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The Korpilainen Home in Korplax, Karleby

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HANS-ERIK KROKFORS

Together with the Huhta, Präst and Vitick homes, the Korpilainen home belongs to the oldest in Korplax [[a village in the Parish of Karleby (Kokkola)]]. It is maintained that the village name "Korplax" (Korpilahti) is a derivative of the home name "Korpilainen." Korplax lies northeast of (Gamla) Karleby, north of the river Perho/Vetil/Rödsö {the same river with different names depending upon which parish/village it is flowing through}, and borders on the Parish of Kelviå (Kälviä). The homesteads represent a settlement said to have originated in the 1400s, if not earlier...

In the combined maps from 1776, "Korpilain" farm lies near to and south of Heickilä. The Hauhtonen homestead, which lies close to Vitick near the public road was occupied in the list of homesteads from 1547 but periodically (1635, 1696, 1742) was vacant (in 1729, Erick Vitick used it to thresh hay).

During the 1400s and 1500s Korplax Bay separated the residences around Vitick-Korpilainen-Huhta and Räbb-Kauko (Lower Korplax). {Korplax is no longer a bay because the land has risen as the result of glacial subsidence.} Toward the close of the 1500s and at the beginning of the 1600s Korplax was a more extensive village than in our time. All of the pioneer homesteads which were established in Peldokorpi and Rita Villages in the Parish of Lochteå (Lohtaja) and Jolkka in the Parish of Nedervetil (Alaveteli) were also included with Korplax. At the close of the 1500s an intensive pioneering activity took place in the wilderness area southeast of Korplax and Peldokorpi. In the tax records from 1598, it is noted there were 15 permanent farmers in Korplax Village. In 1605 there were 24 farmers, but 8 of the homesteads were registered as empty. Of the 24 houses, 12 were in such poor condition that they could not pay komålssmö a tax, and 6 homes could not pay land taxes because there was not enough information on the number of grain fields. {These taxes were paid in butter, depending on how many cows, etc., one had. If one could not pay with money, which was very usual, one paid with butter, fish, corn, etc.} When money for livestock was reported in 1622, lists of domestic animals were made. In the list for 1641, Aders Mickelsson Korpilainen had 2 oxen, while 31 farmers in Karleby had only 1 ox each.

The first known owner of the Korpilainen homestead was Anders Andersson, appearing in record books for over 60 years (1548-1611). It has been thought that his predecessor was Olof Olofsson but both are listed for the years 1548 and 1558. In 1608 the owner was named "Anders Karpilain," while in the same time period church records called him "Anders Andersson."

Olof Mickelsson (Huhta), Erik Henriksson (Heikkilä), Anders Andersson (Korpilainen), and Per Persson (Präst) had a little mill on Korplax Creek, and people paid 2 öre Swedish coinage per person in mill taxes from 1568-1571.

Anders Mickelsson (Korpilainen), who probably was born in 1578 since he was mentioned as being age 59 in 1637 and his son Erik Andersson (Korpilainen) was 42 (consequently born in 1595), was shown as owner of the home from 1619-1675 (55 years). For the period 1611-1619 no special owner was named, but it is possible that Anders Michelsson's father Mickel had taken over the home either as heir (Andersson?) or son-in-law. After Anders Mickelsson and Erik Andersson (1619-74), owners of the home are mentioned as Lukas Matson (1679), Johan Lukasson (1695-96), Mats (1713), Mats Mattsson (1724-26), a young girl named Lisa (1728-30) and again a Mats (1737-42).

Lukas Matson (Korpilainen) was skilled in iron works. It is noted that it was Lukas Matson who, among the workers for the parish church from 1649-82, made a gräfta (a new axe); also he steel-braced 2 old axes for the church. His son Johan Lukasson (Korpilainen) was then head of the homestead at least until 1696.

In the Karleby area during the 1500s a trading center developed where citizens from other places and merchants from Karelia gathered. Merchants in the Karleby area were not content with passive business in the home area but also undertook business travel to the south, west, and north. In 1500 at least three Karleby parish merchants met in Kemi: Erik Smed from Kvikant, Olav Smed from Korplax, and a Bråto resident.

