Born: March 26, 1902
Location: Hancock, Michigan
My name is Hilda Marie Niva. I was born in Finland on March 26, 1902. My father came to America in 1904, leaving my mother and 3 children until he could earn enough money for our passage. In 1913 my father called for me, my brother, and my mother. We took the train to the port and I didn’t pass the physical to board the boat. I had to return to my uncle’s farm by train alone. The following year, my sister and I came to America. When I got to America, I found out I had a baby sister. I lived on a farm in Greenland until I was seventeen when my father gave me ten dollars and said “You’re on your own” and he left. I took a train to Ironwood, and on the train I met two ladies who told me where I could stay. It was a boarding house and at the first meal my father was sitting at the table! I soon fell in love with Leo Saarela and we got married in 1918. We went to live in Hancock so he could work in the mines. Leo got hurt working in the mines so we moved to Detroit so he could work for Henry Ford for five dollars per day. Two of my sisters had no place to live so I took one to live with me and my older sister took one. I raised eight children and gave birth to one during the Depression. She died in 1991. I was always a good example to all of my children and I never gave up.
Contributed by: Brooke Kariniemi, Calumet Elementary School