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About

Yooper (noun): Someone who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or, as Andy Hill puts it, “A Finn with a little bit of Sisu mixed in.”

Yoopera! (noun — but maybe kind of a verb): A Yoopera is what happens when you combine Yoopers and Oopera (the Finnish word for opera). The result: An exuberant, operatic, and inspirational celebration of local history and culture.

The documentary Yoopera! tells the story of how the legacy of family stories and local history inspired both the commissioning and production of a major opera and a widespread community celebration of heritage in the beautiful, remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan (the U.P.).  In 1906, the copper-boom town of Rockland, Michigan was the site of a small strike by Finnish miners and trammers. The strike ended in violence and two of the Finnish strikers were shot and killed by Sheriff’s deputies. No one was ever held accountable for these deaths and they had a chilling effect on the Finnish community in that town. Within the next few decades, the copper industry left the area and the story was mostly forgotten until it was passed on through the family of Alfred Laakso, a Finnish Rockland resident who witnessed those tragic events. Remarkably, through the transmission of family oral history and chance community conversations, the story evolved into an original opera by Finnish composer Jukka Linkola and librettist Jussi Tapola, which had sold-out premieres in both Finland and America and was webcast live to an audience of over 60,000 people in 28 countries. Alongside of the opera commissioning and production was a major public art project designed by Mary Wright that invited people in the community to contribute their own family stories and memories, resulting in a stunningly beautiful installation of thousands of white flags at the opera premiere and a community of people who became personally connected to the opera and its story. Yoopera! captures the resiliency and determination of an area and its people that is the true legacy of the immigrant experience. It shows us the power of knowing our family stories and what can happen when we share them with each other through art.

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Awards and Funding

Yoopera! is profoundly grateful to John and Pauline Kiltinen for their support of this film.

Yoopera! is proudly funded by a Major Grant from the Michigan Humanities Council 2011. 
http://michiganhumanities.org/

Yoopera! is also happy to announce we are the proud recipient of a grant from the Finlandia Foundation.
http://www.finlandiafoundation.org/

Yoopera! is proudly funded in part by FinnFest USA 1996
http://www.finnfestusa.org

The History

The Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan has been a source of mining activity for thousands of years beginning with native peoples and culminating in the boom of mining activity that shaped the region in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Rockland, Michigan, which today has a population of around 220 people, was once a thriving community and a destination for immigrants, many of the them Finnish, who sought work in the prosperous copper mines. Although most attention has been paid to the 1913-1914 mining strike in Calumet, Michigan, Rockland’s 1906 strike represents one of the first violent labor conflicts in the region.  A fictionalized account of that time and the shooting deaths of two Finnish miners provided the historical inspiration for the documentary.

Resources

Rockland Township Historical Museum
Keweenaw National Historic Park
Keweenaw Digital Archives

The Trailer

The Filmmakers

Suzanne Jurva

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Suzanne Jurva has been involved in all forms of storytelling, from Tom Hanks’ large screen IMAX film Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon to producing and developing for the smallest media, the mobile phone, as co-founder of Starcut, content media aggregator for Nokia Mobile Phone. In between the two extremes of media and technology, Suzanne worked as a feature film development executive for DreamWorks-SKG creating and heading the research department while working on: Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Minority Report, AI, The Lost World, Gladiator, Prince of Egypt, The Peacemaker, Deep Impact, Men in Black, The Lookout and Lincoln. She is currently working on Prospectors (The Weather Channel), Buzz Heard ‘Round the World: How the Inventor of Operation Got His Funny Bone Back (feature documentary film), and in development on several feature film projects.

Suzanne has won many film and television awards for producing/directing/writing and has been a part of over 50 film festivals. She, with Erin Smith was Finlandia Foundation National Lecturer of the Year 2014 screening Yoopera!, to organizations around the US. She has been part of TEDX Atlanta and her films The Fabulous Ice Age (documentary feature) and Changing Keys: Billy McLaughlin & the Mysteries of Dystonia (documentary feature) won many awards touring the festival circuit. Changing Keys aired on 75% of the PBS network (EPS) and was part of pledge drive in many markets. Her work has been seen on NBC News, PBS, MTV, FOX, BBC, Showtime and at The Library of Congress. One of 50 civilians chosen from leadership positions through the US, Suzanne was a member of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference 61. She was elected as one of the Outstanding Young Alumni and inducted in the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Michigan Technological University.

Erin Smith

Erin Smith

Producer/Editor, Yoopera!

Erin Smith is Director of Humanities Digital Media and Principal Lecturer in Digital Media and Cinema at Michigan Technological University. Smith holds a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin with specialties in narrative and film. She has worked with Michigan Tech students on community-based documentaries for the past decade and also serves as advisor to Cin/Optic Media and Communication Enterprise at Michigan Tech, whose student members have been central to the production of Yoopera! As both a digital media scholar and practitioner, Smith has helped commercial and academic institutions adapt to changing production technologies and contexts for over 20 years. Although she’s of Irish descent and from Minnesota, her love of Lake Superior, lake-effect snow, and the extraordinary creative spirit of the Keweenaw has made her a Yooper at heart and a proud participant in the making of Yoopera! 

Icaro Van Goes

icarovangoes

Videographer

Icaro Van Goes is an award-winning cameraman based in Nashville, Tennessee. The scope of his work encompasses a variety of settings from studio and fieldwork, to commercials, concerts and professional sports. Icaro’s professional career began while located in Washington, D.C. where he worked in several studios as a freelance camera operator including Atlantic Video where he worked for shows such as Cold Pizza, PTI, and Around the Horn.

Since becoming a free lance camera operator in 2010 Icaro’s cliental represent a variety of interests including NHK Japanese television, Hyundai Hope on Wheels Campaign, NASCAR, Sports Illustrated, Maxim Magazine, NBC Sports, Inside Edition, and Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana. As Director of Photography on Jack’s Last Fandango, a 24 Hour film project in New Orleans, Icaro was awarded with Best Cinematographer and the film also won Best Picture and Best Director. Currently, Icaro is founder and a director of photography for Illusion Frame, a partnership between several directors of photography that provide freelance work for broadcast television and film throughout the United States with partnerships in Washington, D.C., New York, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Nashville.

Justin Jones

Justin Jones

Assistant Producer/Videographer

Justin Jones has had the opportunity to assist in the production of “Yoopera!” as a student in the Cin/Optic Communication and Media Enterprise at Michigan Tech since the summer of 2010. Justin is interested in film and media, and has gained much experience in documentary filmmaking throughout his work on this project. A recent graduate with a BA in Communication, Culture and Media, he is excited to see this project through to its premiere. In Spring of 2012 he and fellow student Andrew Benda had a short film entitled “Ouroboros” finalize at the Vail Film Festival in Colorado. Justin is also a videographer and editor for the Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers and a graphic designer for University Marketing and Communications. Justin is headed to DePaul University to work on his MFA in film.

Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer developed the sound degrees at Michigan Technological University and has experience in theatre & film sound design, recording, live sound reinforcement, and sound system consulting. His professional activity includes adapting, directing, and composing music for Shakespeare’s Henry V, designing sound for the New York City premiere of Cherylene Lee’s The Legacy Codes, recording The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and one-off live sound mixing for Ravi Shankar.

Maija Ehlinger

Maija Ehlinger

Production Assistant Maija Ehlinger is excited to join the “Yoopera!” community, not only because the film is about her Finnish immigrant heritage, but also because it is a project that combines three of her greatest passions – history, film and music.  A junior at Emory University in Atlanta, Maija is currently working on her history honors thesis on immigrant health in hopes of pursing a career that combines her interests in film/media and public health.  When she is not busy with school, she spends her free time writing in just about every genre under the sun, from op-eds on international affairs to poetry.

The Storytellers

Andy Hill

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Andrew A. Hill was born in Wakefield on Nov. 28, 1950, son of Raymond Leslie Hill and H. Leona (Laakso) Hill, and raised in Wakefield’s Pike Location next door to his paternal grandparents, William and Viano (Syrjala) Hill, who lived next door to his maternal grandparents, Alfred and Sofia (Palomaki Laakso.

He is a 1969 graduate of Wakefield High School and attended Gogebic Community College and Michigan State University.
In 1975 he joined the sports department at the Ironwood Daily Globe and served there through 2006 as a writer, photographer and editor. In 2006 he purchased the Wakefield News/Bessemer Pick & Axe, a weekly newspaper which he continues to operate with his wife, the former Susan Mussatti.

The Hills have three children and four grandchildren. He is active in community theater, playing roles as varied as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Alfred P. Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” Nicely-Nicely Johnson in “Guys and Dolls” and Joe in an all-white production of “Showboat.” He is a member of the Chamber Singers, an audition choir based in Ironwood.

He is an active lay worship leader, variously serving ELCA congregations in western Upper Michigan and northern Wisconsin.

Mary Biekkola Wright

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Community artist, Mary Biekkola Wright, is a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Since 1996 she has brought to life more than 35 large-scale community art presentations and installations. These pieces have involved thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds. Some of the more well-known pieces are the blue and white chairs for Finnfest, the totem poles for Marquette’s Sesquicentennial, the step ladders in Alpena, the pilings in Port Huron, the Grandma Doors in Marquette, Hancock and Wawa, Ontario, the giant mittens in Hancock, and the story line project displayed on the grounds of Michigan Technological University in Houghton. These works exemplify Wright’s belief that all people have the capacity to be creative and when placed in a supportive environment, ideally outside for the public to witness, the culmination proclaims the power of ordinary people coming together to present themselves in the most positive manner possible. The effect of these works is impossible to calculate. This underscores Wright’s philosophy that artists and their works are examples of appropriate power. Mary Wright was the 1999 recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Art Award.

John and Pauline Kiltinen

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John Kiltinen brought the idea of the Rockland Opera to the Pine Mountain Music Festival’s Board of Trustees. It was John and Pauline Kiltinen, along with the late Gloria Jackson, who underwrote the commissioning phase of the opera. The Kiltinens have remained actively engaged with the Rockland opera and the film Yoopera! ever since. The Kiltinens were also members of the Rockland Task Force that steered the opera into being.

“I personally have been involved with the underwriting five commissions of new works of music, and each time I have found it to be among the most satisfying ways to use some of our accumulated wealth. I would recommend to anyone who loves good music and who has been blessed with enough wealth to use some of it in this way and to experience bringing new music to life.” John Kiltinen

Jussi Taploa

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Director, librettist

Jussi Tapola studied directing and dramaturgy at the Theatre Academy in Helsinki from 1969 to 1973 and opera directing and film in Munich. He was engaged by the Finnish National Opera in 1975. Tapola has appeared as a guest director at the Savonlinna Opera Festival, where his most recent productions are the premiere of Paavo Heininen’s opera The Knife in 1989 and the opera trilogy The Age of Dreams, premiered in 2000.Of his numerous productions at the Finnish National Opera it is worth mentioning Prokofiev’s Duenna, Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Rautavaara´s Thomas, Adam’s Nixon in China, Kalevi Aho’s Insect Life, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena and Menotti’s The Consul. Jussi Tapola has also directed opera productions and drama series for TV.

Jukka Linkola

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Composer, conductor and performing musician Jukka Linkola was born in Helsinki in 1955. From the beginning his most important instrument and a tool of work has been the piano. He studied at the Sibelius Academy and already during his student years he worked as a rehearsal pianist at the Helsinki City Theatre where he later worked also as a conductor in 1975-1990.

Jazz plays an important part in Linkola’s production. His octet was in its time one of the most significant groups of Finnish jazz. Linkola has conducted many big bands, for example UMO (Orchestra of New Music), the big band of EBU, the big band of the Danish Radio and Bohuslän Big Band. Linkola has taught in projects for example at Berklee College of Music, the world

Linkola has composed a lot of stage music, operas and music for plays and films. The opera Elin in 1991 was a big stage work. The television opera Angelika in 1992 was more like an oratory. Angelika was awarded at Paris Opera Screen competition in 1992 and in 1993 it was chosen the best at Cannes Midem Awards. The third opera of Linkola is called Matka (A Journey) and it was premiered in 1998.

Linkola likes to compose for symphony and chamber orchestras or for big jazz orchestras and he often uses soloists with orchestras. Examples of these works are Crossings for tenor saxophone and orchestra in 1983, Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra in 1988 and Trumpet Concerto II in 1993. The latest concertos are Flute Concerto (1997), Euphonium Concerto (1995) Tuba Concerto (1995), Organ Concerto (2000) and Horn Concerto (2000).
In recent years Linkola has composed several choral works for instance Evoe and English Series for YL (Helsinki University Male chorus) and Primitive Music for Tapiola Choir.

Conducting his own works Linkola has performed with The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Finnish national Opera, the Opera of Gothenburg, Radio Orchestras of Ljubljana and Prague and the Orchestra of Aalborg.
Linkola has received several awards for his works. So far he has published about 35 recordings. His whole production including operas, musicals, orchestra concertos, chamber music, songs and jazz for various combinations is immense.

Joshua Major

joshuamajor

Joshua Major has worked as a stage director for 30 years throughout the United States and Canada developing an impressive and diverse repertoire of productions. In August 2012 Mr. Major began as Chair of Opera Studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston after completing 20 years on the faculty of the University of Michigan where he oversaw the Opera Program, both teaching and directing. At the University of Michigan he directed Falstaff, Armide, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Eugene Onegin, among others.
He continues to be a stage director and faculty member with the International Vocal Arts Institute where he has directed annually since 1993. Upcoming productions include Cosi fan tutte for the New England Conservatory of Music and Sir John in Love with Odyssey Opera.
Other recent productions include the North American premiere of Rossini’s La Gazzetta, Un giorno di regno (Verdi) Die Fledermaus (Strauss) La Perichole (Offenbach), Dido and Aeneus (Purcell), Ariadne auf Naxos (Strauss), The Cunning Little Vixen (Janacek), Lucia di Lamermoor (Donizetti) and The Turn of the Screw (Britten), Les mamelles de Teresias (Poulenc), L’Impressions de Pelleas (Brook/Debussy), L’enfant et les sortileges (Ravel), and La Fille du Regiment (Donizzetti),
Mr. Major was the Artistic Director of the Pine Mountain Music Festival, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the shores of Lake Superior from 2003-2014.

