Previous Page Search Again Next Page

ing country lying west of Manhattan awaited these immigrants to people it.

That was the moment when these newcomers should have been interviewed and photographed and written about. Some tenant farmer's son from deep in the heart of Finland might have been able to remember the reasons and impressions that caused him to come to America: the evenings around the hearth when his father and his grandfather recalled the heart-sickening famine years, or even some experiences from his own childhood, like the gruelling and long days of work in field and forest even as a boy, or perhaps something about his mother, always so exhausted, and how all these things together one day resulted in the decision to leave for America - and many there were who would have told essentially this same story. Then, farmers' sons and daughters, too, could have told how the number of mouths to feed at home grew out of proportion to what the farm produced. Then, there would have been young men and women, lured into making this trip by relatives and friends already in America. There would have been some, bemoaning their own hard fate and trying to forget it; others, looking forward to the new, to the new life beyond the ocean. Each and every one of them could have told something painful, something very personal, at the moment when they stood on the threshold of the New World and thought to themselves, "America, here we are!" And America opened its gates to these throngs and scattered them about over all her vast reaches. 82

"The Finns have been just as curious as Columbus, forever hoping to find somewhere the very best place to live," was a comment in the Sven Tuuva as early as 1878,83 and 15 years later a visitor from Finland found his countrymen in the east and west, the north and south, 84 and in no state of the Union could the census takers report there were no Finns. 85 However, widely scattered as they were, they also had a tendency to group together in certain areas, and at the turn of the century 37 percent of the Finnish immigrants were clustered about in Minnesota and Michigan; add eight more states to the two - Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, California, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Wisconsin - and 85 percent of the Finns were accounted for.

The earliest Finnish arrivals settled down in cities along the East coast. There were tailors among them, who found work in

82. Eero A. Pulli, Minnesota suomalaisten Juhla-albumi. Duluth, Minn., 1948. pp 14-15. 83. Sven Tuuva, September 27, 1878.

84. Kansanvalistusseuran Kalenteri. New York Mills, Minn., 1893. 85. Uusi Kotimaa, October 8, 1896.


Previous Page Search Again Next Page