Friday, July 8, 2011

Bingham No fa ja te America

“No fa ja te America!”
“Now I am going to America!”
from Klippiga Bergen by K-G Olin
August Martenson, Victor Forsnes, Edith Forsnes
Anna Lisa Rex, Anna Lisa, Martensen, Holger Victor Forsnes
Carr Fork boarding house

translated by Gene Essen

The story how Edla Antbrams and Emil Backlund found each other far away in Bingham Canyon.
(My grandmother was Lisa Antbrams)

Page 150--  The day before “Twenty-Day Knute, (20 days after Christmas), the year 1905 female farmhand Edla Antbrams was sitting in the barn preparing wool to be spun, just like any other day.  What made this day different from any other day was that Edla was hit with an idea.  Suddenly she threw her tools away, stood up and run into the farmhouse. 

“Now I am going to America!” exclaimed the impulsive female farmhand to her surprised employers.  Nothing could stop her and she was in a hurry.  Already the next day, seven other youngsters from Vora, were going to immigrate to America, and Edla planned on joining them. 

Edla was really a “given” emigrant.  She was 19 years old, unmarried and had no family ties.  Her parents had passed away and after her siblings had sold the farm she was homeless.  She was employed by her sister’s brother in law as a female farmhand.  From the sale of the farm she got 500 marks so she did not have to borrow money for the ticket to America.  It did not take much paperwork at the time and Edla did not have much to pack.  For traveling rations she got butter, bread, and lamb meat, homemade cheese and buttermilk in a bottle.  The rest of the space in her trunk was filled with clothes.  The young female farmhand was ready to follow the rest of the Vora youngsters already the next day. 
left fork Copperfield  right Carr Fork  Highland Boy

The evening of the “Twenty-Day-Knut” the youngsters in Vora by tradition danced Christmas out.  This time the dance was also a farewell party for the eight emigrants.  When the dance was over, in the middle of the night, the emigrants started their long journey.  With horse and slay the eight youngsters and their trunks traveled to Vasa.  When the emigrants in Vasa had say goodbye to the “drivers” everyone cried.  From Vasa they traveled to Hango, where the Vora youngsters in the middle of the night embarked on the ship “Polaris”, that took them to England.  In England the girls took the opportunity to buy straw hats.  They felt very proud with the broad hats and with red bands in the back. 

From England they traveled on an American passenger ship called “Sedrick”.  On board ship the Vora youngsters first stayed together, but during the trip many of them became acquainted with some of the other passengers.  Food was included in the ticket price and the trip was quite pleasant.  You could even dance on board.  Less pleasant were the storms that caused many to be sick and throw up. 

Upon arrival in New York it was time for the obligatory pass and health inspections.  A couple of the Islanders that came over on the “Sedrick” were not allowed to come ashore because of some disease they carried.  For the immigrants it was necessary to have an address where they were going to in the USA.  Edla gave the name of a former neighbor that lived in Salt Lake City in the Utah Territory.  In New York the group broke up, but there were others besides Edla that were traveling to the Mormon State.  The trip went with train up and down through the Rocky Mountains. 

Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, Edla and her traveling companions were met by the former neighbor.  He was very happy to welcome guests and to hear news from his old homeland.  The neighbor however thought the girls from Osterbotten, were too poorly dressed.  This Edla did not understand.  She was wearing her best clothes- a dress of home-woven wool, home knitted hose, a shawl over her head and boots on her feet.  At home at the neighbor’s it turned out that not everything was perfect.  When the girls sat down on his bed the bottom crashed to the floor. 
Finns at Finn Hall in Carr Fork

Page 151-- Edla and two other Vora-girls found their way to Bingham Canyon, about 50 Kilometers Southwest of Salt Lake City.  There was a whole colony of Swede-Finns mostly from the coastal area north of Vasa, but more than anything there was a group of Vora-people who had settled in this mining community.  Bingham Canyon was also something special.  Another Osterbotten immigrant described the area as “one of the most unusual the Lord and people had ever put together”.  What made Bingham so unusual was that it was squeezed in along a long winding road that went along the side of a sharply sloping canyon wall. 
Page 152--  That made the houses look like they were stacked one on top of another up along the mountainside.  The community was described as 10-Kilometer long draining ditch. 

