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The Virkkala family's ancestors lived on a farm settlement in an area known as Kaustinen. Before the 1500's the area was better known as Yliveteli. According to the tax books that have been found, Kaustinen was recorded as a parish in the year 1571 but of course the area was populated long before then. Kaustinen had during the 1540's at least four taxable farm-estates. These being; Salo, Luomala, Kaustinen, and Penttilä. On the 1557 tax list Virkkala's master was Prusi (Matti's son) Virkkala. The masters' list of residents from the year 1560 is as follows; Huntus, Juopari, Varila, Järvilä, Känsälä, and in 1590 Tastula appears on the list. In Pentti Virrankoski's book he claims that the founders of Kaustinen (farm-estate) came from Perhonjoki (Butterfly River). These people are all related to the Virkkala's ancestory. Upon asking a person from Kaustinen, he is sure to inform you that any family that has lived in Kaustinen for any length of time is related one way or another. Many facts attribute to this, one being that the populations have not undergone any great fluctuations for hundreds of years.

It is not sure where the name Virkkala came from. Perhaps it belongs to the many hundreds of words derived from immigration. Numerous names like these are found in the Northern countries. In 1558 we find the name Virkkoi who came from Karku. The form Virkkala may have come from the name Virkka which means the same as virkku (agile). This name is first recorded in Virrankoski's book in the year 1648 as Wirkula (Wirckala) and appears later in the 1600's and 1700's with the spelling Virckula. The suggestion that the name was derived from the word "virkamies" (official) is highly unlikely.

The Kokkola inhabitants cleared fields in the year 1500 and got their financial base established. Also the Virkkala farm-estate strengthened and flourished. In 1570 the Virkkalas farmed 5.8 acres of land and in 1624 were farming at least 8.5 acres. According to Mr. Ilmari Virkkala, Prusi (Matti's son) Vixkkala (1557--98) divided his farm-estate with his sons in 1595. The sons' names however fail to appear in the records during the "clubwar". The undivided estates' residents appear in chronological order; Juho 'Maunuss' son) 1602--26, Matti (Juho's son) 1626--37 who was also the Kaustinen area's transportation director, and Juho (Matti's son) 1635--73. In Juhana's Otte's son) land assessment of 1608 the Virkkala encompassed 1.4 units of land. Juho (Matti's son) fought for his rights to keep his land at Alaveteli. He gave his daughter Helga to be the wife of Heikki Luomala at Kaustinen and Kaarina to be the farmer's wife of Gabriel Torppa at Veteli.

Juho (Matti's son) finally divided the estate with brother Antti around the year 1645. He most likely did because of the work load and the fatique caused by the war. According to geneological records Antti became the master of the Vanhatalo farm-estate and Juho of the Alitalo estate. Antti Virkkala had many financial difficulties that stemmed from the fact that he had to pay 16 silver taalaris to his sister as part of the inheritance. Because of this he not pay his taxes and his part of the original farm-estate was deserted. On the other hand his brother Juho müst have been an extraordinary man - he worked as head of the local church and also on the local jury. These jobs indicate that he must have been a highly respected and powerful man in the community.

In 1681, when Juho became too old to hold down jobs both in the community and on the estate an interesting division was made. The information about division in the Kaustinen registers contradicts what was written in the Virkkala estate records. It must have been that Juho and the new master, Matti (Juho's son) had run the estate together even though Matti was the formal master from 1675. In the division of inheritances Matti recieved the estate. His brothers Antti, Erkki, and Jaakko each inherited 200 taalaris, two cows, one bull, one heifer, five sheep, 5 bushels of grain and a seine net which had to be shared amongst them. His son in laws, Olavi (Antti's son) from the Pietarsaari parish, and Jaakko (Olli's son) Kentala each inherited 100 taalaris, and 50 % of all that their brother inlaws recieved. In 1665, Erkki and Jaakko bought a farm (Snåres farm) in Kruunupyy. There Erkki married the widow of Snåre farm and Jaakko married her daughter. Many of Jaakko's descendants to this very day still live in Kruunupyy.

