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White Cloud's Swedetown


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I am the wife of a second generation Finn-Swede and lived in “Swedetown” for fifteen years. I knew many of the first generation Swedes. I found this area to be interesting at that time, but as the years went by it became a fascinating subject. I knew that unless someone wrote about “White Cloud’s Swedetown,’ its past would soon be lost to posterity. I began writing about things my husband and his family had told me. Then, I contacted other second generation Finn-Swedes and a few of the third genration. They, too, were very interested and were glad to help. Together, we had much enjoyment in doing it. Not much research, as such, has gone into this narrative. It is mainly the memories of many people plus some information from family Bibles and records. It is absolutely true insofar as it is remembered.

Velma F. Matson January 28, 1986


In order to fully understand the “Swedetown” story, it is necessary to know something about the history of Finland from which most of these people came.

Through centuries of precarious history, the Finns have been threatened, fought over, invaded and exchanged among powerful neighbors. With Russia alone, they have fought dozens of wars and lost nearly all of them. Finland was a part of the Swedish Empire for about 650 years, from about the middle of the 12th century until 1809 when it fell under the control of the Russian tsars. Finnish people probably originated in central Russia and later mixed with the Germanic and Slavic tribes before settling in northern Europe. Linguistically, the Finns are related to some tribes of northern Europe, to the Estonians and to the Hungarians. However, roughly seven percent of Finns consider Swedish as their mother tongue. (The “Swedetown” natives to which this story relates are among this seven percent). Throughout all this occupation of their country the Finns have remained courageous, industrious and perseverant with a touch of stubbornness. In 1917, they gained their freedom and have inspired the world with their courage and integrity.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, conditions in all Northern Europe favored mass migration from the homeland. Political, economic, religious and martial problems prompted this migration and as the United States of America was “the land of promise” it was only natural that most immigrants turned their eyes toward this land. Settlements of different nationalities dotted many of our northern states where climate and other conditions made life suitable for these immigrants.

In a book written by a Swede in his native tongue, it is mentioned that Finland-Swedes settled north of Grand Rapids and northeast of Muskegon in Newago County and western Mecosta County. These settlements were named White Cloud, Big Rapids, Bailey and Parks. The book also says that hundreds of Finland-Swedes worked in the lumber camps and mills in the 1890’s and many became farmers there after short or long periods of time. Be that as it may, most of White Cloud’s Finn-Swedes did not become farmers, but found employment on the railroads when their lumbering days were over.

For some inexplicable reason, a group of Swedish-speaking people from an area in Finland near the Swedish border, found the south side of White Cloud, Michigan to their liking and many of them settled there. Most of them came from a town named Gamlakarleby or in that vicinity and in later years the word “Gamlakarleby” was almost synonomous with “old country” in this group of people. Newell and James Streets south of Main Street in White Cloud encompassing four or five blocks in the southeast corner of town became the nucleus of “Swedetown.”

Naturally, these thrifty hardworking people did not arrive all at one time, but as they came they found jobs, built houses and became assimilated into the Swedish community. Many of their descendants remained in White Cloud and have become active and respected citizens of the town today, although they have not remained segregated on the south side of Main Street.

Although several of the homes built by these immigrants have undergone extensive remodeling, many of the original “Swedetown” houses are still standing. The tales these houses could tell are legion, but unfortunately most of them will never be known. No records were kept in most of these families. The original first-generation Swedes are all deceased, as are many of their children. Many grandchildren and great-grandchildren are still living but their information is scant. To preserve some of the history of the old “Swedetown” is the purpose of this writer.

The first group of houses to be considered were built and occupied by related families. In the 1870s, Anna Youngquist came from Sweden to find work in order to make enough to send back home so that her mother, Charlotta Youngquist, her sister Emma and her brother Charles could come to America. She settled first at Alleytown, a busy lumbering town and worked in a hotel as a cook and maid. (They arrived in 1881.) Anna later married August Johnson and they settled on and farmed a small piece of land northeast of White Cloud. Anna and August had one son, Edward born in 1885, who much later became a rural route mail carrier out of White Cloud. Several years later, they built the house at 1289 James Street in White Cloud, which is now the residence of Ruth Schotanus and daughter, who is a grand niece of the Johnsons.

Anna and August were active in the Swedish Church and the Swedish community and became affectionately known as “Aunt Annie” and “Uncle Gust” not only in their end of town, but by the whole town.

Anna’s mother Charlotta, her sister Emma and brother Charles set up housekeeping in a little house at 296 Willliams Street (a cross street between James and Newell). It was in this ittllle home that church and Sunday School were held, at times, before the church

was built. Charlotta lived a long life and became known to townspoeple as “Grandma Lotta.” Her house still stands and is occupied by her great grandson, Charles Christenson and his family.

Emma Youngquist was only ten years old when she arrived in White Cloud in 1881. In 1888, she was married to Victor Erickson, a young man who had come from Finland to America in the early 1880s to make a better living. They settled on a farm two miles east of White Cloud and not far from Anna and August Johnson. They had eleven children – the first four or five being born on the farm. As Anna only had one child, she gave much help to her sister, Emma, who was having a baby about every two years. She would walk through the thick woods in the summertime and in the winter she would use her snow shoes to get through. Victor and Emma built their house in White Cloud at 1134 James Street in the 1890s and the rest of the children were born in town. Except for a period of about two years, this house has been continuously occupied by members of the family. The farm also remained in the family and Victor became a part-time farmer and a worker on the railroad.

Victor and Emma had eleven children: six boys and five girls – Alfred 1889, Charles 1891, Anna 1893, Leonard 1895, Rudolph 1897, Ruth 1900, Harold 1903, Clara 1905, Ray 1908, Eva 1910 and Frieda 1914. They were a musical family and subsequently formed the Erickson Family Band. Alfred, Charles, Rudy, Harold, Ruth, Anna and Leonard along with cousin Eddie Johnson were members of this band. They played for dances and various functions around town – including at the the bandstand in the State Park for the once a year, week-long Old Soldiers and Sailors Reunion. World War I broke up the band when Charles and Leonard were drafted. Charles fought in the front lines in France, but Leonard contracted the deadly Spanish influenza at Camp Custer, nearly died and was never sent out. Of this family, Alfred became a veterinarian and had his own animal hospital in Charlotte, Michigan. Anna was a school teacher and Clara was a registered nurse. Several of them moved to Muskegon, got jobs, lived there and made honest livings for themselves and their families.

