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Tarja Laaksonen, Finland, Turku 20.4.1996

Suomeksi - in Finnish

 English translation not checked
Thank You for Your help!

THE SEARCHING OF ROOTS IN AMERICA - A FASHION-PHENOMENON?

about searching roots
Flinkman roots
journey to Finland
journey to USA!
journey to New Jersey
journey to Detroit
Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary
trip through Michigan

Look also at Elaine's mail to Tarja 22.4.2000!


 
When you tell in Finland  you have got an inquiry from America  about Finnish emigrant ancestors  and if there is a possibility to have some their descendants here in Finland, you can get an answer
"Well, that's a thing 
being in fashion there to day . . . " 
With this sentence it is easy to quit this question so, that you can forget it  without thinking more about that matter. 
Would it have deserved to considerate  about this fashion
for a moment? 

 

As the matter of fact, the emigration is associated with strong feelings, which are working up attitude and they are to be seen also in thoughts of the later generations, consciously or unconsciously. The great emigrant wave in the beginning of this century was a consequence of the economic and political situation in Finland. That made an influence to the generation staying here in Finland as the generation moving away, only a few people from that time are surviving anymore. Now they are usually descendants of the second, third or forth generation, who are searching each other. They have noticed they have lost their knowledge about the history of their family with the death of their parents or grandparents. 

A person living here in Finland now usually knows his ancestors to the forth or fifth generation, often one remembers them from the childhood, knows their place of home, life-work, one lives relatively close to relatives. Cousins are close-by, because of the urbanization grand cousins are not so nearby, but the most part of them has met each other some day and at least they are known to be same relation.

In a stage of one's life, which unfortunately very often happens to be then when the most productive archives of family history, grandparents are not living anymore, many persons began to be interested to find more information of relatives and ancestors. Also then it's quite easy for a Finnish person to extend the knowledge of Finnish family-tree many generations backwards and it does not take much time one notice to have given a finger and almost a whole hand to the genealogy. 

Only emigrant branches of the family-tree don't grow so much, because making searches of them take more time and a spirit of investigation. It's possible to get quite soon notes of a group containing hundreds of relatives living here, the emigrant ancestor or other descendants easily remain to have a comment "...emigrated to America in the beginning of 1900, descendants there at least three children, one of them having five children..." That was the text I also had during a quite long time in my genealogical notes refer to the uncle of my father-in-law, Arvo Flinkman, (b. 1885 Rymättylä, Finland)
 


 
 
In last summer died one of the Great persons of Flinkman family, the teacher Irene Sinisalo (maiden name Laaksonen former Flinkman, b.1910), who cared and took an active part of keeping the Flinkman family close-to. It was she from whom I got in the beginning of my genealogical researching irrecoverable information about members of the family-tree and most of all, about phases of life of the Flinkman-family.

In her letter to me 1988 she tells about uncle Arvo's wife, Fiina (d.1972 Michigan) and about the cousin, Fiina's son Ernest (b. 1924 Michigan)
"... The mother of Ernest in America, born in East Bothnia in Finland, wrote me many letters when I was still working. In her last letter she told to be afraid losing her sight and can't write anymore. After that I don't know anything about them, because Ernest has not answered to my letters I ask him even in English, we'll translate them here. . . ." 

 With encourage of Irene I also took a contact to one of cousins,Lauri Flinkman (b.1907). It appeared, that he has received letters from Ernest, who had got Lauri's address by same way. I was very excited when examining the photos of Ernest's family and I made copies of them for my family photo album. The cousins of America had got faces now! After my visit Lauri sent more information about Flinkmans to his cousin Ernest to Michigan.

In the Christmas Day 1988 ant Irene writes to me: 

"...I've received the letter from my cousin Ernest from America. I've newer got before...I was very touch because of '...I can't remember being so happy receiving this information...',"as Ernest wrote to her. 

Enclosed there was also the copy of Ernest's letter, which was translated to Finnish by the wife of Irene's son: 

"...I know the mother used to correspond with relatives on the Flinkman side of the family, but I really did not know who until Lauri mentioned it in his letter and asked me to write..." 


 
 

 
After all this I gathered up my courage and decided to get acquaintance with Ernest.  With my little skill of English, only learned at school, newer used it, and with many looks at a dictionary  I wrote in January 1989 my first letter to Detroit. And the answer came already in February.  The long letter, where Ernest tells about his parents, himself and his family. 
 

 
 
 "... I seldom hear the Finnish language since the     death of my parents. My wife Florence and I belong  to the Finnish Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, but when we attend the meetings, the members speak English so it does not help much. Without more exposure, I fear I may loose my knowledge of the language all together...I have never met any of our relatives on the Flinkman side of my family..." 