Because the Virkkala estate was so large and rich it meant that Matti had to pay his sisters a great deal of money for their inheritances since he recieved the land etc. Matti (Juho's son) died in 1686 without paying off his sisters. His son Juho (Matti's son) was the rightful owner after his death but because he was too young his uncle Antti ran the farmestate until his death in 1697. (1967 was known as the Great Death Year) The farm-estate was now Juho's until the Isoviha war during which Juho as a soldier married (1688) Kreeta (Erkki's daughter) from Iso-Salo. They purchased from Soko-oja the Herlevi-Hällis farm. Juho's son Antti went to stay in Alaveteli. From his line came Erik Cainberg 1771-1816. He was an important wood carver who studied under the famous Sergeli and studied in Italy) Juho's older sister Riitta (Matti's daughter) was married to Kreeta's brother Niilo Iso-Salo. They bought in 1707, the Alaveteli Slotte farm from which the Slotte descendants would come. Uncle Antti's son Erkki obtained a plot named Herronen which was on the borders of Alaveteli and Kälviä. From his lions came the mother of Fritiof Tikanoja who was a prominant Finnsh businessman.

The Virkkala farm-estate began to roll during the 1600's. Uncle Antti really, got things moving and the tax books of 1690 it was recorded that they farmed 32.5 acres. In the whole area of Kokkola during the "livestock years" Virkkala rated as seventh. Listed as taxable possessions were; three horses, one bull, 15 cows, five heifers, 25 sheep, and two pigs. This was a total "count" of 28.3 livestock units. The average for the Kaustinen estates was 20.3 acres.

The city of Kokkola was founded in 1620 and area's economy recovered from the war years in the mid 1600's. Virkkala established a sawmill which is probably the location of today's Mankkilankoski. In the 1730's the mill owners lived on the Salo and Virkkala estates. The Kausti area had many flour mills of the banks of the river. Virkkala had two mills on the Kentalankoski (Kentala rapids) in 1855.

In the year 1700 Virkkala was again divided. In the division Uncle Antti's son inlaw Antti (Juho's son) Torppa and Kaisa Virkkala his wife became owners of the "new" estate. Antti Torppa was Gabriel Torppa's and Kaisa Virkkala's grandson. It is written that he along with his three children were buried on June 10th 1716. The cause of death is unknown. It is possible that they died in the Iso-viha war. Antti Virkkala or "Vanhantalon sotamies" (old estate soldier) Juho (Pietari's son) Svartlock was married two days after the battle of Napu to Juho (Matti's son) Virkkala's daughter Liisa. A Corporal Juho Svartlock wrote in 1725 from Hamina where the Northern country regiment was stationed saying that he was still alive after one of the worst trials of the Northern war. Namely the K. K. Armfelt Norwegian trek during the winter of 1718--19. On new year's night they were frozen in by a deadly cold spell that killed many soldiers. Two of the few survivors were Antti Torppa and Kaisa's (Antti's daughter) son Juho, who was enlisted under the name Jöns Andersson Svartlock.

When the Iso-viha war had ended the country returned back to normal. The population grew and the settlements expanded. Virkkala also grew. Already in 1791, Virkkala had been divided into seven parts. Fifteen separate households in 1860 made Virkkala almost large enough to become a village.

The family tree had also branched so that according to Ilmari Virkkala there were now 26 branches in their familytree. After the death of Juho (Matti's son) in 1717 came Matti (Juho's son) as the Alitalo estate master. Between 1735 and 1775 Mikko (Matti's son) gave half of the Alitalo estate to his brother Juho to manage. Later the Kranni and Mikontalo households would be established on Mikko's land. The family lost these estates in 1814. During Juho's son Jaakko's life the Alitalo-family housed the Pikkuklumppi which in 1815 separeted from the Hannu Virkkala's estate Klumppi. Jaakko's grandson Juho Heikki (Hintrekki) (Heikki's son) Virkkala owned Pikkuklumpi and was known as "The Fiddler". When he started to woo his "wife to be" Anna (Heikki's daughter) Vähäkainu from Veteli she was already engaged. Anna didn't marry her fiance but married "the Fiddler". Juho Hintrekki's brother Jaakko (Heikki's son) had been the master of Pikkuklumpi from 1839 to 1856. His son Juho (Jaakko's son) formed a new estate from the Kranni farm. He became a public teacher. His sons Matti Kristian and Antti farmed the halfs of this new Alitalo's farm. When Kustaa sold his half and moved to Ullava, Matti's son Villehard got Kustaa's land and Eino got his father's half of Alitalo.

