My Finnish roots are from my Mom’s paternal side. Her father was born in Hansboro, Rolette,Towner, North Dakota December 9, 1906. Fridjof Jaakko Waldemar Makie (Fritz) was the son of parents of Finnish heritage. His father was Jaakko Makie Makela (Jack Makie) born 1883 in Finland. His mother was Carolina Honkawaara (Liina Waara) born 1887 in Oscar, Michigan, USA. My confusion comes from all these different names. To find any records you have to do some creative searching.
I’ve have found very little about the Makie side except Makela, Maki, and Makie means of the hill. I have found a little more on the Honkawaara (Waara) side. My best information was a book on the area they lived in Saskatchewan. “The Echos of Coteau” published by the Coteau History Commitee in 1981. I was able to borrow the book through inter-library loan for a three week period, no renews. I discovered stories and connection to grandparents, great grandparents, ggreat grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Most of the stories were written by my great aunt, Velma Deydey (my grandfather’s sister).
Liina Waara parents were Sakris Honkawaara and Britta Riekki from Finland. They immigrated in 1885 (although I have not found any records to date) with their children Mary, Anna Kaisa, Charlie, and Sakris. Two more children were born in Michigan, Liina and Johanna. The family lived in Michigan, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan. The Finnish seemed to be a tight knit group with neighbors showing up in census records in the different areas. So if you’re having difficultly finding your relative, look at neighbors who may have an easier surname or an area of Finns.
I have a lot of research to do on my Finnish side. Although history books don’t have citations to sources, they give you great clues to family connections and stories to help round out your ancestors. Records won’t be able to tell me that:
- my great great grandparents grew their own tobacco and lived in a sod shanty.
- my great great grandmother smoked a corn pipe and made “Fiillia” (yogurt).
- my great uncle Charlie was a drummer, casket maker, and woodworker.
- that my great uncle Charlie’s wife, Olga was born without one arm, but never let it hold her back
- how my cousin Acel came to live with my great grandparents after his mother died of the Spanish Flu.
- my relative celebrated “Vappu” in May and “Juhannus” in June.
To learn more about the Finnish in Saskatchewan look on the Saskatchewan Gen Web.
“Vappu” and “Juhannus” celebration explanations are found on Wikipedia - Walpurgis Night, look under Finland.
To find where you may borrow “The Echoes of Coteau” Library and Archives Canada
To learn more about North Dakota look on the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
The novel “Rope of Time” by Larry Warwaruk is a great book to get an idea of the Finnish immigrants who came to United States and then on to Saskatchewan, Canada. If you wish to get a copy you can probably find one on Abe Books.