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The Korpilainen Home in Korplax, Karleby. Part II

Hans-Erik Krokfors


In 1695-97 the entire country was affected by severe crop failure from which the people barely recovered before the Great Northern War (1700, Charles XII) broke out. Although outright war up until 1700 seemed relatively remote, the declarations of war immediately carried with them recruitment activities which left their mark on the Karleby area. After the disaster at Poltava [Ukraine] in 1709, new troops were needed in Karelia. In 1710 men from the Karleby area and to the south were ordered to report at Ilmola [Ilmajoki] for the defense of Viborg [Viipuri]. However, no provision had been made for food and horses, so of the 4200 men chosen by Captain Henrik Fabers, only a few hundred remained upon arrival in Pertti (Peltis) at the Kymmene River.

In the autumn of 1710 the Karleby area was hit by a plague and a great many of the inhabitants died there. For example, Mats Puntus of Palo and all his household died of the epidemic, in addition to 12-year old son Matts who was taken charge of by Isak Danielsson Väster of Rödsö. In spite of the child mortality that occurred, the family at Korpilainen managed to escape the plague that time.

After the Swedish disaster at Pälkäne in October 1713 and in Napue in Storkyro in February 1714, the main Russian troops continued on to Vasa while a smaller Russian advance guard went to Jakobstad, which they burned. The vanquished Swedish troops retreated and without orders took horses and provisions on their flight toward Brahestad. Citizens and officials left their homes, and farmers in the coastal villages moved out to the rocky islets or to the saunas and barns in the wooded grounds. Because the summer of 1714 was calm, many returned to their homes. In September 1714 the Russians started their galleys toward Vasa while from 10,000 to 20,000 men traveled over the highway. The Swedish troops escaped north followed by the inhabitants with carts loaded with children and food. A minor struggle was fought in Karleby at Kauko bridge under the leadership of Cavalry Captain Stigman. In retaliation for active partisan activity, the Russians caught an armed farmer in Kelviå, tortured him badly and hanged him at Måttis gate in Närvilä as a warning. The Russian soldiers then received permission to plunder and rob. They immediately killed the old people in order to strike terror in the population. Others were tortured to death or tormented in different ways to make them tell about concealed possessions. The Cossacks plundered, killed, tortured and burned all along the entire coast up to Uleåborg [Oulu]. Between 1714-20 thousands of people were sent as prisoners from Ostrobothnia to Russia. In Karleby the Russians took dragoon horses but they offered discarded horses in exchange, except for Matts Korpilainen's horse which they took to Honga's property. In exchange for the discarded horses they paid money.

In 1714 Matts Korpilainen was granted, for the remaining 12 mantal of land, two soldiers of Charles XII of Sweden for each mantal, or 24 soldiers, as compensation. [A mantal was a taxable assessment unit on property.] The Russian dragoons stayed in Gamlakarleby over the winter and in the summer of 1715 headed south to Vasa. In August 1715, 8,000 dragoons and 5,000 Cossacks marched north and encamped in Gamlakarleby at the priest's home in Karleby where they stayed during the winters of 1716-21 in order to march south to the Vasa area.

The continuous Russian troop deployment impoverished indescribably the rural population in northern and middle Ostrobothnia. The farms that were situated along the coastal road especially were exposed during the Great Wrath. Johan Kauko in Korplax, who had taken flight in 1714 and who later had served as a Swedish soldier for four years, found his home completely looted when he returned. Also, Gabriel Heickilä of Korplax had taken flight and on his return found that at times from 600 to 700 men had been kept there. Such a large number of men could not have been kept only at Heickilä, so no doubt some were also at Korpilainen and other fine farms. The pause from 1711-18 during an otherwise active "child production" period indicates that the couple Matti and Brita at Korpilainen would have been separated during this time.

The women left behind had a difficult time during the Great Wrath. At the winter court in 1718 ten women were charged with illicit intercourse with Russian soldiers. A number of them explained that they had been raped. A mother and daughter said that they only had made food for the Russians and washed their clothing.

After the Peace of Nystad [Uusikaupunki] on 30 August 1721, maintenance of the remaining Russians strained the country people who still had to deliver fodder for the Russian horses and at the same time provide the stabling of the post-horses of the retreating armies. During the Great Wrath years, the people has so few horses that carriages had to be pulled by oxen.

The notations in the church books and accounts for this time period are incomplete because many of the church and parish officials had taken flight and some of them never returned. At Karlö where many took flight, the Russians landed in 1714 and beat to death all the men, among them the district judge Anders Mathesius and his son, alderman and constable Henrik Mathesius, who owned the Vidnäs and Huhta homesteads.