After the Club war from 1570-90, the troops left in Ostrobothnia were maintained by the country people. The war and conscription of farmhands and farmers' sons for military service continued. In 1611, there were 35 soldiers attached to the large Parish of Karleby, according to the riksdag {governmental meeting} decision made earlier at Örebro, Sweden, as to how many soldiers each parish should supply to the crown. In the same year (1611), 41 additional men were attached of whom 14 were from the present Karleby. In 1612, 34 new soldiers were attached. Of these 9 were from Karleby, but surely some came from Rödsö and Korplax since it is said that from Rodsal (Ruotsalo) 12 country soldiers were attached but names were not mentioned.

During Duke Karl's time a new payment system began with freedom from taxes for homesteads that included a soldier. For example, in 1602 caretaker Nils Jönsson's wife, Valborg Henriksdotter, had freedom for all the annual outlay at the Prest homestead in Korplax while her husband was away at war.

In February 1637 conscription of men from ages 15 to 60 was held in the parish. A division was established in Djupsund, and every tenth man was registered as a soldier. The rotar system was further developed in the 1600s. Farmers were bound to contribute to the maintenance of a soldier or sailor. When the permanent draft system was introduced in 1733, the homesteads of Karleby were divided into equal rotars that put a croft at the soldier's disposal. Korpilainen, together with the Lillåla and Tylli homesteads, formed Rote {Squadron} No. 13 which croft was at Träsk Common, probably in Kåustar.

The cottage was inhabited (1750) by soldier and carpenter Anders Enmark from Fredrickshamn, age 21 and single, and later by soldier Nyman. Even after 1733 the farmers supported and arranged for conscripting a soldier, and some installed a farmhand who was later conscripted as a soldier in the rote. Soldier conscription was a heavy burden for the farmers. Many were forced to go from their homesteads and leave them empty.

In the early 1600s Ostrobothnia's commerce was so lively that the Swedish government saw it was to its advantage to get into the act and began to set up cities to better supervise and draw the benefits of stricter toll supervision. In 1605 and 1606 Vasa and Uleåborg (Oulu) were established as commercial centers in outlying areas. In 1620 Nykarleby and Gamlakarleby were established to satisfy middle Ostrobothnia's demand for goods (Jakobstad was established in 1653). Gamlakarleby was one of the cities King Gustaf Adolf II established at the initiative of Karleby Parish residents to build farm trade. The founding letter for "Gamble Carleby" was drawn up 7 September 1620 by 25-year-old Gustaf Adolf II on Kvikant and Ristrand soil. The early inhabitants of the city were mostly emigrating rural residents. Among the first aldermen in the city were Lukas Mattsson (1626-31) and Matts Lucasson (1645-50 married to Beata Sigfridsdotter) and an Eric Olofsson Prest (1649).

It became an up and coming city with the exclusive right to trade at Stockholm and Åbo (Turku). Within the country each town had its commercial territory, which for Gamlakarleby included the Parishes of Karleby (Kaarlela) and Kronoby (Kruunupyy), with parishes north of Karleby (Lochteå in Vasa Province, and Pyhäjoki and Kalajoki in Uleåborg Province). The shore road north went via Ventus - Linuspera - Kåustar (Inn) - Jubbil - Gunnars - Kalluoto - Rajaluoto over Kauko bridge - Räbb - Lövbacka, past the fork in the road to the houses in Korplax alongside Vitick (Inn), via Kelviå - Peitso and Lochteå to Kalajoki and from there further north to Brahestad (Raahe). The commercial farmers from the north, as well as Kelviå and Korplax residents, traveled thus over Kauko bridge, around Palo Fjord and via Kåustar when they went to the "city."

The bridge that led over the channel in Gamlakarleby was a continuation of the approaching road from Ventus and Kåustar (through Närvilä). Another incoming road went via the church (around Kåustar Creek). The "coffee road" from Ventus to Heinola was first built in the 1700s. In the summer when moving troops, the public highway was used. In the winter people traveled along the waterway over the ice. In the 1700s Karleby first arranged to plough snow at public expense.

The public highway bridge over Vetil river has, for several hundred years, crossed over from Rajlot (Rajaluoto) in Vittsar (Vitsari) to Kauko in Korplax. In 1559 there was a ferry, and some time thereafter a bridge was built. At least by the year 1661 there were suspension bridges in the parish which had to be repaired. Kauko Suspension Bridge was not the only one, because in 1679 Kelviå residents committed themselves to helping with the maintenance of the suspension bridges in Karleby, although they maintained their own roads despite the fact that there were more and larger bridges in Karleby than in Kelviå. The area with its public highway, Kauko Bridge, and the City of Gamlakarleby with its craftsmen and harbor certainly had great importance also for homesteads in Korplax.

