Kalle and Aliina MakelaX

Born: N/A

Location: Suomussalmi

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

Contributed by: Tom Hiltunen, Dollar Bay, Michigan