Another reason that made Bingham special that out of the 20,000 population there was not less than 30 nationalities represented.  A large group was made up of Swede-Finns, at the time of Edla’s arrival and was between five hundred and a thousand.  Most of the men from Osterbotten worked in the mines. 

The people from Osterbotten lived on a Southwesterly side street on the street called Car Fork.  Higher up the side street was called Highland Boy, and that was the home for most Finish speaking.  The other, the Easterly side street was called Upper Bingham, most of these settlers were from Southern Europe.  At the corner of Grand Fork stood the Grand Hotel built 3 stories high.  Next to the hotel was the “Finn Saloon” or “Smitties Baarin”, as it was also called.  On the second story of the saloon was a dance hall.  The owner of the saloon was John Smith from Karlax in Maxmo.  Other saloon owners, in Bingham Canyon from Osterbotten were Matts Willman from Purmo and Jack Newman from Pedersore.  There were a total of 30 saloons that stayed open around the clock.  Will Portin owned a store and two Swede-Finns by the name of;  Winter and Bloom, owned a grocery store.  A.W. Lybeck from Kronoby owned a well established tailor and clothing store. 

Mid-summer Fest 1911
Emma Wilson, Mary Kjerp Slotte, JE Westerdahl, 
Johan Bertlin, Arvid Kjerp, John Slotte, Runar Slotte
One of the central buildings in Carr Fork was Dalstrom’s three-story boardinghouse.  Others that operated boardinghouses were; John Swens, Mary Solotte, Lena Erickson, Isak Rodas, Andrew Johansson, Tjali Jansson, and the Backlund, Jafs and Sundquist Families.  

Many of the buildings in Carr Fork were built by Axel Rodas from Korsholm.

Page 153--  Now to return to Edla Antbrams story.  Edla and two of her lady friends from Vora got employment at a boardinghouse as maids.  The work consisted of cooking, doing dishes, serve and clean.  Edla’s room, where she lived, had no windows.  Because the house was built into the mountain.  One unpleasant experience was all the bedbugs that lived in the house.  Sometimes because of the bad circumstances and also homesickness, Edla would cry.  But there were also brighter moments.
Carr Fork
The newly arrived girls were immediately surrounded by unmarried young men.  Some of the girls were lured into marriage, in order to improve their economic position.  But sometimes they jumped from the pan into the fire.  Some of the men turned out to be drunkards.  It did also happen that some of the hurried marriages ended in divorce. 

For the young girls it was important that they could defend themselves.  A boy from Kronoby was making unwanted advances on Edla.  He should not have done that.  Edla had a bucket of wet garbage in her hand, and she poured it over the boy.  A boy from Vora was trying to talk Edla into going to school.  He promised to pay for it, in exchange for her marrying him.  But Edla felt she was to young to be tied down.  But most of all she liked to go with her girl friends to the different dances that were organized in the halls in Bingham. 

The boardinghouse was located in the canyon between the mountains and to reach the city itself, you had to walk through the mountain.  On the road to and from the dances the girls were afraid to be attacked by mountain lions.  If you run into one you were supposed to stare them straight in the eyes, and they would leave you alone.  It would stay still or run away.  Edla was told that mountain lions had attacked some from behind and killed them. 
Swede homes in Carr Fork
below mine office road

Page 154--  On Saturdays there was a dance in the Swede Hall, that is the Finnish-Swedish Hall, that was the Swedish-Finnish local in Carr Fork.  On Sundays there was a dance in the English Hall, that was located so high up the slopes that the only way to get there was by cable driven cars.  On the Sunday parties the boys often started drinking and the dance would end up in brawls. 

Edla was a good dancer and she was often asked to dance.  Sometimes they would have masquerades and dance contests.  Once Edla won first prize in one of the contests.  She was dressed as a bride.  She and her partner had to dance several times because everyone thought they were so good. 