Frieda Erickson, the youngest, became the bride of Rev. Elmer Christenson in 1937 and went to live in the little house just to the east of the Erickson big house, which was also owned by the family. Later, this little house was moved two miles east of White Cloud to the Erickson farmland where Elsa Rae Jonaitis (a grandaughter of Victor and Emma) now lives with her family. Frieda and Elmer had previously moved to the big house, so their seven children – Elmore, Emma Lynn, Ruth, Elsa Rae, Anna, Ingrid and Charles were all born and raised in this immediate vicinity.

It is interesting to note that while first-generation Scandinavians to “Swedetown” almost always married another of their nationality thus keeping the blood lines intact, their children and grandchildren seldom did. Notable exceptions were Alfred and Rudy Erickson who married Julia and Alice Hanson and Frieda Erickson who was wedded to Elmer Christenson. Another fact of interest is that none of the original Youngquist-Johnson-Erickson houses were ever sold outside of the family.

James and Newell Streets between State Road and M-37 were crossed by railroad tracks. On Newell Street, just west of the tracks and on the south side of the road, abutting on railroad property was the rooming house and greenhouse of an early Swede, Charles Burke. Very little is known about him. His nephew, Herman Burke, born in Finland in 1881, came to the United States when he was seventeen years of age and settled in White Cloud because “Uncle Charley” was there. At first, Herman worked in the logging and lumbering industry, but later became a laborer on the railroad who rose to section foreman.

Sophia Anderson was born in 1882 in Finland and came to White Cloud at the age of twenty-one, being lured there by a cousin, Mrs. Gustafson. Soon after arrival she obtained work at Gust’s Hotel. Not long afterward, she met Herman Burke, they fell in love and were married. To this union were born four chidlren: Tura 1905, Edwin 1908, Judith 1910 and Andrew (Andy) 1912.

In 1919, Herman tore down the old rooming house and greenhouse of Charley Burke and with the help of his brother Emil of Muskegon built the house where Herman and Sophia lived until their respective deaths. (Emil Burke and familly had once lived on a farm near White Cloud also). Herman became superintendent of the Swedish Mission Church, a position he held for many years. He also took care of the church janitorial duties, sometimes getting up very early to get the wood fire burning well enough to heat the buillding in time for services. Itinerant ministers often stayed at Herman and Sophia’s home and the Rev. Elmer Christenson lived there from 1935 until his marriage in 1937.

Herman contracted tuberculosis in 1927 and was ill until his death in 1937. There were not many opportunities for women at that time, but Sophia was independent and made a living by weaving rag rugs and taking in washings.

Tura Burke taught school for a while before she became Mrs. Ralph Fry and moved to Muskegon. She had three children, Collin, Jean and Don. Edwin was a printer, who worked for the Muskegon Chronicle, Fremont-Times Indicator and White Cloud Eagle. He and his wife Evelyn lived in the area most of his life and had three children, Arlene, Melvin and Ernest. Judith went to County Normal, became a school teacher and married her “high school sweetheart” Elmer Johnson after which she became a housewife and mother to Bruce, David and Ruth. Andy married Laura Fry and they had two sons, Robert and Richard. Robert still lives in the White Cloud area. Andy, himself, is a lifelong resident of the town and has for many years lived in the house next to the railroad tracks which was built by his father. He was owner or part-owner of the Standard Oil Station for forty-three years. He and a partner, Byron Fowler, bought the station and the coal and ice business from William Flaherty in 1940. The continued to “put up” ice for a few years, but when the ice house had to be replaced, gave it up, bought a new Dodge truck and trucked ice from Grand Rapids until a regular delivery of ice reached White Cloud. The coal business dwindled with the advent of oil and gas heating, but the gas station was not sold until 1982. Andy gave many years of service to the City of White Cloud and remained active in church, school and community affairs.

Albert Brandt came to White Cloud from Finland about the year of 1885 to avoid service in the Russian army. Bertha Bjork also came from that country at approximately the same time, to work in a relative’s boarding house. Two years later they were married. In 1888, Albert built the house next to the raillroad tracks on the south side of James Street. Since that time, the house has been continuously occupied by members of Albert and Bertha’s family. The present occupant is Ingeborg, their youngest child. Albert was a “lumberjack” for many years after arriving in White cloud. Later, he owned and operated a saloon until the Prohibition Amendment was passed and then he operated a grocery store. He died at the age of fifty-six.

After marriage, Bertha became a busy housewife and mother to their eight children. She lived to the “ripe old age” of ninety.

Their son, Herman, born in 1889 was killed in France in World War I on Oct. 6, 1918. Emil, 1891, and his wife, Florence, had two children and lived in Muskegon. He worked at Continental Motors for forty-four years. Carl, 1891, a widower, has three chilldren, owns a business in Grand Rapids and has manufactured tire supplies for sixty years. Victor, 1894, was a talented violinist and artist who died at the age of twenty-two of quinsy. Andrews, 1896, was a barber for fifty-two years – most of the time in Lansing, Michigan. He has two children. Edwin, 1897, never married and for most of his ife lived at the family home with his mother and sister. William, 1899, was a barber for forty-seven years and most of these years were in White Cloud. He had his own shop in the Gust Building, which he owned. Here the townspeople often gathered to “thrash over” local affairs and “solve the world’s problems” Bill and his wife, Irene, have two sons, Kenneth and James. Bill was a second-generation Swede who settled in Swedetown and has lived since 1933 in the Doty house on the southwest corner of James and William Streets. Bill and Irene have been very involved in the activities of church, school and community throughout the years. As a token of esteem with which their community regards them, they were chosen King and Queen of the White Cloud Centennial in 1973.

Ingeborg, 1901, the youngest of the Albert and Bertha Brandt children was the only Swedish “flicka” (girl) in the family. As a young girl, she was an accomplished ice skater. She did go to Grand Rapids and Muskegon to work as a young woman, but spent many years as a clerk and cashier in local stores. She was very active in the affairs of the Swedish church and could be counted upon to lend her talented voice to many an occasion. She sang, even as a small child. Etched in her memory is the time she sang a song when she was about four years old at the old Hermany Erickson boarding house and dance hall. This was before the church was built and the Christmas program, at which she sang, was held in the big room or dance hall.

Ingeborg has lived in the Brandt home alone, since the death of her mother, surrounded by the locked-in memories of her family and their Swedetown connections.

