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My great grandpa John Arvid Ek was born in 1882 in Raahe, Finland. Raahe is a seaport town. This is where his ancestors lived for many generations. John's parents are Solomon and Anna Liisa Ek. John's earliest memory was being awakened early in the morning to go fishing with his father. Sometimes he would be carried out still sleeping and then he would wake up later on the boat. his job was to untangle the nets and ropes, and to be a "watcher", so he could then be a "worker". John learned how to read and write during his three years of schooling. He enjoyed these things all of his life. He also learned how to make and repair the fishing nets. Then years later, he made a small net to show his children how they were made.
In 1903, John arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, where his sister Hanna and her husband Emil Mattison lived at the time. He left Finland on the Polaris ship over to England on January 28th, 1903. Left England on February 1st, 1903 on the ship called Merion. This whole trip costed him 183 finnmarks. Soon Seth, Edward, and he traveled westward, probably by train. (Seth and Edward were his two brothers.) John spent a year and a half working in Lake Norden, South Dakota, on the Prouty and the Redlin's farms and at the farm of Sophie Koistinen. Finding the winters too cold, he traveled on, settling on the West Coast. Adjusting to a new country was a new challenge, and of course there was the English language to learn, which he never fully mastered. He worked in various occupations including fishing, logging, and farming in Clatskanie, Oregon and other localities from Portland to Astoria.
In 1911, John met Anna Larson. They were married on February 11th at the Arnada Lutheran Church in Portland. For about four years they lived in Quincy-Clatskanie area, where their daughters Gertrude and Ellen were born.
John and Anna lived a happy life with their nine helpful children. Although they did have times where money ran short and they had to struggle. Chores were a big part of the children's lives. They washed their clothes in the Nehalem River. Each kid had plenty to do. They would carry the water from the well to the stove where Anna kept the fire hot. They would use a washboard and plunger to scrub the clothes, and then they rinsed them. They would ring them out by hand. Then they would hang the clothes on the lines. There was a lot of other chores also like milking cows and the pigs and chickens had to be taken care of.
John's father Solomon Ek made the clock in 1850. They way it came into our family is one interesting story. In 1975, Elizabeth Lindberg (John's daughter) was in Raahe, Finland visiting relatives. She was asked to see a clack that her grandfather(Solomon) made. Of course she wanted to see it, but it was not easy to track down whereabouts of the clock, and she followed many leads. She finally knocked on a door and was told, "Yes, my husband owns the clock." When the man of the house came home, he showed Elizabeth the clock which her grandfather had made 125 years earlier, and which was till running. She hesitantly asked him if he would considering selling the clock.
He answered, "Many people have wanted to buy this clock, but never before has a relative of the clock maker. How much will you've?" While Elizabeth caught her breath, he went on to tell her how he had come into possession of the clock: "My grandfather was a godchild of Solomon Ek, and Solomon wasted to make a special gift for the child's baptism. Solomon made the clock, and then wondered how to transport it across the city of Raahe safely. He noticed a neighbor going by with a load of hay, so he stopped him and asked if the clock could ride on top of the hay!" Since that time, the clock had stayed in the man's family, and now the man's grandson offered to sell it to an American descendant of the clock's maker. Elizabeth made arrangements to purchase it, and the clock sat on her lap on the airplane trip across the Atlantic.
John loved to make big fires and burn trash.
John did get sick in his life. He ended up in the hospital a few times due to his nerves. He died on February 4th, 1970 in Vancouver, Washington. John lived a very happy life with a great wife and nine helpful children.
© Lisa Ek, 2001
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