Previous Page Search Again Next Page

Only a very few Finns actually left their homeland determined to spend the rest of their lives in the United States. Of course, many failed to return to the country of their birth, but many others did succeed in doing so. Immigration statistics of 1918, based on reports of passengers carried from the United States by the various steamship lines, show that between the years 1889 and 1914 there were 90,672 persons sailing back home to Finland from America. Although this amounts to 29 percent of those who had come to this country, it is fairly safe to say that about one fourth of these returnees returned once more to America, leaving a total "loss", then, of about 68,000. In 1922, Akseli Rauanheimo, then attache with the Finnish Legation in Washington, wrote that 2,913 Finnish immigrants had come to the United States that year and that 2,753 Finns had returned to their homeland, leaving a "gain" for the United States of only 160 persons. 51 As proof that many did return to Finland, one might cite the records of the small commune of Soini (population in 1900: 3,270; in 1950: 4,708.) Emigration from Soini began about the year 1880 and was at its peak at the turn of the century. From one of its villages 20 persons left for America, but 6 were later listed as returned on the Soini registers; another village listed 23 departures and 4 returns; a third village, 86 departures and 12 returns; a fourth, 18 departures and 1 return. 52

In addition to the factor of immigrants returning to the country of their birth, death has also cut into the total number of Finnish-Americans, an increasingly noticeable factor as the immigrants have begun to grow old and as the influx of new immigrants has come practically to a halt. As early as 1924, Wargelin estimated the death rate to be eight per thousand, 53 and a good example of how that rate has risen is given by the small area of Thomson, where 92 Finns died during 1945-47, and whose age at death is shown below

Age under 60    4   Age 75 to 79    21

Age 60 to 64    10   Age 80 to 84    15

Age 65 to 69    13   Age over 85    12 (54) Age 70 to 74    17

Viewing this decline, it has been suggested that FinnishAmericans surely ought to be as capable of preserving their identify as did once the `forest Finns' who lived on for a long

51. J. Wargelin, op. cit. pp 58-59.

52. Church records of Soini Parish, Finland, with assistance of Rev. Väinö V. Kurkinen. 53. J. Wargelin, op. cit. p. 60.

54. On basis of obituaries by John A. Mattinen in Päivälehti. February 24, 1949.


Previous Page Search Again Next Page