Another young man who came to America from Finland to escape service in the Russian army was John William Matson. He was born in 1872 near Gamlakarleby. Soon after arriving in White Cloud he met Matilda Carlson and in 1893, they were married. By this time, he was working as a section hand on the railroad but later became a foreman. It is believed that he did not want to build his own home, but bought a small house on the north side of James Street about midway between M-37 and Williams Street. It was in this house that Ellen, Esther and Oscar were born. After only ten years of marriage, William was left a widower and his children were motherless when Matilda died in 1903.

William desperately needed someone to care for his children. It is not known how he did it, but somehow he got in touch with a Matilda Johnson, another Swedish immigrant who was working in New York City. She, too, was born in Gamlakarleby in 1877, the daughter of poor farmers who had ten children – five boys and five girls. Tillie had a very hard life and grew up working in the fields. She had no schooling except that provided by the cathechism of the Swedish Lutheran Church. She dreamed of a better life and by the time she was sixteen years old had decided to go to “the land of promise.” Naturally, she was unable to travel first class, so her voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in the “hold” of an 1893 ocean liner was really rugged. Arriving in New York City with her meager belongings, no education, no knowledge of the English language, no money and no relatives or friends, must have been a frightening experience for the young girl. Her “intestinal fortitude” carried her through and she soon obtained work as a domestic in the homes of wealthy people, some of whom exploited the young foreign-born girls. Life was not easy for Tilllie, but she made the most of it, had a good time and saved a little money. She had been in New York for about twelve years when William Matson contacted her.

So Matilda Johnson went to White Cloud and on February 3, 1905, when she was twenty-eight years of age, she married William Matson and became stepmother to his three children. In the next six yeaars she became mother to four children of her own – Francis, 1905, Mary Evelyn, 1907, Herbert, 1909 and Matthew William (Bill), 1911. In the meantime, the little house became much too small for the growing family, so Tillie used the money she had saved in New York City as a down-payment on a house located on the southwest corner of M-37 and Newell Street where the Shell Service station now stands. This became the house known as the Matson family home.

Soon after the new home was bought, tragedy struck again, for William Matson died in 1912, leaving Tillie with seven children and a mortgage. Ellen, Esther and Oscar were soon “farmed out” to work for other people and Tillie took in washings to support her brood of four and to make the payments on the mortgage. Life was a struggle for five years as Tillie eked out a living for herself and her children.

Early in 1917, Matilda married Emil Johnson, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Stubaka – natives of Finland who were living on a farm east of White Cloud. At the time of this marriage, Emil was a lumberman, but later became a railroad section worker as many of his Finn-Swede friends had done. To the union of Emil and Tillie, two boys were born: Engwald Emil and Robert Charles.

In regard to the children of the Matson-Johnson clan: Ellen (1895) became a nursemaid and worked for several wealthy families in Grand Rapids and Chicago. Esther (1896), a practical nurse, went to Virginia to care for her cousin (one of the Vickstroms). Her cousin died and Esther married the widower, Mr. Frank Thrift. She had two sons – William (1918) and Frank, Jr. (1920). Oscar (1898) married Melvina Archambeau after he had served in World War I and worked most of his life as a foreman for Parker-Hannefin Company of Chicago.

Francis (1905) married Velma Fowler and they had four children – William (1932), Max (1933), Hugh (1935) and Joelyn (1941). Francis spent the greater share of his life working in governmental agencies, particularly with the United States Postal Service. Mary Evelyn (1907) went to Chicago and did accounting work, many years of which were at Sears Roebuck and Company. She married Alex Walther, which union ended in divorce. Herbert (1909) worked for a while in Chicago and then studied to be a barber but the pressures of life seemed to be too great for him and he became mentally ill, spending the greater part of his adult life in institutionalized settings. Matthew William (1911), a fun-loving and clever young man, died at the age of nineteen of blood poisoning and pneumonia.

Engwald Johnson (1917) contracted tuberculosis as a young man and never could be said to have good health. He never held a steady job, but worked at odd jobs for almost everyone in town. His brother, Robert (1919) joined the Navy soon after graduation from high school, was a veteran of Pearl Harbor and rose to be Pharmacist Second Class. At the time of his death, he was working as a civilian at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The Matson house. After the death of Emil Johnson, it was sold to make way for progress, as a Shell Service station was erected on that corner. The house itself, was moved intact and incorporated into a larger house near the western end of James Street.

The foregoing Matson-Johnson Saga illustrates an old Scandinavian custom – that is, for sons to take the first or given name of the fathers plus the word “son” for their last or family names. Thus, John William, who was Mat Henrickson’s son, became Mat’s son or Matson and Emil, who was John Stubacka’s son became John’s son or Johnson.

Approaching White Cloud from the south on M-37, the first street turning to the right is James Street. On this corner on the south side of the street is the Simpson house. It was here that another Finn-Swede and his wife raised their chidren to adulthood, here that he lived until his death, here that his widow remained until her demise and here that one daughter spent most of her life until the house was sold to a grandson of the original owners.

When Andrew Simpson was approximately twenty years of age, he came directly to White Cloud from his native Finland. Emma Marie Anderson, who was born in Terjärv, Finland in 1875, apparently had known Andrew in their native country and she also came to the United States, but she did not come directly to White Cloud. She stopped in New York City and worked as a domestic for some time before coming on. On Nov. 14, 1898, Andrew and Emma were married and settled themselves into the only house in which they ever lived. To that union were born seven children: Sandra (1899), Signa (1900), Edith (1901), Theodore (1903), Carl (1904), Hugo (1905) and Edwin (1910).

The first occupation of Andrew Simpson, upon arriving in this country, was to the lumber woods. After that industry was in its decline, he worked on the railroad for over twenty years. He also busied himself on two farms near town which he owned. Emma became a busy housewife and mother. She was also an active member of the Swedish Covenant Church, having joined as a charter member. Andrew died in 1936 and Emma in 1952.

As to their children:

Sandra graduated from White Cloud High School in 1917 and went to Grand Rapids to work. In 1921, she was united in marriage to Elmer Anderson, son of Anna Anderson of White Cloud, a Swede who did not live in Swedetown. Soon afterward Elmer and Sandra moved to Quincy, Michigan where Elmer managed a lumber company. Their only child, Lillian Mae, was born in 1924. Sandra contracted tuberculosis and died in 1932.

The second daughter, Signa, followed in her older sister’s footsteps of attending the local schools and going to Grand Rapids to work. However, she never married. After Sandra died, Signa spent much time helping to care for and raise Lillian Mae, her sister’s child. After Signa’s father’s death, she came back to White Cloud to live with her mother. She became very active in the Swedish Church, being a Sunday School teacher for many years and an involved member of the Swedish Ladies Aid. After her mother’s death, she continued to live in the family home until her own death in 1962.