The father of Ernest,  Arvo Flinkman,
left home in Rymättylä, Finland 
to sail as a merchant sailor 
at about 17 years of age. 
He sailed until he jumped the ship
in Boston Massachusetts  September 1910. 
 He worked on a farm and as a carpenter until he moved to Detroit, Michigan. There he was married with Josephine(Fiina) born in Finland too. In 1934 he became a United States Citizen. Arvo and Fiina did never visit in Finland after once left it. So the only grown-up child of the family, son Ernest, was almost entirely without any touch upon his father's relatives. Ernest worked for Ford Motor Company as a Product Engineering Designer, in 1983 he retired. "Today I enjoy roller skate dancing. I go skating year round twice a week. It is a very good form of exercise." In that letter Ernest tells also about her wife Florence and  families of his children: Elaine, Betty, Eric, Denise and James are all married and they have children almost grown-up. 

This corresponding has continued regularly all the time. During first years we became acquainted through letters, cuts of newspapers, photos and Christmas presents. My knowledge to write English language improved inconspicuously after a letter to next one. In the summer 1993 it was my turn to understand of spoken English. Betty had a new video camera and she had made a film about the whole Flinkman-family in Detroit. Through this film we can make a visit to homes of their all six families. They really have made a big job when collecting this presentation video film of Flinkman family in Detroit. 



 
 

Journey to Finland!

I don't remember, when I at the first time made my invitation to Finland, 
but after this video film I hoped impatiently to meet Ernest and his family. 
In the next winter I received letters also from Betty and in the spring it was sure,
we'll have an honor to have
Ernest, his wife Florence 
and daughters Elaine and Betty 
as our quests here in 
Finland in August 1994!

How enthusiastic we, I and my husband Jorma, were when we planned, what kind of program for ten days would be so rewarding as possible. Both our quests and we waited with excitement for our meeting all the summer. And a couple weeks before journey Betty still phoned to me: " Everything is in order, we'll meet you at the airport of Arlanda in Stockholm, Sweden, I hope we'll recognize each other!"
 

The only right way to reach Turku town in Finland is of course by the ship cruise through our beautiful archipelago, where our ancestors have sailed from the ancient times. That's why we recommended to our quests to take a flight to Sweden, Stockholm, which is the former capital of Finland and suits very well as a start point of their genealogical visit. And at last was the big day: we recognized each other right away when seeing our relatives at the first time in our lives. We spent that day in Stockholm, which was full of people because of The Big Water Festival. The best moment of the day was, when The King of Sweden, Carl XIV Gustaf and The Queen Silvia winked to us(also to other citizens) when they passed us in the Royal Procession. "Oh, you have arranged the meeting of King, that's wonderful! We haven't seen real royalty before. Very nice! Thank you so much!"

Already during this first day we had a feeling, that we are old friends from behind many years. Although the long flight had been a strain with a time difference, early in the next morning on board of the cruiser we woked up to look at the archipelago of Western Finland, it introduced to us wearing its most beautiful celebration dress. On these poor islands our relatives have lived for centuries, a fishing boat passing by in the morning sun searching fish as our ancestors have done for a hundred years ago.
The next never-to-be-forgotten week  has been in our thoughts very often. 
We had the successful 
family meeting with 
over a hundred relatives
in Rymättylä

After that Ernest and his family had a chance to visit the Itätalo(Westfarm) house, where Ernie's father was born in Hämmärö. We can't thank enough the hostess of the house, Annikki Rauhala (not a member of Flinkmans), who after a half hour of the Matti Rautsala's phonecall opened the doors of the house and introduced her home to us.


 
 
There on the table in the place of honor was 
The Old Bible:

"I, Johan Flinkman, the farmer of the house and the trusted man of the Church, and my beloved wife, Eva, the daughter of Jacob, now owners of Westfarm in Hämmärö, leave and give as a present to you and everyone who after me will live in this Itätalo in Hämmärö, this blessed and holy and so much inside keeping present and The Main Book, this Holy Bible, to you as a comfort in sorrows . . . since he is living in the house, but after his death or by other ways leaving the house, he must leave it(The Holy Bible) in the house; and he must remember, that" who has lived vigorously, will have the peace and rest in their sepulchers, Ef 57.2" 

11.March Y. 1835...


 
 
 
 
 

 
You can only imagine, how strong feelings  Ernest with his family felt  when going and seeing those places, 
which his father has told about.
Also for daughters, Elaine and Betty,
stories of the grandfather
became really true, I believe. 
They told me, how
their father has longed for...
"I wish so deeply I could see Finland.
Oh, I should like to visit
in Finland so much!" 

