Wednesday, August 6, 2014

52 Ancestors - Britta Maria Polo (Honkawaara) - Finnish 2nd Great Grandmother

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Each week focus on one ancestor and post something about him or her.

Me - My Mom - Fridof Jaakko Waldemar Maki - Carolina Honkawaara - Britta Maria Juhontytär Polo

My 2nd great grandmother, Britta Maria, is not the woman I thought she was. She still is a brave woman for immigrating from Finland to a new land with her young children to follow her husband to America in 1884. But based on previous family trees and a write up in a family history book, I assumed her maiden name was Riekki. But assuming anything in family research can lead you astray. With the help from one of my Finnish DNA match cousins from Family Tree DNA, I've discovered the real Britta Maria. Sometimes it takes just a little help to get started. After just a bit of information provided to my cousin, he was able to find the marriage record for Britta and her spouse Sakaris.  He sent me a link to the actual record on Finland's Family History Association website. (To see the digital images click on the sources at the end of the post.) Their marriage is right at the top under 1869 beside the date of April 17. The record is in Swedish, so names are recorded in Swedish.

Apr. 17th 1869   Drengen och ungk. Zacharis Mattsson Honkavaara och Pigan Brita Maria Johansdr Polo vigde i Jokijärvi kyrka af N. A. Bergh…

Basic translation from my cousin:
It says that Zacharis (son of Matts) Honkavaara and Brita Maria (daughter of Johan) Polo got married 17th of April 1869 in church of Jokijärvi.
Jokijärvi in is Pudasjärvi and their titles express that neither has been married before. Their real names may have been Sakari and Riitta in Finnish. My great grandmother went by the name Britta Maria in America.

So Britta wasn't a Riekki but a Polo or Polo could be a farm name. Finnish names are confusing but there are lots of great resources on-line that can explain much better than I could. I listed a few later in the post. The second name is usually a patronymic. Which is basically stating who you are the son or daughter of. Brita is the daughter of Johan. Johandotter in Swedish and Juhontytär in Finnish. 

Now that I knew where to search for information I tackled the birth records (Syntyneet in Finnish) in Pudasjärvi parish on the Finland's Family History Association website. I looked for the children births that I knew were born in Finland. Although I don't know a lot of Swedish or Finnish, I was able to pick out the names. I found the birth for three of the children I knew about and a couple who didn't survive long. I wasn't able to find the birth for Charles (Karl in Finnish) who was born about 1882. Since he was born after his father left for America maybe he was born in another parish. Britta would follow later in 1884 with the four surviving children. Two daughters would be would born in Michigan, United States. One being my great grandmother, Carolina or Liina.  Her children:

  • Maria Sofia born December 4, 1869 in Pudasjärvi 
  • Zackris born February 10, 1872 in Pudasjärvi, died March 18 1872 in Pudasjärvi
  • Anna Kaisa born April 30, 1873 in Pudasjärvi
  • Greta born November 8, 1875 in Pudasjärvi , died September 12, 1877 in Pudasjärvi
  • Sakari born May 27, 1879 in Pudasjärvi
  • Karl born about 1882 in Finland
  • Carolina born 1887 in Michigan, United States
  • Johanna born February 9, 1889 in Michigan, United States

From the marriage record I now know Britta's father's name, Johan. To find Britta's birth and other family members, I look at the Communion Books (Rippikijart). These are amazing records that list family members, birth dates, where a person has moved to or from, and other tidbits. It took me a while to understand these records and find families. The Honkavaara family seem to be at No. 54 Heikkila in Pudasjärvi  for a number of years and this where I find Britta Maria in the book from 1861 to 1873. It has her name as Brita Maria Johandr Polo born October 21, 1847 and she moved from Kuusamo in 1869 (the year she married). So off I go to look at the birth records in Kuusamo. Sure enough I find Britta in the 1837-1855 Syntyneet for October 21, 1873. I can't read all of the entry but it looks like her father is Johan Polo of Orolas and her mother is Sofia. Looking at the Rippikijart in the Kuusamo parish in the book from 1843 to 1849 I find the family at Orola.

From just a little help from a cousin and a whole lot of goggling to understand Finnish records I was able to find the real Britta and her family. After going through some more records I was able to go back quite a ways on the Polo family and discover her mother's name, Sofia Larsdotter Määttä. Along the way I learned a little Swedish and Finnish. I've found the Swedish records a little easier to decipher as it's closer to English. Most of the records seem to be in Swedish up to about 1879 then they switch to Finnish. As for the name Reikki, I think I've discovered where that came from. I believe that name is from her husband's family. Going back in the Communion Books I was able to find that the Honkavaaras seemed to be originally from Riecki farm.

Help with Finnish records:
Finding Records of Your Ancestors 
Family Search Wiki
How to Trace Your Roots in Finland
Swedish and Finnish names 
Finnish names on Wikipedia 

Finnish Records:
Finland's Family History Association 
Genealogical Society of Finland. Lists of christenings, marriages, burial, and moves  


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