The youngest girl – Edith- being intrigued by work in the big city, quit school in the ninth grade and went to Grand Rapids with Signa and Ingeborg Brandt to find work. Being too young to get a job in most places, she had to “fib a bit” about her age and finally was employed by Keeler Brass Company. It was while working there that she met Harry Holwerda and after a three-year courtship, they were married in 1924. In 1931, a daughter – Bonnie Lou – was born. The latter still resides in Grand Rapids and works for Sears Roebuck and Company. A boy, Ronnie, was also born, but passed away in infancy. Edith’s husband died in 1978 and at the present time she is living at Springbrook Manor in Grand Rapids.

In 1903, Andrew and Emma Simpson had three lovely daughters of whom they were justly proud, but they were happy to greet the arrival of a son. He was christened Theodore, but soon became known as Teddie or Ted to his many friends in the community. Except for two years when he worked in Muskegon, Ted lived his short life in White Cloud. Tuberculosis forced him to give up his work in Muskegon and go home. After a long illness, he also had pleurisy and pneumonia and died in 1931 at an early age.

Another son – Carl – was born 1904, but died when still an infant.

The sixth child and third son was Hugo, born in 1905. He attended the local schools, but before he graduated from High School, the lure of a steady job and money of his own, caused him to accept work at the Selin Lumber Company. (The Selins were also Swedes and the lumber company was in Swedetown, next to the railroad tracks on the south side of Newell Street, but they did not live in town). Hugo became a very good carpenter and stayed with the company until it closed. Following this, he went to work at Adams Hardware and Lumberyard and remained there for thirty years until that store was closed. In 1936, Hugo was married to Pearle Ordish of Woodville. They had one son, Laron, who now works for the Michigan State Highway. Hugo passed away in 1980 just after his seventy-fifth birthday.

Edwin John, the seventh and last child of Andrew and Emma, was born in 1910, attended White Cloud High School and graduated in 1928. From then until 1932, he worked at odd jobs. At that time, he decided to “better his lot” and enrolled at Western Michigan College in Kalamazoo. During his college days, on August 25th, 1934, he married his childhood sweetheart, Geneve E. McKinley. Edwin graduated from college in 1936 with a B.A. degree and went to work as a deputy sheriff for nine months under the administration of Sheriff Wm. Bird of Newago County. In August of 1937, Ed and Geneve moved to Walkerville where he taught school for only one and one-half years before becoming Postmaster in that town – a position which he held for thirty-three years. During some of that time, Geneve also served as a clerk in the post office for twenty-nine years and was Postmistress for one year. He retired in 1973 and she in 1974. Some time during those years, they found time to build a home on the east side of town in Walkerville where they still reside and to produce and rear three sons. The sons are:

Ronald (1937) who lives and teaches school in Calhoun, Georgia and has three children of his own. Larry (1941) a barber, is back in White Cloud and has two children. The third son is Ted who works at Shaw-Walker in Muskegon and has three children.

The numerous tales the Simpson house could tell are lost to posterity. One little incident is remembered: one night, the Simpson boys, who were supposedly asleep upstairs, showered down catalogues on the unsuspecting heads of sister Edith and her boy friend, as they returned from a date, proving that even in Swedetown, “Boys will be boys.”

Another story has to do with a near-tragedy. While skating on the mill pond, Hugo fell through the ice and nearly drowned. Fortunately, he was rescued by brother Ted and Arthur Vickstrom, a neighbor.

The Simpson family name underwent considerable change over the years. Andrew Simpson’s original family name was Simon. Later “son” was added to make it Simonson and still later the first “o” and “n” was replaced with a “p” to become Simpson.

On October 22, 1856, Andrew Wickstrom was born in Gamlakarleby, Gaten, Finland. Nothing much is known of his childhood, except that life was hard, the country was in poor circumstances and hard work was his lot. He dreamed of being a free man in the USA, “The Land of Opportunity.” Finally his time came, he boarded a ship and endured the hardships of its crossing the Atlantic Ocean, as did so many of his countrymen. The ship docked in New York, but he continued on to White Clloud, Michigan.

Unknown to him, a Bertha Johanna Newman (Jan. 5, 1862), from his native country had also been on the same ship and had traveled to White Cloud where she had relatives. She lived on a farm with these relatives and it was while there that she met Andrew, but by this time his name had been Americanized to Vickstrom. When they arrived in this country, neither of them could speak a word of English, but they soon learned enough to get by and the lack of English was no deterrent to their courtship.

They were married in White Cloud and lived in a cottage at Diamond Lake until Andrew, who was a carpenter, could build the house on James Street which became their home. (It is the second house east of M-37 on the south side of the street). He also built houses for other people and claimed the distinction of having built St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in White Cloud. He later became a full-time section hand on the railroad, but continued to do carpenter work as a sideline.

The Vickstroms had nine children, so obviously father could use two jobs to keep things going. Their children were:

1. Alma, born August 4, 1885, who married Frank Thrift and lived in Norfolk, Virginia until her death from tuberculosis on April 6, 1918.

2. Ida, born on June 15, 1887, married Ralph Hollaway, had two sons, lived in Grand Rapids and died on May 7, 1967.

3. Charles, born on December 31, 1881, married Harriet Sage, had one daughter and one son, lived in Fremont, worked at Gerbers and died on October 22, 1938.

4. Oscar, born on October 24, 1890, married Elizabeth Bisculani, had one daughter, lived in Detroit and died on August 10, 1973.

5. Inez, born January 23, 1893, was married twice to Dale Heinz and Mark Budd, lived in Lansing and died on July 13, 1968.

6. Hilda, born July 17, 1894, married Upsure Lewis, had one son and died October 26, 1976 in Norfolk, Virginia.

7. Robert, born August 22, 1896, never married and died on May 2, 1957 in Muskegon.

8. Esther, born December 5, 1897, married Frank A. Bacon, had one son and one daughter, lived in Fremont and died April 26, 1978.

9. Arthur, born September 20, 1903, married Ella Gorham, had one daughter, lived in Grand Rapids and died on October 7, 1971.

Andrew and Bertha lived to see all nine children grow to adulthood, Arthur being twenty years old when his mother dropped dead in the cemetery while putting flowers on a deceased friend’s grave. Andrew continued to live in the family home with his youngest son until Arthur married, after which he lived alone until his death on July 14, 1937.