The old estate manager (Juho Juho's son) (1765--1786) had 11 children. One of his daughters Susanna married Aaprami (Markku's son) Varila and their descendants are musically inclined. The daughter from Susanna's second marriage to Elias (Juho's son) Kentala, Anna as we have mentioned was Pikkuklumppi's Jaakko (Heikki's son) Virkkala's wife. An other daughter named Liisa Reetta married Antti (Heikki's son) Virkkala who was master of Kranni and Mikontalo. Susanna's and Abramis's son "Markku's Joonas" was a well known violinist and is said to be Kaustinen's earliest violin player. His name became famous through a certain melody.

Anders Chydenius a local minister often visited Juho (Juho's son), who entertained him so well that the poor minister was afraid that his visits were becoming a habit of mere alcoholic binges. Once this same minister was reprooving the local young men for their mischievous activities at night. It was well known adventure for young men to make late-night trips to the cabins where the girls sleep on these large farm-estates. During the minister's strong sermon he turned to Juha and asked him to sustain his epistle to these young men. Juha, to the priest's suprise replied with an unsupportive attitude saying, "Well; the boys haven't bothered my sleep any!" The minister thought about this and said, "Ja-hah, Ja-hah, I notice that Juha has seven daughters."

After Juha died took Antti his son charge. He fell into financial difficulties and had to sell the estate to his brother Elias, whose wife was from the wealthy Tunkkari family. Elias began to make cart wheels amended by the minister Chydenius. His enterprise went especially well during the Finnish War when there was a great need for carriages. Ilmarl Virkkala tells in his book: "Elias could buy out the other heirs. The household was large and with all their boys at home it was a large gathering. In 1824 there were 37 of their own kindred sitting at the dinner table. In the same building lived seven families. There were two large buildings, the oldest was by a branch of the main river and the newest beside the main river. The old building is owned now by Kristofferi Alaveteli and still stands today.

Elias's exemple as the cart wheel maker followed his grandson Elias (Mikko's son) the master of Vanhatalo (1862--1894). he had talented children of which Matti was a teacher and had great abilities in drawing and in music. Juho was master tailer in his early years. His second spouse Liisa Kentala was of Kuorikoski (church builder) family from the father's side. From many sides inherited creative talents came up in the world-wide achievements of their grandson Tapio Virkkala.

Tastula, as mentioned was a farm-estate in the 1590's. The name first appears in the records in the wrong form as Trast, in 1675 as Tast and in 1697 as Tasti. According to Pentti Virrankoski the name is derived from a name Tasti from Alaveteli. It is also possible but unlikely that it comes from a Hämäläinen word Tavast. (in the Kokkola area in the middle 1500's the names Juho, Olavi, and Niilo Tavast are found. Tastula in the mid 1600's was known as Skog (forest). This name probably came about because of the location of Tastula. It was an area furthest south of Perhonjoki (Butterfly River). The name what ever the reason comes from the basic stem Tast. In the year of 1755 Tastula was one of Kaustinen's ten houses with Swedish names. It is very likely that the early inhabitants of Tastula were Swedes. That would explain Tastula-Skog name in the mid 1600's.

The Tastula land was divided into thirds in 1791. The 1860 census shows that eight buildings (households) existed. According to Heino Peltoniemi (born 1913) the Peltola houses are on the same place where Pietari (Lauri's son) Tast had built his own house. Later Jaakko and Lauri Tastula took the name Peltoniemi (=field cape) because the land was in between two channels of water . This happened around 1780's. In Peltoniemi the Tastula-line continues (women's side) in which Hintrekki-Peltoniemi's roots are involved. From the tax records of 1755--58 Tastula was Kaustinen's largest acerage (198 acres). In 1754, glass windows were taxable items. Tastula was one of four estates in Kaustinen that paid tax on seven windows! (This was exceptional for the time period.) Just as the Virkkala estate had a sawmill, Tastula did too.

These mills still produced lumber in the 1730's but the exact sites are unknown. A small mill of that time was actually started to supply the needs of the farm-estate but since boards were always needed the surrounding area it was an advantage to keep it going. Even in the year 1855 Tastula still ran and owned it. Tastula is mentioned here and there along the years.

