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Brianna (Eeva) Johnson

During great hardships in Finland, many people immigrated to the United States. One of these people was my great-grandmother, Saara Majava. Saara was born on June 16, 1882 in Jokijärvi village, Taivalkoski, Finland. She came to America in 1906, at the age of 24. She had been sent for by her three older brothers; Axel, Isaac, and Gust. She landed in a port in Canada, but we dont know exactly which one.

Saara's parents were Juho and Anna Majava. She was one of eleven children. She had three years of formal schooling, then went on to educate herself. As with most children from poor families, Saara was placed in a home as a servarrt after being confirmed. After arriving in America, Saara worked for a Lassila family in Fulton as a servent.

Saara was formally married to August John Luokkala in 1907, and they had 12 children. They lived in Negaunee, Michigan for a short time until they bought a farm in Negaunee Township, where they raised their kids. Saara ran the household and helped operate their farm. She worked long and hard.

Because they were living in a Finnish community, Saara never felt the need to learn English. Although, when her children started school and learned English, she began to understand a great deal and even tried to speak a little.

Saara had a great sense af humor and was a jokester, but when she was serious you had better watch yourself. She was a great cook, accomplishing this without using recipes. Because in those days they didn't have a refrigerator she did a lot of bottling of fruits and vegetables. The bottles of meats were dropped into the well to keep cool in the summer. (They put a rope around the bottle and lowered it into the well.) Saara could have been called the ultimate domestic engineer because she did everything, such as knitting, crocheting, and sewing, by making her own patterns. She could look at a picture of a design and copy it. She often made patterns from newsper for dresses or coats that she found in catalogues.

Several of Saara's very good friend's husband's were "biggies" in the Mines. They were best of friends and visited each other often. On Saturday evenings she entertained them with sauna. She wasn't envious of their good fortune, but would have liked a fur coat like they had. When she did finally get one, it was fake fur, but she liked it as well as if it had been the real thing. She also would have liked to have seen what Florlda was all about, as her friends went there every winter. She never got farther then Minnesota or around Michigan.

Saara didn't talk much about Finland, but during W.W.II, she would send packages to relatives, using some of the family's rations of coffe and suger to help them.

Saara's husband died in 1956. From then until her death in January of 1977 at the age of 94, she lived alone in their small, one bedroom home connected by a path to the family homestead, where her son Bernard and his family lived.

© Brianna Johnson

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