The original Vikstrom house still stands and is in liveable condition after a century of withstanding the elements and the ravages of time. Its longevity attests to the workmanship of its builder, Andrew Vickstrom. What tales it could tell of its original owners and their nine offspring, if only it could speak!

John “Irish” Johnson was born near Purmo in Finland in 1861. He was born as Jakob Bascka, the son of Johan Johanson Backa (1830-1884) and Beata Backa (1825-1897). It is thought that he came to this country to avoid military service. He arrived in the USA with only one small trunk and immediately changed his name to John Johnson. How he got the nickname “Irish” is not known but it did stick with him and later his son was also dubbed “Irish”. As with many of his fellow countrymen, he worked in lumber camps and was known as a “top logger.”

Gustava Jacobson was born near Nykarleby, Finland in 1870. As a young lady, she came to “the land of promise” to find work, even though she probably came from a family with more means than most “old country” families of the time. She arrived with a large, well-packed trunk, a gold watch, a manicure set and a portrait of herself. She soon found work as a cook in the lumber camp and it is believed that this is where she met John Johnson, her future husband. She did, however, also work for the Morgan family, an early family in the White Cloud area. (White Could was originally called Morgantown.)

John and Gustava were married in Grand Rapids by Claes August Nyren. Their childlren were: Selma Elizabeth (1897), Carl Ivor (1899) and Eda Marie (1903). Gustava lost her hearing soon after coming to the United States and was completely deaf most of her life. She did, however, become very adept at reading the lips of both her Swedish-speaking and her English-speaking friends and was able to carry on a good conversation. In her younger days, she was said to be the best dancer and the prettiest girl at the dances in the Erickson Boarding House Dance Hall. After her marriage and the birth of her children, she and John continued to go to the dances and, as baby sitters, as such, were unheard of at that time, the children were taken also and put to bed in one of the rooms in the boarding house.

For some time after his marriage and the birth of the children, John continued to follow the lumber camps. Eda recalled that one winter about 1906 or 1907, the whole family went to Dublin, Michigan (near Kaleva) on the train, so her father could find work. They were met at the station and went to their destination in a hay wagon. That winter was so cold that on many days there was no school.

The house that became known as the John Johnson home was located on the north side of Newell Street, the second house west of M-37. They did not build it. It is believed that it was built by a lumber company, as there were several houses in this area that were exactly alike. The Johnsons did build a large kitchen addition and two porches which altered its appearance.

After settling down at this location, John worked on the Pere Marquette Railroad and became section foreman. The family also raised cows and sold milk which was contained in small tin pails and was delivered by the Johnson children. This was before the days of pasteurization and homogenization.

John died in 1936 and Gustava lived fifteen years longer – until 1951. Some time during those years, she had a house built on the northern corner of James and William Streets next to her son.

Selma, the oldest daughter, went to Grand Rapids to work. She married Jack Hirsch, lived most of her married life in Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit and died in 1974. Carl (Charley or “Irish”) was married twice. His first wife was Nellie and they had one daughter – Glenna. His second wife was Elma Mills and to this union was born two daughters – Norma and Joan. Charley worked with the survey team at the County Road Commission. He died at a rather early age in 1948. Eda Marie was married twice – to Robert Starkey and to John Boot, but had no children. She lived in Lowell, Michigan and worked as a bookkeeper for the King Milling Company and for the Lowell Public Schools.

While most Finn-Swedes severed all connections with the family they had left behind in “Gamla Landet” (the old country), it is interesting to note that the Johnson family kept in touch. Gustav Backa, a nephew of John Johnson came to the U. S. for eleven years when Selma, Charley and Eda were young. He returned to Finland to take over the family farm near Esse. He had five chidren, whom Norma and her husband visited in 1977. In 1982, Norma, her husband, her daughter Sandra and her sister Joan visited them again. They also went to see their great grandparents graves in Purmo Church graveyard and discovered distant cousins, also named Selma and Eda – two delightful elderly ladies who bore a resemblance to Norma’s aunts – Selma and Eda.

Of this Johnson family, only Norma and some of her family have remained in White Cloud. At one time, she too lived in the area known as Swedetown.

Matt Leander Gust was born on December 5, 1869 in Gamlakarleby, Finland. As a young man in that country, he was accustomed to hearing about his friends who had immigrated to the United States, so he decided to go to White Cloud, Michigan where many of them had located. His first work in the area was in the lumber industry – in the woods and mills.

Hilma Matson, born in Stockholm, Sweden in May of 1862, had also gone to White Cloud because she had relatives there. They met and were married. Unlike many of their countrymen, they did not build their own house, but bought one already built on the corner of M-37 and Newell Street and remodeled it to suit their needs.

To this union, five children were born – Myrtle, Ingrid, Victor, Garford and Elnora.

Mr. Gust quit the lumber business and formed a partnershp with Albert Brandt to run the so-called “Swede’s Saloon” until the time of prohibition. Then, Mr. and Mrs. Gust bought and operated the Central Hotel, later known as the Gust Building and as the Big Chief Hotel. They sold their home and went to live at the hotel. Many Finn-Swedes, particularly young ladies, were able to obtain employment at this hotel upon coming to this country.

Of the Gust children: Myrtle was married to Horace Beckwith, had two daughters and lived in Muskegon. Ingrid married Dr. House, an opthalmologist, and lived in the New England states. A son of hers is a well-known eye surgeon in Boston. Victor, born on June 6, 1894 graduated from White Cloud High School in 1913, served in the United States army during World War I, married, had four sons, lived most of his adult life in Illinois and had considerable success in sales for various companies. Garford remarried in the White Cloud and muskegon area, ran a gas station in White Cloud, married Marjory Keith and died at a rather early age. No information is available about Elnora. It is believed that she died in early childhood.

When the Gust house was sold, it was not, at first, another “Swede” house, even though it was located in Swedetown. Later, it was sold to an Andrew Wellman, a Swede. By the time he bought the house, he was an old man, perhaps retired, and very little was known about him. He is remembered as being a very stern man. Swedish boys delighted in tipping over his outdoor toilet on Halloween Eve. A story is told that one one such evening, Mr. Wellman went into the toilet to await the culprits and the building was pushed over with him in it. The house of Mr. Wellman and his first wife was thought to be very stiff and formal. His second wife was more outgoing and he became more friendly under her influence. The house has since been torn down to make room for progress and a restaurant parking lot now occupies the corner on which stood Matt and Hilma Gust’s first home.