During the war-filled and restless years in the 1700s and 1800s, when crops failed, the taxes and military conscription heavily burdened the homesteads already impoverished by the maintenance forced on them by the almost perpetually present Russian or Swedish soldiers. But the nearness to the public highway was not only connected with tribulation.

As a channel of communication which formed for farmers doing business and other travelers, it was at the same time a connecting link to the neighboring communities. Kauko Bridge especially had great social importance for the unity and kinship of the community, where young people from the nearby villages gathered to meet their friends, to play and watch passersby. The break-up of the ice was one of the occasions when the parish people gathered to keep watch on the bridge. The young people and adolescent boys were also drawn there at the same time so that it became a kind of "folkfest" that people took for granted. Nearby in the Finnish-speaking parishes, people expressed themselves freely in both laanguages. Some of the girls from Korpilainen married into the Finnish-speaking parishes of Lochteå and Kalajoki; others into the Swedish-speaking homes in Karleby and Kronoby.

In 1695-97 the entire country was affected by severe crop failure from which the people barely recovered before the Great Northern War (1700, Charles XII) broke out. Although outright war up until 1700 seemed relatively remote, the declarations of war immediately carried with them recruitment activities which left their mark on the Karleby area. After the disaster at Poltava {Ukraine} in 1709, new troops were needed in Karelia. In 1710 men from the Karleby area and to the south were ordered to report at Ilmola {Ilmajoki} for the defense of Viborg {Viipuri}. However, no provision had been made for food and horses, so of the 4200 men chosen by Captain Henrik Fabers, only a few hundred remained upon arrival in Pertti (Peltis) at the Kymmene River.

In the autumn of 1710 the Karleby area was hit by a plague and a great many of the inhabitants died there. For example, Mats Puntus of Palo and all his household died of the epidemic, in addition to 12-year old son Matts who was taken charge of by Isak Danielsson Väster of Rödsö. In spite of the child mortality that occurred, the family at Korpilainen managed to escape the plague that time.

After the Swedish disaster at Pälkäne in October 1713 and in Napue in Storkyro in February 1714, the main Russian troops continued on to Vasa while a smaller Russian advance guard went to Jakobstad, which they burned. The vanquished Swedish troops retreated and without orders took horses and provisions on their flight toward Brahestad. Citizens and officials left their homes, and farmers in the coastal villages moved out to the rocky islets or to the saunas and barns in the wooded grounds. Because the summer of 1714 was calm, many returned to their homes. In September 1714 the Russians started their galleys toward Vasa while from 10,000 to 20,000 men traveled over the highway. The Swedish troops escaped north followed by the inhabitants with carts loaded with children and food. A minor struggle was fought in Karleby at Kauko bridge under the leadership of Cavalry Captain Stigman. In retaliation for active partisan activity, the Russians caught an armed farmer in Kelviå, tortured him badly and hanged him at Måttis gate in Närvilä as a warning. The Russian soldiers then received permission to plunder and rob. They immediately killed the old people in order to strike terror in the population. Others were tortured to death or tormented in different ways to make them tell about concealed possessions. The Cossacks plundered, killed, tortured and burned all along the entire coast up to Uleåborg {Oulu}. Between 1714-20 thousands of people were sent as prisoners from Ostrobothnia to Russia. In Karleby the Russians took dragoon horses but they offered discarded horses in exchange, except for Matts Korpilainen's horse which they took to Honga's property. In exchange for the discarded horses they paid money.

In 1714 Matts Korpilainen was granted, for the remaining 12 mantal of land, two soldiers of Charles XII of Sweden for each mantal, or 24 soldiers, as compensation. {A The Meaning of the Word - Mantal - was a taxable assessment unit on property}. The Russian dragoons stayed in Gamlakarleby over the winter and in the summer of 1715 headed south to Vasa. In August 1715, 8,000 dragoons and 5,000 Cossacks marched north and encamped in Gamlakarleby at the priest's home in Karleby where they stayed during the winters of 1716-21 in order to march south to the Vasa area.

