Monday, December 31, 2012

Tracing History

From Helsinki, I took the train north to Oulu. Visiting this city was the primary purpose of my trip because it was the region that my family originally lived.  I took a train out of Helsinki and about 3/4 of the way we switched to bus.

I sat on the bus looking out the window as we drove through the pine forest.  It was clear to me how my relatives ended up in Minnesota. We drove by a car parked on the edge of the woods.  People picking blueberries. We honestly could have been in northern Minnesota.

We arrived in Oulu and I went to my hotel. My room: 1) had a sauna in it; and 2) was above a karaoke bar.  The plan was to spend the next two days holed up at the Finnish National Archives finding out whatever I could about my great grandmother and grandfather.  It was a tall order because I only knew their names, birth year and the fact that they may or may not have come from Oulu (which is a region, as well as a city). I sat in my sauna and then was lulled to sleep my Finns singing songs in the bar below me.

The next day I woke up at the crack of dawn (ok, 9:00 am), ate a lovely breakfast and then went off to find the Archives. Bless the hearts of the ladies working at the Archives who took me under wing, showed me the ropes of researching the church records, and patiently helped me translate the old Swedish records into Finnish and then English.  When it was all said and done, I was able to work my way back three generations. And yes, my grandparents lived in the downtown area of Oulu. One of the coolest things I was able to do is match addresses for both families from an 1900 census to a current location on a map and go visit the actual location of their houses (long since gone). They lived a couple of blocks apart and probably grew up together.

On my third day in the city I started walking around and visiting the sights. Holy cow.  My family is lucky that I was not the one that lived there back in the 1900's.  Russian occupation aside, I'm pretty sure I would have never left.

I found myself looking at the dates of buildings to determine if they were standing when my grandparents were walking those streets. This was my first introduction to the 19th century wooden worker's houses.

Government building

The doors. Swoon.  Also, notice the blue gray color - if you did your homework, this should look familiar.

These buildings were in the main market square. My grandparents would have walked by them often.

More yellow

Had I seen this overhang before I had my copper one made, things would be different.

You know you are an old house owner, when 1) you photo things like this; and 2) you know how to strip paint off of them.

This Cathedral would have been the closest church to where my grandparents lived.

I'm pretty sure I could live on cardamom rolls and coffee

Corner of an old log building.

The main market. My grandparents would have walked down these same aisles.

I want to live in this one. Pink!

My afternoon coffee spot.

I take photos of my food. I know, odd.

A sculpture in tribute to the generations that helped build the country through the years.

Do the colors look familiar?

Does it get any better?

Bonus points to anyone that can tell me what I ate that day and point me to a recipe. Yum.

An old ship factory turned restaurant.



Karen Anne said...

I don't know if my comment made it through because login got an error. I was suggesting that you try to find the church your relatives were Christened or married in, as a church is likely to still exist.

Shirley said...

Wow I've never been to Oulu but it looks beautiful. You were lucky that your grandparents came from there so you could visit the city!

The cheese is leipƤjuusto.

The middle one looks like some kind of pannukakku. There many different versions.

The last one doesn't look familiar. Was it sweet or savoury? For some reason it looks like it might contain apple? Though if it was ground beef then it might be a lihapiirakka.

StuccoHouse said...

Karen Anne - Different than what I was accustomed to in the US, the records in Finland primarily were kept by the church. So, when I looked up my family it was under the parish where they went to church. When they moved from another city, that was even tracked by the new parish. So, along with the usual statistics, you get info. on the date of their confirmation, how often they attended church, etc.

Shirley - Bless your heart for those recipe links. When I first put the cheese on my plate, I was thinking it was some type of grilled cheese. But, when I tasted it I thought maybe some version of tofu. Thank you for confirming (and naming) the pannukakka. I really liked that one. The last one was sweets. I think it was apple. The German side of me thought strudel.

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