Just east of the railroad track on the north side of James Street is the Hanson house. Hans Julius Hanson was not a Swede, but a Norwegian. Neither was he born in the “old country” but both of his parents were. He was born in Whitehall, Michigan in 1867 and came to Alleytown at the age of fourteen. Later, he moved into White Cloud and worked at a meat market for Ray Gannon’s father. This work led to a lifetime interest in the meat business as he later became a custom butcher and went to the homes of those who wished to have butchering done. Swedish women relied on him to tell them when and where, so they could fill their containers to use in baking their beloved blood bread.

Emma C. Nelson was born in 1864 in Sweden, As did many others, she came to the United States to find work and thus “better her lot.” Her memories of her trip across the Atlantic were vivid and all bad – she said that they were shoved aboard ike cattle, they had no privileges and only the bare necessities with many of them becoming ill. Many countries were represented and many languages were spoken, but she could only speak Swedish, so communication was stinted. She disembarked at New York City, but it is not known how she arrived in Alleytown. Here, she obtained work with a Mrs. Wyman who ran a boarding house. From there, she sent to White Cloud to do housework for Ray Gannon’s mother. It was here that she met Julius Hanson. They were married early in the year of 1891.

Julius did not build his own house, but did build on a sizeable addition. It was the only house they ever owned and their three daughters were born in it. Julia, 1891, married Alfred E. Erickson in 1912 and had two daughters, Helen and Theo Jane. Julia died in 1981. Alice, 1898, married Rudolph Erickson in 1919 and had seven chidren – Merwin, Jean, Lea Mae, Lorain, Dwight, Dwain and Darwin. Maimie was born in 1904, married A. Frank Ferris in 1928 and had three sons – Bill, who had three sons and Patrick with six children. Donald died in 1942 when was only seven years old.

In his later years, Julis Hanson had a bicycle repair shop at the western end of White Cloud’s Main Street. He died in 1939 and Emma lived until 1951.

The Hanson house still stands, but no one lives in it or keeps it in repair. The years have taken their toll on it and the tales this could could tell are slowly dying with it.

August Gustafson was born in Sweden in 1866. Anna Erickson was born in Finland in 1869. It is not known, but is probable that they never met until they both were in White Cloud. They married and their home was on the north side of James Street next to the railroad tracks. Their children were Marie, Julia, Alfred and Edward. Mrs. Gustafson died on June 20, 1900 when she was only thirty-two years old as a result of childbirth. Mr. Gustafson found that taking care of four children while making a living for them was more than he could handle, so he wrote back to Sweden and “ordered” a woman. She was Amanda who first worked as his housekeeper and later married him. To this latter union were born Leonard, Elna, Edith, Alice and Benjamin.

Mr. Gustafson was a big man and became known as “Big Gus.” He was Roadmaster on the Pere Marquette Railroad and was in charge of trains from Grand Rapids to Petoskey. He is remembered as being always well-dressed and as an affluent man. “Big Gus” also became White Cloud’s first mayor which enhanced his standing. Because of his position, his family was amply endowed with luxuries other Swedes could not afford and many Swedish children were rather envious of the Gustafson offspring. As most Swedes did, “Big Gus” kept cows and had a farm southeast of town, but his chidren did not have to herd the cows to and from the pasture as he hired other boys to do it. Oscar Mattson was one of the boys who herded the cows and otherwise helped around the Gustafson barn and farm, for which he received board and room, clothes and a small amount of spending money.

As for the Gustafson children, Marie Anna married Eugene Webster and had one child who is deceased. Julia married, but had no children. Alfred married Leona Fowler and their chidren were Clara and Gerald. Edward August was born July 17, 1895, married Violet Marie Webster on April 14, 1917 and they became the parents of five children – Carl Edward, born Mar 8 1918 and died July 2, 1947, Baby Earle born in 1921, but died thirteen days later, Clare Willard born March 13, 1923 and lives in Bishop, California, Charles Lindbergh born June 11, 1927, who now lives in Traverse City and Greta Jean Kroben born August 23, 1931 and is now a resident of Grand Rapids. All of “Big Gus’s” children by his first wife Anna are deceased.

Very little is known about the five children of “Big Gus” and his second wife Amanda. Their names in order of their birth dates were: Leonard, Elna, Edith, Alice and Benjamin. It is believed that all except Benjamin have passed away.

It is interesting to note that when “Big Gus” died, his son Alfred became the affluent Roadmaster and when Alfred retired, Edward took over the same position.

The Gustafson home still stands and is occupied, although by no member of the family.

It is unfortunate that no one wrote the “Swedetown” story before it became too late to get information from some of these families. This is especially true of those who lived on the north side of Newell Street between M-37 and the railroad tracks, an area which now encompasses Wanda’s Restaurant and its parking lot.

Beginning at M-37 and going eastward was a large, square impressive-looking house, owned and lived in by Crissie Olson and her sister Marie. To the east of this house was a small one in which their mother lived. No one seems to remember much about the Olsons.

The next buillding to the east was a large one – a combination boarding house and dance halls which has been referred to elsewhere in this narrative. The big room or dance hall was used for the big gatherings or meetings and church was even held there, at times, before the Swedish Church was built. This building was owned and operated by Captain John Erickson and his son, “Hermany” of whom there is no known information.

Continuing eastward and next to the railroad tracks was the Mickelson property. Although the Mickelsons were well-known in their time, no one is available who can tell much about them. Mr. Mickelson’s first name was Matthew and his wife’s name was Marie. He was born in a small town near the Sweden-Finland border. They probably came to White Cloud for much the same reasons as did their countrymen. Mr. Mickelson did become a lumberman. As far as is known, six childlren were born to Matthew and Marie: Hulda, Ina, Elmer, Agnes, Vernor and Mayme. Sketchy information reveals that Elmer was an engineer on the railroad, was married, but had no children; that Vernor (“Pat”) was a newspaper linotypist, worked for “The White Cloud Eagle” and a Milwaukee newspaper; that Agnes married a man by the name of Reison, lived in California and had one child; that Ina was married to Otto Roehrig, had one son and died at the age of twenty-four as a result of childbirth. Mayme, the youngest, was a cripple since early childhood with a twisted foot. However, this did not deter her from doing the things she wanted to do and she was always fun-loving and happy. She had a beautiful voice and often “teamed up” with Ingeborg Brandt to sing duets at church, funerals and other gatherings. Mayme was married three times. Her first husband was Lloyd Osborn. Her second husband Russell Benedict was the father of her two sons, John and Michael. Her last husband was William Merritt. Before she married William, she lived alone for a long time in her mobile home on the backwaters of the mill pond, not too far from where she grew up. She drove her own car and was never too busy to drive for others, especially older people and those who did not drive. For a long period of time, she was companion and helper to an elderly friend.

