Melinda Tarbox 2014-11-08

Can we find the families of my great-grandparents? They emigrated from Finland in 1901 and 1892.

The task is to find the families of Melinda´s great-grandparents Johan Oskar Johansson and Sofia Johansdotter Holm in Finland from where they emigrated in 1901 and 1892 respectively.

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A moving-out Certificate as of 1901-01-12 states that Johan Oskar Johansson Dufva, from the Haldin estate in Woitby Village, Korsholm, Vasa County, was born 1882-07-16 and that his intention was to travel to U.S.. It does not say where he was born.

Sofia Johansdotter Holm was born 1871-07-10 in Korsholm, Vasa county and came to U.S. in 1892. She was married in U.S. first to John Johnson in 1894 in Denver and divorced him ca 1906 in Telluride, San Miguel, Colorado. Sofia then married Johan Oskar Johansson May 31, 1906 (+/- 1) in Denver Colorado (information from Melinda). Johan Oskar´s passport gives him the right to travel freely, forth and back, during a period of one year.

Sofia´s pedigree exists in a hardcopy format. It was created by a Minister of Korsholm parish (provided by Melinda).

Ancestry research in Finland

Finland is far behind Sweden when it comes to making church records available over internet. Another difference is that while Sweden´s privacy law is 70 years, Finland´s is 125 years. Also, many sites only provides information in the Finnish Language which even makes it difficult to find the correct parish. However, all the records follow Swedish formats and are in Swedish (Finland was part of Sweden for 700 years up until 1810). But even after 1810, when it became a province of Russia, the church records continued to be in Swedish and according to Swedish formats.

In Finland they have the following three genealogical sites that are free to use:

Arkivverkets digitala arkiv:
Genealogiska samfundets databas:
Finlands släkthistoriska förening:

Then there are some message boards and also private genealogy web sites of different kinds.

Research strategy.

Since I have not researched in Finland before this is a learning experience for me. I have to try the three different sites mentioned above. And since there is a pedigree chart available for Sofia I decided to start off by trying to verify some of the information in the pedigree chart via church records online.

I tried to use “Arkivverkets digitala arkiv” without success (Encl 1). So I moved to the second alternative, “ Genealogiska samfundets database” (Encl 2). Clicking on Korsholm – Mustasaari we find that they do not have records younger than 1850 (Encl 3). So I could not find Sofia there. However, since I had access to the pedigree chart I tried some of Sofia´s older ancestors and I could, after some trying actually find her ancestors. So now I know how to search in this database.

When I looked at the parents of Sofia´s great grandmother, Caisa Lisa Redlig b. 1787-11-06, I suspected that the Korsholm Pastor had made a mistake since her mother was supposed to be Maria Mattsdotter b.1733, d. 1779-10-14. Not only would she have been 54 years old at the time of birth of Caisa Lisa. She would even have been dead for 8 years! So I searched for Anders Redlig in the marriage records 1740-1790 (Encl 4) and I found him. I got only one hit. He married a Caisa Ersdotter 1780-05-19 in Korsholm (Encl 5).

Clicking on the “search” symbol we find that Anders is a corpral and that he lives in the Woitby village in Korsholm parish. This verifies the pedigree chart when it comes to Anders Redlig (Encl 6). So, if Anders was married to Maria Mattsdotter he remarried with Caisa Ersdotter.

I then tried to find Caisa Lisa b. 1787 by filling out a search form with only her first name and birth year 1781-1790 plus her father name Anders (Encl 7). I got 8 hits, none of which is the one we are looking for (Encl 8). May be Caisa Lisa was born somewhere else?

Now I wanted to see how many children Anders Redlig had so I entered just his first name and his last nam (Encl 9). I got a lot of hits. And he really was married to Maria Mattsdotter. But I could not find any Caisa Lisa b. 1787 (Encl 10).

Now I wanted to try the third source “Finlands släkthistoriska förening”. Clicking “Church archives” shows Mustasaari – Korsholm (Encl 11). We click on “Korsholm” and now we can see three documents covering three different periods (Encl 12). Hope these documents are HERs!

We click on the last document, covering 1881-1886. And we get a long list of pages sorted in alphabetical order (Encl 13). We want to find HERs for the Woitby village so that should be towards the end. We click on the “801-“ button and here we can see the Veikars Village at the top (Encl 14). But at the bottom of the page we can see that Voitby Village starts (Encl 15).

