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Butler Township

Butler lies north of Homestead. The number of Finns there never began to approach the numbers in the more immediate vicinity of New York Mills. Neverthless, there was for example an active temperance society, Yritys by name: on the occasion of its founding in 1904, newspaperman J. W. Lähde gave an inspiring speech, and the first officers of the society were elected Henry and Kristiina Immonen, Henry and John Jaakkola, and Jacob Kojonen. At first meetings were held in members' homes, but in 1905 the society built its own hall.


Blowers Township lies at the edge of the county, east of Homestead. It was established in 1882 and named after businessman A. S. Blowers, presumably because John Tolppi, who arrived there that same year, turned down a proposal that it be named Tolppi. During 1883-84 several more Finns settled here, and since Tolppi's house was on the road leading from New York Mills to Sebeka and Menahga, it was a frequent stopping place for travellers. It is said that even oxen turned into Tolppi's yard from sheer habit, so that a driver could doze off on his wagon and know that he would wake up at Tolppi's. Most of the original settlers of Menahga and Sebeka moved in by this road in their push to extend the boundary of Finnish areas of settlement northward.

Blowers began to be called Heinäjoki (Hay River) by the Finns because good hay fields along the river banks lured cattle farmers. The hay is said to have grown to man's height, and these hay fields became to famous that farmers from as far away as Lehtijärvi used to come here for a week or two to make hay, which they would then haul away to their barns.

One of the pioneers of this farthest outpost was Sakri Nikkari, who bought a piece of land from Matti Renlund, some three miles south of Heinäjoki. His land was swamp and bog, and nothing even resembling a road led into his property. His first task was to make a narrow path, as wide as a pair of parallel, squared logs would allow. For that first growing season, about three acres of land were cleared, and seed was bought on credit from John Suomela and carried on Nikkari's back over the swamp. The ground still had to be plowed, of course, and to do this Nikkari set off to get a pair of oxen from Bluffton.


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