When they saw the longiness of their beloved father and the with the help of our corresponding, they started to encourage their parents to make this journey. They succeeded to convince the father, who would have his 70-year birthday in the next autumn, about this possibility and now this dream had come true. Although the reason for the daughters to travel may be more need to be as a support to their parents during the journey, during it they could find a new extent to themselves. The Finland changed from a distant strange land to the real thing to them, in this country grandparents were born and lived, this country and relatives here got a special place in their thoughts. I believe, they left Finland different persons from they were before the journey; the interest of Finland and relatives here was perhaps more extensive to them as they could have expected. 

The most beautiful summer weather spoiled us during the whole week. At the boat tour to the Nötö island we got acquaintance with new far relatives. The Westfarm is the name of the farm, where our ancestors have had a place of home from the 1600-centuries. At the yard of this house we examined old genealogical notes with the old hostess of the farm. Also I got an address of a genealogical searcher from Sweden, with whom I have now made interesting comparisons of our researches. In Kustavi we spent a typical Finnish summerhome day as quests of Matti Laaksonen, the cousin of Ernest. The house is originally the home of Matti's wife Irma's grandfather, who worked as a merchant sailor. In the evening of course, we went to The Finnish Sauna and swam in the sea. Specially Elaine was surprised of the relaxing effect of the sauna, I think she liked it!
 

From many historical museums of Turku we had time only for The Cathedral from the 1200-century and The Castle of Turku from the same time. We could not expect, how interesting buildings those would be to our quests. After they had told to us there is no this kind of medieval historical building in America we noticed the point. It's so self-evident here we have those very old churches and other buildings, I've never thought the matter from this point. Also I noticed how much I've forgotten my history knowledge, so I felt to have the punishment lesson about the facts of my local town history.
 
 

Too soon was the day, when the luggage was packed and we must escort our quests to the bus, what would take them to Finland's capital, Helsinki, to meet grandmother Fiina's relations gathering there. We all wanted believe strongly to that this first meeting of us would not be the last. We are missing for their natural, positive and charitable company, what had given us so much during the week we spent together. I had lost my fear to speak English; it didn't matter, if I had no right words or they went to disorder. I feel the great pleasure about that I had not given up with my genealogical researches concerning to uncle Arvo " . . . emigrated to America . . . ". 

Florence and Ernie's
1945 1995
Fiftieth Anniversary

The Children of 
Mr. and Mrs., Ernest Arvo Flinkman
requests the pleasure of your company at a reception 
in honor of their parents 
Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary
on Sunday, the twentieth of August
nineteen hundred and ninety-five 
at one o'clock in the afternoon.

The Biddle Hall 3239 Biddle Avenue, Wyandotte, Michigan

 In last August I with my husband Jorma really became a participant in Detroit, USA, honoring the Golden Wedding of Ernie and Florence as the only relatives from Ernie's father's side. The atmosphere was very hearty and warm, we got new interested acquaintances there. I can't stop wondering the way how American people have a skill to make even a strange person to enjoy and feeling good. You are very quickly taking part of conversation without feeling to be the outsider.


 
 Before arriving Detroit we visited in 
New Jersey
where lives Ernie''s cousin 
Hilma Porkka,  who celebrated
her 102 years birthday
in April 1995,  and Hilma's daughter,
Ellen Luthin.

We have not met each other before. Ellen was left a widow and after all her seven children have moved away from home, she is living now with her mother in their beautiful house in River Vale. (*Hilma died 1997 at the age of 104 years)  We talk about Finnish relatives and other things, Ellen can speak Finnish quite well. She has visited in Finland several times with her children and grandchildren. 

When we watched the photoalbum, Hilma recognized better Finnish relatives than us! She is in very good condition. She was with us all the day, when we were at lunch in West Point and after that we visited Ellen's daughterMarion.There we were charmed by a little girl Amber; her pet name is Ämpäri, it's a Finnish word sound to us like Amber in English, but the meaning of the word in Finnish is the same as a pail or bucket. Anyway, Amber is a very slender and cute child, not a large dish at all.

When we moved to have a cup of coffee, Marion had a cake with candles and "Happy birthday to you." surprised me. It was my birthday today and I have not remembered it at all. Thank you so much! After our short visit Ellen took us safely through New York City to The Kennedy Airport from where we took a flight to Detroit.


 
When arriving Detroit 
the joy to see  Ernest with his family 
was so touching. 