Candace E. Koski Janners

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A native Yooper, Candace observed the evolution of the Pine Mountain Music Festival since it was founded by Laura Jean Deming, Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra cellist, in 1991. A PMMF Trustee since 2008, she has served in various capacities and is currently the Board President. Candace chaired the ROCKLAND Task Force, a multidisciplinary group, which facilitated over many years, the creation, promotion and production of the opera. (This included collaboration with the Jokkilaaksojen Musiikkisä̤atio in Nivala, Finland for nearly simultaneous premieres of ROCKLAND in the U.S. and Finland. It also led to the engagement of community artist Mary Wright to create an art piece that would support and promote the opera. The Story Line Project was the result.)

With ancestors in the Upper Peninsula since the mid-1800s, Candace is connected to the history of the area. A Finnish great-grandfather was initially a miner. A direct personal tie to the Rockland tragedy exists through another great-grandfather and uncles. James Corgan, long-serving Ontonagon lighthouse keeper and Ontonagon County Coroner, was called to Rockland on the evening of July 30, 1906. A great-uncle served as a juror during the Coroner’s inquest and another served on the jury that acquitted the Finnish miners in March 1907. The Irish lawyer, Patrick Henry O’Brien, who defended the Finnish miners, was a good friend of Candace’s grandfather, Harry Corgan. Mr. O’Brien later became Attorney General of Michigan.

Candace felt privileged to be involved with the development of ROCKLAND and its associated projects and to work with individuals so committed to its production.

Craig Randal Johnson

craigjohnson

Performing engagements and artistic activity take Craig Randal Johnson across the United States and to several European countries. Based in Minneapolis, Craig Randal Johnson maintains a wide range of musical interests, having worked extensively in opera and theater, as orchestral conductor, solo pianist, as orchestral double bassist, as chamber ensemble performer and concert organizer. Craig Randal Johnson often programs Finnish music, 20th century American piano music, as well as more standard symphonic and operatic works.

As Finlandia Foundation “Performer of the Year” in 1999, Craig Randal Johnson played Finnish piano recitals in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, Dallas, New Orleans, Denver, at Finlandia University, Illinois Wesleyan University, the Hartt School in Hartford, at the Canterbury (CT) Finn Hall, and elsewhere. Other recital appearances have included appearances in Hannover as well as in Magdeburg, Hildesheim, and Templin in Germany, Calif. Lutheran Univ. in Thousand Oaks, the Landmark Series and at Sundin Hall in St. Paul (MN), the University of Iowa Center for New Music, SE Louisiana University, Finnfest 2002 in Minneapolis, Finnfest 1997 in Minot ND, the ‘Rock’ Church in Helsinki, and the new ‘Raahesali’ in Raahe, Finland. Composers represented have included David Macbride, Libby Larsen, Judith Shatin, Aarre Merikanto, Erik Bergman, Einojuhani Rautavaara, and Hanns Eisler.

A specialist on the music of the German composer Hanns Eisler, Johnson appeared as a soloist at the Eisler Centenary Gala Performance in New York City (1998). He has performed two evenings with the dramatist Eric Bentley and baritone David Jordan Harris on WNYC public radio in New York, presenting Eisler songs and lieder. He has presented Eisler programs in St. Paul, at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter MN, Madison WI, River Falls WI, Hartford, and Hannover, Germany. He was music director for the Brecht show “For Those Who Come After”, which featured songs by Eisler, Wolpe, Milhaud, and Weill (summers 1997 and 1998 in Minneapolis).

Craig Randal Johnson holds degrees from the University of Minnesota (B.A.) and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (M.M.), and has studied conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Domaine Conducting School, and the Aspen Music School. He was Principal Double Bassist of the Florida Symphony early in his career, and has played double bass with several orchestras in Europe and the USA including the Staatsorchester Braunschweig, Aspen Chamber Symphony and Columbus (OH) Symphony.

Craig Randal Johnson conducted the USA premiere of the new Jukka Linkola opera, Pine Mountain Music Festival production of, “Rockland, The Opera”, to sold out houses in Houghton, Michigan (July 2011). Opera magazine (London) noted in its January 2012 issue:

William Joyner

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Over the course of his career, tenor William Joyner has given nearly 550 performances of some 55 different roles, in 12 countries on 3 continents.  He has sung in some of the world’s foremost opera theaters, including Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Bologna’s Teatro Comunale, Venice’s Gran Teatro la Fenice, Paris’ Opéra National (Bastille), Brussels’ Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Berlin’s Deutsche Oper and Deutsche Staatsoper, The Washington National Opera, Miami’s Florida Grand Opera, The New York City Opera, and The Santa Fe Opera.  William Joyner has performed with the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Münchener Rundfunkorchester, and has worked with some of the greatest maestri of our time, including Daniel Barenboim, the late Gary Bertini, Bertrand de Billy, John DeMain, Heinz Fricke, the late Armin Jordan, Vladimir Jurowski, Anne Manson, Antonio Pappano, Georges Prêtre, and the late Marcello Viotti.

Don Olson

donolson

Don Olson is an Ontonagon County Historical Society member and Bergland/Matchwood Historical Society member.  Don attended Rockland the Opera Task Force meetings with his wife Josie, helped with promotion of Rockland the opera and with Josie’s Rockland walking tours.  He had a family connection to the 1906 Rockland Strike Tragedy.  The two Finnish miners who were killed and Alfred Laakso lived at Don’s grandmother Maria Louko’s boarding house.

Josie Olson

josieolson

Joanne “Josie” Olson is a committee member of the Rockland Township Historical Museum, a board member of the Ontonagon County Historical Society, and a member of the Bergland/Matchwood Historical Society.  Josie was a Rockland the Opera Task Force member.  Deeply touched by Alfred Laakso’s story of the 1906 Rockland Strike Tragedy told to her by his son David in 2006, her love and involvement of Rockland history and her Finnish heritage, Josie was dedicated to doing historical research and Rockland walking tours for the Task Force and others involved with Rockland the Opera.

Esa Ruutunen

esaruutunen

One of the principal singers will be Esa Ruuttunen, baritone from Finland, who will sing the role of Alfred Laakso, who opens and closes the opera.  Mr. Ruuttunen is also the artistic director of Jokilaaksojen Musiikkisäätiö in Nivala, Finland, which will produce the Old World Premiere of “Rockland” in June, 2011.  His grandfather worked as a miner in the Upper Peninsula at about the same time as the action in the opera, 1906.

Barbara Shirvis

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Barbara Shirvis has been acclaimed for her “gorgeous tone, technical security and a touching vulnerability” by the Boston Globe. As her reputation has grown, the soprano has been lauded as “magnificent” by the Los Angeles Times, “luminous” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and an “authentic blonde beauty” by Opera News. In summer of 2014 she sings Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus in a return to Minnesota Orchestra.

In 2013-14 Barbara Shirvis returned again to North Carolina Symphony as soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, to Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra to sing Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and is soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Her 2012-13 season included her debut with Hawaii Opera Theatre as Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus; soprano soloist in Britten’s War Requiem for the American Choral Directors Association; also a return to the Jacksonville Symphony in the same capacity, and as Desdemona in Otello, both under Fabio Mechetti. Engagements for the 2011-12 season included singing Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Beethoven’s “Ah! perfido” in a return to the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, and the title role in Manon Lescaut with Chautauqua Opera.

Recent successes include Johanna in Linkola’s Rockland with the Pine Mountain Music Festival; her debut with Anchorage Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2; a return to Jacksonville Symphony to sing Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4; to Toledo Opera as Alice Ford in Falstaff; to Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte; and to Rochester Philharmonic in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. She also sang the title role in Tosca with the Minnesota Orchestra; in a recital, “Hearts Afire” with husband Stephen Powell, through Highland Park United Methodist Church; as soloist in Madison Opera’s 2010 “Opera in the Park” festival; Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly with Utah Opera; Desdemona in Otello with Opera Roanoke; Liù in Turandot in a fully staged production for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, also in a return to Kentucky Opera; Mimì in La bohème with West Virginia Symphony Orchestra; as soloist in Haydn’s The Creation with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Syracuse Symphony; in recital in a new program, “American Celebration,” with Stephen Powell; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Brevard Music Festival; and Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with North Carolina Symphony.

Mark Walters

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Opera News describes Mark Walters as “a force to be reckoned with” in Lucia di Lammermoor and as “heroic” in Carmen.  The Chicago Sun Times depicts Walters as “vocal fury” in La forza del destino.  The Salt Lake Tribune says “The tall, handsome singer possesses a magnificently resonant voice and unforced dramatic ability.”

Walters has sung over 50 roles in the baritone repertoire and with recent performances of Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata, he is a singer to watch in the demanding Verdi arena. Walters has been heard in the World Premiere of Rappahannock County by American composer Ricky Ian Gordon which was recorded on the Naxos label as well as the US premiere of Rockland by Finnish composer Jukka Linkola. Additional premieres have included Corps of Discovery by Michael Ching with Opera Memphis, Good Neighbors by Robert Taylor at the Cumberland Playhouse, Blake by Leslie Adams with the Cleveland Choral Society and The Children of the Keweenaw by Paul Seitz with the Pine Mountain Music Festival. Walters has also had the pleasure to premiere the song cycles Of Passion’s Tide by Canadian Composer Laureate Jeffrey Ryan, 4 Poems of Rossetti by Marty Robinson and Love’s Cycle by Mark Henkin.

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The Opera

Rockland: The Opera was commissioned by the Pine Mountain Music Festival with major support and fund-raising efforts from John and Pauline Kiltinen and the late Gloria Jackson. It was John Kiltinen who first mentioned the story to Finnish composer Jukka Linkola when he was here for the Marquette Finn Fest in 2005. Jukka took an immediate interest in the story and its significance for not only Finnish immigrants, but the many Finnish people who are still connected by family and history to the area today.

The opera had dual premieres at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts on the Michigan Tech campus in Houghton, Michigan, and in Nivala, Finland. It was also live-streamed to an audience of over 60,000 in 28 different countries.

 

Links

Pine Mountain Music Festival: The Rockland Season

People

Joshua Major

Joshua Major

Artistic Director, Pine Mountain Music Festival
Chair of Opera Studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston

Toronto-born Joshua Major (Artistic Director) began his opera stage directing career at the age of 23 with La Cenerentola for Opera Omaha. Soon after, Mr. Major worked as an assistant to Rhoda Levine at Juilliard, Cynthia Auerbach at both Chautauqua Opera and New York City Opera and William Gaskill at the Welsh National Opera. Mr. Major has worked as a stage director for over 27 years throughout the United States and Canada developing an impressive and diverse repertoire of productions. Recent productions include the North American premiere of Rossini’s La Gazzetta, La Perichole (Offenbach), Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck), La Traviata(Verdi), The Cunning Little Vixen (Janacek), Falstaff (Verdi) and The Turn of the Screw (Britten) Recent productions for IVAI include Les mamelles de Teresias (Poulenc), L’Impressions de Pelleas (Brook/Debussy), Le tragedie du Carmen (Brook/Bizet) and La Fille du Regiment (Donizzetti). In August 2012 Mr. Major accepted the position of Chair of Opera Studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston after completing 20 years on the faculty of the University of Michigan where he oversaw the Opera Program, both teaching and directing. Joshua Major has proudly been the Artistic Director of the Pine Mountain Music Festival since 2003 and continues to be a stage director and faculty member with the International Vocal Arts Institute in both Montreal and Tel Aviv, where he has directed annually, since 1993.

Jukka Linkola

Composer, Rockland: The Opera

Finnish composer Jukka Linkola studied piano and music theory at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. He has composed music for the Finnish National Opera and led several jazz Big Bands. In addition he has won two Jussi awards for his film music.

He is known for his work on The Glory and Misery of Human Life (1988), The Snow Queen (1986) and Play It All (1994).

Jussi Tapola

Librettist, Rockland: The Opera

Jussi Tapola is a well-known stage director who has directed nearly 200 opera productions and a producer at the Finnish National Opera for over 30 years, following his drama and media studies in Munich, Helsinki and Tampere.

His recent work as a director for Finnish National Opera includes Kari Tikka, Luther (2000) and Jani Kääriä, Osiris (2003) – both also as a joint librettist, La rondine (2002), L’enfant et les sortileges (2002) and The Magic Flute (2006).

Tapola has directed for Savonlinna Opera Festival, in Estonia, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, Great Britain and the U.S.

Craig Randal Johnson

Craig Randal Johnson

Craig Randal Johnson brings to Rockland his wide ranging expertise as conductor, pianist, double bassist, musical collaborator and organizer. His conducting credits include the Florida Symphony Orchestra, Superior Festival Orchestra, Marquette Symphony, North Star Opera, Boreal Chamber Symphony, symphony concerts for Finnfest USA, and local orchestras and theater productions in Minnesota, Massachusetts and Illinois. In Osnabrück, Germany, Mr. Johnson conducted large scale productions of Brecht plays, and composed music for numerous productions. Mr. Johnson was Resident Conductor for the Rome Festival Orchestra for three seasons, conducting Mozart operas and other works, receiving highly positive reviews from the Italian press.

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The Story Line

“The Story Line” was a regional, community-based art and history project created and displayed in conjunction with the international premiere of Rockland: The Opera. During the course of the project, community artist Mary Wright and a band of faithful volunteers collected thousands of stories from local schools, universities, and community members. The original “Story Line” consisted of cotton fabric panels, each of which was imprinted, using the phototransfer process, with the story and photograph (if available) of an ancestor who overcame challenges and improved their lives and impacted future generations. The completed panels were displayed in local communities along with the Rosza Center for the Performing Arts on the Michigan Tech campus in Houghton, Michigan.

We are continuing this tradition online and have already added hundreds of the original stories. Everyone is invited to participate by exploring their own family history, and the history of the community in which they live. Some possible sources are stories told by grandparents, old photo albums and letters, or library resources like old newspaper clippings and school, church or township records. No story is a bad story, and we look forward to hearing about your families and communities.