The continuous Russian troop deployment impoverished indescribably the rural population in northern and middle Ostrobothnia. The farms that were situated along the coastal road especially were exposed during the Great Wrath. Johan Kauko in Korplax, who had taken flight in 1714 and who later had served as a Swedish soldier for four years, found his home completely looted when he returned. Also, Gabriel Heickilä of Korplax had taken flight and on his return found that at times from 600 to 700 men had been kept there. Such a large number of men could not have been kept only at Heickilä, so no doubt some were also at Korpilainen and other fine farms. The pause from 1711-18 during an otherwise active "child production" period indicates that the couple Matti and Brita at Korpilainen would have been separated during this time.

The women left behind had a difficult time during the Great Wrath. At the winter court in 1718 ten women were charged with illicit intercourse with Russian soldiers. A number of them explained that they had been raped. A mother and daughter said that they only had made food for the Russians and washed their clothing.

After the Peace of Nystad {Uusikaupunki} on 30 August 1721, maintenance of the remaining Russians strained the country people who still had to deliver fodder for the Russian horses and at the same time provide the stabling of the post-horses of the retreating armies. During the Great Wrath years, the people has so few horses that carriages had to be pulled by oxen.

The notations in the church books and accounts for this time period are incomplete because many of the church and parish officials had taken flight and some of them never returned. At Karlö where many took flight, the Russians landed in 1714 and beat to death all the men, among them the district judge Anders Mathesius and his son, alderman and constable Henrik Mathesius, who owned the Vidnäs and Huhta homesteads.

The above-mentioned indicates that during the relatively short period of time between 1713-1742, the Matts who owned the Korpilainen home should be the same person as Matti Mattsson Korpilainen who was born in 1685 and died in 1770 at 85 years. But who was the young girl Lisa who {according to tax records} had the home from 1728-30?

"Matti" Mattsson Korpilainen was born, as mentioned, in 1685. There is no doubt that he was a farmer in the Korpilainen area. But which Matts was his father? Or did he come to Korpilainen as a son-in-law? One can only guess. He was married the first time to the one-year-younger Brita Andersdotter (b. 1686, d. 15 Apr. 1755 at 69 years). It is not mentioned when this marriage took place. Matti's first-born daughter, Anna, was born in September 1711. Here we can come to the conclusion that the marriage occurred some time in 1710-11. Seven years later in August 1718, the next child, son Matts, was born. Afterward the following children were born at the predictable times. The total children were 5 boys and 6 girls; 4 died in younger years (a boy and 3 girls). The times of birth are not more exact except for month and year; the death dates of children were not noted except for burial date, no doubt an attempt to have a record in the "national registration" in the parish after the Great Wrath. What happened during the war years was entered later on the basis of memory.

The oldest daughter Anna (Mattsdotter) was married 12 November 1733 to farmer Matts Ericsson Vitick. After the brothers Michel (b. August 1720) and Anders (b. July 1721), daughter Elisabet was born 14 April 1725. (A daughter Maria had been born in February 1723 but died and was buried 26 July 1724.) At age 22 Elisabet (Mattsdotter) married 21 September 1747 to farmhand Anders Andersson. Two years earlier, brother Michel Mattsson (Korpilainen) had married Elisabeth Andersdotter Vässi (daughter of Anders Andersson Vässi and Brita Christophersdotter). The oldest brother in the family, Matts Mattsson (Korpilainen) had moved earlier to the big farm at Heickilä. There is nothing to relate of daughter Carin (b. 13 March 1728). Eric (b. 16 August 1731) married 1786 to Maria Michelsdotter Hauhtonen (daughter of Michel Eriksson Hauhtonen and Brita Jakobsdotter Huhtala) and was son-in-law at Hauhtonen until 1796. The father Matti was 75 on his second marriage Christmas Day 1760 to Maria (Larsdotter) who was 39 and the same age as son Anders. She died 1 November 1783 of dropsy and was 62 years old. Just before the Great Wrath, Vitick opened an inn at his farm in Korplax on the public highway. During the time after the Great Wrath the innkeepers were sole proprietors of horses and carriages, but in 1728 the country people demanded carriage horses. They were of the opinion that the neighbors could help out with carriages for hire, whereupon these people complained about the fact that they received only half of the fare compared to what the innkeepers received. Therefore, they decided to collect one daler copper coin from every household for government and private transport so that those neighbors who conveyed freight or people would receive full payment. Innkeeper Erik Eriksson Vitick who had small bales of hay said he could not keep more than one horse (the edict was that they had to keep 5 horses) for driving because three horses were needed for home use and carrying mail. Therefore, 10 large homes in Vitick and Korplax indicated that they usually had two extra horses on hand. They decided that each Sunday they would announee which farmer would support conveyances for that week for the innkeeper's place. After 1733 Anna Vitick (nee Korpilainen) came to work as landlady at Vitick. Erik Mattsson Vitick/Lillkotkama, son of Anna and Matts, worked for a while as innkeeper until 1767 when he married Anna Mattsdotter of Lillkotkama in Upper Korplax and became a farmer there.

