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Most of the time genealogy involves tedious, time-consuming research, but sometimes pure luck leads to exciting discoveries. In that respect, I have been very fortunate. Following are a few of my most rewarding strokes of luck.

My biggest find came as the result of donating copies of my family books to the Mormon Family Library in Salt Lake City. They microfilmed the books and posted notices of the fact in their branch libraries. Adrian Niemi was doing research in the Duluth branch and saw the notice about my Pelo family book. He realized he also had a Pelo ancestor, so he checked the microfilm and found his sixth great grandmother Brita Olofsdotter Pelo who was a daughter of my seventh great grandfather Olof Mårtensson Pelo.

After contacting me and verifying that we had a relationship, Adrian eventually sent me the data connecting our families. I am still amazed by this discovery because neither of us was aware of the other and might never have made contact, especially since my book was based on data from an old Pelo family book in Finland that hadn't been updated for over 60 years and included only one mention of Adrian's ancestor. His addition to my Pelo book contained some interesting people such as Kreeta (Margareta) Haapasalo who was a noted folk singer in the 1800's in Finland. Another addition was the well-known designer of glassware in Finland, Tapio Wirkkala. I have purchased and received many pieces of his work before I was aware of our relationship.

As if that discovery wasn't eventful, Adrian and I then found that we were also related through my mother's father's Warg family - we share the same 12th great-grandfather Anders Andersson Warg, born ca 1480! We have now exchanged data which I have incorporated into a revision of my Warg family book. This past summer Adrian and I met for the first time when he was in Michigan at the same time I was there. He lives in northern Minnesota and I live in southern Florida so we managed to meet about half-way between.

Another exciting discovery came through Sue Alskog when I joined the Swedish Finn Historical Society. She told me about May Johnson of Rosburg, WA and her chart of the Wirkkala family which covered an entire wall. I didn't know May but did have many Wirkkala names in my files, and after contacting her we found that we are related at least six ways - and we share the same Wirkkala/Torp ancestors. We discovered that Adrian Niemi was also related to May, and then the three of us learned we were all related to Johan Runeberg through this line!

When Pat Zankman joined the Swedish Finn Historical Society, she read one of my articles in Leading Star about the Warg family and wrote to tell me she had a friend in Minnesota who had Warg names in her line and suggested that I write to her friend. I did and as a result received a packet of information connecting the two of us through the Warg/Clemetsö line. I was happy about this discovery because I wasn't aware of other Warg families in the US. While checking her data I found that Pat's friend is also related to a number of SFHS members including Adrian Niemi, May Johnson, Elov Bodin, Lynda Bie, Eleanor Covell, Robert Van Orden, as well as to me.

I had previously discovered Elov Bodin when I joined SFHS and received my first newsletter which contained Elov's pedigree chart. When I saw the many Clemetsö names I was certain we were related and confirmed it when I contacted Elov. But there was a bigger surprise when I also learned that Elov's late wife Dagmar was also related to me through that line.

One amazing stroke of luck helped me find the family of my father's uncle Anders Erickson in Aberdeen, WA. There had been no contact with the family for about 50 years after my father's mother died - she was Anders' sister. My father knew the family had lived in Aberdeen in the 1920's, so I wrote to the librarian there asking if an old directory would show an address. I was surprised to get a letter from the librarian telling me that Anders and Amanda Erickson had been her neighbors, but both were dead as well as their daughter Esther. However, Esther's daughter Sheila Rogers had just been in the library to donate some of her mother's items and had left her address in Shelton. My letter to Sheila was a big surprise to her and subsequently led to the exchange of data, and I gained a lot of new relatives because Anders and Amanda had a lot of grandchildren. I doubt if I'd have that kind of luck if I wrote to the librarian today.

My latest discovery came from new SFHS member Hilding Widjeskog of Terjärv, Finland. My father's uncle Herman Erickson married Hilma Vidjeskog of Terjärv in 1900, but I had no information about her parents. I wondered if she and Hilding were related and wrote to him, mentioning that I was also searching my files for data to help Dolores Furu Westman. He replied that he and Hilma weren't related, but he had her family information which he sent to me. He mentioned that Hilma's sister was married to William Furu who was part of the family of Dolores Furu Westman. Hilding wanted Dolores' address because they are planning to put out a Furu family book and need more information from her. And it's all the more amazing because I learned about Dolores from SFHS member Helvi Impola. She had seen my query in the SFHS newsletter about a number of families from Terjärv, including Furu, and had sent me Dolores' address.

As I was writing this, Don Forsman of SFHS called and asked for help in locating someone who had lived in Ludington, MI at one time. Sue Alskog remembered I had a Ludington connection and suggested that he contact me. The names Leander Nestor Erickson and Amanda Johanna Jacobsson didn't ring any bells, but when Don said that Amanda left Karleby, Finland in 1889 I hoped I could find her in one of my släkt books of Karleby families. When I checked my list of Karleby immigrants, I found that she used the Åsmus name and that she came to America with two of her sisters. My files revealed I had a distant connection to one of Amanda's sisters through marriage and, thus, I was able to trace the family in my Haals Ättlingar book. So far I haven't found anything about Amanda's husband and all my elderly relatives in Ludington have passed away, so I can't ask them for help. But hopefully the Mason County Historical Society (Mich.) can provide some clues to this couple who lived there long ago.

As some of you may have read in the latest SFHS Newsletter, I was able to help new member Leslie Springs with information about her paternal great grand-parents. I was visiting some cousins who had received a letter from Leslie asking for information about their father's Källström family of Karleby, Finland. My cousins knew that I had just completed a study of the family so I was able to send a copy to Leslie. But I couldn't find anything about her great grandmother who used the Herström surname. I never found that name in any of my files or books and that made me suspicious that it was not the family name in Finland. By checking through files by birthdates I was able to find a woman who appeared to be Maria Sofia Andersdotter Herström, but her family name was Härmälä. After comparing information from Leslie about Maria Sofia's siblings, I could confirm that I had found the right person. In the process of searching, I also learned that Leslie and I were related so now we have an ongoing exchange of data.

My membership in SFHS has led to most of my recent discoveries. By scanning the list of new members and the queries, I have found relationships with many members other than those mentioned above. I keep hoping to strike gold again.

by June Pelo


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