Featured Stories

Evelyn Lancour McNamara

I was born in 1924 in Osier in the Upper Peninsula of Mihcigan I was the third child of Edward Lancour and Eva Morin. My parents did many things over the years to earn a living and raise their family. My parents sometimes worked at lumber camps during the winter and we would live there. I was a bit of a tomboy and I remember helping Dad build a general store on US41 and it was attached to our house. The store carried all of the staples and we also had a gas pump out front. Many aunts and uncles and cousins on both the Lancour and Morin sides of the family lived near us. I was the only kindergartner in the one room schoolhouse that we went to, so I spent more time on the teacher's lap than doing school work. On the way home from school we would go through the front door of my aunt's house, say a quick hello then head out the back door grabbing an apple out of the apple barrel there. As a young woman just before WWII, I married a neighbor boy and childhood sweetheart, Kenneth Rabideau, who was going off to war. I travelled to California alone by train to set up housekeeping near the army base while he was shipped out. There was a terrible mix-up in train schedules when I arrived in California and it was a couple of days before Ken and I were able to find each other. Our marriage was short-lived as he, an army medic, was killed in action in France before the birth of our son, Gary. Grieving and alone, I came back to the UP to my family. I hoped to start a rooming house for college students in Marquette, but at the time it was very difficult for a single woman to get financing for such a deal. After the war, I met Martin McNamara of Kiva, a cousin of a good friend of mine, and it was an automatic match for both of us. We soon married and moved to Eaton Rapids, near Lansing, Michigan, where I gave birth to 16 more children whilm we raised during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s. I died at the age of 84 surrounded by my loving husband Marty and my caring family.

James Edwin Collins

Hello, I am James Edwin Collins, and I received the Albert Gallatin Award for thirty-nine years of service in the Coast Guard and U.S. Lighthouse Service when I retired. I was born in Brimley, Michigan, on June 13, 1896. When I was 12 years old, my father died. I was the oldest son so I went to work as a “cookie” in a lumber camp. Despite this adversity, I continued to improve my education. I was able to take the state examination and received my certificate of completion of Grade 8 for the State of Michigan. I was very proud of that accomplishment, but continued to work in lumber camps. I joined the army during World War I, worked at the Newberry State Hospital, and in 1919 passed the Civil Service test to join the United States Lighthouse Service. For the next 39 years I worked as Assistant Keeper at the Detroit River, Point Iroquois, Middle Island, Stannard’s Rock, and Manitou Island Light Stations, and I became Keeper in Charge at Huron Island Light Station in 1935. I retired from the Upper Entry Station on June 30, 1958. While at the Huron Island Station, I received the Superintendent’s Star for exemplary service. My wife, Laura, and I raised 5 children at the lighthouse homes we lived in. I truly saw the light in my lifetime.

Hilda Tapanni Hankianoja

I was born Hilda Tapanni Hankianoja on November 5th 1873 in Karsimaki Finland. My husband Isaak, son Frank and I came to Mass City in the late 1800s with all of my brothers. My house we built in 1900 is still with my son Emil’s family I was a quiet peaceful woman who kept my sadness to myself. I outlived Isaak and three of my five children. Two children died from consumption at ages 17 and 22. My peonies still grow in the same soil and the faith I shared with my family still is shared today. My son Emil and daughter Aina had to quit school in 8th grade to help our family survive. I never spoke English and I never cut my hair.

Aliina Elizabeth Onkalo

My name is Aliina Elizabeth Onkalo. Many people call me Lena. I was born November 4, 1881 in Finland. My family came to American when I was in my early teens. On Octobter 9, 1897 I married Jacob John Onkalo. In 1905 we moved our family from Boston Location and settled in an area between Painesdale, South Range and Chassell. My parents, Issac and Maria Laitila, and my brother Victor live about a mile from us on the road to South Range. Victor is my only sibling and he loves horses and has worked with the huge logging horses that Jacob hires for his logging company. One day while working with the horses Victor was kicked in the head. He survived but hasn't been quite the same sine so he will never be able to live on his own. The loggers that Jacob hires stay in the bunkhouse and only come into our home when it's time to eat. I do the cooking for them, but I won't let them into the house until they've had a nice hot sauna since many of them carry lice from working in the woods. Our home also has a summer kitchen to keep the rest of the house from getting hot while cooking in the summer. With our children, loggers, hired hands, cows, horses, chickens, dogs and other animals, our home is a place of constant activity. Besides logging, Jacob is involved in many organizations. He was an advisor to agriculturist, Leo M. Geismar and to the school director, John M. Doelle and is established in the Suomi Opisto. He's also on the board of directors of the South Range Bank, and the head of the Baltic-South range Suomi-Synod Church, which he and I have been with since 1905, and many others. We even leased a piece of our land to have a school built, so now our children go to the Suo School by just crossing the river. This area has been referred to as the "Suo District." Suo means swamp in Finnish. Our eldest daughter passed away from Scarlet Fever in 1929 so our son-in-law and their 5 children also live with us.

Ann Bowden

"My name is Ann Bowden. I was born in Camborne, Cornwall, England in 1829, a daughter of Henry Richards and Mary Ann (Marks) Richards. I married my first husband, a copper miner named Richard Luke, there in 1850. He was younger than me and not very mature. By 1861 he went abroad, leaving me to raise our four children by myself. Because the mines were closing at home and work was scarce, my children and I made the trip across the ocean to Hancock, Michigan, where copper mines were booming, and by 1870 I supported my family by taking in boarders. I married my second husband Richard Bowden, and moved to Red Jacket (now Calumet), Michigan. We were very happy, and had a son together. Although 13 years younger than me, my second husband Richard also preceded me in death, and I found myself without a husband once more. To survive I ran a grocery store and boarding house called "The Traveler's Home" on North Fifth Street in Red Jacket. My portrait reflects that I was a hard-working, independent woman, yet a saucy joke I supposedly told that has passed down over 100 years reveals that I retained my Cornish sense of humor. By 1900 I was living in my boarding house with two of my children, a son-in-law, four grandchildren, two servants, and ten boarders. I died the tenth of August that year due to senile gangrene, and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Calumet. Eric Munch, 3rd-great-grandson, Calumet, MI.

Catherine Neuling

My grandmother was born in 1888 to German immigrant parents in Chicago, Illinois. By 1912 she had met and married my grandfather and was pregnant with my father. They were living in Billings, Montana. One day in 1912 he came home and told her she needed to return to her parents in Chicago because his girlfriend was pregnant and he wanted a divorce. She arrived in Chicago still pregnant only to have her father send her back to Montana to be where she belonged, which in his mind was with her husband. She returned to Montana alone, frightened and soon to be a single mother. After giving birth to my father she homesteaded in Wyoming scraping by on the little she could earn by taking in sewing from the local townspeople. Although she had had to drop out of school high school, she loved reading and she loved reading to my father. When he was 12 years old, she moved with him back to Chicago in order to provide him with a proper education. Upon his arrival, he was tested for placement by the Chicago public schools who immediately double promoted him. He graduated at age 16, as both president and Valedictorian of his class. My grandmother earned her G.E.D. the year I was born. Five years later, the son she read to and worked so hard to bring up was promoted to a major general in the U.S. Army. She read to her grandchildren and was wonderful part of our lives until she passed in the 1960s. Our father passed on to his children the love of learning his mother had passed on to him. Mary Jane Hatton, granddaughter Hancock, MI

Bylo Farmer

Isle Royale Summers When I was a very young married girl, I had four boys in pretty quick order. Because my husband rented cottages during the school year for us to live in, we had to vacate each spring. Needing somewhere to live, I took my four little boys to Isle Royale, usually when there was still snow on the ground and we stayed until at least mid-September. On Isle Royale, we lived in a canvas tent put up on a wood platform. That lasted for way too long. One morning I opened the tent flaps to find a bull moose starring at me. That did it!!! The next year my husband built us a little cabin that even had a little gas stove. One day, as I rowed the boat up into Snug Harbor, one of the boys saw something in the water. I rowed over to see what it was. Fortunately, before the boys recognized it, I saw that it was the long hair of a woman who had drowned. I rowed away as fast as I could and got men to go out a retrieve her body. Chris Bryan, granddaughter Pelkie, MI

Annie (Mason) Neely

I am Annie (Mason) Neely. My father, Thomas Mayson, was born in Madison County Mississippi in 1854. He was eight years old when the American Civil War began in earnest. My mother, Cornelia Stokes, was born in Mississippi, June, 1864. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was adopted, abolishing slavery, releasing my father and other “colored” people from generations of slavery in the United States of America. My father married my mother, Saturday, June 13th 1885. I was born January 18th, 1886 in Madison County. While my father could read and write, my mother could not. I learned to read and write and do farm labor. After 1910 our family dropped the “y” in Mayson, accepting “Mason” as the proper spelling of our name. For work, I hired out as a farm laborer. I was married twice. My only child was born November 16th, 1907. During the 1930s, in the middle of the nation’s great economic Depression, my son (Willie) and his family followed other relatives leaving the racial and economic repression of the South. They traveled north to Chicago seeking jobs and a better life. They got settled there. I was about 54 years old when I joined them in Chicago. My sister, Mattie Mason Bradshaw, came to Chicago in the 1920s. She managed a barbeque restaurant—The Alabama Barbeque Pit. I and other relatives worked there when we first arrived in Chicago. We lived and worked in an area called the near Westside, not far from the newly opened Chicago Stadium (replaced by the United Center today). I departed this world in 1969, leaving great- grandchildren who called me “Grand Stanley.” Decades later several great-great grandchildren are living in the Chicago area. One great-great grandchild now lives in Australia, and I have two great great grandchildren who were born and raised right there in the Copper Country. I guess you call them “Yoopers.” I must say, it’s all quite distant from the Madison County Mississippi of my youth. Willie Melton III Great Grandson Houghton, Michigan

Charles VavnWormer

My name is Charles VanWormer and I was born in Harvey, Michigan on September 25, 1916. I was the third child born out of twelve and as a child, I worked very hard on the family farm in Sands. When I was twelve years old, my job was to drive a horse and wagon, loaded with potatoes from Sands to South Marquette, so I could earn money. When I was 16 years old, I joined the Civilian Conservation Corps so I could send money back home to help my parents support my brothers and sisters. I was at the Newberry Camp and worked hard as a logger. I married Ruth O'Donnell in February of 1941 and we had three children. When World War II broke out, I joined the Army and served in the 132nd Signal Corp in Austria. When I returned, I worked for LS&I on the ore docks until I retired. My descendants would say that I set a good example by my strong work ethic and willingness to help others.

Clara Mae (Thomas) Auston

I am Clara Mae (Thomas) Auston. I was born August 7, 1905 in Lumpkin County, Georgia. Georgia, as the rest of the South, had lots of laws and customs obliging racial separation and inequality from cradle to grave. With encouragement from W.E.B. Dubois, Joseph Winthrop Holley founded what became Georgia Normal and Agricultural College in 1903 in Albany Georgia. The institution provided elementary education and teacher training for “colored” people. I received my teacher training certificate from the college July 10th, 1924. President Holley signed my certificate. I worked with “troubled” children in a segregated rural Georgia school. My husband, Effie Auston, was four years younger than me and worked as a farm laborer. I was 23 years old when our first child, Effie Will, was born. In 1929 the nation’s great economic depression was just beginning. That year my family, like millions of other “colored” people, left the South seeking jobs and a better life in the North. We left Georgia traveling north to Chicago with our infant daughter. We lived with my husband’s relatives when we first arrived. I gave birth to two more children, a girl--Authurnetta, and a boy--Gene, within five years of arriving in Chicago. We eventually moved to a first-floor apartment on Wolcott Street, not far from the newly opened Chicago stadium (replaced by the United Center today). My husband worked factory jobs. I raised three children and also worked in factories. I worked the longest at the well-known Case-Moody’s pie factory until it shut down in the 1950s. I’m standing next to one of my grandchildren in the picture. The pie factory is one block down the street behind us on my left. I departed this world in 1963, leaving grandchildren, who called me “Big Mama.” I now have several great- and great-great grandchildren in the Chicago area. One great-great grandchild now lives in Australia, and I have two great-great grandchildren who were born and raised right there in the Copper Country. That makes them “Yoopers,” I guess.

Hilda Heikkinen Karinen

My name is Hilda Heikkinen Karinen. I was born in Finland December 18, 1882. I came to America in 1884 before I was 2 years old. On September 13, 1890 we left Point Mills in a boat with 5 other families, 19 people total, and head to Otter Lake where we homesteaded. I married William Heikkinen, who was born in Finland on September 2, 1918, on May 30, 1900. We had 6 children, 5 girls & 1 boy and I was pregnant for the 7th child when my husband was killed, possibly murdered, as he was carrying the payroll for the employees that had arrived on the train. I eventually moved the family to Hurontown & worked cleaning houses in the wealthy eastside of Houghton to support us. All four of my daughters obtained college degrees, 3 as teachers & 1 as a nurse. Judy Kinnunen, granddaughter, Pensacola, FL

Dono Treadeau

Dono was born in Chassell in 1898. He became a cook's apprentice in his teens, cooking and baking for lumber camps in Canada, Baraga and Houghton counties. Two of his daughters, Myrtice and Marie assisted him in later years. The family still prepares several of his recipes to this day. Dono was also a chef on the dredges on the Great Lakes and later was the cook for the National Parks Service on Isle Royale. He owned his own restaurant in Hancock for a while, then moved his large family to Baraga County in 1940. He owned and operated several restaurants in Baraga County including one where Carla's in Keweenaw Bay stands today. Dono also ran the 'rootbeer stand' at the head of the bay, between L'Anse and Baraga, where he was famous for his pizza burgers! He was a hard worker and a good family man who accomplished a lot with only a third grade education. He is fondly remembered by his children and grandchildren who are now in the 50s, 60s, 80s and 90s! -Kay E. McIntyre, wife of Riley Mcintyre who is Dono's grandson.

