Previous Page Search Again Next Page

nen, Jack and Victor Kuster, Elias Mattson, Isaac Pihlaja, August Saarela, Fred Saari and Kusti Virtanen were in that first administration of 1910. In Sturgeon, on the other hand, Finns in the first administration were Frank Fredlund, John A. Gustafson, Claus Olson, Charles West and William Winter.

Finally, one might say the Finns were involved from birth to death, for Heta Savolainen was a midwife, schooled in Finland, whose services in this wilderness proved invaluable, and Andrew Roine, who had worked for an undertaker in Chisholm, became the local undertaker.

The 1910 population of Alango was 335, and that of Sturgeon 125. A local correspondent made the picture clearer in the Päivälehti in 1915: "There are now 81 farmers living here: 1 Englishman, 1 Norwegian, 2 Swedes - and 77 Finns." Of these Finns there were left in 1950, according to Erkkilä, 27 women and 20 men, 8 widowers of whom only 1 has remarried, 14 widows, of whom 4 have remarried, and 1 old maid.


The first Finns intent on permanent settlement in Owens came there in the autumn of 1905. Others followed, and in time Owens became another of those communities largely created by its Finnish pioneers. Originally it was a part of Field, but in 1912 it received its own area and identity, and its name after John Owens, the first village president of Tower and Virginia. The most significant settlement in Owens was at Cook, known originally by its Indian name, Ashawa, and organized in 1915. At that time there were 63 farmers there, many of them Finns. In addition to those who had made their way there through the forest, others had arrived paddling along the Little Fork and Rice rivers. Two or three years after the first settlers came the river was dredged a bit to make it more navigable, an important factor since there were no roads.

Later, of course, the river lost its importance as a highway, but it continued to make its presence felt on occasion, as in May 1950, with torrential rains falling on ground still covered with snow in the forests and swamps. Within hours the water level had risen alarmingly, and before dark some streets were under water. The following morning, highways north of Cook were usable only by boats. Bridges threatened to be washed away, the loss of electricity seemed to loom. Houses were abandoned, stores flooded, the hospital evacuated.


Previous Page Search Again Next Page