Born: November 3, 1850
Location: Hohawk, Michigan
I was born Matti Talso in Laihia, Finland, on November 3, 1850. In 1870 I married Anna Liisa Viikus, moved in with her family, and took the name Viikus, as was the custom. Later the family moved into a house named Heikkila, so that became our name. My father-in-law was a veterinarian and traveled quite a bit to see his “patients” so he was glad there was a man in the house when he was gone. Four children were born to us in Finland; Jacob died at age 2. Around 1880 I got what they called “America fever” and announced that we were leaving. My in-laws were upset that I was taking their only daughter and grandchildren; they would probably never see them again. Our oldest daughter Serafia, 12 at the time, clung to her grandparents and vowed, “I will NOT go to America.” They suggested we leave her, and they would send her later. We left with Lizzie and Hilma in 1882; we settled in Mohawk, Michigan where I got a job in the mine. We lived in several places in the Copper Country, and once moved to Minnesota for a short time. We still moved a couple of times in Michigan until we finally bought a farm in Nisula around 1905. By this time we had had nine more children. However, only 5 of them survived to adulthood. Three of our children were named “Henry”. After Henry Tobiani died, we named the next son Henry Fabian. He also died, but the third Henry, who was Henry Jalmer, lived to adulthood. He was the only one of our children who never married. Serafia never joined us; she raised a family in Finland. In April 1930 Anna Liisa went to light the kitchen stove one morning, still wearing her nightgown, which had a fuzzy nap to it. Somehow the fire flared up, her nightgown caught fire, and she was badly burned. She survived for only a short time. When she died, I felt that I could not live without her, and asked that her funeral be delayed until I also died of a broken heart. But I did survive; however, shortly thereafter I had a stroke and was paralyzed. My daughter Manda took care of me until I breathed my last on February 6, 1938. I finally went to join my beloved Anna Liisa.
Contributed by: Lillian Heikkila, Birmingham, MI