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Green, Michigan and the Kaukas Connection (Part 2)

Douglas D. Karttunen

Editor's note: This is the conclusion of an article by Karttunen which began in the February 2002 issue. To aid readers, this portion includes part of what was included in last month's issue.

A more detailed account of the emigrant movement from Kaukas to Green follows. Those whose names are highlighted within the text denote Kaukas emigrants who eventually became residents of Green. Most had worked at either the Kaukas spool mill or pulp mill, with the rest being their spouses, children, siblings, or other acquaintances.


The migration from the Lappee area to America began in 1900. The first person known to make the journey was Fredrik Fridolf Karlsson, who had worked as a turner at the spool mill. He left Finland on April 21, 1900, with a destination of Calumet. Calumet was home of the largest and most productive copper mine in Michigan at the time - the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company. Quite a sizable Finnish immigrant community was already there by 1900, as in neighboring Hancock and the surrounding Copper Country in general. Fred most probably found work at one of the mines in the Calumet area. Fred's wife Aina and two children, Aina Dagmar and Wäinö Fredrik, joined him later that year, departing from Finland on August 4. Aina had also worked at the spool mill. The family changed the spelling of their name to Carlson in their new homeland.

Shortly thereafter two other Kaukas workers set off to Calumet: Nikodemus Hokkanen and Aaro Savolainen (later changed to Savola). They traveled together, leaving Finland October 13, 1900, and were accompanied by their wives and children: Miina Hokkanen and daughter Lyyli Eliina; and Kaisa Savolainen and son Aksel Johan. Both men had worked as turners at the mill.


The next year found more workers leaving the Kaukas mill for Calumet. Antti Karttunen departed from Finland on April 6, 1901 with three men. Traveling with him from Kaukas were Samuli Siljander and Johan Oinonen and Antti Oinonen. Johan Oinonen was single, while others were married.


Antti Kirjavainen and his wife Anna left for the Calumet on April 5, 1902. But by 1902 many of the former Kaukas immigrants were already moving from Calumet to Mass City, about 50 miles to the southwest. As a result, Mass City was now becoming the new destination for those leaving Kaukas. Antti Karttunen's wife, Ida, who also had worked at the mill, left Finland for Mass City with daughter Linda Irene on April 26. By this time, Antti was working at the Belt Mine near Mass City, Michigan, Sam Siljander's wife Ida left Finland for Mass City on October 15, 1902. Also, leaving the Kaukas spool mill for the same destination that year was Nikolai Koistinen. He left on March 1, 1902, accompanied by Emanuel Laitiainen and his wife Amanda. Emanuel later used the name Emil Laitinen. Other Lappeenranta area residents (not found in Kaukas mill records) who left for the U.S.A. in 1902 include: Antti and Ida Kekki (Kekke) with their children Arvit and Hilja. The Kekke's first went to Ashtabula, Ohio and later moved to Green in 1907.


Among those moving in 1903 were Matti Junnila who left March 23, 1903 for Mass City. Matti was a brother to Kaisa Savola who had arrived in 1900. Isaak Siljander, who first was a worker at the spool factory and later at the pulp mill, left on April 22 for Lewiston, Michigan. Isaak was a brother to Sam Siljander who had come in 1901. Following shortly thereafter was Kustaa Robert Immonen who left May 27 for Rockland, Michigan. Robert Immonen had worked at the Kaukas spool mill, but had moved from there to Karttula, Finland in 1899. There was another spool mill in Karttula, and he probably had gone to work there, and it appears that he may have left for the U.S. from Karttula. It is also likely that Antti Karttunen and Aaro Savola had at one time worked at the Karttula spool mill, having lived there before moving to Lappee. Departing the same day as Robert Immonen was Antti Nurmi. However, Nurmi's destination was Lewiston, Michigan. While still in Finland, Antti had changed his, last name from Piiparinen to Nurmi. Antti's wife Hilda joined him in America at a later date. Ida Koistinen along with her two children, Kaarle Edvard and Nikolai Rudolf, left to join husband Nikolai on August 26. She, too, had worked at the spool mill. Also coming in 1903 was Jaffet Hokkanen who had worked at Kaukas, and was the older brother of Nick Hokkanen who had come two years earlier. Jaffet left on December 2 for Hancock. In all, five Hokkanen brothers would eventually come to Green, along with their father. By 1903 most of the Kaukas emigrants were now living and working in the Mass City, Lake Mine, Rockland, and Victoria areas.

1903 also marked the initial year of new settlement in the area of Green. Among the first to establish themselves there were the Nick Hokkanen and Aaro Savola families. A log cabin and barn were built on the Hokkanen property and the two families moved in together. They brought with them two teams of horses, two cows, and some chickens. A little while later a log cabin, barn, and sauna were built for the Savolas. Of course, there were other Finnish settlers in the Green area, too, besides those from the Kaukas mill. Those from Kaukas tended to settle nearer one another in the western part of Green on what were to become the Townline and Halfway River Roads. The other Finns were more likely to locate more easterly on what later became known as the Cranberry and Quarterline Roads. Interestingly, many of these non-Kaukas Finns were themselves predominately from a specific area of Finland - the Kalajoki valley.


Maria Junnila and her two children, Wilho William and Ester Sofia, joined husband Matti in America, leaving Finland on April 20, 1904. The next year Helena Immonen along with four children (Pauli Robert, Lauri Ilmari, Aarne Johannes, and Toivo) left on May 17, 1905 for Baraga, Michigan to join husband Robert. Maria Siljander, who had been at the Kaukas pulp mill left on August 9, 1905 with her daughter Martha to join husband Isaak.

