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World War II brought most of Palo's Finnish organizations to a standstill, for almost a hundred of its young men were in military service. They served in all branches, on all fronts, and it could happen that Howard Gunnari flew in the first bomber mission over Berlin while his brother Clarence Gunnari was one of the first to land in Japan. Even before the war, some of Palo's sons were involved in national defense, and one reserve officer, Captain Matti Nieminen, son of Erkki Nieminen, earned a reputation for himself as an aviator.


In the minds of the Finns, Markham is an integral part of Palo, but township borders do separate it into an entity of its own. When the first settlers arrived, they came to a wilderness just like Palo had been, faced the kind of life the pioneers in Palo faced: the isolation, the elements, the backbreaking task of clearing homes in a wilderness.

The first pioneer to come here was Pete Erikson, but it was not until much later that he settled down here, built a small log cabin for himself, but still did not take to clearing the forest and farming the land. On the other hand, Erkki Nieminen, who came in 1902, did clear his land, more and more of it each year, but he had a family to take care of, a wife and 6 children, the youngest aged 2, the oldest 16. For this family, all supplies from the outside had to be brought in from Biwabik, 16 miles away. In summer there was no road at all to make it easy to get there, but in winter, with snow packed down, a sleigh could cover the distance. The first spring Nieminen was able to clear about 4 miles of poor road for himself, and he bought a horse, and he said later that he had never been happier than that day when he had been able to use his horse and wagon to fetch the supplies.

The passing years saw more and more men like Nieminen move into the Markham wilderness, each of them adding to the roads in various directions, but it was not until after World War I that a highway was built. Schools came earlier, long before there were many roads. The first one, opened in the spring of 1907, was built on Kaskela land, and Naimi Puhakka was the teacher there. The next, built on Pekkarinen land, opened the same year. Both were one-room log cabins, and to each of them paths led from all directions through the woods, with these trails marked so the children would not lose their way. When


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