We click on the first Voitby page and it is a HER! And the headings are in Swedish and Finnish! (Encl 16). Now we just have to look at these records until we find a place called Holm to see if we can find Sofia. And we find her on page 1068! Here she is with her whole family (Encl 17):

Johan Anders Johansson Hermansson b. 1834-01-30
Anna Greta Johansdotter Haldin b. 1844-09-11
Johannes b. 1864-06-27
Fredrika b. 1866-09-28
Maria Kristina b. 1870-08-11
Sofia b. 1871-07-16
Karl b. 1874-07-13
Mathilda b. 1877-08-01
Gustaf Verner b. 1882-04-04

Anna Greta Johansdotter has this extra surname “Haldin”. This refers to a place called Haldin, like Holm, inside Voitby village. And Anna Greta´s father, according to the pedigree chart, is a “Torpare” at a place called Haldin within Voitby Village, Korsholm.

Now, this is very interesting. May be Johan Oskar Johansson, Sofias husband, is a realitive? According to his Moving-out certificate he is coming from a homestead called Haldin within Voitby!! At least at the time he was leaving Finland 1901.

I searched through all the pages covering a place called Haldin in Voitby 1881-1886 without finding Johan Oskar Johansson Dufva b. 1882-07-16. But maybe he was not born at the same place where he lived in 1901? He could even have been born outside Voitby or even Korsholm. The surname Dufva indicates that his father might be a soldier.

Either we can go through all the 1000 pages of Korsholm´s HERs or we can try to find him in the emigration registers.

As we can see on the Home page of “Finlands släkthistoriska förening” there is an Emigration Register (Encl 18). Clicking it we find ourselves on a new web page (Encl 19). There are two search alternatives: Restricted search (free of charge) and Full-text search (for a user fee of 20 Euros). I chose the second one and paid the service fee (Encl 20-22). I am still waiting for an email in order to finish the registration.

After a few hours I received the email and I could finnish the registration. Now I could logon. I tried Johan Oskar Johansson and Johan Johansson without any success. Then I came to think of his surname Dufva so I entered that surname with no first name (Encl 23). I got 17 hits, one of which is Oskar Dufva leaving 1901-01-12 (exactly the same day as “our” Johan Oskar Johansson Dufva´s passport is signed). His destination is Eureka in Utah (Encl 24).

But does he have the correct age? Clicking on his surname gives the answer. He is 18 years old. That corresponds to the birth date 1882-07-16. So, this may very well be the person we are looking for. The port of departure is Hanko, he has paid 453 FIM for the ticket, the ship is Polaris, Beaver Line. List and page is 21/79. (Encl 25).

He is travelling together with another person on the same ticket. His name is Karl Heir (Encl 25). Who is he? Well, searching him we can see that he is 37 years old. And he has the same destination (Encl 26).

The Finnish emigration database does not give any information on where the passengers were born or lived when they emigrated. (Emibas is so much better). A problem is the time it would take in 1901 to get from Korsholm to Hanko (Hangö). I do not know if it was possible to do it in one day.

I have to stop now to be able to finish the preparations for Saturday. Even if I have not found Johan Oskar Johansson Dufva in the Finnish church records (yet) I have learned a lot (more than I had hoped to) and I hope you will too. At least we now know how to use the online services in Finland. It would be good to have access to HERs for 1900-1910 but may be the privacy law stops that for a long time. To work around that problem I think it would be possible (as it is in Sweden) to contact some archive and ask for help to find Johan and his parents so that you could enter that info into an accessible HER and start tracing him backwards in time from there.

Also, when I finally was able to access the Emigration Register I found a document describing how to do ancestry research in Finland. I downloaded it and will print it out so that you can have it.

Good luck!

Kjell S Andersson 2014-11-07

1 Homepage of Digitaaliarkisto
2 Genealogiska Samfundet I Finland
3 Dito. Index of available books
4 Dito. Search form. Anders Redlig
5 Dito. Search result
6 Dito
7 Dito. Search form for Caisa
8 Dito. Search results
9 Dito. Search form for Anders Redlig´s children
10 Dito. Search results
11 Homepage of Finlands släkthistoriska förening
12 Dito. Index of available books
13 Dito. Search results
14 Dito
15 Dito
16 HER Korsholm 1881-1886. Voitby, Braxenholm p 1048
17 HER Korsholm 1881-1886. Voitby, Holm p 1068
18 Homepage of Finlands släkthistoriska förening
19 Homepage of Institute of Migration
20 Dito. Index of available records
21 Dito. Signing up for Register fee
22 Confirmation of registering
23 Institute of Migration. Search form Dufva
24 Search results
25 Search results for Oskar Dufva
26 Search results for Karl Heir