Linguistically, the Finns are related to some tribes of northern Europe, to the Estonians and to the Hungarians. He was owner or part-owner of the Standard Oil Station for forty-three years. She would walk through the thick woods in the summertime and in the winter she would use her snow shoes to get through. No records were kept in most of these families. He worked at Continental Motors for forty-four years.
Except for a period of about two years, this house has been continuously occupied by members of the family. William,was a barber for forty-seven years and most of these years were in White Cloud. They, too, were very interested and were glad to help. He died at the age of fifty-six. The tales these houses could tell are legion, but unfortunately most of them will never be known.
Tura Burke taught school for a while before she became Mrs. Ralph Fry and moved to Muskegon. The present occupant is Ingeborg, their youngest. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, conditions in all Northern Europe favored mass migration from the homeland.
Finland was a part of the Swedish Empire for about years, from about the middle of the 12th century until when it fell under the control of the Russian tsars. Several of them moved to Muskegon, got jobs, lived there and made honest livings for themselves and their families.
Not much research, as such, has gone into this narrative. Anna and August had one son, Edward born inwho much later became a rural route mail carrier out of White Cloud. I began writing about things my husband and his family had told me. Anna was a school teacher and Clara was a registered nurse. Finnish people probably originated in central Russia and later mixed with the Germanic and Slavic tribes before settling in northern Europe.
Inthey gained their freedom and have inspired the world with their courage and integrity. However, roughly seven percent of Finns consider Swedish as their mother tongue. Carl,a widower, has three children, owns a business in Grand Rapids and has manufactured tire supplies for sixty years.
Settlements of different nationalities dotted many of our northern states where climate and other conditions made life suitable for these immigrants. Emil,and his wife, Florence, had two children and lived in Muskegon. Robert still lives in the White Cloud area. Sophia Anderson was born in in Finland and came to White Cloud at the age of twenty-one, being lured there by a cousin, Mrs. Not long afterward, she met Herman Burke, they fell in love and were married.
White cloud’s swedetown
On Newell Street, just west of the tracks and on the south side of the road, abutting on railroad property was the rooming house and greenhouse of an early Swede, Charles Burke. He also took care of the church janitorial duties, sometimes getting up very early to get the wood fire burning well enough to heat the building in time for services. It is mainly the memories of many people plus some information from family Bibles and records.
I found this area to be interesting at that time, but as the years went by it became a fascinating subject.
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InAlbert built the house next to the railroad tracks on the south side of James Street. Edwin,never married and for most of his life lived at the family home with his mother and sister. Victor,was a talented violinist and artist who died at the age of twenty-two of quinsy. Andy married Laura Fry and they had two sons, Robert and Richard. For some inexplicable reason, a group of Swedish-speaking people from an area in Finland near the Swedish border, found the south side of White Cloud, Michigan to their liking and many of them settled there. Another fact of interest is that none of the original Youngquist-Johnson-Erickson houses were ever sold outside of the family.
He had his own shop in the Gust Building, which he owned. In a book written by a Swede in his native tongue, it is mentioned that Finland-Swedes settled north of Grand Rapids and northeast of Muskegon in Newago County and western Mecosta County. Then, I contacted other second generation Finn-Swedes and a few of the third generation. Frieda and Elmer had ly moved to the big house, so their seven children — Elmore, Emma Lynn, Ruth, Elsa Rae, Anna, Ingrid and Charles were all born and raised in this immediate vicinity.
Through centuries of precarious history, the Finns have been threatened, fought over, invaded and exchanged among powerful neighbors. After marriage, Bertha became a busy housewife and mother to their eight children. Elmer Christenson lived there from until his marriage in Herman contracted tuberculosis in and was ill until his death in There were not many opportunities for women at that time, but Sophia was independent and made a living by weaving rag rugs and taking in washings.
They were a musical family and subsequently formed the Erickson Family Band.
As Anna only had one child, she gave much help to her sister, Emma, who was having a baby about every two years. Emil Burke and familly had once lived on a farm near White Cloud also. Emma Youngquist was only ten years old when she arrived in White Cloud in They had eleven children — the first four or five being born on the farm.
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Several years later, they built the house at James Street in White Cloud, which is now the residence of Ruth Schotanus and daughter, who is a grand niece of the Johnsons. With Russia alone, they have fought dozens of wars and lost nearly all of them.
Two years later they were married. He has two children. Later, this little house was moved two miles east of White Cloud to the Erickson farmland where Elsa Rae Jonaitis a grandaughter of Victor and Emma now lives with her family. It is absolutely true insofar as it is remembered. She settled first at Alleytown, a busy lumbering town and worked in a hotel as a cook and maid.
Frieda Erickson, the youngest, became the bride of Rev. Elmer Christenson in and went to live in the little house just to the east of the Erickson big house, which was also owned by the family. Very little is known about him. They arrived in Anna later married August Johnson and they settled on and farmed a small piece of land northeast of White Cloud.
She had three children, Collin, Jean and Don. He and his wife Evelyn lived in the area most of his life and had three children, Arlene, Melvin and Ernest. Together, we had much enjoyment in doing it. Throughout all this occupation of their country the Finns have remained courageous, industrious and perseverant with a touch of stubbornness.
Many of their descendants remained in White Cloud and have become active and respected citizens of the town today, although they have not remained segregated on the south side of Main Street. At first, Herman worked in the logging and lumbering industry, but later became a laborer on the railroad who rose to section foreman.
Herman became superintendent of the Swedish Mission Church, a position he held for many years. It was in this little home that church and Sunday School were held, at times, before the church was built. The first group of houses to be considered were built and occupied by related families.
They played for dances and various functions around town — including at the the bandstand in the State Park for the once a year, week-long Old Soldiers and Sailors Reunion. InHerman tore down the old rooming house and greenhouse of Charley Burke and with the help of his brother Emil of Muskegon built the house where Herman and Sophia lived until their respective deaths.
Charles fought in the front lines in France, but Leonard contracted the deadly Spanish influenza at Camp Custer, nearly died and was never sent out. Andrews,was a barber for fifty-two years — most of the time in Lansing, Michigan. Of this family, Alfred became a veterinarian and had his own animal hospital in Charlotte, Michigan.
He and a partner, Byron Fowler, bought the station and the coal and ice business from William Flaherty in The coal business dwindled with the advent of oil and gas heating, but the gas station was not sold until Andy gave many years of service to the City of White Cloud and remained active in church, school and community affairs.
Albert Brandt came to White Cloud from Finland about the year of to avoid service in the Russian army.
Naturally, these thrifty hardworking people did not arrive all at one time, but as they came they found jobs, built houses and became assimilated into the Swedish community. Andy, himself, is a lifelong resident of the town and has for many years lived in the house next to the railroad tracks which was built by his father. Many grandchildren and great-grandchildren are still living but their information is scant. The farm also remained in the family and Victor became a part-time farmer and a worker on the railroad.
Later, he owned and operated a saloon until the Prohibition Amendment was passed and then he operated a grocery store. The original first-generation Swedes are all deceased, as are many of their children. World War I broke up the band when Charles and Leonard were drafted. See note from June Pelo about Velm F. I knew many of the first generation Swedes.