Hilma Christina Mikkelsen Tuomin

HIlma Christina Mikkelsen Tuomin, my maternal grandmother, was born in Vadso, in far northern Norway, in 1876. After some years of serving as a maid and doing some cooking, she sailed to America in 1902, arriving in Hancock, Michigan, where she continued the same work. Within a few years, she was in Port Edwards, Wisconsin, working for the Lewis Alexander family that owned the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Company. The opportunity to do more cooking came when the head cook took ill. "Let me try!" she pleaded. "Ah, but what do you know of fine cooking?" asked the lady of the house. Well, Hilma had studied French cooking with one of the Norwegian families who traveled abroad. Her trial meal was a success, and she was promoted to Head Cook at the Alexander family home. In 1912 she married Kustaa Wilhelm Tuomin, a Finnish immigrant from Mantyharju, in Milawaukee, Wisconsin. Two daughters were born to them, Ema Pauline (my mother) in 1913, and Dagmar Wilhelmina in 1916. Hilma and Kustaa farmed on several locations in the Milawaukee area, finally setting in West Allis in a house they built at 2229 South 91st Street.

Ida Nisonen Karttunen

Loneliness sits on one's heart like a cold chunk of butter, but it also melts with the warmth of love. I was born in Finland and lived on a small farm. Mother died when I was five, leaving Father to care for five children. Soon we lost that farm. The older girls got work in different households, but Brother and I were so young that nobody wanted us. I went to stay with Father's cousin. When his wife saw me each night crying by the window, she would give me bread with a pat of butter and say, "Go by the brick oven and spread the butter on the bread, and you won't be so lonesome." Often the pat fell in the oven, as it was hard to see with teary eyes. Russian Emperor Alexander III had a vacation palace nearby. I got work babysitting for the guard's children for room and board, but no pay. Of course, I was a child, too. I remember when the Czar visited our city. He rode a carriage pulled by black horses. Nineteen-year-old Nikolai II, the next emperor in line, rode in a second carriage. I climbed a gate to get a good view; otherwise, I wouldn't have seen much in that crowd, being so small yet. Over the years, work became my constant companion. I cared for children, cleaned school rooms and got a job at a spool factory. I met Antti at the factory when I was 19, and soon we married. After a few years, he built a farmhouse in Green, near Ontonagon. My cheeks always rosy from cooking at the wood stove, I raised seven children with Antti in that home. I savored the love of our expanding family, and those drops of loneliness sizzled away. -Heather Karttunen Hollands, Ida's Great-Granddaughter

Mary (Smetherhan) Vivian

My name is Mary (Smetherhan) Vivian and I was born in 1872. I married Samuel Fremont “Monte” Vivian in 1890 and we made our home in Lake Linden. Monte worked for C & H. We had 17 children together, but only 12 lived to adulthood. In 1914, shortly after the last child, Eleanor, was born, I lost Monte. He had a tooth extracted and died because of a related infection. I was left to raise the children on my own. My oldest son, Alton, worked to for the C & H railroad to help the family. To help us heat the house he would throw coal pieces off of the train for us to collect. I made money by cleaning and baking for others. I died in 1943. Sierra Bishop & Laurie McLeod, Descendants of Mary Vivian, Lake Linden MI

Margie Harkey Baucon

THE LEGACY OF LOVE Wow, what a life . . . a life of endurance, persistence, fortitude, unconditional love and yes, even teaching. I lived my life with thankfulness everyday and believe me, that was hard many days. I grew up in Paw Creek, North Carolina blessed with loving parents who never owned a home, but we spent our young lives “sharecropping” the farm with six siblings who adored one another. I knew and embraced hard work serving in a shell plant during the war, a cake cutter at Merita Bakery, hosiery work and nursing technician at the hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina until I could no longer work. As the years wore on I developed osteoporosis before they even had a name for the disease. After experiencing broken wrists and broken ribs in my early 40’s, then numerous hip surgeries, eventually both hips were replaced twice but even those were not successful with lack of good bone. I endured an auto accident with a head concussion and broken legs. My skeleton was caving in on itself resulting in breathing problems, surgery for blood clots to the heart and even doctor recommendation for dual leg amputations. Even after living through Hurricane Hugo I always knew that I came from strong stock and that you can survive anything that life throws at you. I knew physical and emotional pain well, but my Lord never abandoned me. He was with me through it all. My faith in my God was the true strength of my life and that same loving God stood with me to the very end when I could no longer stand on my own. God taught me how to love, how to be thankful, how to count my blessings even in the hard times. My family still endures with that same love that they carry in their hearts and even though my body is no longer with them, my spirit lives on and my legacy lives on today. What a true legacy it is in knowing who you are, what you believe in and where your true strength comes from. I can still hear the love and fortitude in the pitter patter of a two-year-olds little feet running around. They may look like little feet, but those feet are on solid ground because the Legacy Lives On. Judy Baucom Tyndell, daughter, Lake Worth, FL and Brooke Tyndell Ahrens, granddaughter, Delray Beach, FL

Julia Charlotte Huhta Johnson

Julia was born in 1882 in Calumet, one of 8 children born to Peter and Brita (Bajari) Huhta. Julia's parents immigrated to Calumet from Sweden and Finland in the late 1880s. Her father was a carpenter and worked for he Ulseth-Bajari Lumber Company. As a young girl, Julia needed to work in people's homes to earn extra money. Her family lived on a farm in Woodlands, outside of Calumet, so she had a long walk to town to go to work in the wealthy homes. Julia attended a few grades at the country school in Woodland but needed to work so did not complete her education. However, she loved learning and continued her informal education after she was married and her own children were in school. She would sit with them as they did their schoolwork at home, learning right along side them. Julia loved writing letters and would keep a special dictionary nearby at all times. Her children and grandchildren have cherished that dictionary over the years reminding them of their mother's and grandmother's love of writing. Julia was married, had a son and was then divorced. She married a second time to Jacob Mattson and had two more children. Being left a widow, Julia found the Depression years especially hard on her family, so she spent time working on a sewing project for the WPA at the YMCA building on 5th & Scott Streets in downtown Calumet. Julia's daughter, Myrtle Barrette, remembers working for the National Youth Administration (NYA) during those Depression years. Julia was also a midwife and delivered many babies while in Swedetown. Her family remembers mother and grandmother fonly as an outsanding cook and baker. She enjoyed life.

Jennie Rapinoja

My name is Jennie Rapinoja, and I was born on September 9th, 1907 to Finnish immigrants, being fluent in both Finnish and English all my life. I grew up outside the small town of Embarrass, MN with my 5 sisters. Without any brothers, we all had to learn to work on the farm, even driving horses to plow the fields. During the winter, my father was a trapper and logger, to earn extra money. In high school, I began working as a maid for wealthy people. When I was in 10th grade, my father died, so without any money to go to school, we had to drop out. I then moved to Duluth to work as a maid and cook's helper. At 20, I began to nanny a young girl, and got to travel all the way to California with the family. I even got the chance to go to the 1933 Chicago World's Fair with some friends, one of which was the sister of my future husband. I went with her to visit her family in New York Mills, MN, where I met her brother, Aale Pesola. We were married inJune of 1935, and bought my family's homestead, and we worked with the WPA during the Great Depression. We then bought part of Aale's father's farm in New York Mills, where we lived for the rest of our lives. I learned to save everything I could while farming with my husband and raising our six children. While helping out in various ways on the farm, I also built furniture, sewed and advocated natural, healthy food, early only what we grew. I loved to grow flowers, listen to church services in Finnish on the radio and hunt for four-leaf clovers.

Viola Ann Johnston Schneck

My grandmother was born in Wisconsin, grew up and married my grandfather, who wasn't a miner, but was a logger. He owned his own logging business, Schneck and Sons, and moved around northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula to wherever the timber leases took hi,. So, my grandmother lived in several logging camps, far out of town, with a small community of relatives and employees, all tied together by the logging company. She raised three children, Floyd, Gordon and Audrey. My mom told me stories about life in the logging campus, the small houses they built when they formed a new base of operations, and what it was like to live at camp, away from their families for weeks and months at a time, armed with an arsenal of great recipes that served 30 or more people at a sitting. I also heard stories about a potato farm near the Antigo, Wisconsin logging camp and tales of my mother's adventures at Painsdale High School when the logging camp was in TriMountain, Michigan (near Houghton). I didn't hear these stories from my grandmother because she died way back in 1956 when I was a baby, but she sounds like an amazing woman.

William H. Cummings

I was born on September 5, 1890, in Iron River, Iron County, the second of two children born to George H. Cummings and Mary (Popaloose/Moore) Cummings. My parents divorced sometime before 1899, and my mother remarried, moving with her children to Menominee, Michigan. My stepfather harshly disciplined and beat me frequently, particularly if I was late in coming home. Sometimes I chose to sleep in the barn or under to porch to avoid my stepfather’s wrath. When in my late teens, I returned to Iron County, living with my mother’s sister and her husband in Crystal Falls, where I was kindly treated. I did not graduate from high school and could barely read. However, I was keenly interested in athletics, hunting and fishing. I played halfback on two semi-professional football teams, the Menominee-Marinette Lauerman Twins and the Stambaugh All-Stars, both teams including the Green Bay Packers in their schedule. I was also a skilled swimmer and diver, and pitched for baseball teams in both Crystal Falls and Stambaugh. In late 1910 or early 1911 I began courting Sophia Caroline Pfeiffer, and we were married in Crystal Falls on January 3, 1912. We had one son, Alvin William “Dutch” Cummings. Following my marriage, I first worked as a pump man at the Tobin Mine, then became a fireman for the Crystal Falls Fire Department, and then was a motorcycle policeman for Iron County. Noted for my driving ability, I was rehired by the City of Crystal Falls as a driver for the fire department, a salaried position. My driving skills were put to the test on April 12, 1923, when word was received that there was a terrible conflagration at the Carpenter Mine Location. Due to snow banks from late winter storms, the road to the Carpenter Mine was blocked, so I daringly decided to take the railroad tracks at the Odgers Mine Location to the Tobin Mine Location and then go by road to the Carpenter Mine. Fire Chief Clyde Henry, riding at my side, told me I was crazy to risk riding on the railroad tracks and got out of the fire truck. However, my arrival with the fire truck saved the Carpenter Mine Location from total destruction. My hunting and fishing prowess was renown, and I frequently guided hunters and fishermen from out of the area. The tedium of life in the fire hall resulted in my turning to alcohol, eventually costing me my job and my marriage. By 1930 I was a shadow of the man Sophia married. On January 6, 1930, I was returning to my job at a lumber camp near Balsam in Iron County after spending Sunday in Crystal Falls. One of my goals was to earn enough money to purchase a suit for my son, who was graduating from high school that spring. I was walking along the railroad track, hoping to get a ride part of the way on the train. As the St. Paul train approached, I stepped off to the side of the tracks, but I slipped, and Engineer Ike Sodegard saw me disappear under the cars, where I was killed instantly. Sophia made the Pfeiffer home available for my funeral, still remembering me as the man she loved and the father of her son. She buried me in the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery at Crystal Falls, and always made sure flowers decorated my grave during the summer months.

Osby Woods

I was born in Escanaba, Michigan. My parents are Paul and Florence. My sister Cora and I lived with our parents and our uncle and aunt, Fred and Louise Bennett. In the 1930’s, I lived in Chicago with my parents for awhile. I had more brothers and sisters: Jeanette, Mary, Paul, and Fred. My aunt and uncle made the move too. I came back to Upper Michigan. I worked as a Chef on the dining car laid-over on the depot siding while the flyer went through to Calumet. I had attended two years of college and worked as a millwright. I know equations, downshaft speeds, and gear ratios. I love sports. I have sponsored ski tournaments on the hills north of the railroad tracks. No trees, then. I gave out prizes for the tournaments and treats for all the children in attendance. I worked hard getting the ski jump built. I worked on it as time permitted. I never missed a baseball game in the summer. As you can see, I am in my Michigamme Baseball Uniform. I played on the local team. I also organized teams for children. When I joined the army in 1942, I had no family of my own. I signed up for the duration of the war. ©Valerie Bradley-Holliday, Ph.D. Information from the book Northern Roots: African-Descended Pioneers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Maria (Pindral) Saari

My mother, Josephine Kowalski, was born on April 9, 1910 in the village of Majdany, a town of Golina, Poland. Her parents were very poor famers. My mother was left homeless and resided in Slesn, Poland, where she cleaned for three years before Hitler arrived. They were given 20 minutes to gather their things and were taken to labor camps, stripped of clothing and covered with delousing powder. They became forced labor on a beet farm in Steinburgrund, Germany, and worked from dawn to dusk. My mother met my father, Lewon Lisofski and I was born on April 21, 1941 in Steinburgrund, Kiirtrin, Germany. Life became very hard. I was left with a Germany baby sitter which created a language barrier. As a child I was able to speak German, Polish, Russian and Czech. The only language I read and wrote fluently was Polish. My parents had plans to marry but the Germans required papers to prove they were free of Jewish blood for two generations. My father had papers, but my mother's records were destroyed in a parish fire; marriage was denied. About two years later my mother and I were taken from the beet camp and she was forced to work as a domestic slave on a farm. Conditions for my mother were horrid. One time I put puppies in an outhouse and was beaten; my mother threatened to call the police and an SS officer came and severely beat my mother with a hose. My mother became depressed and lost her will to live. My step-father, Jozef Pindral was in the Polishs army before the war broke out. He was captured by the Germans and was in a prisoner camp for most of WWII. His camp was bombed and most of the prisoners were killed. He ran into the woods and later mixed with slave workers on a farm. Because he was a strong man able to do the work of many men, he was not turned in and he spent the rest of the war working as a slave laborer. Jozef became a member of the Voluntary World Service C.M.L.O., YCMA group British zone in Germany until we were sponsored to come to America. His friend, Piotr Wisniewski, was also a member of this army. I was four years old when my mother and Jozef were married. When the war ended we were advised to stay in Germany due to poor conditions in Poland. We also heard that my father had died of a massive heart attack at the age of 36. In 1950, my parents signed up to come to America. I was ten years old. We were sponsored by the Catholic Service to make a trip to Rice, Virginia. We were processed through Ellis Island, NY. My step dad worked on a farm to pay for our passage. We corresponded with a family in the Copper Country who were also immigrants Piotr Wisniewski, who told us there was work. We moved to the Copper Country and my step dad got a job at the Painesdale Mine. Jozef was then employed by Copper Range for the next 19 years until his retirement. My younger sister was the only one born in America. I became a US citizen on May 15, 1963. My oldest brother and my father became US citizens on July 20, 1984. I graduated from Jeffers High School and received an associate's degree from Suomi College. I am married and have five children. I still live in Painesdale, Michigan and have not experienced hunger sinceI was 10 years old. Life is good, I survived the Holocaust.