In the evening Ernest, Florence and their five children with wives and husbands hold us a welcome-party in a Wild West styled restaurant. Because they love parties and surprises, so I have understood, my birthday was not forgotten. Suddenly waitress girls came and song "Happy birthday Dear Tarja...". Again they had proved, how to make you feel happy. We are not so used to compliments and we are shy to receive them. I think I am very lucky because my American friends have learnt me in this matter. I wonder I fall in sleep so soon after this exiting day, I think the comfortable bed in Ernie's and Florence's guestroom made it possible.

The next day was a lesson of American History. In the Museum of Henry Ford and Greenfield Village was very interesting place, I could have been there the whole week; because the weather was very hot, I think I could not make it even I would have time to do it. The most interesting place to me was the laboratory of Thomas Alva Edison, because I'm working in the clinical laboratory. Do you know, how first lots of Heiz Tomat Souce was made? If you don't, you must to go to the Greenfield Village in Detroit!

Elaine and I had already in last summer found a common hobby. We use to collect old things, Elaine is interested also about antics. Here in Finland we don't have "Garage Sales", we have fly markets but we have to take our things we want to sale to special marketing areas. So we spent a few morning hours by going to Garage Sales. We had a lunch at Denise's home also we could admire Eric's fine woodwork at his and Loretta's home. And still we went to see littleMatthew and his parents James and Olga to their home. Matthew is a real sunshine! Late in the evening we drove to Elaine and Ray's home, there we could admire Elaine's antics and Ray's arms collection, how many guns he had!


 
Then it was already 
The great Celebration Day  ofErnie and Florence.
The Program was a secret,
they had only told to 
the Gold Wedding couple
there is a party for them.
Everything else was a surprise. 

 Ernest and Florence use to go to The Church every Sunday, so it was also in this special day. When the time to go to the church came, to their house drove a very long white limousine, what took the wedding couple with other quest, also we had the honor to join them. 

Elaine had taken part to a competition of local radio "How nice it would be if..." She won the price and made possibly her parents could use that luxurious limousine on their Special Anniversary Day. The children of Ernie and Florence had made a great job planing and arranging for The Special Day of their beloved parents. There was over a hundred guests, relatives and friends from long distances of USA and Canada, and we from Europe, Finland among them all! 

It surely was a difficult task to find out addresses of Ernie and Florence's friends from many years backwards, without they knew nothing about that. The importance of a family, a warmth and a respect between parents with their children could be seen by a very touching way. It is the great thanks and gift from children to their parents to bring them happy.
 


 
After the celebration day 
was the turn to relax for all of us. 
We spent the night in Betty's home
and then we went with  Betty, her husband Ron,Elaine and her husband Ray 
to a trip through whole Michigan. 

This state is a little smaller than our country (Finland is really bigger than Michigan, Ron!), during the first day we drove straight to the north to Ron and Betty's summerhome. The nature and climate are very similar to Finland's, just in this week the temperature was unusual hot in Detroit, but it was much more comfortable in northern parts of the state. In the evening it was very dark and so many stars in the sky, we had a fire and hotdogs, it was rest we already needed. We also succeeded to see wild turkeys and reindeers, there they waited for the hunting season.

In the next day we went further and visited on the small Mackinac-Island, which is Florence's home island. It is situated in The Lake Huron, it seemed to us as a sea. There has never been cars on the island. All transportation on the island is made by horses. Now there is many summer home and many boats are carrying tourists all the time to the island. For transportation of tourists they need many horses, you can feel it before you have not seen the first one of a hundred horses. We visited at Elaine and Betty's ants in their beautiful house quite near the beach and after that we had very delicious and plentiful lunch at the very fine and large hotel.

On the continent we drove to the border of Canada and we could try in the Indian Casino how lucky we are. Not so lucky we were, but I think we already had so much lucky all the time we didn't need more. Our cousins had already taken care of it, we had so great time all the way. Only sad thing was, this fairytale is going to end soon. I didn't want to think about it at all. But it did not help, in the morning we started to Detroit, because our flight to Finland was tomorrow. So many things we saw and so many fine experience we had, here only a little part of them. When we said goodbye, I had already decided, it will came the third and the forth and so on time we'll meet again.


 
 
 
Jorma and I have thought some years ago, that 
in the distant future the object of a holiday journey 
could be USA.
This became true earlier and by very different way 
we could have imagined. 
Only a few years and we had found American cousins 
who made our holiday journey like a dream. 
They offered us such kind of hospitality and love
we are grateful forever.
This experience to us and to our relatives in USA
was possible by what! 

  The genealogy -The Fashion Phenomenon.


about 250 years 
of 
Flinkman Family

back to the beginning

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