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New York Mills from Minneapolis and were sold to the sawmill workers at high prices. 5

The forestry operations continued for about 15 years, but by this time the village had been mapped out and formal incorporation had been sought (in 1884), but in the list of 33 men signing the petition there was only one Finnish name included, that of 0. Pary. He was, however, not the first nor the only Finn to appear early in the history of New York Mills. Names of Finns which appeared in connection with the early history of Brainerd began to re-appear here in connection with New York Mills. While he had still been in Crow Wing County, Thomas Autio (Tuomas Maalinautio) had heard from some Swedes with whom he had been working that homesteads were to be had - in the deep forests some 50 miles west of Brainerd - if one dared to risk living as neighbors with the Indians.

With slack times making for meager earnings, Autio decided to investigate these deep forests. He set out on foot, walking along the Northern Pacific tracks, to the New York Mills area. Reaching a natural clearing, he quickly made up his mind, made note of the landmarks, and returned to Brainerd, where he put down his name for that site on the land office map. He persuaded his brother-in-law, Andrew (Anders) Puuperä to reserve some land, also, and in the spring these two Finnish pioneers, and their families, began the Finnish settlement in the New York Mills area.

Each of the two had 80 acres of land. In their first, small houses everything was homemade. In Puuperä's two-room cabin, for example, everything was made on the scene : the tables and chairs, the buckets and pails, spoons and ladles, the churn; the wagons and sleigh, the rakes and shovels; textiles and rugs were woven on the homemade loom, although the spinning wheel and the carding combs had been brought along from Finland. Evenings, the men used to make fishing nets, or tanned leather, or made gloves and harness. 6

Autio and Puuperä began to write to their relatives and friends, urging them to become their neighbors in New York Mills. In 1876, two families from Brainerd did join them, Alex Nykänen and Matti Ronkainen and their families. Then a couple of years later, came Alexander Pikkarainen with his family. With five

5. Smith, H. R. A Sociological Survey of the Finnish Settlement of New York Mills, Minn. and its Adjacent Territory. Unpublished Master's thesis. University of Southern California, 1933. Cf also, New York Mills Herald, 22 July 1915.

6. Siirtokansan Kalenteri. 1932. p. 63.


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