Juho and Kustaa Keränen in America

Kustaa ja Liisa Keränen Amerikassa perheineen

At Christmas 2012 I ran across a person named Jami Lewis on Facebook. She told me she was searching for her Keränen ancestors in Laitasaari, Muhos. I promised to come to her aid and we did find out facts about the family. Her great grandfather Kustaa Iisakki Keränen could be  traced back to Vainiokangas no 55 in Laitasaari. Originally he was not one of the Keränen family in Laitasaari but one of the Tuomaala family in Rantsila. Jami´s family roots also lead to Hartikka no 3 in Laitasaari and to other farms in the area. Her grandmother was Kustaa´s daughter Mary Katherine (b. 1907).

Heikki Honkarinta, vaimo Josefiina ja tytär Aino Number 55 Vainiokangas was inhabited by Juho Honkarinta’s son Heikki Honkarinta (b. 1860 Honkarinta number 78). According to a story Heikki served in his time in the army of the Czar and he had a fellow draftee there, a sailor by the name of Samuli Samuli´s son Keränen (initially Tuomaala, b. 1836 in Rantsila). Supposedly, Samuli and Heikki escaped from the army and were engaged for service on a ship. The ship, however, was wrecked in the waters between Turku (Swedish Åbo) and Maarianhamina (Swedish Mariehamn). While in the water the two men reached an agreement that if either of them survived the wreck he would take care of the drowned person´s kin. So it happened that Heikki survived but Samuli was drowned. (* Heikki was single and as promised he got into contact with Samuli Keränen´s widow Josefiina née Mustonen (b. 1849) and the children Kustaa Iisakki (b. 1876 Oulu) and Juho Samuli (b. 1870 Oulu). Eventually Heikki and Josefiina got married and together they had at least four children in Vainiokangas farm. 1

Heikki´s stepson Juho Samuli travelled to America in about 1889-91. He settled down in Wolf Lake, Becker, Minnesota. There he changed his name into the form John Keranen Samuelsson. He married Hulda and they got two daughters: Anna (b. 1906) and Maria (b. 1908). The wife Hulda died and Juho remarried Lydia and they got a daughter Norma (b. 1922). Juho died in Minnesota 31.3.1933.

Juho’s younger brother Kustaa Iisakki also headed for the American continent in 1900. First he went to Canada to work in the Rock Springs coal mines in Wyoming. Kustaa returned to Finland to fetch his wife Liisa and his daughter Martta and they came back to New York via Ellis Island 1904. From there they took off to the farm of Kustaa´s brother in Wolf Lake, Minnesota.

Kustaa ja Liisa Keränen Amerikassa Kustaa and wife Liisa Kaisa née Sorvali (b. 5.10.1875 Oulujoki) had 8 children, of whom the first was born in Finland, the others in Minnesota.

  1.  Martta Birgitta (b. 1898, d. 1974 Los Angeles, CA)
  2. John Peter (b. 1904 MN, d. 1976 MN)
  3. Tyyni Elizabeth (b. 1905 MN, d. 1905 MN)
  4. Mary Katherine (b. 1907 MN, d. 1990 MO)
  5. Charles Gustaf (b. 1908 MN, d. 1979 MN)
  6. Jennie Sophia (b. 1911 MN, d. 1999 MN)
  7. Henry (b. 1914 MN, d. 1998 MN)
  8. Emil William (b. 1917 MN, d. 1958 AK). 2

The descendants of Kustaa and Liisa in America number at least about a hundred! Liisa Sorvali´s family is also deeply rooted in Laitasaari and Muhos through her mother Riitta Sankilampi (b. 14.3.1835 Oulujoki). Her ancestors founded among other things number 43 Hangaskangas.

 Translated by Laura Salonen

(* In fact, Samuli did not drown, he died because of pneumonia in 06.06.1878 in Oulu. 3 Rest of the story is correct.

  1. An article by Osmo Heikkinen to Laitasaari Association in 2012
  2. Jami Lewis e-mail 24.12.2012
  3. Oulu, dead and buried 1856-1886
Kategoria(t): 3 Hartikka, 43 Hangaskangas, 55 Vainiokangas, 78 Honkarinta, english Avainsana(t): . Lisää kestolinkki kirjanmerkkeihisi.

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