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ing to its postmaster, Gust Saari, was sent there from everywhere in the United States, even from Asia and Africa, which was really destined for the country of Finland.

The first organization effort in Suomi was the establishment of a congregation in 1918. At that time Pastor Heikki Sarvela came a few times to hold services, but after him, there followed two years when the church had no pastor. Then, when Pastor Antti Lepistö had been invited privately to Suomi to officiate at a wedding, he discovered the situation and agreed to take charge of this isolated congregation. A church was erected in 1941, but a cemetery had been on hand from the very beginning. The first persons to be buried there were Jaffet Heikkinen and his two children, aged 5 and 12, all victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic.

Other organizations also made their appearance: a workers' society, which built its own hall, had active gymnastics and dramatics groups; a `toilers club'; a temperance society, the Iltatähti (Evening Star) begun after the repeal of Prohibition and a member of the Minnesota Temperance League; committees set up to collect funds for the Delaware Tercentenary and then for Finnish war relief, with Alva Baker and Andrew Niemelä serving as chairmen for the latter; finally, a chapter of the MFAHS. The Farmers Cooperative Exchange was started in 1934; it joined the Cooperative Central two years later.


Considerable numbers of Finns have lived in Balsam Township, refugees, as it were, from the Iron Range following the mining strikes. The first pioneer settler here was Isaac Mäkinen, who came with his wife Katri in 1905. Other Finns and Swedes followed soon after. The Finns included the Tuominen, Lindholm and Kinnunen families.

There was a workers' society here, with its own, spacious hall, very active in the earlier decades with dramatics, with singing and dancing. A lending library was also on hand.

In 1957, there were two Finnish stores in Balsam: the Balsam Store, owned by Toivo Aho, and the Scenic Store, owned by Emil Mäkinen. Otto Kinnunen was township secretary.

A state highway now runs through Balsam to Scenic Park. The shores of the idyllic lakes in the area are dotted with summer cottages. A few score Finns still live in Balsam; they are the members of the older generation, whose offspring have by and large left for bigger communities and more varied possibilities.


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