At some of the dances they had something called “basket”, in Swedish it was called “korg”.  In the basket were different food items and all numbered.  Then they would draw lot.  The boy and girl that drew the same numbers were to eat the numbered items together. 
Swedish Ladies in Carr Fork

Something else you could do on your free time was going on hikes and picnics.  Up between the mountains was an open, beautiful place where youngsters used to have their picnics.  The girls sometimes visited girlfriends up in the city.  Another popular pastime was roller skating.  There was a hall for that pastime.  Sometimes there was three, sometimes four, holding hands and skating around the walls.  It happened that they sometimes fell, but they only laughed and had fun.  
Sometimes the young ladies went to church.  A few years earlier the Scandinavians built a Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Betlehem Parish.  There was also a small church.  The Parish in Bingham would get a visit several times a month from priests in Ogden the north and from the Zion Parish in Salt Lake City. 

Carr Fork above Finn Hall
Page—155--  The unmarried girls did spend a big part of their salary on clothes.  Mondays were the best days to buy clothes.  That is when the stores would sell cheap to entice customers.  The girls soon learned to read English and reading the local newspapers could keep up with what was happening. 
An unpleasant incident happened a cold winter day when the youngsters had been out riding horse and sleigh.  When they came home Edla’s feet were terribly cold.  When she warmed her feet she passed out.  While she was passed out someone stole most of her possessions.  Edla suspected a girl from Terjarv by the name of Hilma.  Hilma later married a boy from Kronoby and they moved to New York.  Hilma had a son from before that was 4 years old.  She left him with some other people. 

Lunds in Carr Fork
Another unpleasant incident happened a Saturday night when Edla was up at the store to buy some meat for the boardinghouse.  On the way home she lost a five-dollar bill.  It was very unpleasant because it was the boardinghouse’s money.  Edla was sure she would never see the money again.  But lucky for her the money was found by a countryman of hers, Oscar Edstrom, and he returned the money. 

Edstrom was an old shoemaker that the girls from Vora had learned to know and they liked him.  Edstrom had lived in America for a long time, but he still spoke the language of his homeland.  He also wrote home regularly.  Edstrom was a kind old man that always had time to speak to the youngsters from his homeland. 

Gemmell Club and Mine Office Tram

Mr. and Mrs. Backlund first moved into a house owned by a widow from Vora.  They saved some money and soon they were able to buy a house of their own.  They rented the upstairs and the large living room, to other mine workers, thereby receiving extra income to pay off the loan faster.  Another income was to sell old clothes.  In Bingham it was a common practice to get rid of old clothes, by auctioning them from the windows. 

Close to the boardinghouse lived a Finn by the name of: Gust Luoma, but he was called, Loma Gust.  He was over 70 years old, poor and had nothing to eat.  Every day when the workers returned from the mine they gave the leftover food to the old man.  Gust was so grateful he would cry.  The old man had no retirement or any other means of support. 
The year after Edla and the other girls from Vora arrived in Bingham, a group of young men from Esse arrived.  One of them, Emil Backlund from Kyrkbacka, soon became known as the strongest man in town.  Besides that he was sober and frugal, something Edla noticed and appreciated.  A mutual liking developed and soon the two went to the altar in the Lutheran Church in Salt Lake City.  The Lutheran parish in the Mormon City was established in 1882.  The one taking the initiative was the Swedish Augustana Synod that after an unsuccessful try to convert the Indians to the true Lutheran belief, instead took the closer assignment to save the growing number of Scandinavians in Utah, from Mormonism.  The year 1891 the Lutherans had built a great church in central Salt Lake City. 
Chippian Store and Lutheran Church
Mr. and Mrs. Backlund first moved into a house owned by a widow from Vora.  They saved some money and soon they were able to buy a house of their own.  They rented the upstairs and the large living room, to other mine workers, thereby receiving extra income to pay off the loan faster.  Another income was to sell old clothes.  In Bingham it was a common practice to get rid of old clothes, by auctioning them from the windows. 