Martin Francis McNamara

I was born in 1916 in the McNamara family farmhouse in Kiva, Michigan on land that my parents, Lawrence and Sarah, had homesteaded upon arrival from Canada. The house was built from logs hewn as they cleared the land. My family was one of the only Irish families in a neighborhood mostly populated by Finns. My parents were very determined to make a better life for themselves and their children. I was the youngest boy in the family; my older brothers, Lawrence, Jim and Sherman all attended college in Marquette as did my sisters, Julia, Cecile and Agnes. My sisters Marie and Florence married young and raised wonderful families in the Kiva and Chatham areas. My baby sister Patricia married a man from the Keweenaw Peninsula. “Let’s see, I remember riding on a sleigh load of logs with my Dad and I would have been 7 years old probably...logs that he had sawed up and he was taking to Ladoga. He had the sleigh all loaded up to take to Ladoga the following morning. He didn’t know he had a passenger. When he pulled out I was hiding on the back of the logs and once he was gone a ways I crawled up over and said “surprise”. He cuddled me up beside him, bundled up to keep warm beside him.” My Dad died when I was 8 years old. When my Dad died in 1924 there were still 4 of us living at the farm and Mum ran the home until she died at home in 1930. After that I went to live with my oldest sister, Julia Biekkala, and her family. I graduated from L’Anse High School and soon after enlisted in the army. I was a staff sergeant – machinist and spent much of my time in the Kodiak Islands off Alaska, trying to keep the Japanese from moving forward there. When the atomic bombs were dropped, I was in California awaiting deployment with a group to invade Japan – luckily we never had to make that invasion. After the war, I met Evelyn Lancour, a friend of my cousin and it was an automatic match for both of us. Evelyn’s young husband had been killed in the war and she had a son, Gary, who never met his biological father. Evelyn and I soon married and moved to Eaton Rapids, Michigan where she gave birth to 16 more children whom we raised during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s. Today I am 95 years old and still enjoy spending time with my family, golfing and kayaking – I even had the chance to ride in a kayak built by my son Gary. I am very thankful to God for all he has given me.

Recent Stories

Martin Francis McNamara

I was born in 1916 in the McNamara family farmhouse in Kiva, Michigan on land that my parents, Lawrence and Sarah, had homesteaded upon arrival from Canada. The house was built from logs hewn as they cleared the land. My family was one of the only Irish families in a neighborhood mostly populated by Finns. My parents were very determined to make a better life for themselves and their children. I was the youngest boy in the family; my older brothers, Lawrence, Jim and Sherman all attended college in Marquette as did my sisters, Julia, Cecile and Agnes. My sisters Marie and Florence married young and raised wonderful families in the Kiva and Chatham areas. My baby sister Patricia married a man from the Keweenaw Peninsula. “Let’s see, I remember riding on a sleigh load of logs with my Dad and I would have been 7 years old probably...logs that he had sawed up and he was taking to Ladoga. He had the sleigh all loaded up to take to Ladoga the following morning. He didn’t know he had a passenger. When he pulled out I was hiding on the back of the logs and once he was gone a ways I crawled up over and said “surprise”. He cuddled me up beside him, bundled up to keep warm beside him.” My Dad died when I was 8 years old. When my Dad died in 1924 there were still 4 of us living at the farm and Mum ran the home until she died at home in 1930. After that I went to live with my oldest sister, Julia Biekkala, and her family. I graduated from L’Anse High School and soon after enlisted in the army. I was a staff sergeant – machinist and spent much of my time in the Kodiak Islands off Alaska, trying to keep the Japanese from moving forward there. When the atomic bombs were dropped, I was in California awaiting deployment with a group to invade Japan – luckily we never had to make that invasion. After the war, I met Evelyn Lancour, a friend of my cousin and it was an automatic match for both of us. Evelyn’s young husband had been killed in the war and she had a son, Gary, who never met his biological father. Evelyn and I soon married and moved to Eaton Rapids, Michigan where she gave birth to 16 more children whom we raised during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s. Today I am 95 years old and still enjoy spending time with my family, golfing and kayaking – I even had the chance to ride in a kayak built by my son Gary. I am very thankful to God for all he has given me.

Hilma Sofia Mutkala

I am Hilma Sofia Mutkala, pictured here with my husband Samuel and our first child born in America. We have named him Eino Arthur and are very happy that he is strong and healthy. I was born on July 16, 1885, in the small village of Kauhajoki, Vaasa, Finland, where my family had lived for over four centuries. Finland was ruled by Russia when I lived there and life was very difficult. My people were tenant farmers, working the land of wealthy landowners for as long as anyone could remember. It was unlikely we would ever have land of our own. I was happy to meet Samuel, who lived in the neighboring village of Kurikka. He was born on March 7, 1884, one of ten children whose parents were also tenant farmers. When we married on April 15, 1906, he was already talking of going to America, where we might find a better life. His oldest brother, Jacob, was living in Laurium, Michigan; working in the copper mines, and encouraged us to come. Our Taimi Maria was born on June 9, 1906. She was not a strong baby and lived only until August 30th. In January 1907, Samuel sailed for America. I was worried when he left, knowing that a winter ocean crossing could be stormy and dangerous. I was now expecting another child; it would be a long time before we would be together again. I prayed that God would keep him safe. Little Eero Samuel was born on May 18, 1907. I wrote a letter to Samuel in Michigan telling him we had a healthy son. Alone with a new baby, I was grateful to live near my family in Kauhajoki, where my seven brothers and sisters helped with Eero. When the long summer days turned to long dark winter ones, sadness again visited my life. Eero died on December 4th. He was not yet seven months old and never seen by his father. It was a sad letter I sent to Michigan. In August 1909 there was finally money for my passage to America. I was sad to leave everyone and everything I knew, yet eager to be with Samuel. I had borne two children but was childless. When my long journey ended, the Keweenaw Peninsula was bright with autumn color, the sky a Finnish blue—and there he was. Eino was a year old when we moved to a farm that Jacob had bought in Pelkie, 45 miles to the south. Samuel worked in the copper mines in the winter and farmed with his brother in the summer for several years, until we were able to buy land of our own. Six more children were born to us on those farms. They all lived to be adults. Jane Hiltunen, granddaughter of Hilma and Samuel Mutkala and daughter of Eino Arthur. Dollar Bay, MI

John Keranen

My name is John T. Keranen, but it was John Theodore Niemi before I was adopted. I was born in 1888. I was in charge of the logging business for my family, the Keranen family. It was the largest and most prosperous business of its kind in the Herman area in that time. We had a bunkhouse right in the yard of our large family home, which was built on the farm with an apple orchard. The workers lived in bunkhouse and would eat their meals in our large farm home. I would go out in the woods with them to the logging operation site. I did not want my workers to be at risk, so I did the most dangerous job myself, moving the logs that were in a large pile. Well, one day while I doing this, one of the logs hit me on the leg, causing such an injury that I needed to have my leg amputated. The prosthesis, in those days, was not very good, and I developed a sore from it. The sore did not heal and I developed gangrene, and died at the age of 39, and never got to meet my grandchildren, Ann Dantes Makila, Faye Dantes Boomer, and Allan John Dantes . - Ann Dantes Makila, granddaughter - Westland, MI community member

Oscar Marshall

Hello. I would like to share a bit of my life and career with you. I am Oscar F. Marshall, born August 5, 1882 in Norway or Calumet MI to Peter and Matilda Marsyla/Marshall. I came to the Houghton Canal area near Houghton MI to be a farmer’s son in the early 1890’s. I had only 4th grade education. At age 31 I married a neighbor Emma Koski. (My siblings could help mom and dad with the farming now). We raised two sets of twins (Adolph and Arthur) (Doris and Ruth); also Carlos and Dolores while I was in the Portage Ship Canal Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard just down the road and across the canal from where I grew up. My son Adolph died of TB when he was out of High School, and my twin girls died in infancy. My wife died 2 years before me so I took my family to my wife’s homestead to have Aunt and Uncle help me raise the children. My son Arthur followed in my career and helped raise his teen- aged brother and sister on the homestead when I died. Arthur and Dolores were stricken with TB but survived with treatment. My career injuries and TB took my life. I was in the Marine Hospital in Chicago 11 days after my wife’s death (1936) until I was pronounced incurable with TB and chronic arthritis after 18 months of treatment. My 39 year career in the Life-Saving Service which later became known as the Coast Guard was one filled with being a carpenter, temporary surfman and surfman going on shipwreck rescues. Our regulations say “We have to go out, but they say nothing about coming back.” (you must try to save the mariners on ships in distress). In 1913 my surf mates from Portage and Eagle Harbor Stations each earned a Gold Medal for rescuing 24 crew off the Waldo stranded and later broken in two on Gull Rock reef at tip of the Keweenaw in a gale and snowstorm of hurricane violence. We were in 20 to 30 foot seas asking the crew to jump into our 36 foot life boat when the lake swell came up alongside the ship. We took the crew to a tug awaiting in Keystone Bay which took them to Houghton. Another shipwreck rescue was the Maplehurst near our station. See www.stantontownship.com and click on history for information on all the rescues and assists. Come to the Eagle Harbor Life-Saving Museum to see some of my medals I earned.

Margretta Ronnback

MARGRETTA RONNBACK Born –March 25th, 1844 I was born on the shores of the Kylajoki River near Tornio Finland on land that had been in the Hynalla family since the 1500’s. My Mother, Father and two sisters-Britta, Amanda and I came to Eagle River when I was 22 years old. One year latter I married Constant Ronnback. He was a Fisherman and we were one of the first Families to settle in the Portage Entry Quincy Location. My name has been spelled five different ways so our family’s historical documentation has been cloudy. Of my five children two lived to become adults, Sarah and Mary. One of my sons drowned while fishing in Lake Superior. My Husband was blind when he died and I was blind for the last four bedridden years of my life. My beautiful Grand Daughter Vera cared for me in those years. My sister Britta Nara’s family was in Mass City so when the Keweenaw Red Sandstone Company would not sell me the Company property our house was built on in Arnhiem I moved to Mass City where my Sister’s family lived. My faith in Jesus Christ kept me on my path….I was laid to rest on December 14, 1934 and my body is buried in the Jacobsville Cemetery.

Marcella Abbott

“It was a natural fit. I was heavy and the traveling circus needed a Fat Lady. I worked summers in the south and central lower peninsula of Michigan and stayed home here in Michigan when they all went south for the winter. This photo was the prize I handed out to anyone who could guess my weight. Marriage seemed not to be an option for me but when I met Mr. Ballou who worked as the midget in the circus my life changed. We married and had one child. It was a good life though I missed my husband during those long winters. It was always a joyous time when Spring came and the circus made its way north -- bringing Mr. Ballou back to me. Unfortunately, my spouse had some dark sides that I didn’t know about. One summer day he didn’t come home. I began to worry because it just wasn’t like him. We eventually put out the word among our own that he was missing. Of course, this was not reported to the authorities because we in the circus take care of our own. It was a very sad day when they found his body floating in the river. Seems the week’s receipts had disappeared the same day my husband did and folks in the circus surmised there was a connection. I guess they recovered the lost money. Well, if that connection were true then justice has been done. Makes me very very sad that he was gone as well as being a thief. I had a hard time picking up and continuing my life. The laudanum bottle tempted me mightily but I persevered for the sake of our daughter.” Jo Lorichon Aunt Teed is my great great great aunt on my Mother’s side. Dollar Bay, MI

Lars and Gudrun Tellefsen

I’m Lars Tellefsen. I was born in Arendal, Norway in 1898. When I was six, I went to sea with my father, a ship captain. He owned a fleet of four 3- masted sailing ships. We brought furs and ivory from the Arctic to trade in India and China, returning to Arendal with spices. Each trip took more than a year. I learned to become an accomplished sailor. My father always hired a cook that could teach me reading, writing, arithmetic and other languages. When I was fourteen, my father died at sea in the north Atlantic. I inherited the fleet and sailed it to America. In New Your City’s harbor, my fleet became Standard Oil Company’s first oil cargo ships. In 1921, I married my wife, Gudrun, and we raised four children. During World War I, I was an officer in the United States Navy. During World War II, I was again called to duty in the Navy as a Rear Admiral. I retired after 48 years at sea. I held a ship’s pilot license for every major port in the world that Standard Oil went to. - Roy Jacobson, grandson - Community member, Ironwood , MI

Kalle and Aliina Makela

Here I am, Kalle Makela, finished with my schooling as far as I see and knowing I must find my own way in life. I have no special talents, but I am healthy, strong and need to find work. My family cannot afford to support me for long and living in Suomussalmi, Oululaani, Finland, does not give many choices. I guess I’ll try to find a job here and there like most of the other young men I know and hope that I won’t be called to serve in the Russian army. It’s early 1899, three years later, and I am still wandering around my hometown, Suomussalmi, thinking of the new millennium that’s coming soon. I am 22 years old and I feel I should have plans for what I can do to make a living, perhaps even raise a family. I have noticed that many people my age have decided to move away, but every time I think of leaving my family and striking out alone, I find myself coming up with reasons to stay. Recently I’ve been hearing of many young people who have been finding work and buying their own property in America. Many have been writing letters encouraging others to take the chance and join them. I decided that if I want to make something of my life, now is the time and it may not be as risky as I fear. I tell myself I will be with other Finns to whom I can look for guidance. Although still anxious I didn’t let my fears stop me. I arranged for the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to America. Eventually I arrived in the copper mining town of South Range in Upper Michigan. I soon began the hard, risky, dirty job of digging the rich copper from under the ground. I was living and working with folks from many countries. Being with many Finns gave me comfort and confidence that I had made a good move. A year later I was pleased to befriend a girl who had also come from Suomussalmi. Aliina was working as a domestic for a large family. Our friendship led to marriage and we spent the next nine years in South Range. In 1910, Aliina and I bought property 30 miles south in Alston. There was a large house on the property that had been a boarding house and post office. We turned the land into a dairy farm and the house became a comfortable home for us and our nine children. Tom Hiltunen, Kalle and Aliina’s grandson Dollar Bay, MI