According to the past information the inhabltants of Tastula were hiding from the Russians by waters of Hyöty, in Pakopirtti, during the Isoviha war. No harm was caused to these people by the enemy because the master of Tastula, Erkki (Jaakko's son) lived throughout the hard wartime and kept them safe. When the military fort was built also in Kaustinen in 1733, Tastula became part of one district with Kuorikoski, Jylhä and Paavola to supply one soldiers of Dahlback.

In 1779, the people of Kaustinen voted Juho (Jaakko's son) Tastula in as a temporary cantor. When everyone was satisfied with his singing he got the job permanently in 1786. The church wrote that Juho was faithful, careful, and respected in the parish. He had a flexible singing voice, could write to some extent, spoke Finnish and Swedish, and was skilled in the art of phlebotomy. In the year 1790 he was one of Kaustinen's three citizens that owned a pocket watch, which at that time was a "fad". His grandson Jaakko (Jaakko's son) Tastula was put in the Kokkola pedagogy school. Jaakko however turned out to be a farmer instead. When he died in 1852 he was the master of Kuorikoski farm-estate and left a large collection of rare books to his posterity. (23 of which were hymnals).

The Cantor's descendants were short lived but the following them as master of the estate was Aaprami (Aaprami's son) Tastula or Kriivari-Aaprami who lived a lot longer. A lot was told of this man. He and Juho Peltoniemi bought a sawmill lake area for 1800 marks and collected water in it for 10 years then sold it for a 2000 mark profit. He had exceptionally good hand writing and for this reason did a lot of the book-keeping for the area. Aaprami once walked on foot to Vaasa (about 200 miles) to talk with the governer himself. His descendants still have his homemade pipe and they wonder to this very day how he was able to fit the end in his mouth to smoke it.

His tongue was sharp and he did a lot of teasing. His half brothers moved to Ullava and some other people from Uusitalo estate moved to Kannus and Halsua. Aaprami stroked his long moustache for the remainder of his days and claimed that life was much easier now that the poor had left him. But behind all of this joking people like Aaprami knew what hard work was. Out of respect for those forefathers that worked so hard so that life would be easier for us in the latter half of the 1900's we pay tribute by returning to the household of Virkkala whose descendant is Matti Kristian Virkkala and his wife Selma (Aaprami's daughter) Tastula. Their children being among others, Juho Kauno Virkkala and Katri Maria Pesola moved to America. Katri Maria remembers her childhood as follows:

Matti Kristian Virkkala died in his 46tb year in 1919. He had been driving his mower in the heat of the harvest. Drinking water from a well bucket to quench his thirst he procured an uncurable disease. A boil developed in his throat and he died a few days later. He left his wife with seven children. The oldest was Saima (18 years), the narrator Maria was 13 years old and the youngest had not even turned four. We had about 24 acres of land, five cows, a horse, and a small mower (used before combines to cut the hay) which a friendly villager taught Villehard the 12 year old, to drive. Saima raked the cut hay and the little ones gathered it. Mother was so upset by death of father that she was not able to work in the fields. She however prepared food for the chilren. When harvest came everyone worked hard with sickle in hand. Father had planted rye, barley, and oats in order to feed the household. Mother warmed the drying house for fear that the children would burn it down if they warmed it. Between 4--5 in the morning we all awoke to go thrash the grain. We took long sticks and beat the stalks until all the grain had fallen to the floor. Raking the straw lightly away would expose the grain which we scooped up with our hands to fill sacks. The oats were so white that mother quickly made unleavened bread which was so scrumptious that we'll never forget it. During the summer the cows were milked. We ate fresh bread, porrige, drank milk, cooked porrage, and dug potatoes for the whole next year. And that was what we did, and life continued from there.

Erkki.A. Lehtinen
Assoclate Professor


Bibliography: Virkkala, Ilmari: "Good relative"(Explanation of the Virkkala lineage), 1961.
Virrankoski Pentti: The History of Kokkola (yläosa). Kokkola 1961.

Interviews Kaustinen 1980:
Peltoniemi, Heimo born 1913.
Pesola m.n. Virkkala, Katri Maria born 1905.
Virkkala, Arvid born 1897.
Virkkala m.n. Heikkilä, Rosa Jemina, born 1914.

Sources from the archives Vouti's accounts 1550--1570.
Property-tax-cataloque of 1800.
Land Register from 1905.


Chris Miller

June Pelo
( I received this from May Johnson Adair, a Wirkkala descendant.)

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