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Matts Johansson Torp Svartsjö


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Joelle Steele

One of the interesting things about genealogy is discovering all of the people you are descended from and all of their many descendants, your cousins. Unfortunately, many of my more “famous” cousins passed away a few generations ago or more, so I never got to know them. One of those cousins was the Finnish National Poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg (02/05/1804-05/06/1874), my 4th cousin 3 times removed. He and I have many ancestors in common if you go back far enough. Our first shared ancestor is Matts Johansson Torp Svartsjö, my 7x great grandfather and Johan’s 3x great grandfather. Johan and I are descended from two of Matts’ children, Matts Nyman and Anders Mattsson Svartsjö Nygård. Since my first of three books of poetry was published in 1974, I would like to think that somehow the “poetry gene” got passed down through this common line of ancestry.

Matts Johansson Torp Svartsjö (08/16/1674-08/01/1759) was born in Vetil, the fourth of fourteen children born to Johan Gabrielsson Torp (06/25/1634-11/24/1736) and Anna Larsdotter Saari Löija Svartsjö (1646- 02/04/1710). His father was a sexman, juryman, and farmer at Torp.

On May 22, 1698, when Matts was 24 years old, he married a widow ten years his senior, Maria Henriksdotter Norrena Enaperä Hyytinen (1663-12/27/1754), who was born on Enaperä in Evijärvi. Maria was formerly married to Johan Olofsson Vidjeskog Spangar Svartsjö (1660- 03/17/1697) and had been living with Johan, his sister Malin, his brother Jakob, and Jakob’s family on a small 1/4 mantal farm called Svartsjö on the shore of Svartsjö lake. Svartsjö was formerly known as Haltas, and it had been deserted up until 1688. It was located in the southern end of Terjärv parish where there was a group of small farms called Småbönders. When Johan died, Maria married Matts and they lived together on Svartsjö with her son and daughter from her first marriage.

Matts was not happy with his position on the Svartsjö farm, and in 1708, he requested that the local court divide the farm, but they refused to do so because the farm was already so small. However, Maria’s former brotherin- law Jakob founded a settlement on the parish’s main land, which he called Storbacka, and he and his family moved there. Matts then became husbonde on Svartsjö in 1711. When the Great Wrath ended, Matts continued on Svartsjö as a powerful farmer, and like his father was also a sexman and juryman. He was a well-respected man in the parish and he died in Terjärv just a few days shy of his 85th birthday.

Matts and Maria were the parents of six children born at Småbönders, Terjärv, five of whom survived, moved away, had families, and became prominent persons in their own right and/or gave birth to generations of influential Swede-Finns:

  1. Matts Mattsson Svartsjö (“Matts Nyman”)(1698-1778) was the oldest child. He grew up during the Great Wrath and was taken away by Russians to Russia, along with another child. He was returned home and later became a boatswain in Jakobstad, where he adopted the name Matts Nyman. He became a very wealthy and respected member of the magistrate’s court 1746-1770, married, and had eight children, of whom only two daughters survived, one of whom, Maria Mattsson Nyman (1726-1803), married a merchant, Niklas Malm (1724-1785), in 1747. Maria or “Grand Malmskan” and Niklas or “Big Malm” had many children, and their many descendants include famous Swede-Finns who made remarkable contributions to the culture, science, and politics of Finland. For example, two of their great-grandsons include Otto August Malm (1838-1898), once the wealthiest man in Finland, and Johan Ludwig Runeberg .
  2. Carin Mattsdotter Svartsjö (1702-05/11/1790) lived at Söderpåras and married a Finnilä in Kronoby. From her line come many famous people, including poet Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, parliamentarian Johan Broända, politician Birger Åminne, poet Rudolf Eklund, and peasant leader Johannes Storbjörk, to name just a few.
  3. Lisa Mattsdotter Svartsjö (03/15/1704/05-?). <<3 (69) Anders Mattsson Svartsjö Nygård (10/15/1707-05/13/1749) married Brita Jacobsdotter Lassfolk Hästbacka (07/1715-01/20/1744) and they had ten children. He was måg at Hästbacka. After Brita died, Anders married again and had four more children, three dying in infancy. Anders and Brita were my 6x great grandparents.
  4. Johan Mattsson Frisk Svartsjö (1709-?) moved to Helsingfors in 1730, and his son Johan (1707-?) took the name Frisk when he became a merchant in Helsingfors, and had a daughter named Maria who married blacksmith Erik Stoor from Gamlakarleby.
  5. Anna Mattsdotter Granbacka Svartsjö (01/03/1711-1767) lived at Granö, Terjärv and was married to a Granö-Granbacka.
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