Page156--  Mr. and Mrs. Backlund had four children during their stay in America.  First one girl, then two girls that were twins, and last a boy that lived only nine days.  During her pregnancy Edla fell and got hurt and she suspected that to be the reason the boy did not make it. 

Finns near Finn Hall
For the mineworkers there was not much they could do on their free time for relaxation after a hard day in the mines.  There were often races and contests of strength of many kinds.  The Swedish speaking boys from Osterbotten, often had contests in weight lifting, between the four Swedish boardinghouses.  The contest was mostly between Oravais-Esse-and Jeppo boys from Andrew Johansson’s boardinghouse and Kronoby-Nedervetil and the boys from Gamla Karleby from Slottes boardinghouse.  The boys from Vora and the Southeast boys from Dahlstrom’s boardinghouse.  The boys from Munsala and Nykarleby and Pedersore from Tjali Jansson’s boardinghouse were not feared.  The last group was more interested in song and music.  One time a new boy from Kronoby was starting to break some of the records and his friends had already started to celebrate the victory.  Emil Backlund was not there at this day, but they hurried to send Hattas-Ant Jansson to get the master.  When Emil got word about the new “Power-man” he threw off his jacket and hurried to the contest.  He managed to lift 136 pounds, a new record that stood for many years. 

4th July Drilling contests
The mineworker’s day, 13 June was usually celebrated with contests in stone drilling.  Here the men from Osterbotten made a name for themselves.  One year Jan Carlsson from Munsala and Charlie Polson from Sandsund in Pedersore were the winners.  In 15 minutes they drilled 42 inches into the granite.  That time two Irishmen from Park City came in second and Jan Linden from Oravais and Gustafsson from Ostenso in Pedersore third. 

Several years men from Oravais, Jack Bartell and John Linden were the winners.  Linden was a blacksmith and made the drills for the contests.  Independence Day, July 4th, there was usually a tug o war between the different nationalities.  It usually happened that the Swede-Finns and the Italians ended up in the finals and had to fight over the $500.00 prize money.  The boys from Osterbotten usually won.  It was said that the Swede-Finns were so successful in contests that many of the nations refused to attend. 

Emil Backlund also was looking for work in other places.  They often traveled by catching a free rid on the trains.  Backlund and his friend had company between Negaunee in Michigan and Bisbee in Arizona with a man from Jeppo and he had a lot of money.  He was a greedy man but he still made sure his fellow landsmen had something to eat during the trip.  The man from Jeppo had one problem.  He never managed to swing himself up on the moving trains.  Instead he had to buy a ticket to the next stop.  There his hungry travel companions waited for him.  The man from Jeppo made another try on the next train but with the same bad result.  This he repeated time after time, and when the men from Osterbotten arrived at Bisbee the man from Jeppo was as poor as the rest of them. 
Just above Carr Fork in Highland Boy

Page157--  Emil Backlund and the other men from Esse, Herman Warn and Ant Jansson were not satisfied with slaving down in the mines in Bingham.  They were dreaming of owning  their own mine.  During weekends they did prospecting up in the mountains.  Northwest of Bingham there was a place that contained silver and they made a claim o that.  Together with the men from Esse, Pi Soderlund, Fred Andersson, and Jonas Jakobsson they started to work the claim in their spare time.  The problem was that it was so far away and there was no water or electricity.  In order to keep the claim they had to dig at least 10 meters a year.  But without equipment the men really had to work hard during the weekends.  For sometime the men from Esse slept on pine tree branches and under the open sky, but later they purchased a tent. 

During the nights they always kept a gun or an ax close to the bed because there were bears and rattlesnakes.  One night when Jansson went over to another claim to borrow some light, he met a bear.  Jansson rushed down the mountain to Bingham.  Only the next morning did he dare come back up the mountain. 

