Det Markligaste Samhallet
The Most Exceptional Community…
By K-G Olin Published in Finland written in Swedish
Compiled by Eugene Halverson
Compiled by Eugene Halverson
|far left- Aunt Edla in Carr Fork|
In December 1907 arrived in Bingham Canyon a person that was to mean a lot to the Swedish-Finish colony. The man whose name was, Eric Ahlskog, traveled around the United States and organized sobriety organizations among his country men.
A few years earlier there was an attempt to organize a sobriety organization in Bingham Canyon. The first organization, that was called “The Star of Finland” got started at the end of 1902, and had no less than 49 members. The organization immediately run into problems. One member, Wille K. reported that the organization was like a lobster, moving backwards. The number of members was now reduced to 14. Of these there were only 4 women, even though there was at least 50 Swedish-Finnish women in Bingham. Soon the organization had ceased to exist. The assembly hall the Swedish-Finns had built had to be sold and rebuilt to a boarding house.
Scoffers had warned Ahlskog that it would not work to organize a sobriety organization in the city. Sobriety was not a priority in the mind of the hardheaded mineworkers. Arthur Alexander was telling that after he left Nykaleby and arrived in Bingham, the first Saturday he went from saloon to saloon and everywhere was supplied drinks by his countrymen.
Ahlskog’s sobriety organization run into a lot of opposition. The posters he put up, to announce a meeting to organize a sobriety organization were torn down. But Ahlskog did not let that stop him but put up new posters. The meeting was to be held in the Scandinavian Church’s building.
|Swedish Finns in Carr Fork|
An association for helping the sick was organized in 1905, and named, the “Alprose”. It’s first president was F.W. Norrman from Kronby. When the “Alprose” and the sobriety association were combined into a lodge within the Runeberg Order in 1920, John Eastman from Vasa became it’s first president.
In the summer of 1902 the Swede-Finns organized a string orchestra and a wind orchestra led by A.W. Lybeck from Kronoby. Most of the members came from the northern part of Osterbotten. The orchestra arranged many well attended dances in the Imatra Hall. The orchestra members were very well liked in the city and appeared at the celebration of USA’s national holiday. When the news came in 18 November 1918
Page 162-- that World War II was over a mood of happiness broke out all over the city. The orchestra gathered outside the city capital and performed patriotic music. The concert gathered over a thousand listeners.
The Binghamites were prepared to donate money for needy causes. The year 1903more than 100 dollars was collected for the needy in Finland. The collection for the sobriety house in Kovjoki, later Kovik, in Vora 1911 also brought a pretty penny. An a arranged dance by the “Sick-help organization”, for the immigrant newspaper, Fishish-American, did not do so well. It only brought 2 dollars.
|Main Street Bingham|
The Finns also brought with them the culture of the “sauna”. The other nationals did not understand the idea of sitting in a room full of steam and then go out and roll in the snow. One neighbor was frightening his children by threatening to make them bathe in a Finnish sauna.
There was no shortage of satisfying the lusts of the flesh in Bingham. In a 1914 letter to a nephew Sivert Ronnquist from Litens in Larsmo wrote the following, “I have to tell you there is a large house here where many whores live. It costs less than 5 dollars or 25 marks to sleep with them all night, but of course you have a lot of fun”.
Ronnquist also wrote in another letter that he and many other Swede-Finns had a temporary job on the railroad.
Page—163 Most of the men from Osterbottiska worked in the mines. There were many injuries so it was important that they find other occupations. Sam Jofs from Tuckor in Vora was for some time employed as a police officer for the town. He later became a foreman in the US Mine, where he died in an accident at the age of 60 years old. Others that were promoted to foreman in the same mine was Andrew Anderson from Kronoby, Erik Olin from Orvais and John Holms (Johannes Vernon Hoijer) from Rokio in Vora. In the Apex mine John Enqvist and Jack Backlund both from Esse were promoted to Foreman.
Many of the children of the people from Osterbotten got and education and had careers in many occupations. The most successful was John Dahlstrom, the son of Anna and Andrew Dahlstrom from Vora. John was several times elected mayor of Bingham.
