Friday, December 14, 2012

My People

I'm 1/4 Finnish from my dad's side of the family.  My great grandfather came to the US from Oulu, Finland in the very early 1900s.  He moved to Michigan initially and then on to Minnesota.  He then sent for my great grandmother, who arrived a couple years later.  They were married. The rest is history.

I never knew my great grandparents, so I didn't know much about the Finnish side of my family.   I identified myself mostly as German and English. However, I've always been interested in family history and a couple of years ago I became addicted to  So, this past September I decided to visit Finland.

I arrived in Helsinki.  I had booked an (expensive) room in a hotel located in an old castle. Right up my alley, I thought. The exterior of the hotel was very cool. However, I was surprised when I got to my room and found laminate flooring and prefab furniture. Oh yes, I reminded myself, I was in the region of Ikea and modern design.

But then I started to wander about the city.  Those of you that have done your homework and have a keen eye will start noticing something. In hindsight it is all so clear, but it had not hit me yet.....

I'm warning you. I took a lot of photos. I fell in love with doorways, windows and balconies.

Front entry to my hotel. Very cool.

Check out the paint colors. Look familiar?

Seriously. How on earth is a tourist supposed to deal with street names like this?

The hotel I stayed at on my arrival in Helsinki

The main market.

The Deco train station

Train station exterior


Shirley said...

I'm one of your readers from Finland. It was interesting to hear that you have Finnish roots. There are only 5 Ikeas in Finland. The first one opened in 1996 and the next one in 2003. I thought it was strange when I moved here that Finland didn't have Ikea even though they were a neighbouring country.

Did you meet any of your relatives when you were here? Finland has very good church records so they are quite helpful.

StuccoHouse said...

Thanks for commenting!! The Ikea connection was just my initial thought upon changed as I traveled more. That said, I did stop in Kuopio and the main square was under major construction. It was my understanding (my Finnish is limited to three words) they were building an underground parking ramp and also putting in a new Ikea. The thing that struck me was the combo of historical buildings and modern design.

It was funny because while I appreciate modern design, I was not what we would consider a fan. That said, the Finnish sense of style grew on me quickly and I became an avid Marimekko, iitala and Moomin devote :) Ha, I even found the factory outlets.

I did locate those church records. I'll write more about it in a post, but all I had was the name and birth year of my relatives....and the vague notion that they came from Oulu. I came home with droves of info. Sadly, I don't know if I have living relatives there. I think I probably do. Another trip may be in order.

Mike said...

Arches and copper...

StuccoHouse said...

Mike - Yup, it started with that. It's odd that I took a massive number of photos and didn't even realize it. However, it got more obvious...I'll show that in my next post.

Karen Anne said...

I wonder if Finland has put its church records online. Denmark has scanned in its parish registers and censuses on the web, and volunteers are putting them also into a digital database on the web.

StuccoHouse said...

Karen Anne - They do have them online. Unfortunately, right now the site is in Finnish and the records are in old Swedish. I ended up going the paper records...and then microfiche.

The Lutheran church kept very detailed records - they covered things like vaccinations, home towns, if the person went to church.... It was a ancestry researcher's dream.

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