From 1723 to the 1740s the father of Matts Mattsson Korpilainen worked as a juryman in the jurisdictional district. After the Great Wrath, Gamlakarleby was ruined. It was hard up for cash. In 1724 the governor ordered that Lt. Carland's ship that lay in Kaustar Bay should be searched. Alderman Sigfrid Bromerus, vice constable Thomas Laiberg, jurymen Matts Asmus and Matts Korpilainen went to the ship on 27 August 1724 to see if the man had acquired tar and other goods. A guard prevented Jacob Erich from going on board. He was threatened with an ax, iron pole, and later detained. When the jurymen promised to return with lead and gun powder, Jacob said that onboard he found a rifle and two pairs of pistols. It was evident that Carland carried on illegal business along with sailing.

Some time at the close of the 1750s or beginning of the 1760s the management of the home went to sons Michel Mattsson (Korpilainen, b. 1720) and Anders Mattsson (Korpilainen, b. 1721), who divided it between them in 1763. The oldest son Matts Mattsson (Korpilainen, b. 1718) was then farmer at the large farm of Heickilä. It is possible that he, in accordance with the custom of the times, took the farm name as his surname (and was called Matts Mattsson Heickilä)…

Under the management of brothers Michel and Anders (with the elderly father's supervision) there followed an active time at Korpilainen. The Korpilainen home had a little mill at Korplax basin above the farm.

In 1763 the brothers formed a joint ownership for 60 dalar silver coins. That same year Michel and Anders Korpilainen, together with neighbors Matts Heickilä, Johan Präst and Jakob Huhta, requested a 1/16 mile {English} ditch from Kelding Marsh to Korplax Creek. It was l/16 mile long, 1/32 mile wide, 1-1/2 ells deep at the edges and 3-4 ells in the center. {An ell is an old English measurement 45 English inches long.} The steep edges {of the ditches} were dangerous for the livestock, which wandered around the marsh grazing and often died in the sand. Based upon the standards of that time period, the drainage operation could be considered large. An additional four farmers asked to participate but were refused by the others. The governor was to settle the question. Whether 9 or 5 farmers drained the marsh is not clear, but the work was carried to completion and began to pay off by 1777. Because only Johan Präst had harvested hay on the most fertile places around the marsh, although several others in the village had cooperated in digging the ditch, he was called before the court in the winter of 1777. The farmers made an agreement that hay harvest henceforth should be a joint haymaking venture until further notice, since everyone had invested in equal labor. In 1765 Michel and Anders Korpilainen wanted to cultivate Pinokärr, 1/8 mile southeast of their homestead. Anders Heickilä and Jakob Huhta felt that the breaking of the new ground would encroach on the grazing area, but the overseers indicated the place was so swampy that if livestock strayed there they could drown. Drainage and clearing would be of benefit to the village.

In 1782, Matts and Johan Huhta each were given permission for a soldier's field to be dried out and a marsh to be cultivated between Paskas bog and the parish boundary of the Kelviå River.

Aside from the fact that the homestead had been divided between the brothers and thus the arable land had become less per homestead, there were other purely technical taxation reasons for the development of reclaimed land. While the farmers had earlier feared increased taxes if they developed reclaimed land, in 1718 they were promised 50 years tax free to anyone turning a marsh into arable and pasture land. In 1740 a decree was made that the farmers and their direct descendants would be free from taxes on the reclaimed land and improvements which they made to the bogs, swamps, and other unusable land.

