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not long before John Uusitalo, Mikko Talus and Jacob Päätalo came from Tower to start the first Finnish boarding houses. Uusitalo sold his house to John Rahja in 1898, and Rahja in turn later handed it over to Richard Laakso. Talus built his boarding house on the same side of the street as Uusitalo, while Päätalo was located across the street. These boarding house keepers were followed by the saloon keepers, of whom, however, there were never more than three at a time. A Finnish soft drink plant soon appeared, then a Finnish tailor shop. John Saari sold groceries and gained a leading position in that field, which later also included August Knuutti and Peter Ongalo. Ridanpää & Simi was a local Finnish butcher shop.

The first Finnish organization in Sparta was a temperance society, started in the spring of 1897, in the presence of 70 interested persons. However, interest collapsed to such a point that the society had to be started anew in November of that same year, with 15 members. Even so, the society found expansion difficult, due to the problems some members found in keeping their temperance vows, and due also to a typhus epidemic: the society's bylaws demanded that members take care of sick friends, and in short order more than half of the society's members fell prey to the virus. After another year's hiatus, the society became active again and so

much so that a temperance hall was built, the first meeting place of the Finns in Sparta. The hall was available for general use, and so it could serve Sunday mornings for religious services and echo with lectures of

an idealistic socialistic utopia preached on Sunday afternoons, while the society itself held its meetings on Sunday evenings. Once a month there also used to be bazaars, at pay-day time, and plenty of coffee, in an attempt to keep the young men at the temperance hall rather than see them go to the saloons at those times when they had money in their pockets.

This temperance society, more so than most, had a difficult time with its auxiliary activities. The first to be attempted was a speech group, in which all participants had to stand before


Järven Kukka Temperance Hall


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