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Henry Lehtola was born to Hendrick and Walbur Lehtola on January 8, 1876 in Ylikiiminki, Oulu, Finland. At the time his parents decided to move to America, he had one infant brother named John. The family's name was Hendrickson in Finland, but when they moved to America, they changed it to Lehtola.
Henry came over to America in the spring of 1880 with six other families, one of whom he was related to, the John Efraimson family. Their ship arrived in New York, and from there they took a train to Buffalo, and continued on to Hancock, Michigan by a trading ship. To get to the Dakota Territory, there was not a train or boat, so they went by wagon. They went through Duluth and St. Paul, Minnesota to Volga County, South Dakota where they met four people. One of these men was Matt Rautio. The group continued on to Poinsett, South Dakota, where they split up. The Lehtolas stayed with the Rautios. The date was August 14, 1880, so it took them four or five months to make the trip.
Two weeks later, baby John died. He was buried in the Poinsett Cemetery, which had only one baby buried in it at that time. So you can see that the Lehtola family was some of the first settlers there.
Later on in Henry's life, six more siblings were born. They were John, August, Mary, Sarah, Hilma, and Hilda. He had many hardexperiences in his life to deal with. One example was when Henry and his mother were home alone, a prairie fire broke out. They had to fight the fire with wet sacks for many hours, so the house would not born down. Among the housest that Henry grew up in, was a dugout, then a sod house, and finally they built a wood frame house, which Henry lived in after he married.
In 1903, Henry met Katie Paso, and on January 27, 1904, they were married. They moved to Cleveland Township, about thirty miles from Poinsett, where they farmed for the rest of their lives. Henry was also a thesher, using the big steam engines, as shown in the picture.
One year after they were married, God granted them with their first child, Hilda. Six years later, Henry became a father to his son William. Henry had eight grandchildren, one from Hilda, and seven from William. One of William's children, Edward died as an infant.
Henry had served on the Cleveland Township board many years. Both him and Katie were members of the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church all their lives. Henry died on August 19, 1956, and Katie died July 7, 1933. The Lehtola family went on to spread all over the United States. They are living in Washington, Michigan, Wyoming, Maryland, and South Dakota now.
© Jim Lehtola
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