Previous Page Search Again Next Page

Eye (Wadena) but after a storm destroyed it in 1908 a new hall was built in Paddock Township. A second temperance society, `Endeavor', was founded in Butler in 1904. Both societies, however, remained active for only a few years.

In all these townships north of New York Mills, numerous Finns have held responsible positions and local administrative posts. So, for example, in Paddock in 1915, Leander Niska and John Tontti served as supervisors, Matti Raatikka was treasurer, Charles Beldoniemi as assessor, and J. P. Nevala as police officer. In Blowers, August Aho served as postmaster.

Above have been cited the more significant Finnish townships in Otter Tail County. In Bluffton, east of New York Mills, and at Rush Lake, east of Otto Township, there were also several Finns. It is, however, difficult to state exactly how many Finns have lived in the region around New York Mills, in the so-called 'Mills country.' S. Ilmonen estimates that the Finnish figures of some 40 families in 1879 grew in ten years to "about two hundred families or about one thousand persons."16 Population growth during the same period is implicit in Mason's statement that during the years 1874-1906, there were 4,710 persons in Otter Tail County to apply for U. S. citizenship.17 In 1954, Niilo Tuomenoksa claimed that some 90% of the region's population was Finnish,18 but since the 1950 census gives the area a population of over 30,000 these figures of Finnish percentages are obviously exaggerated. Local place names like Czopienski, Friberg, Kantowski, Norwegia, Grove and Schatschneider also indicate a different national background in the present population. The only reliable statistics apply to all Otter Tail County, and according to the official statistics there were 942 Finns in 1900 and 1,165 in 1910; 1,145 in 1920; 955 in 1930; 646 in 1940, and only 369 in 1950. The steady decline since 1910 has been caused by various factors, in which a flight to cities has not been the least significant. Otter Tail is, nevertheless, an important agricultural county even now: in 1954 there were more people living there on farms than in any other Minnesota county: 21,995 persons out of a total population of 51,320. There were 5,520 farms in all, with 98% of them owned by the farmers who were living on them. On these farms 1,104,151 acres were under cultivation, with 209,215 acres in oats, 159,275 in hay

16. Ilmonen, S. op.cit. II, p. 195

17. Mason. op.cit.

18. Tuomenoksa, Niilo. Amerikaa pitkin ja poikin. Tampere, Finland, 1955. p. 187


Previous Page Search Again Next Page