By this time the new community of Green was beginning to grow more rapidly. The Antti Karttunen family moved in with the Nikodemus Hokkanen family in 1905 while Antti built his own home nearby. Miina Hokkanen and Ida Karttunen were sisters. A local newspaper, The Ontonagon Herald, reported in June 1905 that 12 to 13 families were living in Green. A post office was established at the C. V. McMillan Lumber Camp No. 2 near the west side of the Townline River in 1905. The community was already being identified by the name Green according to the newspaper article.

In the fall of 1904, sixteen people gathered together under a maple tree at the home of Jonas Ruuttila (who had settled in Green in 1903 from Sievi via Calumet and Mass City) to consider formation of a Christian congregation. In 1905 the congregation was formally organized as the Greenin Itsenäinen Evankelinen Lutherialainen Seurakunta (The Green Independent Evangelical Lutheran Congregation). Seven people signed the bylaws of the congregation that year including: Aaro Savola, Sam Siljander, Henry Store, Antti Karttunen, Joonas Ruuttila, Nikolai and Ida Koistinen. Five of the seven had come from Kaukas. On August 5, 1906 land was purchased on which to build a church, and on September 30 of the same year Reverend Matias Strom, the congregations first pastor, consecrated a cemetery on this ground. The church itself was completed in 1910.

John Rautio arrived from Finland sometime in 1906. John had worked at the Kaukas pulp mill and spool mill. Also leaving Finland on May 25, 1906 was Carl August Karlsson. Charlie Carlson, as he was known, was a brother of Fred Carlson, but probably never worked at the Kaukas mills. Fred and Charlie's sister Ida Karlsson left Finland the same year on November 23, destined for New York. She later married John Rautio and they moved to Green. Charlie Carlson married Antti Kirjavainen's widow Anna after Antti died in 1916.


Oskari Heikkilä left Lappeenranta for Ontonagon (nearest railroad depot to Green) on October 26, 1907. Oskar does not appear in the Kaukas mill records, but two of his children were born in Lappeenranta. Emil Hokkanen, who did work at the spool factory, left on December 4, 1907 for Ontonagon. Emil was single and a brother of Nick Hokkanen. His fiancé Eevi Miettinen left Finland March 18, 1908 and they were married in Green. Oskari's wife Anna Heikkilä and their children Margaret and Jaakko left Finland January 6, 1909 for Ontonagon. On June 16, 1909 John Hokkanen left to Lewiston, Michigan, along with his wife Eliina and daughter Sisko Eliina. John was one of the five Hokkanen brothers, but probably did not work at the Kaukas mill. He most likely came directly from the Hokkanen home parish of Leivonmäki. The John Hokkanen family also eventually settled in Green. Jaffet Hokkanen's wife Miina and, sons Karl Wiljam and Armas Viktor left to join him, June 26, 1909.

In 1910 Enokki Karttunen left Lappee on May 25, with his destination listed as Baraga, Michigan where he was going to visit his friend Robert Immonen. Enokki was a cousin to Antti Karttunen. He stayed at the Antti Karttunen farm for a while and is believed to have returned to Finland after just a short stay.

The last of the Hokkanen brothers, Karl Hokkanen, left for America on July 19, 1913. With him were his wife Amanda, three children (Karl, Kaarina, and Arnold), and his father, the senior Jaffet Hokkanen.

Sometime after 1910 Nick and Ida Koistinen sold their home in Green to the Isaak Siljanders and returned to Finland. After about a year in Finland Nick came back to Ontonagon again on December 12, 1913, and Ida followed him on May 27, 1914. They must have convinced Nikolai's brother-in-law Simo Hirvonen to join them. Simo left Finland for Ontonagon on May 23, 1914, along with his wife Selma (Nick's sister) and daughter Tyyne.


The First World War erupted in August of 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia, abruptly halting further emigration from Kaukas to America. By this time Green had already become a bustling young farming community. During the winter months many of the men worked as lumberjacks in nearby camps to supplement their income. In the summers they were at home tending to their dairy cattle and crops, clearing land for pastures, and generally raising their families. Green never grew much beyond a couple of hundred people at any given time. Most of the residents were Finnish inhmigrants; but, T. A. Green had also induced several American farmers from Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, to buy land in Green. But farming in the cold Upper Peninsula climate was not as easy or profitable as many may have been led to believe. Several eventually returned to their former, more southerly, homes. The Finns remained. Even so, farming for a living in Green largely ended with the passing of the first generation of Finnish immigrants. Most of these pioneers are now buried either in the Green Cemetery or the Riverside Cemetery in Ontonagon. Of them, only one, nonagenarian Jack Heikkila, is still living today. The second generation, raised on these farms and educated in the local Green schools, were shaped by the Great Depression and the Second World War. Many of them left Green to find employment in Detroit or other industrial centers (a fate not unlike their own parents before them), often returning home for summer vacations, holidays, funerals, and even retirement. Some of them did remain, finding work in mines, mills, construction and other forms of employment in the area. Today a number of third, fourth, and even fifth generation descendants of these pioneers still live in Green. Names such as Heikkila, Hokkanen, Karttunen, Kekke, and Koistinen can still be found in area phone, books and mailboxes. They serve as reminders, of those who a century ago, passet hrough Lappee and the Kaukas rullatehdas, on a journey which eventually ended in Green. Was it their new Kaukas across the sea?


The author wishes to express his sincere thanks to UPM-Kymmene Oy for making available the Kaukas factory worker lists, and especially to Riitta Pajari, Head of the Kaukas Records Office, for the time she volunteered to research these lists for names of early Green residents.

Published in The Finnish American Reporter, March 2002.

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