Surprisingly many people from Vora were operating boarding houses in Bingham. It was said that Anna Johansdotter Dahlstrom from Knuts in Kauajarvi in Vora was cooking food for three generations of Swede-Finns and Ida Johnson had more that 100 renters. And it appears that not everybody was paying their share. In 1912 Maria Slotte advertised in the “Finnish American” paper, asking everyone who owed her money to pay or she would advertise their names in the paper. Ida Johnson did just that in the spring of 1917 she listed as wanted Sifrid Rosenlund who had left without paying her rent.
An important gathering place in the community was the Eagle Hotel operated by Lena “Blusi Lis” Erickson. As a child in Lotlax Vora it was told that she was an orphan. As a young girl she managed to come to America and was able to build herself a comfortable living among her countrymen in Bingham.
The living conditions were not always very nice, especially in the winter, because the houses were not very well insulated, not like the homes in Finland. It was told that a shirt wet with perspiration, hung up to dry overnight, would turn to ice by morning. It was not a very healthy way to get dressed.
Most of the men from Osterbotten joined the unions, but their was exceptions. A Swede-Finn by the name of, Gust Nyman was given 24 hours to leave town for openly criticizing the WFM. This was harsh punishment because Nyman had advanced to foreman in the Telegraph Mine. The same punishment happened to Matts Stark, he had opposed the union also. In a following debate in the “Finish American Newspaper” Gust Nyman (Newman) said that the workers pay that had recently happened was not because of the union but because of a shortage of workers. He also declared that he was leaving Bingham Canyon and returning to Finland.
But even those belonging to the union were living dangerously. For example, Gust Nas from Monas in Munsala was fired by the mining company because he belonged to the IWW. Nas had by then advanced to foreman in one of the mines.
The Finns in Bingham built a socialist hall in 1908. The 30 members only managed to keep it going for a couple of years.
Page 165-- During World War I many of the Finns were accused of belonging to the IWW union and being pro-German. According to the Salt Lake Tribune 125 were supposed to have been fired. This created a lot of indignation among Bingham’s Finns. At a mass meeting in the Swedish Hall these rumors were deniied and told to be false. I a resolution adopted at the meeting it was told that during the strike of 1912 only 3 or 4 Finns had voted for a strike. And after the war started the Finns were against striking.
Even in Bingham the men from Osterbotten were not safe from accidents. John Backlund, from Aknus in Vora, lost an eye in an accident. He later had a problem receiving compensation from the company. In an accident in the Boston Con Mine Victor Nyman from Puro was hitin the head when a piece of steel fell and killed him immediately.
Herman Warn from Esse was once very close to losing his life in a blasting accident. The following is how he explained what happened, “I had lit 15 drill holes and was collecting the wires and fuses and I also carried the drills. To get protection I had to run over an old mine hole (shaft) covered with boards. When I came to the boards I dropped the drill and it hit the boards. I lost my balance and fell head first into the hole. About 12 feet below there were several 2x4’s protruding from the side. I got hold of one of them and held on till after the blast. Then my co-workers came running, thinking I had not managed to make it in time. They used a rope to pull me up. The mine hole was 500 feet deep, about 155 meters. I did see sparks as the drills hit the walls as they fell down there.
Anther time Warn saved an Irish man from sudden death. The accident happened when the Irish man was making an installation in the mine, he was an electrician. The later he was standing on gave way and he fell on some live wires and was hanging there with power running thriugh his body. Warnwas standing near by and immediately knew what was happening and what had to be done. He threw a metal bar across the lines. The lines “burnt off” and the Irish man fell. H ebroke his leg in the fall but his life was saved thanks to the man from Esse. Warn became foreman for the mine shortly after. Andew Johnson from Eugmo in Larsmo was not so lucky. On the 18th of June 1907 he was a contractor and was repairing a roof. He was turning a metal sheet and it came in contact with some live wires running just above the roof. Johnson died 16 hours later in the hospital in Bingham.
In the spring when the snow melted there was a great risk for avalanches. One of them took several lives in 1926. One of them was a Finnish lady, Mrs. Rimsby, owner of a boarding house. She was in the kitchen preparing dinner when the avalanche ripped through her hous and pushed her against the stove.
Page 166-- another sad but interesting incident happened to a Swede-Finn miner. Andrew Forsman (Barkas Ant from Forsby in Pedersore, was once buried by a mass of rocks in an accident in the Utah mine. His co-workers assumed he was killed in the accident. They worked all day trying to reach where they expected him to be. His country man, Lee Backlund was more than surprised to find him alive and well in a pocket that had been created by falling timber and rocks. He was very dusty but unhurt. The funeral director that had rushed to the accident was very disappointed to lose a prospective income. He died the next day of a heart attack.
