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The Life of Jacob Puska

Blake Miller

My great-grandfather Jacob Puska was a Finnish immigrant of the late 1800's. He migrated to America from the town of Laihia, Finland in hopes to have a better life for him and his future family. He traveled to America in a small vessel across the Atlantic, in hopes of living a better life and earning more money. He arrived in the Copper Country in 1888. During this time Hancock and the surrounding areas were thriving and the population was growing. Since the only good paying job was mining, Jacob decided to become a miner and work in the Quincy Mine to save money for a farm. During this time there were conflicts between the Irish and the Finns to work in the mines because before the Finns started moving to America the Irish were the only nationality of miners in the mines. Working in the mines when Jacob did was very dangerous and difficult. One day in particular when Jacob was working in the mine an air blast occurred. He was hit on the head with a rock and Jacob was thrown down many feet. Despite being knocked unconscious, he wasn't hospitalized. He was just a little shaken up but was fine.

Most of the young, single men who worked in the mines typically had marriage on their mind and one day when a train of women arrived to Hancock, Jacob spotted out of the corner of his eye one of the most beautiful women that he had ever seen, and he told his friend that she was going to be the women that he was going to marry. Jacob came to know this beautiful woman quite well.

Two years later, June 6th, 1890, Jacob married Ida Pelto, in Hancock with Reverend Nikander officiating. With the money Jacob saved up he and his wife Ida bought a farm in Salo, which is just west of Boston Location. Jacob and Ida had fourteen children who all grew up to be hard workers. They had 10 boys together. The boys' names were Edward, Matt, Evert, Ernest, Eino, Werner, Olaf, Eli, Charles and Enoch, and they were the work force of the farm located in Salo, Michigan up on Quincy Hill. The girls of the family were Eliina, Ida, Esther and Flora. Flora is my grandma and she is 86 years old and is the only one of the 14 children living. I can remember all the stories that my grandma used to tell me about when she was a child. One that sticks out in my mind was when she lived by Big Louie, who is one of the most famous people to live up here. Big Louie was the giant of the area, he was 8 foot 4 inches. She told me that he was huge ever since she could remember. After Jacob started his family he had to deal with many tragedies. Some time after Ida had her fourteenth child she had goiter surgery. This led to greater illnesses such as diabetes, which worsened as she aged. Jacob's wife suddenly died because of a heart attack on March 3, 1935. Jacob was left with six motherless children in the arms of their hard working father. Jacob moved to town with his family into a medium sized home, which was perfect for him and his six children. The house was located on US 41 in Hancock about a half mile before the Quincy Mine where he worked. Jacob continued to raise his family by himself until all of the children had moved out. As he aged he became blind and later died of natural causes. My great-grandpa Jacob died on July 24th, 1944.

Blake Miller, 2001

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