Maria (Pindral) Saari

My mother, Josephine Kowalski, was born on April 9, 1910 in the village of Majdany, a town of Golina, Poland. Her parents were very poor famers. My mother was left homeless and resided in Slesn, Poland, where she cleaned for three years before Hitler arrived. They were given 20 minutes to gather their things and were taken to labor camps, stripped of clothing and covered with delousing powder. They became forced labor on a beet farm in Steinburgrund, Germany, and worked from dawn to dusk. My mother met my father, Lewon Lisofski and I was born on April 21, 1941 in Steinburgrund, Kiirtrin, Germany. Life became very hard. I was left with a Germany baby sitter which created a language barrier. As a child I was able to speak German, Polish, Russian and Czech. The only language I read and wrote fluently was Polish. My parents had plans to marry but the Germans required papers to prove they were free of Jewish blood for two generations. My father had papers, but my mother's records were destroyed in a parish fire; marriage was denied. About two years later my mother and I were taken from the beet camp and she was forced to work as a domestic slave on a farm. Conditions for my mother were horrid. One time I put puppies in an outhouse and was beaten; my mother threatened to call the police and an SS officer came and severely beat my mother with a hose. My mother became depressed and lost her will to live. My step-father, Jozef Pindral was in the Polishs army before the war broke out. He was captured by the Germans and was in a prisoner camp for most of WWII. His camp was bombed and most of the prisoners were killed. He ran into the woods and later mixed with slave workers on a farm. Because he was a strong man able to do the work of many men, he was not turned in and he spent the rest of the war working as a slave laborer. Jozef became a member of the Voluntary World Service C.M.L.O., YCMA group British zone in Germany until we were sponsored to come to America. His friend, Piotr Wisniewski, was also a member of this army. I was four years old when my mother and Jozef were married. When the war ended we were advised to stay in Germany due to poor conditions in Poland. We also heard that my father had died of a massive heart attack at the age of 36. In 1950, my parents signed up to come to America. I was ten years old. We were sponsored by the Catholic Service to make a trip to Rice, Virginia. We were processed through Ellis Island, NY. My step dad worked on a farm to pay for our passage. We corresponded with a family in the Copper Country who were also immigrants Piotr Wisniewski, who told us there was work. We moved to the Copper Country and my step dad got a job at the Painesdale Mine. Jozef was then employed by Copper Range for the next 19 years until his retirement. My younger sister was the only one born in America. I became a US citizen on May 15, 1963. My oldest brother and my father became US citizens on July 20, 1984. I graduated from Jeffers High School and received an associate's degree from Suomi College. I am married and have five children. I still live in Painesdale, Michigan and have not experienced hunger sinceI was 10 years old. Life is good, I survived the Holocaust.

Osby Woods

I was born in Escanaba, Michigan. My parents are Paul and Florence. My sister Cora and I lived with our parents and our uncle and aunt, Fred and Louise Bennett. In the 1930’s, I lived in Chicago with my parents for awhile. I had more brothers and sisters: Jeanette, Mary, Paul, and Fred. My aunt and uncle made the move too. I came back to Upper Michigan. I worked as a Chef on the dining car laid-over on the depot siding while the flyer went through to Calumet. I had attended two years of college and worked as a millwright. I know equations, downshaft speeds, and gear ratios. I love sports. I have sponsored ski tournaments on the hills north of the railroad tracks. No trees, then. I gave out prizes for the tournaments and treats for all the children in attendance. I worked hard getting the ski jump built. I worked on it as time permitted. I never missed a baseball game in the summer. As you can see, I am in my Michigamme Baseball Uniform. I played on the local team. I also organized teams for children. When I joined the army in 1942, I had no family of my own. I signed up for the duration of the war. ©Valerie Bradley-Holliday, Ph.D. Information from the book Northern Roots: African-Descended Pioneers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Sophia Karolina Westerberg Wasikkaoja/Falk/Folk

I am Sophia Karolina Westerberg/Wasikkaoja/Falk/Folk, daughter of Pehr Olaf Johansson and Johana Charlotta Simonsdotter Sua, born 13 Oct 1881 in Svanstein, Overtornea, Norbotten, Sweden. I immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island on 12 Jul 1902 with my fiancé, Karl Henrik Wasikkaoja (aka Charles Henry Falk/Folk), also from Svanstein. We stayed with my cousin, Karl Strom and family, in Atlantic Mine, MI until we were married 20 Dec 1902. We made our home in Atlantic Mine, MI where my husband worked as a copper miner and laborer in a saw mill. I gave birth to my first child, Uno Carl, in 1903. I thought he would be my only child until the doctor discovered and cured me of a tape worm, a condition fairly common among people from my area in Sweden who ate a diet high in fish. After this problem was resolved, I proceeded to give birth to 13 more children: Yngve 1909, Gustav 1910, Axel 1912, Eli 1913, Erik 1915, Marta 1917, Margaret Sophia “Signe” 1918, Charles 1920, John 1922, twins Ellen and Helen 1923, Paul 1924, and Nels Peter 1927. It was my nature to be happy, and my family brought me great joy. One of the greatest hardships I endured was burying 4 of my children who died in infancy. I longed for the comfort of my parents and siblings in Sweden, but knew I would never see them again. I was ill from childbirth complications and worried about not being able to raise my family. I died on 1 Apr 1927 at the age of 45, less than a month after my last child, Nels Peter, was born. I was laid to rest in the Atlantic Mine Cemetery with my children who preceded me in death.

August and Matilda Mikkela

A Shot of Whiskey Saves a Life by Taimi Mikkela Johnson Finnish families with children, single miners and single working women had gathered in the large upstairs hall above a building in Calumet, Michigan, for a happy Christmas Eve celebration with a program, food, gifts and dancing. My dad and his friend on their way to the event decided to stop at the bar for a few drinks of whiskey. While they were imbibing, talking and laughing a huge fired broke out in the Calumet building quickly reaching the upstairs hall where screaming people began struggling desperately to flee. Someone had locked the door to the hall from the outside - trapping the men, women and children where they died. My dad’s and his friend’s decision to stop for a drink saved their lives. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (Note: My grandfather missed being caught in the Italian Hall fire/ Calumet MI) Craig Randal Johnson

Meri Bastian

I was born in 1927 in Calumet. The house is still there. When I was five years old I went to school as usual. When I came home our house was draped in black. My Momma was laid out on blocks of ice draped in black, in the dining room. Momma had died. Nobody would tell me what happened, why she died. My Dad tried to be a momma. He made me a dress out of a flour sack on Momma's treadle machine. He had to go back to work in Detroit. He hired women to care for us kids but they never stayed past the first payday. My older sister who was 12, raised us so we wouldn't go to an orphanage. I died at age 77 and to that day, I never knew what my Momma died of. Nobody would ever tell me.

Sami Wentila

I was born in Finland in 1882. I came from Tornio to the Copper Country and moved to Mass City with my family. I became a citizen of the United States of America on June 1st 1903 and had to sign that I would give up allegiance to the Czar of Russia…..we left Finland to get away from the Czar. I married Sarah Romback and had two daughters. When the mines shut down we were without work and I went to Detroit to work in the Auto plants. My family joined me on the advice of my Sister-in-law Mary. My poor wife was hit by a truck as she walked on the sidewalk. The driver left the road to avoid hitting a boy on a bike. She was 48 years old. My daughter Vera was upset when I got rid of Sarah’s wedding dress. It made me too sad to look at it. I was a carpenter in my latter days and lived out my days in quiet sadness and disappointment. (Sami was the Grandfather of Michael Laakko-submitted by Denise Laakko)

Swen Lindell

I am Swen Lindell. I was born in Sweden in 1910. My mother died soon after my brother was born in 1912. Shortly after, my father moved to Minnesota with my ten older brothers and sisters, leaving my younger brother and me with relatives in Sweden. He thought we were too young to go to America at that time. When my brother was eight and I was ten, my father came to Sweden to take us to America. We were scared of this strict, unsmiling man who was a stranger to us. We cried and begged to stay with our “family” in Sweden – the only family we had known. The ship crossing was miserable. We were scared, seasick, and homesick. The trip was very long, first by ship then by train. My father spoke Swedish when he did speak to us, which was not often, but when he spoke to others we could not understand him. When we arrived “home” at the farm near Ceylon, Minnesota we were greeted by many more strangers – our older brothers and sisters many of whom had married and had children of their own. For many weeks I cried at night for my Swedish “family.” Soon we had to start to school in America. In Sweden I was a good student but in America I had to sit in the front row of the schoolroom with the youngest children. My knees barely fit under the desk! The other boys laughed and called us “dumb Swedes.” I didn’t know what it meant yet, but I knew I didn’t like it. I worked hard on my English so I could move up in my classes. No pretty American girl was going to like a dumb Swede. Soon they stopped calling me dumb Swede and just called me Swede. I graduated from eighth grade and worked on the farm. In 1929 I married Vera Prust. She was 100% German-American. Her family did not want her to see me let alone marry me! My younger brother married Vera’s double first cousin (two German-American sisters had married two German-American brothers). People said they could never tell my boys and my brother’s boys apart they looked so much alike! In 1930 our oldest son was born. They called him Swede his entire life. We had three more boys in the next 20 years while working first for my father on his farm then buying and building up our own farm. I began contracting to Green Giant to grow sweet peas and sweet corn. I also did quite a bit of truck driving. My left arm was always more tan than my right because I drove with the truck window down and my arm on the window. We sold the farm and moved into town in 1967. I was mayor for several years in the 1970s. Who knew a dumb Swede would become mayor! My granddaughter did not know this story until her younger sister came to stay with us and became homesick. I called her parents and said we would bring her home. This really surprised my daughter-in-law because I was a strict father. Then my son told them the story of my homesickness when I was taken from Sweden to Minnesota.

Theodore Rogge

My Grandpa, Ted Rogge, had a lifelong career with Ford Motor Company. He first started working for Henry Ford in the late 1920's as a lumber grader. He worked hard and despite having only an eighth grade education, he was made Superintendent of Northern Operations in the early 1950's. In this capacity Ted oversaw the Iron Mountain, Alberta, L'Anse and Pequaming Ford Sawmills and timber lands. The wood produced in these mills was used in various models of Ford automobiles. In 1954 Ted was instrumental in the Ford Fund gifting the village of Alberta and its sawmill to Michigan Tech University. Because of this gift he was posthumously inducted into Michigan Tech's Forestry Hall of Fame a few years ago. Ted retired in 1962 and then was a consultant for the Ford Fund until his death in the early 1970's. Grandpa always joked about the fact that he'd lost count of the number of times he'd been fired or had quit working for Henry Ford over the years! Ford was a perfectionist and an eccentric and hard to work for at times.

Vera Eleanora Stever Quick

I am Vera Eleanora Steve Quick, the 7th of 8 children born in 1917 to Josefina and John Steve, emigrants from Finland to Dollar Bay, Michigan. My mother died in 1919 a few months after my sister Edith was born. My father was a poor laborer in the mining industry, but he was a loving father who played in a band and became the first lay pastor of Bethany Baptist Church. My oldest sister Viola at age 12 took over the care of the household and the other 7 children. We had little money, but I worked and studied hard. I was on the debate team in high school. I had a radio show for women in college. I went into Christian mission work and met my husband in Iowa. I worked in his ministry. We had 6 children all of whom went to college and have had good lives. I will be 94 this summer, and I still smile at everybody in the nursing home where I live in Arizona. They say I am a very sweet lady and the favorite patient of many of the staff. There was a lot of adversity in my life, but I have survived and thrived.

Vera Prust Lindell

I am Vera Prust Lindell. I was born to German-American parents on a farm near Ceylon, Minnesota in 1913. In 1929, I married Swen Lindell. This was considered a “mixed marriage” at that time as I married a Swedish Lutheran not a German Lutheran. On our wedding night, Swen’s friends, cousins, and brothers serenaded us with a chivaree , banging on pots and pans. We farmed near Ceylon until our retirement. Those first years in the Depression and War years were not easy. In the summer of 1936 we were in the middle of a long drought later called the Dust Bowl. I was “in a family way” with my second son, Jerry, that year. In June I planted potatoes in a dry lakebed on our farm because the garden had produced nothing the year before. It was hot, hard work, bending to plant the potatoes in my work dress and apron while being “in a family way.” Many days that summer were over 100 degrees. We had no air conditioning to keep us cool back then. Jerry was born at the end of July in the middle of that hot dry summer. I was happy to have a second healthy son but sad because of the baby daughter I lost in between the boys. I had two more boys with Swen who were also healthy but never had a daughter. This made my granddaughters even more special to me. I had a total of 8 grandchildren – four boys and four girls. My first granddaughter grew up on a farm a few miles away. She married a local boy, and they still live and farm in the area. My second granddaughter lived across the road from me for a couple of years when her father, Jerry, worked as a hired man for us. They moved to Iowa when Jerry became a meat inspector. My other two granddaughters also grew up in Iowa and still live there. We sold the farm and moved into Ceylon in 1967. Our home “in town” was the hub for family gatherings for the next three decades.