In1746 Michel married Elisabeth Mattsdotter Vässi who bore 17 children; 7 died at a tender age (5 girls and 2 boys). Two children died "of a cough" (tuberculosis) in 1773, Matts at 26 years and Magdalena at age 15. A third daughter Carin was 27 in 1792 when she died of tuberculosis. Two children died of smallpox (Anna, age 2 in 1756, and Anna, 5 months in 1770). Of the remaining children on June 11, 1769, the oldest daughter Brita, at age 23, married year-older Hans Andersson Gunnars, who was also a landed farmer at Erkillä in Lochteå. After his death in 1756, she remarried in Kronoby a widower 15 years older, Jakob Olofsson Sunde.

Son Anders (born 5 Oct. 1751) who was the oldest son after his sick brother Matts died in 1773, gradually took over the house from his father. Son Michel (born 7 July 1755) became a farmer at Skriko in Nedervetil. The fates of sons Eric (born 1756), Johannes, (born 1759), and Abraham (born 1767), also daughter Maria (born 1761) are not known.

LILLA OFREDEN (Little Strife)

The great military might of Russia possessed all of Finland in the autumn of 1742 when the so-called "Little Strife" began. In Gamlakarleby city 30 soldiers were billeted, but at times many horsemen or hussars were located in the area around the city. Farmer Anders (Mattsson) Vesse of Vittsar (Michel's father-in-law?) often had to serve as interpreter in the city, for which labor he later received an allowance. All the entrances to the city were guarded so that the public highway and Kauko Bridge were held under control.

The Kauko wooden bridge was 250 ells (130 meters) and required much work and upkeep by the people for protection from spring floods. The stream is still known today for its fertile spring floods. Therefore the men had to arrange for patrolling. According to a summons of 1755, bridge bailiff Anders Mickelsson (Gross) informed a number of farmers from Såka, Kåustar, Palo, Kirilax, Linnuspera and Storby that those summoned had not come to guard Kauko Bridge against the breakup of the ice, so farmers from Vittsar, Rödsö and Korplax were used to participate in the watch. Even though the bridge was watched, it was smashed in 1763. The entire parish had to take part in bridge maintenance, and individuals as well as the village committee took part in the work. In 1801 when the big Kauko wooden bridge was repaired, Rödsö, Korplax, and part of Vittsar responded for the fourth bridge coffer, also the opening between the third and fourth coffers counting from the south end. Part of the work also fell on the brothers at Korpilainen.

The war that began in July 1788 with Russia went badly for the Swedes. At the outbreak of war 900 men from Ostrobothnia's regiment were ordered to Sveaborg. In the spring of 1789 they were sent to Savolax where they successfully took part in several battles. As a whole Karleby came off easily from this war. It was a good time for carpenters because many vessels were built both in the city and at Sveaborg Fortress. Michel (Mattsson) Korpilainen is thought to have been a skilled craftsman because he was referred to as a master shipbuilder in 1777 (at age 57) when he gave "a cupboard to the church." Anders' fate is unknown. He probably remained single until he died. In1797 the home was independent, but in 1805 his share of the home was taken over by his sister's son Matts Mattsson Vitick (born 1736, died 1814), son of Matts Eriksson Vitick and Anna Mattsdotter (nee Korpilainen) and his son Johan Mattsson Vitick who was the farmer at Vitick after the death of his brother Matts Mattsson Vitick in 1807.

In 1785 Anders Michelsson Korpilainen married Anna Abrahamsdotter Räbb, daughter of farmer Abraham Johansson Räbb and his wife Agneta Pährsdotter. Anders' and Anna's marriage was blessed with seven children, 2 boys and 5 girls. Daughters Brita and Sofia died at a yound age. Daughter Catharina (Kajsa) was married to Johan Mattsson Witick/Kauko, who was a farmer at Kauko in Korplax. Eight years later in 1823 his younger sister Maria married Anders Ericsson Witick/Räihä (born 1792) who was a son-in-law at Korpilainen and a farmer at Kauko and Vitick, then a farmer at Räihä. The oldest son Michel Andersson Korpilainen took over as master of the home after the death of his father Anders who died of tuberculosis in 1804 at age 54. The youngest son Anders Andersson Korpilainen became a farmer at Lillkåla, and in 1807 the widow Anna married Erik Mattsson Storhånga (born 1771) who had been previously married.