Finns in other parts of the Mormon State were not spared death. In the Frisco, Utah mining community two people from Vora lost their lives 17 April 1903. John Rex from Tuckor and Andrew Mattsson Hellqvist from Bergby were with some other customers about 6 o’clock inn the evening in one of the city’s saloons. Outside the saloon an Irish man was walking back and forth. All of a sudden he pulled out a revolver and rushed in and fired four shots. One of the bullets hit Mattsson in the leg and an othet hit Rex in the stomach. Mattsson bled to death before a doctor arrived and Rex died the next morning. As soon as the message reached the homeland, the widow, Anna Hellqvist got ready and traveled to America to find out what happened. On that trip she stayed. Seven years later she sent for her daughter, Ester who was still in Finland.
Page 167-- A.H. Ekman was murdered the night of 3rd July 1907 in the Phoenix Mine in Bingham Canyon. According to available information the killer was a man from Austria who was hidding in the tunnel. When Ekman came down to work in the mine he fired six shots at Ekman. The reason for the killing is unknown.
On 14 June 1912 Andrew Ericksson Smaros from Rokio in Vora was attacked on his way to work in the U.S. Mine. He was beaten so badly that he later died. Smaros was supposed to travel home the next day, and it is possible that word about that became known by the wrong people. The robbers supposed he had taken out all his savings for the trip home.
|Grandma Holms Edith with Kids|
A very attention getting deed was a couple from Finland living in Salt Lake City on 18 May 1929. In a jealous and a drunken fight 42 year old Verner Stenbeck shot his live-in partner, Minnie Mantyla. Stenbeck then tried to commit suicide but failed.
The feared Spanish sickness also claimed many lives among the Swede-Finns in Bingham and other mining communities in Utah. Among the ones that died were, Victor Ogling from Ladles in Vora, Carl Wickman from Vikby in Korsholm, Matt Antell from Bertby in Vora, Andrew Mattson from Pedersore. And Erik Erikson Uppgard from Yttersundom in Solf.
The miners sickness claimed many more lives. It was reported that 13 members of the Runeberg Lodge passed away in one month in 1920. Most of them from miners sickness. Many of them were men with many more years to live and they left families behind. The widows were left to support and raise the children. It was estimated that the Lutheran Cemetery below Bingham there was around 200 Swede-Fins buried there.
|Grandpa John Holmes|
The Osterbotten men in Utah also tried their hand in running their own mines. In Eureka, south of Salt Lake City they joined in an experiment to own and drive a mine. They started a business or company called the “Wasa Mining Company”. A company organized by the Swedish and Finnish speaking working class. For the purpose of joint ownership. Out of a total of one million shares in a corporation 400.000 is to be removed for payment for work in the mine. Each claim or share shall have a value of ten cents (10 measly cents). This Finish, Swedish and American were sold at the beginning of the century
Page 168-- Utah even in Idaho, Minnesota and Michigan. There is a history of a fall or failings of the business partners in 1909. Some of the largest stockholders were Ande Soderlund, Andrew Strom, August Johnson and Verner Bergstrom. Fred Sundell was selected as the business president and John E. Holms (my grandfather) its secretary. The company owned ten leases in North Tintic Mining District. They had drilled a shaft down to 272 feet deep and begian widening a vein that contained both silver and gold. What happened to the Wasa Mine is unclear. It was deserted and lonely and its fate was unclear. There is no sign the company was successful.
|Wasa Mine North Tintic|
When the Swede-Finns were going to build a hall the Orchestra as the oldest organization had to take the lead. The Sobriety Organization was happy to gather new members based on the promise that in the future they could use the hall. But that promise was not kept so the members started to look around for a hall of their own. They purchased a regular home and used that for their meetings.
Page 169-- The Swede-Finn Hall was built at the corner of Rainbow and Iron Street. That became a popular gathering place for the community’s youngsters. Not everyone accepted the Organization’s sobriety struggles and there were many disagreements and many ended in a fistfight.
In Eureka there were two boarding houses with ties to Finland. In one of them the Finns lived and in the other the Swedes from Osterbotten. There was about the same number of each group in the community.