The men from Esse could not afford to buy tools so they “borrowed” them from the company.  This was very risky and one time they almost got caught.  The men from Esse had found out that dynamite had arrived at the mine.  During the dark of night Emil Backlund and Ant Jansson slid down the mountain, not leaving much left of their pants bottoms.  Down by the mine the boxes of dynamite were nicely stacked, but there was also a guard.  Backlund and Jansson chose to sneak up to the stack of dynamite. 
Page 158--  He ran up to him and said;  “Ready to die now?”  But as it turned out it was not Ant but the guard.  Luckily for Backlund the guard did not understand a word he had said and Backlund convinced him that he was employed by the company.  A few minutes later Backlund and Jansson were on their way up the mountain each carrying a box of dynamite.  From what we learned the men from Esse’s mine was not a success. 

One day it was very muggy and hot down in Bingham Canyon.  Dark clouds gathered up among the mountaintops, and soon the rain was pouring down.  Edla and Emil were sitting on the porch to their house and watched how timbers and boards came floating down the street.  When the horse drawn buss, that was transporting people up the road, met with the floating mess it knocked the legs from under the horses, and the rushing water took the bus on its way down.  According to Mrs. Backlund the water expanded to a flood and took with it horses, cows and calves, floating with their legs in the air. 

Ore Haulers
The year 1913 the Backlund family returned to Finland.  It was a rough trip with 3 small children.  The last part of the trip with “hackkarro” (a horse drawn cart with wooden wheels) on the muddy road from the railroad station in Kallby to Emil’s childhood home at Kyrckbacka in Esse.  What is really happening, Edla was wondering, when mud splashed up on the passengers.  The reason for them returning home was that Emil had contracted “mine disease”.  What made it more sad was that they never got paid for the house they left in Bingham.  But things worked out.  After some time the moneys for the sale of their house arrived from America.  With that money they built a house by Steinpotten by the road to Esse.  In spite of his bad sickness Emil still had 30 more years to live, even though in bad health. 

The memories from the years as youngsters in America followed Emil and Edla for the rest of their lives and there was hardly a day that they did not speak about the time in Bingham Canyon.  

Åsa  has left a new comment on your post "Bingham No fa ja te America": 
She found the posts on Gene’s family tree
Hi, It was very interesting and somewhat suprising to read your blog. I guess we are related because my grandmother was one of the twin girls that Edla and Emil got in Bingham. :-)
best regards. Åsa Tolvers, Esse, Finland
No fa ja te America
This is a story my Grandmother’s aunt, Edla Antbrams wrote about Bingham in 1903 before going back to Finland.  Edla and Emil Backlund met, married and lived in Carr Fork, Bingham Canyon.  The story starts with the family and friends sitting on a porch overlooking the road to Highland Boy.  There are three children in this picture, one of them must be Asa.
Asa, please coment again so we can introduce ourselves.  There is so much I would like to know about the Antbram families.


  1. Hi, It was very interesting and somewhat suprising to read your blog. I guess we are related because my grandmother was one of the twin girls that Edla and Emil got in Bingham. :-)
    best regards. Åsa Tolvers, Esse, Finland

  2. Thank you, Asa and thank you Kaj. You have answered many questions about Jakob Jakobsson Antbram’s first family (I came from the second family). Erik August, I found buried in the Bingham Cemetery with an “Iron Cross) for a marker. Then I found a picture of Edla and Emil living in Carr Fork in “Olin’s Book, they were your grandparents and a great Aunt of mine.
    Best regards Eugene

  3. I learned more from this blog post about the Swedish-Finnish population in Bingham than I have been able to find through any of my google searches. Emil, Edla and Vivian are listed as boarders in my great grandparents home in the 1910 census. My grandmother's, Hannah Lund, maiden name was Backlund but I cannot find any records with her parent's names. Do you think Emil and Hannah were related? Where did you get this information from?

  4. Thanks for this great post. I learned a lot about the history of Bingham and the role of Finnish immigrants there. I too have a Backlund ancestor who lived in Bingham, but his name was Matts Leander, not Emil. I especially liked all the photos. Do you have the names of any of the people in the photos?


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