The Encounter at Kauko Bridge 1808

The new system for maintenance of soldiers that began in 1803 was fortunate in that the new cottages for soldiers were set up for use by 1807. {In 1808 Russia launched an attack on Finland, which was the beginning of the Finnish War of 1809-1809}. After an inspection on February 19 {1808}, recruiting began in Vasa on March 16. Soldiers from Karleby had barely reached Jakobstad before they met the retreating Swedish troops on March 28. On orders of Field Marshal M. Klingsspor on March 6, 1808 the Swedish army began a retreat through Ostrobothnia. On March 31, 1808, they arrived in Gamlakarleby where headquarters were located. From April 1-4 three Swedish brigades marched north through Karleby. From April to September Gamlakarleby and Kauko Bridge were, in turn, in the hands of the Swedish and Russian armies.

In Korplax village the Russians had an advance field guard and at Kauko Bridge they built fortifications and installed batteries. On September 15, 1808, violent struggles were fought that opened with prolonged Russian artillery fire. The main Swedish army had the bridges burned from Oravais north, then marched through Gamlakarleby on September 22 at 4 o'clock in the morning. At Storby the Swedish rear guard fought a delaying action during the slow retreat to Kauko Bridge. The defenses sat in order and the batteries were lined up on the north side of the stream, and Kauko Bridge was burned when the last Swedish troops came over. The troops were set to guard the position at Kauko Bridge and along the river at Vitick Inn in the other part of Korplax, in Peldokorpi, in Rodsal and Kelviå, where the remaining Swedish troops stayed until September 30. The Russians occupied Gamlakarleby city, the harbor and villages around the church, as well as Kronoby. In a prolonged drizzle a minor gun battle was fought September 22-30 at Kauko Bridge. During the advance to Korplax the Swedish army was in miserable condition. Besides inadequate clothing, there was a great lack of food. The country people in the nearby farms gave grain and flour that was baked for bread, but there was not enough bread for everyone. Sometimes the soldiers were given money in place of food, but money was not useful while they stayed in a war-ravaged countryside.

After the truce at Lochteå on September 30, the Swedes drew back from Kauko Bridge and Korplax. The Russian headquarters, under Commanding Officer F. W. Buxtehövden, were formally in Gamlakarleby. Consequently Finland was taken over by the Russians, and the Russian era began for Karleby parish as well as for all of Finland. Buxtehövden arranged for an accounting of the damages that the imperialist Russian troops brought upon those who lived along the public highway. The damages by the Russian military in the villages of Kvikant, Storby, Kallis, Linnuspera, Åivo, Närvilä, Kåustar and Vitsar were estimated at 18,917 government dalar. In Såka, Kirilax, Rödsö and Korplax damages were valued at 13,600 Swedish dalar.

Son Michel, like his father Anders (1751-1804) married a woman from Räbb. In 1809 he married Anna Mattsdotter Räbb, daughter of Matts Michelsson Räbb and Elisabet Eriksdotter. The mother Anna (nee Räbb) had married in 1807 widower Eric Mattsson Storhånga (born 1771). When Michel and Anna had been married twelve years, Michel died in 1821 at age 34 of "fever." Of their six children, all sons, two died at a young age and one, Michel, died in 1828 at 12 years of age. The oldest son Anders Michelsson (born 1810 and 11 years old at his father's death) became farmer at the big farm of Heickilä. The next oldest son Mathias Michelsson (born 1814 and 7 years old when his father died) became farmer at Hannila in Storby, and the youngest son Jacob Michelsson (born 1819, only 2 years old when his father died) moved to Kronoby in the spring of 1854, where he became a farmer at Krokfors in Påras village. The Korpilainen home merged with Heickilä where mother Anna lived as a widow until her death in 1862. Hereby the destiny of the Korpilainen home ended and a new era began.

Hans-Erik Krokfors is Asst. Professor of Marketing at Åbo (Turku) Finland. His special hobby is genealogy in Karleby Parish, and he has a database of over 85,000 people. This article was published in Österbottningen newspaper, Karleby, Finland, 23 Sep. 1993. Translated from Swedish by June Pelo.

Published by the Swedish Finn Historical Society , Volume 7, No. 3, July 1998


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