort of redemption. We know the home was sold but not who in the house sold it. Lovisa was noted in the churchbook among the unmarried but in 1889 she married and became a farm mother at Nynäs. So next we have Richard Nyström's farewell letter to his sister to whom it was written.

Richmond, California Dec. 3 1913
Dearest sister, may you be well.
Since our Christian festival approaches, I will let you know that I still live, but am not well because I have had poor health for several months and it is obvious it will get worse instead of better when the time passes. I have waited to write day after day, hoping that I would find something better to write about. I will write that all others of our family are healthy and well, also brother Anders, and everything goes well as usual in California. As a remembrance to our family and friendship, I send herewith a Christmas present of 2000 finnmarks that you can divide among you in memory of me. I hope this does not come too late for Christmas.
With many wishes for a good new year, I will close these lines. With a dear greeting to all our family and friends.
Fond affection of J. R. Nyström

Richard Nyström's last letter was dated 3 December 1913 and by the obituary we see that he died the 24th of the same month, so the letter with the Christmas present hardly reached them before his time was over. His life's work was away there in America, also his home and large family, but still the opinion is that his thoughts wandered "home" to Finland and his siblings shortly before he died.


Richmond, state of California, in Contra Costa County; on eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, 13 km. Northeast of San Francisco. The state is served by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, also South Pacific railroads. Richmond's fine natural harbor, together with the improved inner harbor, make it one of the busiest harbor cities on the west coast. Here is the Santa Fe railroad's western terminus, oil refineries, foundrys, automobile mechanics-, provision-, mechanical and chemical factories. The settlement began at the close of the 1800s and the city was founded 1905. This growth, followed by the building of a large shipyard during the second world war, has been phenomenal. Richmond has a mayor, city council and city director. Population: 7l,854 (1970)

Source: "Encyclopedia Americana" . (Translator: J-E Nygren)

June Pelo, 2000

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