Father Matthew Mickelson died at a rather early age and his wife, Marie, supported herself and famiy by taking in washings and working as a dishwasher in a local restaurant.

All four houses are now gone. Crissie Olson’s big house was moved across the street. The little Olson house was born down. The Erickson boarding house and dance hall was torn down to make way for the Joe Bosse home, which also had been removed. Part of the Mickelson home was moved farther back from the street and remained as a rental property for some time, but being in poor repair, it too, was removed in the name of progress.

Across Newell Street and between the Gust house and the Herman Burke home was a house owned by Victor Nyberg. This house was set back from the street and was connected to said street by a wooden plank boardwalk. Someone in the neighborhood had a pet crow that stole bright shiny trinkets and stashed them under the boardwalk. In later years, Mr. Nyberg had a new home built nearer the street. This house was built by a Mr. Felix Kasen, another Swede who had come to this country and did rent in “Swedetown” for awhile, but finally built himself a beautiful new home south of White Cloud. Mr. Kasen was a cousin of Mrs. Herman Burke.

Mr. Nyberg was married three times, but had no children of his own. He did have a stepson, Rudy Johnson, probably the son of Mr. Nyberg’s second wife. Rudy served in World War I and worked in Grand Rapids most of his life. However, he always thought of White Cloud as home and kept his connections there. He bought a building on Main Street which became a landmark. He did not marry until his later years, but he and Hannah settled in the old John Johnson house, which he had bought and there they spent the rest of their lives.

Mention has been made of a Fred Anderson who lived on James Street between the Julius Hanson and August Johnson homes. His house has long since disappeared and he lived in other houses on the same street. Fred had one son, Fritz, who is only remembered for his prowess as a baseball pitcher. Unfortunately, he became mentally ill and was taken by the sheriff to the State Hospital at Traverse City by train, where he remained until his death.

Another very early “Swedetown” resident was Andrew Burke, but he was not a relative of the other Burke family. He and his wife lived on the corner of State Road and James Street across from the mill pond. They had no children and there is no available information about them, except that Andrew did build the house by himself out of old lumber, even to old wooden packing cases which were much used in those days. He could be seen at any time of the day carrying an old board or two or a wooden packing case from one of the stores. The house was well planned, very liveable and attractive. He sold the house in 1930 and of interest is the fact that it was bought by Francis Matson, a second generation Swede, who lived there with his wife and family for fifteen years. All four Francis Matson children were born while the family lived there.

With so many Swedish families in the area, it was only natural that they should want their own church. So the Swedish Mission Church was organized in 1908 and a church building was erected in 1909. Between 1908 and 1909, church and Sunday School were held in the home of Charlotta Youngquist about a block from the church site on Newell Street just west of White Cloud’s old school.

From its inception until 1935, traveling ministers, mostly from Grand Rapids came by train each week and stayed overnight in the homes of church members. Pastors Linman, Nordberg, Wallquist, Seagren and several others served the church in this manner. Many a Swedish baby had his or her “dupatest” (christening certificate) signed by one of these itinerant preachers. Many lay people became very active in the church and Sunday School and gave much time and service which contributed to the success of the organization. They acted as Sunday School superintendent and teachers, as committee members, as maintenance persons, etc., Not only were these people from “Swedetown’ proper but other homes in white Cloud, as well as from farms in the surrounding area. Family names especially well-known in this respect were: Burke, Simpson, Brandt, Johnson, Anderson, Lindholm, Stark, Selin, Jacobson, Erickson, Gustafson, Gustin, Green and others.

In 1935 Elmer Christenson, a young minister from Nebraska, who was “fresh out” of North park College in Chicago, became the first permanent minister of White Cloud’s Swedish Mission Church. At first, he stayed at the home of Mrs. Sophia Burke, but later married Frieda Erickson and set up his own home.

In 1938 an addition was built onto the back of the church for a separate Sunday School room. At this time church and Sunday School attendance was high. Gradually, however, as first generation Swedes became old or passed on, and as their children grew up, married and/or left town, as did their grandchildren, attendance and membership became smaller and smaller until the church doors were closed in 1966. In 1967, the building was sold and moved intact to a spot north of Woodville. Throughout the period of 1935-1966, “Christy” was a real shepherd to his flock in every sense of the word and even afterwards continued to minister to the needs of those of the Swedish blood line and others.

The church was the center of social life for the early Swedes. The Swedish Ladies Aid was a good example although its real goal was to keep the church in good order and condition. These meetings were held once a month in the homes of members, were well-attended and enjoyable. A business meeting was held, a collection was taken, but visiting and eating were the pleasures to which everyone aspired. Even ladies outside the church vied for invitations to these meetings as each Swedish hostess outdid herself in preparing a bountiful Swedish lunch which was served with lots of Swedish coffee made with egg and egg shells.

The Sunday School picnic was a yearly summer event to which the Swedish people, especially the children, looked forward. It was held in various places, such as the White Cloud State Park, The Flowing Well, Diamond Lake or at the home of a church member. One such place, often visited, was at the home of the Jacobson’s who lived at the east end of Wilcox Avenue and owned Gannon’s Grove on the banks of the White River. Again, Swedish women put forth their best efforts to provide an excellent meal. Games and visiting provided entertainment. A special treat of the day was home-made ice cream for which everyone patiently waited and no one was ever disappointed as to its quality or to its quantity.

The big church event of the winter was the Christmas program always held on Christmas night. Actually, St. Lucia’s Day on December 13th marks the beginning the Swedish Christmas holiday. On this day, “Julebullar” or Christmas sweet rolls are offered to family members and guests. In each household, one of the young daughters dressed in a traditional white robe, red girdle and stockings and wearing a crown of evergreens and lighted candles brings “Julebullar” and other goodies along with coffee to all the bedrooms of the house. She sings a song outside the door, then enters and makes her offering.

Early on Christmas morning, there was a 6:00 A.M. service at the church known as “Julotta”. But the Chrstmas night program was the happy occasion to which the children especially look forward. The church was trimmed with evergreen boughs and candles. Each window had an arch which held three candles and they were always lighted at all events during the holiday season. On the platform was a large Christmas tree also aglow with lighted wax candles. In the middle of the platform and directly in front of the pews was an arch of evergreens where each child stood to speak his recitation or sing his song which in the early days, was always in the Swedish language. After the program, each child received a bag of candy and nuts. Many Christmas greetings were exchanged by the adults after which everyone went home with beautiful memories to cherish.