There was never any shortage of food in the mining community. The farmers in the vicinity came in to the community with large wagons of produce and the quality and price surprized the Finns.
One Finlander who made a speedy career in Eureka was John Westerdahl. He first started working in the Eureka Standard Mine, but advanced fast to superintendent and later on as part owner. Together with his wife they also operated a boarding house.
Not all Finns in Eureka were known as good citizens. In December 1897 Peter Larson was caught red-handed when he was trying to rob a jewelry store. A patrolling police man discovered a broken window and in trying to see what happened a man jumped out and took off running. The policeman drew his revolver and called out to the man to stop. When he didn’t the policeman fired a shot that hit the man in the leg and forced him to stop. When he was searched at the police station it turned out that he had helped himself to watches, jewelry and pocket knives.
Another community with a large population of Finns was Park City, south east of Salt Lake City. Here we found the same number of Swedes and Finns. Together they comprised the largest nationality group in the city. Most of the people from Osterbotten came from Pedersore, Esse and Vora.
Frans Holmstrom wrote a letter home saying that in “Park City you run into so many old friends it is almost like being home, almost every where you go you hear Swedish spoken.
Page 170-- A mans from Vora by the name of, I. Crooks owned a large saloon. Mrs. Hanson also a Swede-Finn was running a boarding house in the community. One of the city’s hotels was owned by August Petterson Rose from Pedersore.
In the year 1906 it was reported that there was many religious organizations in Park City and it was assumed that there was enough people to start a Lutheran Parish in the city. The next year collections were started to build a church. A Swedish Minister by the name of O.A. Elmquist was working in Park City and Eureka.
|Under-ware cleaned at Johnson Boarding house|
Wilhelm Anderson wrote a leter to Finska Amerikanaren in 1909 and complained that the first thing that happened to the newly arrived in Park City, was someone trying to invite them to the saloon. Thousands and thousands of our countrymen were lured and even some of our own countrymen would lure and mislead unknowing men that did not know the country’s practices and ways. “It looks like some of our countrymen were sent here just to mislead others”, said Anderson.
Page 171-- In 1909 the Finns in Park City organized a Socialist organization, that two years later had its greatest time, because the large numbers of countrymen who arrived in the community. The organization built its own meeting house that also contained a library. The organization’s activities died as the mines closed after World War I. Today Park City is a well known ski resort.
Even Salt Lake City over a time had a small group of Swede-Finns. As early as 1874 Maria Soderquist from Storsved in Munsala wrote home from the Mormon City. It had only been 27 years since the first Mormons arrived in Salt Lake City and a few years after the railroad arrived in Salt Lake City. Mrs. Soderquist was very much overwhelmed by the Mormon’s Church, that she described as, “The most Holy House she had ever seen”. The Church had seating for 10,000 people and at her visit was filled to capacity.
“Such singing and such music I have never heard before. First about one thousand young girls stood up and sang their songs. Then the whole congregation took part with the great organ and then the whole orchestra with its great drums and all the pipes and the Church was decorated with flowers and greenery and leafs. I have never been in a more holy place”.
What she wrote about was most likely the Mormon Tabernacle. The Temple was not built until twenty years later.
It is not known what made Maria Soderquist and her husband move to the Mormon city at that early time. Even more puzzling is that in 1886 they wrote a letter from Castillos, Uruguay.
Two other émigrés from Munsala who found their way to the Mormon city in those early years were Karl Nylund and Anders Kempe. They emigrated in 1872 and ended up in Murray, just south of Salt Lake City. There they worked in a smelter. The two separated and Kempe found his way to Bingham Canyon. Sometime later he returned to his homeland with money in his pockets. At home his brother and sister-in-law had passed away.
Page 172-- Kempe then took care of the home farm and his brother’s children. Karl Nylund ended up in Eureka, Nevada, where he worked in a smelter. After a few years of hard work even he returned home with money in his pockets. It is supposed that their stories enticed many of the home communities young men and women to look for work in mines and smelters in the Rocky Mountains. Kempe returned to America a few years later and worked on and off for the railroad in Colorado.
A letter writer in the “Finska Amerikanaren said hat in 1903 there were 18 Swedish-Finnish girls in Salt Lake City. They hardly saw any countrymen because most of the boys after a short while left the city. They had however organized a picnic in one of the city’s parks on the 16th of August. Then they were visited by countrymen, countryladies and the orchestra from Bingham Canyon. They had a very nice day.
