Wistful Wednesday : Isak and Margaretta

This week I will introduce you to my *fathers paternal relatives.

We have to go back to Isak, in Finland.  Isak was born out of wedlock to Liisa Greta Lahti Yliniemi on September 19, 1857.   His  mother was a widow who farmed, and his father was a farmhand named Juho Mattias Ala.

In June of 1880 he began the first leg of his trip to America.  Young men were being drafted, Finland was under Russian rule at this time.  Isak crossed the river to Sweden and shortly after that made a raft out of logs and along with several friends they floated down the Muonio and Torino rivers to get on a sailing ship to America.  He was not only illegitimate but a draft dodger.

Isak Yliniemi

He arrived in New York City..traveled on and settled in French Lake Minnesota.  He became sick with typhoid fever.  After he recovered he helped to build the Apostolic Lutheran Church in French Lake.  He met Margaretta while working on the church and they were married November 29, 1885.

Margaretta was born April 3, 1857 in Finland to Briita Lissa and Alexander Impola.  Both Isak and Margaretta would have been twenty eight years old when they were married.

They would become parents to thirteen children. While in French Lake Margaretta would give birth to six children, Greta who died as an infant, Maria, Joseph, Samuel, Isacki and Mikael.

Times were tough, so Isak decided to move his family north.  He traveled with two horses, a colt, cook stove, barrel of salt pork, and three small children Marie ( Mary) age nine,  Joe age 7 and Sam (My Grandfather) age 5.  They travelled 170 miles north on wilderness roads, he homesteaded a parcel of land in Toad Lake Township Becker County Minnesota.  He built a 10’ x 10’ home for Margaretta.  She followed by train in October of 1896 with Isacki age 4 and Mikeal age 2.  Isak was late picking her up in New York Mills..and while she was waiting she gave birth to John.

Margaretta Yliniemi

Imagine her thoughts of six children in a 10’ x 10’ house?  She had to put the children outside while she made their beds.  Levi, Ethel, Esther, Ida, Charles and William would join the family. Isak would build her a larger house:)

* Thanks to my sister Julie and my cousin Will for their tireless research.

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3 Responses to Wistful Wednesday : Isak and Margaretta

  1. Jane Glander says:

    It is fun to read the tales of your Finnish relatives. My parents were both Finnish and each was one of 12 children. Some of the things about your family are very similar to mine . . . . my mother’s family first settled in Michigan and then came to North Dakota (their last name was Juntunen) and my father’s family first settled in South Dakota (last name was Efraimson, but earlier had been Pahlavalehto – not sure of the spelling), and he moved to northern MN. My paternal grandmother arrived at Ellis Island and traveled to MN after visiting her brother in Wyoming and deciding she needed somewhere “more like Finland.” They then moved to Towner County, ND.

  2. Kay Syvrud says:

    I so enjoy family history…yours included. Our grandparents and “greats” were incrdibly tough and resilient…had been born to very difficult live in their old countries and it did not get easier in the U.S. Our neighbor had told us of his great grandparents coming to this area in the Fall, having to dig out a literal hole in the ground and putting their wagon over it as a roof and living there for the first months after they came as settlers. I cannot even imagine doing it….the later generations like me have been watered down and weakened by much better living circumstances.
    I am consantly amazed by the true histories of people like your grandparents you wrote about today.

  3. Katrina says:

    Funny to read this – my Grandma Hilda was from the Sweden side of the Tornio River at Haparanda. She told me she used to smuggle cigarettes across the border bridge. The area looks a lot like Duluth-Superior with the St. Louis River between them. Finding photos online wasn’t difficult. The Tornio empties into the northern point of the Gulf of Bothnia.

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