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and thereby gaining a post office, Heikki Hendrickson (Kantomaa) in 1901 gave it its new name, honoring the Finnish writer beloved of Finnish children. Quite a few Finns moved there early in the century, as well as a few Swedes.

The Apostolic Lutheran congregation of Topelius was founded by A. Kinnunen, Henry Koivuranta, Anders P. Koljonen, Charles Laakso, Erik Laurila, Erik Lumberg, Jacob Lund, Charles Mattson (Sulasalmi), Erik Miekkala, John Edward Niemelä and Herman Päätalo. Prayer meetings were first held at members' homes, until a former school in the town was converted into a church. Another church, the National Congregation group, was started in 1911, under the auspices of Victor Mäki, Gust Porkkonen, Charles Wick and Jacob Wormanen. At first this was an independent church, with John Huuskonen as its first pastor, but in 1917 it joined the National Synod. One of its later pastors was S. A. Krankkala. In 1934, the membership of the church was 37, rising ten years later to 68. The church has its own cemetery.

A Finnish dairy in the community has been incorporated into the New York Mills Cooperative Creamery, and the buildings in Topelius have been sold. A dry goods store was kept in Topelius by Heikki Muckala, of New York Mills.

The total population of Newton Township was 353 in 1890, and 726 in 1900, and 972 in 1910. The proportion of Finns in these figures will be considered later, when the New York Mills region as a whole is discussed.


Deer Creek Township was organized on 1 July 1873. There were no Finnish signatures on the petition requesting incorporation, and it was several years before the first Finns arrived, to begin to make the village of Heinola an almost purely Finnish farming community. Among the first, moving in from Michigan in 1877-79, were Isak Halkrona, John H. Partanen and John Wähätalo (Grumberg), as well as Ivar Telin, who came from Holmes City. Several of the Finns already had families, and the Telins, for example, had a son, John Henry, born 4 July 1879, the first Finnish child born not only in Deer Creek Township but in all Otter Tail County. The first girl was born a few weeks later, 17 August, to the Partanens.


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