In Salt Lake even in the beginning of the century there were men from Osterbotten who were operating boarding houses. One of these was Oscar Soderlund fro Kivik in Vora. He was renting rooms to miners that came into the city. There were also two men from Osterbotten operating sallons. A well known saloon operator in the city was Martin Enqist (earlier Eurs) from Karvat in Oravis. He had emigrated already by 1888 and had worked in several mines in the Rocky Mountains. There was a saying among the miners, as they got thirsty, “Lets go see Martin”.
There were men from Osterbotten who specialized in misleading newly arrived countrymen. Michael Hoglund from Isomaki in Vora ran into two of these cheaters, Karl Johnson from Vora and Edvart Lindberg from Komossa. They treated him to a beer and told him a story about next week taking him to a place for a great job up in the mountains and got him to lend them 10 dollars each. That was the last Hoglund ever saw of that money.
As the many mines in Bingham Canyon, Eureka, and Park City closed many of the Swede-Finns settled in Salt Lake City and surrounding communities. A separate group of the “Runeberg Loge” was formed in the city in 1924. It was involved in theater. In 1930 they started publishing a paper called, “Coffee Grounds”. It also had information about the lodge in Butte, Montana.
On the first of May year 1900 at 10.25 (AM) an enormous explosion was heard from the closeby Winter Quarter. In Scofield there were many who thought that someone commemorated the First of May by blowing gun powder, but soon a rumour was spred that a disasterous catastrophe had happened in mine number four. In the accident, that was the worst in USA, 200 men were killed. Among the victims there were 67 Finns.
Page 173-- One of the worst striked families was Louma. The Louma brothers had three month before the accident sent for their elderly parents in order to let them come and live their last years in the new country. The seventy year old Abel Luoma lost six of his sons and three grandchildren in the accident.
In an attempt to give an explanation to the accident the Finns first was accused to have smuggled nitroglycerine into the mine, to get better day result by blasting. The theory appeared to be wrong because the dynamite that was missing later was found unexploded in an other part of the mine.
The Finns got much criticism because most of them refused to take part in the work moving the bodies up from the mine. It was also said that the Finns later looted their fellow countrymen´s corps by taking their garments.
After the catastrophe the Finns started to state that there were ghosts in the mine. Many said they had heard strange sounds and someone had also seen a headless man travel on the coal wagon up to the opening of the mine and there disappeared in a mysterious way. Also reliable men told about the Ghost and this was said to be the direct reason that a great number of miners quit the work. At the cemetery were most of the victims in the catastrophe was buried unexplainable lights were sometimes seen. The mysterious light was always followed by someone’s death.
In the mining community of Bisbee, Arizona in the south east corner of the neighboring state of Arizona lived a large colony of Finns. A Swedish-Finnish sobriety organization called, “Rodnan i Soder”, was organized in 1906. But because of so many strikes many of the men had to find work elsewhere and the organization died off after a few years.
Page 174-- Later a new organization was formed called, “Solen i Soder” (Sun in the South). But that was also short lived.
The Finns in Bisbee formed a youth organization, but because most of the members were socialists the organization was allowed to die and replaced with a labor organization.
Even here the boys from Osterbotten were known for their strength. Erik Berg from Vora took first place prize in the yearly stone drilling contest and beat the master among Arizona’s mason by four inches. The prize in that contest was 500.00 dollars, which at that time was not a small amount of money. Two years later the prize went to Konsta Maki and then it was 1,000 dollars.
Jack Logland, alias Johan Logland form Karleby, at the beginning of the century was living in Bisbee’s neighboring city, Tombstone. During a drilling contest in Ryolite, Nevada he placed second with a result of 35 inches. Logland was a known personality in Tombstone and gathered a nice fortune, most likely by prospecting or as a mine owner.
It seems the Finns were also engaged in mine ownership in Arizona. Among other things it was reported from the community of Crown King that a dozen Swede-Finns were part owners in a business under the name of “Lake Superior & Nevada Development Company. Among the owners were John Antell, John Norgord, John Westerlund, Jakob Martinson, Andrew Martinson, Erik Johnson, Andrew G. Johnson, August Isaacson, Matt Varn and John Warnstrom.
Swede-Finns were also owners of a mine in the state of Idaho called the Blue Star in Kingston.