View Full Version : Muskegon, Michigan

June Pelo
03-05-04, 21:14
Joel Lunden of Muskegon wrote an interesting letter to The Leading Star newspaper in response to one of the articles I wrote for the paper about genealogy and emigration. He said he came from Korsnås and has lived in Muskegon for 49 years. He mentioned that many Finlanders came from Swedish-speaking areas south of Vasa and that Muskegon probably had the largest number of Korsnäs immigrants after the war years.

In the late 1800s Muskegon was known as the "Lumber Queen of the World". Along the Muskegon River there were white pine trees standing 125 to 175 feet tall with a diameter of 2 and 1/2 to 5 feet and were 160 to 300 years old. He said they were a far cry from the scrawny trees he had cut in Finland. A considerable amount of the lumber was shipped to the Atlantic coast through the Erie Canal, but a lot of it went to Chicago for rebuilding the city after the fire of 1871.

There were 46 sawmills in the area of which 35 stood on the shores of Muskegon Lake, which is connected to Lake Michigan. In the 1880s those mills produced 800 million board feet of lumber each year. There were 49 logging railroads with spurs reaching into almost every part of the forest. Five thousand men worked 12-hour shifts for $1.50 per day. For 30 years money flowed into the city and there were more millionaires there than in any place in the US. By the early 1890s the forests were gone and the sawmills closed - the last one in 1910.

Both of my grandfathers worked for lumber companies in Michigan, but they died before I was born so I never had an opportunity to learn from them about their lumbering experiences. Joel Lunden's article was very interesting to me.


M. Waters
03-05-04, 23:13
Hi, I found by accident that there was a Swarfar (other spellings occur, too) in Muskegon. I noticed a letter that this man had written to the editor of a magazine we subscribe to, so I wrote to him, then visited when we were downstate a few years ago. There are Svarfvars in our family, so I was hoping for a connection but we couldn't find a direct link, even though the family had attended the same church at Korsholm. Perhaps they occupied the same farm but were not related. Midge.

June Pelo
04-05-04, 00:26

Karl-Gustaf Molander has some Svarfvar names in his genealogy - I think he's still a member of Finlander. Maybe he has some names in Talko.


Hasse Andtbacka
04-05-04, 04:46
Eugene Swarvar, b. 1927, lives in Muskegon, is a relative of mine. His mmm was Brita Simonsdr Andtbacka, b. 1834.

Hasse A

June Pelo
04-05-04, 17:28
I remember that many years ago Hilding Widjeskog of Terjärv told me he was trying to locate data about some Mandelbacka relatives in Muskegon. Don't know if he ever found them.


26-09-08, 19:41
I have a Eugene Swarvar in my family tree born 1927 in Muskegon, Michigan. His father Karl Viktor Swarvar born 25 Feb 1884 Tolby-Korsholm area. His mother Emma Marie Hanson born 1 Sept 1886 in Muskegon. Her father Leander Hanson born About 1860 in Finland . Her mother's name was Susanna or Susannah born about 1860 in Finland. Could this be the Eugene Swarvar you are related to

Hasse Andtbacka
26-09-08, 20:52
Yes, it is the same. I met Eugene in 2006 in his home in Muskegon.

M. Waters
27-09-08, 01:58
Hi, Barbrojj, June, Hasse...I was alerted to this thread when it became active again, but I have nothing new to add. I visited the Muskegon Swarvars a few years ago, as the thread explains, but we could find no common ancestor at that time. They gave me a photo of the church that our people attended, so we were from the same area. It may be that the farm name they used does not mean that they were of that family, but only workers on the same farm. If anyone has a new connection to add, I would be glad to share the information I have. Midge, in Upper Michigan.