Walt Linna

dear reader, my name is walt linna. I was born in jasper location, near ishpeming, in 1908. my father died in the mine when I was a baby. my mother got $100 and my father’s boots after he died. we then moved on the farm a little north of bruce crossing. when I was 8-10 years old, I had to help blast stumps in order to clear land for our farm. we survived. later on, I met grandma, and, we were married in ‘29, at the start of the depression. one time, grandma said, “Pa!”. “We don’t have any bread!”. I said, “That’s o.k., Ma”. “We don’t have any money to buy it with anyway.” I worked our land, a little east of bruce’s, and, dug our basement, in clay, by hand. A nice high basement. My first son, Clarence, was born in ‘33, and, he worked at White Pine Copper Company for 44 years, in geology. My second son, Marvin, was born in ‘35, he went into the Navy, and worked at White Pine Copper Company for 41 years, only missing 1 day, due to a snowstorm. My only daughter, Marie, was born in ‘49, and, currently lives near Ewen, Michigan. During my career I learned carpentry and welding, and, learned on my own. I made sauna stoves for Nippa Sauna Stoves in Bruce Crossing, when Leo Nippa was the owner. I also worked on the Soo Locks, and, also at White Pine, for 18 years, retiring in ‘73 at the age of 65. I had 3 grades of school in my life. I loved animals. A lot. Before I died, I was able to see the space shuttle blast off at Cape Canaveral in Florida. I also said, that stay on the lookout for the tamarack trees needles, when they shed their needles, then the cold weather is close at hand. I could have been made superintendent of the mill at White Pine, but, didn’t want it. I designed a small part, that could have made me a millionaire, but, decided to give it to the company at White Pine, instead. That’s the kind of person I was. Kind hearted, and, loved kids. A lot. Always tried to keep the woodpile stocked, and ready for use. I died on Father’s Day, 1992, at the age of 84. My wife, Aili Tulppo died 2 years later at the age of 84. We enjoyed our friends from Dearborn, Michigan, the Lenik’s, who used to come up deer and bear hunting, and, they remain very close friends to this day, to my surviving family members. I wish you a good day. Sincerely, Walt Linna, formerly of Bruce Crossing, Michigan

William H. Cummings

I was born on September 5, 1890, in Iron River, Iron County, the second of two children born to George H. Cummings and Mary (Popaloose/Moore) Cummings. My parents divorced sometime before 1899, and my mother remarried, moving with her children to Menominee, Michigan. My stepfather harshly disciplined and beat me frequently, particularly if I was late in coming home. Sometimes I chose to sleep in the barn or under to porch to avoid my stepfather’s wrath. When in my late teens, I returned to Iron County, living with my mother’s sister and her husband in Crystal Falls, where I was kindly treated. I did not graduate from high school and could barely read. However, I was keenly interested in athletics, hunting and fishing. I played halfback on two semi-professional football teams, the Menominee-Marinette Lauerman Twins and the Stambaugh All-Stars, both teams including the Green Bay Packers in their schedule. I was also a skilled swimmer and diver, and pitched for baseball teams in both Crystal Falls and Stambaugh. In late 1910 or early 1911 I began courting Sophia Caroline Pfeiffer, and we were married in Crystal Falls on January 3, 1912. We had one son, Alvin William “Dutch” Cummings. Following my marriage, I first worked as a pump man at the Tobin Mine, then became a fireman for the Crystal Falls Fire Department, and then was a motorcycle policeman for Iron County. Noted for my driving ability, I was rehired by the City of Crystal Falls as a driver for the fire department, a salaried position. My driving skills were put to the test on April 12, 1923, when word was received that there was a terrible conflagration at the Carpenter Mine Location. Due to snow banks from late winter storms, the road to the Carpenter Mine was blocked, so I daringly decided to take the railroad tracks at the Odgers Mine Location to the Tobin Mine Location and then go by road to the Carpenter Mine. Fire Chief Clyde Henry, riding at my side, told me I was crazy to risk riding on the railroad tracks and got out of the fire truck. However, my arrival with the fire truck saved the Carpenter Mine Location from total destruction. My hunting and fishing prowess was renown, and I frequently guided hunters and fishermen from out of the area. The tedium of life in the fire hall resulted in my turning to alcohol, eventually costing me my job and my marriage. By 1930 I was a shadow of the man Sophia married. On January 6, 1930, I was returning to my job at a lumber camp near Balsam in Iron County after spending Sunday in Crystal Falls. One of my goals was to earn enough money to purchase a suit for my son, who was graduating from high school that spring. I was walking along the railroad track, hoping to get a ride part of the way on the train. As the St. Paul train approached, I stepped off to the side of the tracks, but I slipped, and Engineer Ike Sodegard saw me disappear under the cars, where I was killed instantly. Sophia made the Pfeiffer home available for my funeral, still remembering me as the man she loved and the father of her son. She buried me in the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery at Crystal Falls, and always made sure flowers decorated my grave during the summer months.

Viola Ann Johnston Schneck

My grandmother was born in Wisconsin, grew up and married my grandfather, who wasn't a miner, but was a logger. He owned his own logging business, Schneck and Sons, and moved around northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula to wherever the timber leases took hi,. So, my grandmother lived in several logging camps, far out of town, with a small community of relatives and employees, all tied together by the logging company. She raised three children, Floyd, Gordon and Audrey. My mom told me stories about life in the logging campus, the small houses they built when they formed a new base of operations, and what it was like to live at camp, away from their families for weeks and months at a time, armed with an arsenal of great recipes that served 30 or more people at a sitting. I also heard stories about a potato farm near the Antigo, Wisconsin logging camp and tales of my mother's adventures at Painsdale High School when the logging camp was in TriMountain, Michigan (near Houghton). I didn't hear these stories from my grandmother because she died way back in 1956 when I was a baby, but she sounds like an amazing woman.

Jennie Rapinoja

My name is Jennie Rapinoja, and I was born on September 9th, 1907 to Finnish immigrants, being fluent in both Finnish and English all my life. I grew up outside the small town of Embarrass, MN with my 5 sisters. Without any brothers, we all had to learn to work on the farm, even driving horses to plow the fields. During the winter, my father was a trapper and logger, to earn extra money. In high school, I began working as a maid for wealthy people. When I was in 10th grade, my father died, so without any money to go to school, we had to drop out. I then moved to Duluth to work as a maid and cook's helper. At 20, I began to nanny a young girl, and got to travel all the way to California with the family. I even got the chance to go to the 1933 Chicago World's Fair with some friends, one of which was the sister of my future husband. I went with her to visit her family in New York Mills, MN, where I met her brother, Aale Pesola. We were married inJune of 1935, and bought my family's homestead, and we worked with the WPA during the Great Depression. We then bought part of Aale's father's farm in New York Mills, where we lived for the rest of our lives. I learned to save everything I could while farming with my husband and raising our six children. While helping out in various ways on the farm, I also built furniture, sewed and advocated natural, healthy food, early only what we grew. I loved to grow flowers, listen to church services in Finnish on the radio and hunt for four-leaf clovers.

Garrett Rowe

I asked my grandfather Jay Rowe of Hancock if he knew any stories of a family member who had a very difficult time in his life. My grandfather said he had a story. His G-Grandfather John James came from Cornwall England in 1854 to work as a copper miner here in the Keweenaw of Michigan. John James came from a family of miners who worked the copper and tin mines near St. Ives Cornwall. John James family lived in a small hamlet called Cannonstown in the South and West of Cornwall. His family of miners had to walk 3 miles to work each day up and around Trencrorn Hill one of the highest places of Cornwall. John was just a young teenager, but his job was to set gunpowder into holes in the copper ore vein and set off an explosion. He was known as a “blaster”. The James family living in a small home at the time in Cannonstown, was getting to the point that some of the family had to leave. John decided to come to America. The mining jobs were becoming scarce in Cornwall, starting in the mid 1840s during the Potato Famine which affected Ireland and parts of England. Life in Cornwall was very difficult during John’s early years, he hoping things would be better in Michigan at the Cliff Mine. Cliff Mine was the most successful copper mine in the world at the time. John was just 15 years old when he and Robert Phillips of neighboring town of Towednack left for the United States from Plymouth, England on a canvas mast sailing ship. They of course slept in steerage as did most passengers. The trip to America would take 6 weeks of tossing and rolling on board the ship, a very difficult time. The food on board was not the best and was served in meager proportions. John reached the Port of New York, (no Ellis Island then), and traveled by train or boat to Albany and then via the Erie Canal to Lake Erie. The two miners travelled again by boat to Detroit and again by boat to the St. Mary’s River Rapids. The Sault at the time was the largest settlement on Lake Superior. John arrived at the Sault in June 1854 when construction of the first lock was in the progress. The new lock would allow ships to be elevated to the higher Lake Superior lake level. At that time all cargo of incoming Detroit ships would be unloaded and put on a small horse drawn rail train. The cargo and passengers (like John James and Robert Phillips) would be brought up to the higher Lake Superior Landing. There cargo and passengers were loaded on a sailing ship for delivery to settlements on Lake Superior. The following year 1855, the Sault Lock began operation. John James was an early pioneer of the Lake Superior region. John James boarded a paddle wheeler sailing ship at the Sault for Eagle River in Keweenaw. He then walked to the Cliff Mine along a trail to find a job at the Cliff Mine under the management of a fellow Cornishman, who succeeded Cornish Agent Edward Jennings. Later in November 1854 a crew of workers sought to explore and find a suspected copper lode at a location down the road near Eagle Harbor. The location was later to be called Central Mine. John James at age 15 was the “blaster” in this party, who set gun powder in a pit that had previously been mined by Native Americans several hundred years previously. This was the first discovery of the Central Mine lode in 1854. John James saved a piece of mass copper from this first blast, it still in the possession of his descendent Rowe family of Calumet. John James was one of the first employees of Central Mine in 1854 and was working the last shift at shut down in 1898. He set off the last blast. He had worked At Central Mine for 44 years. He and Capt. Trevarrow were then moved south to Mohawk where John James set the first blast of the Mohawk Mining Company. John James married Eliza Jane Jilbert in 1859; she with her parents and 7 siblings lived on Isle Royale from 1850 to 1853 as copper miners and also operated a boarding house. The Jilbert family left Isle Royale for Eagle River to work at the Cliff Mine. John and Eliza had a daughter Ida James who married Cornishman John Rowe in 1896. They started the Rowe Dray Co. with a wagon and a team of horses. The succession of Rowe moving companies ceased operation in 2010 after nearly 114 years in the Rowe family. I believe my ggggrandfather John James had a very interesting but difficult life. Does anyone in this class as a 13-15 year old, think they have the courage to attempt the same?

Julia Charlotte Huhta Johnson

Julia was born in 1882 in Calumet, one of 8 children born to Peter and Brita (Bajari) Huhta. Julia's parents immigrated to Calumet from Sweden and Finland in the late 1880s. Her father was a carpenter and worked for he Ulseth-Bajari Lumber Company. As a young girl, Julia needed to work in people's homes to earn extra money. Her family lived on a farm in Woodlands, outside of Calumet, so she had a long walk to town to go to work in the wealthy homes. Julia attended a few grades at the country school in Woodland but needed to work so did not complete her education. However, she loved learning and continued her informal education after she was married and her own children were in school. She would sit with them as they did their schoolwork at home, learning right along side them. Julia loved writing letters and would keep a special dictionary nearby at all times. Her children and grandchildren have cherished that dictionary over the years reminding them of their mother's and grandmother's love of writing. Julia was married, had a son and was then divorced. She married a second time to Jacob Mattson and had two more children. Being left a widow, Julia found the Depression years especially hard on her family, so she spent time working on a sewing project for the WPA at the YMCA building on 5th & Scott Streets in downtown Calumet. Julia's daughter, Myrtle Barrette, remembers working for the National Youth Administration (NYA) during those Depression years. Julia was also a midwife and delivered many babies while in Swedetown. Her family remembers mother and grandmother fonly as an outsanding cook and baker. She enjoyed life.

Margie Harkey Baucon

THE LEGACY OF LOVE Wow, what a life . . . a life of endurance, persistence, fortitude, unconditional love and yes, even teaching. I lived my life with thankfulness everyday and believe me, that was hard many days. I grew up in Paw Creek, North Carolina blessed with loving parents who never owned a home, but we spent our young lives “sharecropping” the farm with six siblings who adored one another. I knew and embraced hard work serving in a shell plant during the war, a cake cutter at Merita Bakery, hosiery work and nursing technician at the hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina until I could no longer work. As the years wore on I developed osteoporosis before they even had a name for the disease. After experiencing broken wrists and broken ribs in my early 40’s, then numerous hip surgeries, eventually both hips were replaced twice but even those were not successful with lack of good bone. I endured an auto accident with a head concussion and broken legs. My skeleton was caving in on itself resulting in breathing problems, surgery for blood clots to the heart and even doctor recommendation for dual leg amputations. Even after living through Hurricane Hugo I always knew that I came from strong stock and that you can survive anything that life throws at you. I knew physical and emotional pain well, but my Lord never abandoned me. He was with me through it all. My faith in my God was the true strength of my life and that same loving God stood with me to the very end when I could no longer stand on my own. God taught me how to love, how to be thankful, how to count my blessings even in the hard times. My family still endures with that same love that they carry in their hearts and even though my body is no longer with them, my spirit lives on and my legacy lives on today. What a true legacy it is in knowing who you are, what you believe in and where your true strength comes from. I can still hear the love and fortitude in the pitter patter of a two-year-olds little feet running around. They may look like little feet, but those feet are on solid ground because the Legacy Lives On. Judy Baucom Tyndell, daughter, Lake Worth, FL and Brooke Tyndell Ahrens, granddaughter, Delray Beach, FL

Mary (Smetherhan) Vivian

My name is Mary (Smetherhan) Vivian and I was born in 1872. I married Samuel Fremont “Monte” Vivian in 1890 and we made our home in Lake Linden. Monte worked for C & H. We had 17 children together, but only 12 lived to adulthood. In 1914, shortly after the last child, Eleanor, was born, I lost Monte. He had a tooth extracted and died because of a related infection. I was left to raise the children on my own. My oldest son, Alton, worked to for the C & H railroad to help the family. To help us heat the house he would throw coal pieces off of the train for us to collect. I made money by cleaning and baking for others. I died in 1943. Sierra Bishop & Laurie McLeod, Descendants of Mary Vivian, Lake Linden MI