The above-mentioned indicates that during the relatively short period of time between 1713-1742, the Matts who owned the Korpilainen home should be the same person as Matti Mattsson Korpilainen who was born in 1685 and died in 1770 at 85 years. But who was the young girl Lisa who [according to tax records] had the home from 1728-30?

"Matti" Mattsson Korpilainen was born, as mentioned, in 1685. There is no doubt that he was a farmer in the Korpilainen area. But which Matts was his father? Or did he come to Korpilainen as a son-in-law? One can only guess. He was married the first time to the one-year-younger Brita Andersdotter (b. 1686, d. 15 Apr. 1755 at 69 years). It is not mentioned when this marriage took place. Matti's first-born daughter, Anna, was born in September 1711. Here we can come to the conclusion that the marriage occurred some time in 1710-11. Seven years later in August 1718, the next child, son Matts, was born. Afterward the following children were born at the predictable times. The total children were 5 boys and 6 girls; 4 died in younger years (a boy and 3 girls). The times of birth are not more exact except for month and year; the death dates of children were not noted except for burial date, no doubt an attempt to have a record in the "national registration" in the parish after the Great Wrath. What happened during the war years was entered later on the basis of memory.

The oldest daughter Anna (Mattsdotter) was married 12 November 1733 to farmer Matts Ericsson Vitick. After the brothers Michel (b. August 1720) and Anders (b. July 1721), daughter Elisabet was born 14 April 1725. (A daughter Maria had been born in February 1723 but died and was buried 26 July 1724.) At age 22 Elisabet (Mattsdotter) married 21 September 1747 to farmhand Anders Andersson. Two years earlier, brother Michel Mattsson (Korpilainen) had married Elisabeth Andersdotter Vässi (daughter of Anders Andersson Vässi and Brita Christophersdotter). The oldest brother in the family, Matts Mattsson (Korpilainen) had moved earlier to the big farm at Heickilä. There is nothing to relate of daughter Carin (b. 13 March 1728). Eric (b. 16 August 1731) married 1786 to Maria Michelsdotter Hauhtonen (daughter of Michel Eriksson Hauhtonen and Brita Jakobsdotter Huhtala) and was son-in-law at Hauhtonen until 1796. The father Matti was 75 on his second marriage Christmas Day 1760 to Maria (Larsdotter) who was 39 and the same age as son Anders. She died 1 November 1783 of dropsy and was 62 years old. Just before the Great Wrath, Vitick opened an inn at his farm in Korplax on the public highway. During the time after the Great Wrath the innkeepers were sole proprietors of horses and carriages, but in 1728 the country people demanded carriage horses. They were of the opinion that the neighbors could help out with carriages for hire, whereupon these people complained about the fact that they received only half of the fare compared to what the innkeepers received. Therefore, they decided to collect one daler copper coin from every household for government and private transport so that those neighbors who conveyed freight or people would receive full payment. Innkeeper Erik Eriksson Vitick who had small bales of hay said he could not keep more than one horse (the edict was that they had to keep 5 horses) for driving because three horses were needed for home use and carrying mail. Therefore, 10 large homes in Vitick and Korplax indicated that they usually had two extra horses on hand. They decided that each Sunday they would announee which farmer would support conveyances for that week for the innkeeper's place. After 1733 Anna Vitick (nee Korpilainen) came to work as landlady at Vitick. Erik Mattsson Vitick/Lillkotkama, son of Anna and Matts, worked for a while as innkeeper until 1767 when he married Anna Mattsdotter of LilIkotkama in Upper Korplax and became a farmer there.

From 1723 to the 1740s the father of Matts Mattsson Korpilainen worked as a juryman in the jurisdictional district. After the Great Wrath, Gamlakarleby was ruined. It was hard up for cash. In 1724 the governor ordered that Lt. Carland's ship that lay in Kaustar Bay should be searched. Alderman Sigfrid Bromerus, vice constable Thomas Laiberg, jurymen Matts Asmus and Matts Korpilainen went to the ship on 27 August 1724 to see if the man had acquired tar and other goods. A guard prevented Jacob Erich from going on board. He was threatened with an ax, iron pole, and later detained. When the jurymen promised to return with lead and gun powder, Jacob said that onboard he found a rifle and two pairs of pistols. It was evident that Carland carried on illegal business along with sailing.

Hans-Erik Krokfors is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Åbo Akademi in Åbo, Finland. His special hobby is genealogy in Karleby Parish and he has a database of over 85,000 people. This article was published in Österbottningen, 21 September 1993. Translated by June Pelo.

Published by The Swedish Finn Historical Society Quarterly, Volume 7, No.2, April 1998.

© Hans-Erik Krokfors

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