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Reunion with Wisconsin guests at Småbönders


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!Descendants of Ingvald and Gerda Storbacka Gather

Jannis farm is located at Storbacka in Småbonders. Thirteen children were born there and more than half of them went to the United States in the beginning of the 1900s. Mary and Ted Johnson are descendants of one of the daughters who crossed the Atlantic to Wisconsin in the U.S. Recently they became acquainted with their cousins at Jannis.

To have a visit by American guests is something wonderful. When Ted and Mary Johnson said they planned to visit Finland this summer, siblings Anne-Maj Nykänen, Gina Bäck and Sven Storbacka thought they would have a family reunion at Storbacka during their visit. Food, bread and salad were on the long table at Jannis for all of the cousins. Mary Johnson said that it must be a Scandinavian custom to eat a lot when people gather. She and her brother Ted Johnson were visiting relatives in Finland for the first time.

They had been in contact with relatives via e-mail and were happy to meet of of them at Småbonders. "We didn't know there were so many," said Mary. "The area is much like Wisconsin where we grew up, so one can understand why our ancestors came to this place." Mary works as a dental hygienist in Evansville, Wisconsin.

Brother Ted is headmaster of the primary department in a Chicago school where 950 students are enrolled. He said they speaak over 20 languages at the school, but he did not know of any Swedish or Finnish-speaking students there.

Found Relatives on the Internet

Ted has searched for ancestors in Finland, together with his sister Elisabeth. "I found out that we had relatives in Terjärv and contacted Hans-Erik Andtbacka via the internet and asked if he knew of wnyone who would know more about them." Then Ted learned that he was related to Andtbacka's wife Helena. Later the Johnson were in contact with Patrick Storbacka, Sven's youngest son. Ted said that his interest in genealogy grew because of the changes in American society. There had long been a distrust toward emigrants. "When our ancestors came to America it was important for them to adapt quickly so they wouldn't be different from the rest of the people. For example, at our school we urge our students to take part in their culture and traditions." "We want to have a better understanding as to why we eat the food we eat and why we have specific customs," interjected sister Mary.

Ted has visited a genealogy library at the Swedish-American museum in Chicago. "There one can find the Swedish church's national registration and also Finland has a site on the Internet that one can use," he said. The internet has been an irreplaceable help in Ted's research and he is happy it made it easier to find his roots.

After some good food and speeches, the cousins gathered for a photo session. Afterwards there was coffee and a display of genealogy charts. Sven Storbacka had a fiddle ready for reels or folksongs. "We can tell them at home we come from a good family, " said Ted and Mary who think they had a good reception during their visit.

Anette Forsström, Norden, 5 Aug 2004

Translated by June Pelo

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