Ida Nisonen Karttunen

Loneliness sits on one's heart like a cold chunk of butter, but it also melts with the warmth of love. I was born in Finland and lived on a small farm. Mother died when I was five, leaving Father to care for five children. Soon we lost that farm. The older girls got work in different households, but Brother and I were so young that nobody wanted us. I went to stay with Father's cousin. When his wife saw me each night crying by the window, she would give me bread with a pat of butter and say, "Go by the brick oven and spread the butter on the bread, and you won't be so lonesome." Often the pat fell in the oven, as it was hard to see with teary eyes. Russian Emperor Alexander III had a vacation palace nearby. I got work babysitting for the guard's children for room and board, but no pay. Of course, I was a child, too. I remember when the Czar visited our city. He rode a carriage pulled by black horses. Nineteen-year-old Nikolai II, the next emperor in line, rode in a second carriage. I climbed a gate to get a good view; otherwise, I wouldn't have seen much in that crowd, being so small yet. Over the years, work became my constant companion. I cared for children, cleaned school rooms and got a job at a spool factory. I met Antti at the factory when I was 19, and soon we married. After a few years, he built a farmhouse in Green, near Ontonagon. My cheeks always rosy from cooking at the wood stove, I raised seven children with Antti in that home. I savored the love of our expanding family, and those drops of loneliness sizzled away. -Heather Karttunen Hollands, Ida's Great-Granddaughter

Hilma Christina Mikkelsen Tuomin

HIlma Christina Mikkelsen Tuomin, my maternal grandmother, was born in Vadso, in far northern Norway, in 1876. After some years of serving as a maid and doing some cooking, she sailed to America in 1902, arriving in Hancock, Michigan, where she continued the same work. Within a few years, she was in Port Edwards, Wisconsin, working for the Lewis Alexander family that owned the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Company. The opportunity to do more cooking came when the head cook took ill. "Let me try!" she pleaded. "Ah, but what do you know of fine cooking?" asked the lady of the house. Well, Hilma had studied French cooking with one of the Norwegian families who traveled abroad. Her trial meal was a success, and she was promoted to Head Cook at the Alexander family home. In 1912 she married Kustaa Wilhelm Tuomin, a Finnish immigrant from Mantyharju, in Milawaukee, Wisconsin. Two daughters were born to them, Ema Pauline (my mother) in 1913, and Dagmar Wilhelmina in 1916. Hilma and Kustaa farmed on several locations in the Milawaukee area, finally setting in West Allis in a house they built at 2229 South 91st Street.

Dono Treadeau

Dono was born in Chassell in 1898. He became a cook's apprentice in his teens, cooking and baking for lumber camps in Canada, Baraga and Houghton counties. Two of his daughters, Myrtice and Marie assisted him in later years. The family still prepares several of his recipes to this day. Dono was also a chef on the dredges on the Great Lakes and later was the cook for the National Parks Service on Isle Royale. He owned his own restaurant in Hancock for a while, then moved his large family to Baraga County in 1940. He owned and operated several restaurants in Baraga County including one where Carla's in Keweenaw Bay stands today. Dono also ran the 'rootbeer stand' at the head of the bay, between L'Anse and Baraga, where he was famous for his pizza burgers! He was a hard worker and a good family man who accomplished a lot with only a third grade education. He is fondly remembered by his children and grandchildren who are now in the 50s, 60s, 80s and 90s! -Kay E. McIntyre, wife of Riley Mcintyre who is Dono's grandson.

Hilda Heikkinen Karinen

My name is Hilda Heikkinen Karinen. I was born in Finland December 18, 1882. I came to America in 1884 before I was 2 years old. On September 13, 1890 we left Point Mills in a boat with 5 other families, 19 people total, and head to Otter Lake where we homesteaded. I married William Heikkinen, who was born in Finland on September 2, 1918, on May 30, 1900. We had 6 children, 5 girls & 1 boy and I was pregnant for the 7th child when my husband was killed, possibly murdered, as he was carrying the payroll for the employees that had arrived on the train. I eventually moved the family to Hurontown & worked cleaning houses in the wealthy eastside of Houghton to support us. All four of my daughters obtained college degrees, 3 as teachers & 1 as a nurse. Judy Kinnunen, granddaughter, Pensacola, FL

Clara Mae (Thomas) Auston

I am Clara Mae (Thomas) Auston. I was born August 7, 1905 in Lumpkin County, Georgia. Georgia, as the rest of the South, had lots of laws and customs obliging racial separation and inequality from cradle to grave. With encouragement from W.E.B. Dubois, Joseph Winthrop Holley founded what became Georgia Normal and Agricultural College in 1903 in Albany Georgia. The institution provided elementary education and teacher training for “colored” people. I received my teacher training certificate from the college July 10th, 1924. President Holley signed my certificate. I worked with “troubled” children in a segregated rural Georgia school. My husband, Effie Auston, was four years younger than me and worked as a farm laborer. I was 23 years old when our first child, Effie Will, was born. In 1929 the nation’s great economic depression was just beginning. That year my family, like millions of other “colored” people, left the South seeking jobs and a better life in the North. We left Georgia traveling north to Chicago with our infant daughter. We lived with my husband’s relatives when we first arrived. I gave birth to two more children, a girl--Authurnetta, and a boy--Gene, within five years of arriving in Chicago. We eventually moved to a first-floor apartment on Wolcott Street, not far from the newly opened Chicago stadium (replaced by the United Center today). My husband worked factory jobs. I raised three children and also worked in factories. I worked the longest at the well-known Case-Moody’s pie factory until it shut down in the 1950s. I’m standing next to one of my grandchildren in the picture. The pie factory is one block down the street behind us on my left. I departed this world in 1963, leaving grandchildren, who called me “Big Mama.” I now have several great- and great-great grandchildren in the Chicago area. One great-great grandchild now lives in Australia, and I have two great-great grandchildren who were born and raised right there in the Copper Country. That makes them “Yoopers,” I guess.

Charles VavnWormer

My name is Charles VanWormer and I was born in Harvey, Michigan on September 25, 1916. I was the third child born out of twelve and as a child, I worked very hard on the family farm in Sands. When I was twelve years old, my job was to drive a horse and wagon, loaded with potatoes from Sands to South Marquette, so I could earn money. When I was 16 years old, I joined the Civilian Conservation Corps so I could send money back home to help my parents support my brothers and sisters. I was at the Newberry Camp and worked hard as a logger. I married Ruth O'Donnell in February of 1941 and we had three children. When World War II broke out, I joined the Army and served in the 132nd Signal Corp in Austria. When I returned, I worked for LS&I on the ore docks until I retired. My descendants would say that I set a good example by my strong work ethic and willingness to help others.

Annie (Mason) Neely

I am Annie (Mason) Neely. My father, Thomas Mayson, was born in Madison County Mississippi in 1854. He was eight years old when the American Civil War began in earnest. My mother, Cornelia Stokes, was born in Mississippi, June, 1864. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was adopted, abolishing slavery, releasing my father and other “colored” people from generations of slavery in the United States of America. My father married my mother, Saturday, June 13th 1885. I was born January 18th, 1886 in Madison County. While my father could read and write, my mother could not. I learned to read and write and do farm labor. After 1910 our family dropped the “y” in Mayson, accepting “Mason” as the proper spelling of our name. For work, I hired out as a farm laborer. I was married twice. My only child was born November 16th, 1907. During the 1930s, in the middle of the nation’s great economic Depression, my son (Willie) and his family followed other relatives leaving the racial and economic repression of the South. They traveled north to Chicago seeking jobs and a better life. They got settled there. I was about 54 years old when I joined them in Chicago. My sister, Mattie Mason Bradshaw, came to Chicago in the 1920s. She managed a barbeque restaurant—The Alabama Barbeque Pit. I and other relatives worked there when we first arrived in Chicago. We lived and worked in an area called the near Westside, not far from the newly opened Chicago Stadium (replaced by the United Center today). I departed this world in 1969, leaving great- grandchildren who called me “Grand Stanley.” Decades later several great-great grandchildren are living in the Chicago area. One great-great grandchild now lives in Australia, and I have two great great grandchildren who were born and raised right there in the Copper Country. I guess you call them “Yoopers.” I must say, it’s all quite distant from the Madison County Mississippi of my youth. Willie Melton III Great Grandson Houghton, Michigan

Mary Wright

Mary Wright

MaryWright

Community artist Mary Wright is an Upper Peninsula native, born in Hancock and raised in the small town of L’Anse. She earned a B.A. in History and English, and did her graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, after which she moved back to the U.P. to live a homesteading life in the woods for fourteen years. Toward the end of this period, she came to realize that creating art was more important than retreating into nature because an artist has the power to move people.

Mary moved into Marquette, and introduced herself to the art community by bringing fresh flowers to the local art shows as a way of honoring artists. This led to Marquette General Hospital inviting her to do floral arrangements in their lobby, which gradually grew into large installations. In turn, this work led to her to serve on the decorating committee of the 1996 FinnFest in Marquette.

Pursuing an idea that came in a dream, Mary traveled throughout the Upper Peninsula conducting painting “bees” to create blue and white chairs reflecting the Finnish national colors. About 1500 chairs were decorated with original patterns of blue and white, transported to Marquette, and placed around the city. These chairs have since become an enduring icon for Marquette and FinnFests everywhere. After the chairs project, Mary traveled throughout the state, involving thousands of people in various creative works of public art.

She is the only artist from the Upper Peninsula to have received the Michigan Governor’s Arts Award (1999) for her exceptional ability to execute large-scale community arts projects.

FFN Lectures

10685373_953703814655530_6507828199758352517_n2014 Finlandia Foundation Lecturers of the Year

During 2014, Suzanne Jurva and Erin Smith presented Yoopera! to twelve different Finlandia Foundation-affiliated organizations across the country (two coming up in November and December). They include:

• Suomi Talo, Lantana, Florida (February 2014)
• Bay Area Finns, San Francisco, California (March 2014)
• Center for Lifelong Learning, Marquette, Michigan (April 2014)
• Frederick FinnFest, Frederick, South Dakota (June 2014)
• Red River Finns, Moorhead, Minnesota (June 2014)
• Kesäjuhla, Fitchburg, Massachusetts (June 2014)
• Finnish Center Association, Farmington Hills, Michigan (September 2014)
• West Central Michigan Finns Coopersville, Michigan (September 2014)
• Finger Lakes Finns, Montour Falls, New York (October 2014)
• Atlanta, Georgia (October 2014)
• Finlandia Foundation Seattle Chapter, Seattle, Washington (November 2014)
• Finns and Friends, Phoenix, Arizona (December 2014)

10660082_953703804655531_5094190223607551431_nAt every venue we found people eager to learn about the production of the Rockland Opera and the Finnish-American history that inspired it. We’ve heard many stories from people about their own family history and immigrant stories. Across the country, we discovered people who had some connection to the Finnish Community in the Upper Peninsula. In June, we launched the Yoopera! website and have been encouraging Finnish-Americans to contribute their stories to the new online “Story Line Project,” a continuation of Mary (Biekola) Wright’s community art project documented in the film.

Suzanne Jurva has made many great connections with the Finnish community and also had the opportunity to show the film to her parents’ Finnish-American organization near where she grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She met with Finns and Finnish-Americans in Florida, San Francisco, Atlanta, Massachusetts, and, next month, she’ll visit Arizona. Erin Smith was welcomed as an honorary Finn by the kind people of North and South Dakota, Upstate New York, Marquette and Coopersville, Michigan. This month, she’ll be bringing the film to Seattle, Washington.

We’ve heard many community stories as well as family stories. In Frederick, South Dakota, we learned about efforts to save an old opera house in a nearby town and festival organizers had kids work on their own storyline panels. The Finger Lakes Finns are working to put their own unique stamp on a community art project celebrating local heritage next spring. In Atlanta, there is an initiative underway to produce the Rockland Opera. Suzanne has also been working with genealogical societies, encouraging them to organize activities involving the online Story Line Project.

It has been a wonderful and educational experience to share the film and its story of the incredible efforts of Finnish Americans like John Kiltinen, Andy Hill, and Mary Wright, as well as to share the work of Finnish composer Jukka Linkola and Finnish librettist Jussi Tapola. Most of all, we have enjoyed the chance to inspire others to tell their own stories and to create their own unique community celebrations.

Press

Press Articles about Yoopera!

Yoopera! on Lake Effect – Radio interview with Suzanne Jurva (September 2015)

Yoopera! wins Bronze Telly Award (Download PDF)

Yoopera! Press Release (Download PDF)

Yoopera! Screening at Suomi Talo (Download PDF)

Yoopera! Documentary Film Team is Finlandia Foundation Lecturer of the Year (October 2013)

A New Wave of Genealogists (July 2010)

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Photos

Suzanne Jurva
Erin Smith
Erin Smith
Opera Photo
Opera Photo
Opera Photo
Opera Photo
Opera Photo

Contact

Email us at info@yooperadoc.com for more information.

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Participate

During Mary Wright’s Story Line Project, thousands of people in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan contributed their ancestor stories. We are now collecting them online and invite you to contribute your own family stories. Mary’s hope for the project is that you will write these stories from the first-person point of view. We welcome pictures and if you have video link that you’d like to share, please provide a link to Youtube or Vimeo. We monitor these submissions so your post will not be immediately viewable. It should be visible within 48 hours. Your story submission represents your agreement to our terms of use.

IDA LogoTo make a tax-deductible donation to Yoopera! please visit our fiscal sponsorship page with IDA at documentary.org/fsp/3736

Share Your Story

We're so glad to add your ancestor's story to the Story Line Project. Before you begin, locate an image file of your ancestor and have it ready to upload (if you don't have an image, that's okay, too). It's probably a good idea to have a copy of your ancestor story written out before you begin just in case you're interrupted. The form is broken up into parts and you'll be saving each one as you go. Click "Next" to proceed to the next section. You won't be able to go back and change information, but if you have a problem along the way, please email us at info@yooperadoc.com Thank you!

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