Ohio History Journal

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In the fall of 1886 the septuagenarian Henry Howe returned

to Ashtabula on his second historic tour of Ohio. Not the least

interesting innovation which there captured the fancy of the be-

loved, white bearded chronicler was the presence at the Harbor

of the "Fins," a "new element . . . lately come into this region."1

The coming of the Finns to Ohio can be traced with some

precision. About eighteen years before Howe's visit to Ashtabula,

a tenant farmer, Aksel Sjoberg by name, migrated with his family

from the parish of Ilmajoki in Vaasa to Titusville, Pennsylvania.2

Sjoberg, as a result of experience gained in a previous visit to

America, was soon rewarded for his proficiency in laying track

by being made foreman of a section gang on the New York Cen-

tral Railroad. He thereupon wrote letters to his friends Andrew

Bloom (Antti Hegbloom) and John K. Hilston (Johan K.

Helsten) of Isokyro parish urging them to come to Titusville and

assuring them    employment.    The letters aroused great interest in

the Old Country with the result that within the years 1871-1873

some seventy Finns left their native shores for the railroad con-

struction camps in and about Titusville.3 These mobile labor units,

while penetrating into Girard, Niles, Chardon, and Ashtabula

Harbor as early as 1872, did not leave any permanent settlements

behind them in Ohio. In the fall of 1873 twenty of the original


1 Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio (Columbus, O., 1889), I, 275.

2 S. Ilmonen, Amerikan Suomalaisten Historia (Helsinki, 1923), II, 314-25.

3 Ibid. Immigrants listed as arriving in 1871 were: Andrew Bloom  Matti

Hedman, Peter Ylijarvi, John K. Hilston, John Piltti, and Kalle Kotka; arrivals

of 1872 were Matti L. Beckman, Antti Anderson (Huhtaketo), Kustaa Astrom

(Uusitalo), John Gustafson (Maunumaki), Herman Hedman, Joseph Kippo, Antti

Kopsala, Emanuel Maunula, John Tuomaala, Joseph Porkula, Matti Taipale; arrivals

of 1873 were John Bloom, Kustaa Hakala, Charles Hilston, Jacob Kaukonen, Liisa

Kipley, John Talso, Kaarlo Smith (Korpijarvi), John Salmi (Santalahti), Antti

Autio, Jacob Hautala, Jacob Johnson (Ollikkala), Antti Kari, Jonas Kivela, Jacob

Kotila, A. Krigsman, John Marcus (Markuksela), John E. Marjapori, John Mitchell

(Antti Hill), John Orjala, Jacob Punkari, Leander Rusko, Gustaf Wakkinen, John

Lankila, Jacob Markkoo, Karl J. Stenroos, John Taanonen, and Jacob Wainionpaa.