Since much has been said about the cooking skills of the Swedish housewivs, it seems only natural that some of the dishes indigenous to their native land be mentioned. A partial list follows:

  • Sill - pickled herring
  • Kottbullar - Swedish meat balls
  • Knackebrod - hardtack bread
  • Fruktsoppa - Swedish fruit soup made from dried fruits and thickened
  • Fiske Suppe - fish soup
  • Koldolmar – stuffed cabbage rolls
  • Limpa – Swedish rye bread
  • Kardemumma Flata – cardamom braid, a sweet coffee cake
  • Kafverterte – coffee torte
  • Lutefisk – dried coffish prepared as only Swedes know how
  • Risgrynsgrot – a rice pudding served at Christmas time. According to Swedish custom, The person who finds an almond in his pudding will marry within the next year. Almonds and almond flavoring were used a great deal in Swedish cooking.
  • Plattar – Swedish pancakes
  • Spritsar – Spritz cookies
  • Pepparkakor – Swedish gingersnaps
  • Struvor – Swedish rosette cookies
  • Sylta – head cheese
  • Julebullar – Christmas rolls
  • Lingonberries – somewhat like cranberries
  • Molasses Drikka – a drink with fruit in a molasses base which was allowed to ferment.
  • Fiel bunk – a clabber milk dish
  • Scrippacuche – a dessert made from “calve dansk,” the first milking after the birth of a calf.
  • Blood bread – Mr. Hanson, a custom butcher was admonished by all the Swedish women
    • Never to throw away the blood when he butchered as it was used to make blood bread. It was made in big quantities, was kept for a long time and became very hard, so it had to be soaked in order to eat it. However, it was still considered a delicacy.

Many of the above foods took long hours of preparation and were prepared only on special occasions. Even though some of the Swedish women could not read or write the English language and therefore made no use of recipes written or printed in English, they soon became adept in preparing Americanized meals with their own ittlle Swedish ideas added.

Strangely enough, Swedes were and still are very fond of their coffee. Almost every home had a continuous pot of coffee (made with egg and egg shells) on the back lids of the old kitchen range. They liked it sweet too, but as a general rule, did not put in a spoonful of sugar as most folks do. They liked loaf sugar, which was positioned under the upper lip and the coffee was sipped through the cube of sugar.

Grandma “Lotta” Lundquist was exceptionally fond of her coffee and in her declining years could be seen each morning and afternoon going to call upon her Swedish friends, hoping the coffee on their ranges was just right and that were would be a little something to go with it. Visiting over a good cup of coffee was a great part of her social ife. But she was not alone in this pastime! Even the busiest of Swedish housewives found time for “coffee breaks” and to neglect to offer coffee to callers was considered a cardinal sin.

Much milk was used in every household, for even though most of the Swedish men had, at least moderate paying jobs for the times, almost every family had one or more cows. Usually there was a small barn on the back of the lot where the cows were sheltered in winter and at night in the summer time. Younger children of the family drove the cows through the streets of White Cloud and out to the pastures beyond the village limits. These farms were sometimes owned by the Swedish people, a custom which originated in the “old country” of living in the village but having a farm outside of town. If no farm was owned, rent was cheap for pasture land. Milking the cows was considered “women’s work” and no self-respecting Swedish man of the early days learned how to do this chore. Milk was aways cheap because of the abundance of it, so even if no cows were owned by the family, it was still a great part of the Swedish diet.

While the White Cloud Mill Pond was a “fun” place for all the young people in town, it was very special to Swedish boys and it was located in their end of town. It was here that they learned to swim and many long, happy hours were spent in that pastime. Generally speaking, girls were excluded from the old swimming hole, as the boys were not always propery attired. In the winter, the pond provided ice skating. Money was scarce, but somehow each Swedish boy found a way to get a pair of ice skates. Girls were not always as fortunate, but one of the best skaters ever to grace the White Cloud Mill Pond was a “Svenska flicka” (Swedish girl), Ingeborg Brandt. It never seemed to be too much work to clear the snow from the ice, build a wood fire and have a grand skating party. Whether there was food or not mattered little – they enjoyed the cool, crisp air and the thrill of skating. Afterwards, however, many a Swedish mother prepared many cups of hot cocoa and Swedish “goodies” for sometimes sizeable crowds.

And then there was the harvesting of the ice. Of course, Swedes had no special claim on this but a few of them did work at helping to cut the ice into blocks, pushing it down the runways to the endless belt that carried it up into the ice house, where it was packed in sawdust to save it for the next summer’s use. Swedish boys and girls spent endless hours of fascination, watching this project.

Many of the older Finn-Swedes never became citizens of the United States – especially the women – yet they exhibited extraordinary patriotism and loyalty to their adopted country, its laws and its elected officials. One such first generation Swedish mother was so fond of President Theodore Roosevelt that she named her oldest son in his honor.

Most second generation Finn-Swedes were unable to speak English when they started to school, but they were versatile and learned quickly to be bilingual. Now, second, third, fourth and fifth generation Swedes of “White Cloud’s Swedetown” “have scattered to the four winds,” held all kinds of jobs and positions and served their country as well as any other sector of society in the United States. Thus, it is appropriate to honor those early immigrants from Finland by saying, “White Cloud is glad you came.”

Velma F. Matson

January 28, 1986

Note: Velma Matson was married to a son of Johan William Mattsson, born January 11, 1871 in Gamlakarleby. Johan William was married first to Matilda Carlsson and later to Mathilda Johnson, born 1877, also from Gamlakarleby. Examples of other Finnish Swedes who came over at the end of the last century are Karl and Herman Burke, Sofie Andersson/Burke, born July 27, 1882, in Larsmo. Albert Brandt, born 1864, Berta Björk, Emma Maria Andersson, born Sep. 24, 1875 in Terjärv, Anders Simpson, born March 6, 1870, Anders Wickström, born Oct 22, 1856 in Gamlakarleby, Berta Johanna (Anna) Nyman/Vickström, born Jan. 5, 1862, John Johnson, born Jan. 13, 1861, in Purmo, Johan Backa, Gustava Jacobson/Johnson, born 1870 in Nykarleby, Matts Leander “Gust” born Dec. 5, 1869 in Gamlakarleby and Anna Erickson/Gustafsson, born 1869, Maria Andersson Mickelson, born July 27, 1882, in Pedersöre and Matts Mickelson. (Maria married in 1889, so 1882 birthdate is an error).

June Pelo

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