Friday, July 15, 2011




                The idea behind the school in Vora came from some enthusiastic students, Jac. Kaustinen, J. J. Hulden and Signe Pamela Stromborg.  There was a lot of fighting about this school in the first years of its existence.  There were a lot of different ideas about how it was started and there was even a novel by Hugo Ekhammar, the first Headmaster.  He wrote a book about all of the things that were going on in starting the school.  It is called "Det norrfangna landet" which means "The Northern Country".  The school had an important place to fill in the future culture endeavors in the Swedish countryside, the name they called that area in Finland.


                Our Country's almost 100 years of slumber under "the Russian parenthesis (parentensens)" was finished.  There was some new laws.  The February law, an unlawful draft law, had awakened the country's leaders and every individual to start an important new work for the country.  Also in the school system, new winds were blowing.  There was stubborn resistance to the proposed folk school.  In many parts of the country it had taken curious expression, but the resistance started to disappear.  There was a new youth movement starting and a temperance movement started to come into full force.  In the year 1860 the idea of folkschools started in Grundtvigs and that idea was taken up by Anders Svedberg in Munsala and they started some of the of first folkschools in 1890-95.   These schools were started in a number of places in Finland, Vora's folkschool was started in 1907.  Everywhere the young people were very enthusiastic to study in these schools

                Within their student circles in Helsingforth, they were strongly fighting against the Russian forces.

                The first course in Vora started in 1905.  Three students from Osterbotten, Signe Stomborg, John Hulden and Jac. Kaustinen, originally from Vora gave seminars and discussions in this course.  When they had enough discussions and seminars, they started a Guaranty Society or Founding Association with a Constitution and an outline of the programs they were going to offer in the school.  First of all, they had to get permission to start the school. Becau se of political situation, they had to call the school Vora Agriculture and Home Economics School.  By calling it an agriculture school, they thought the state might give them economic help.  But from the school's program, it was not only in name only, their ideas were towards farming and home economics.  But they didn't want to give up the liberal arts courses; they wanted to teach more than practical subjects.

                The Senate gave them permission to start the school on June 14, 1907 but they were denied any economic help.  The Guarantee Society was able to get some volunteer subsidies and donations.  They received a couple of thousand marks in donations and they thought that was enough to guarantee the existence of the school for the first year. They decided to open the school on November 1, 1907.  They chose Johan Jacob Hulden to be the first Headmaster.  The first year he suggested that they may have to hold classes somewhere else, perhaps in Tottesund in Maxmo because they might not find a suitable house in Vora.  They had thought to have classes in a courthouse in Vora.  The first classes were held on the second floor of the Murkais (gastgivargard) Hostel? or Inn? in Makipaa.

                During the summer 1907 they wanted to have their own house for the school and they had some different suggestions.  Rather surprisingly there was a chance to get the Holms nicely kept lands.  The Landsmans or Head of the Village, had this rather large homestead in Rokio, a small village in Vora.  They decided in a meeting to buy this homestead.  On January 27, 1908 they were told the place had been bought.  They started a building committee in order to rebuild and fix up the Holms homestead and make it into the school.  They got economic help from people in the neighborhood; they got building materials and free hours of work.  Because of this help, they could begin the second year of the school under their own roof.  The renovations at Holms were rather costly so the school went into debt.  But everyone tried to help and even Vora emigrants in America donated funds for the new school.  They also started a library for the new school.  


                The purchase of the Holms homestead caused some controversy from the beginning.  It was a large homestead, about 1-1/8 mantal.  The donation (land and buildings) came as a letter (gavobrev) from the Landsmen.  The parcel that was to be the school was given as a donation.  The buyers of the Guaranty Society, the Foundation for the school, parceled up the land and sold part of the land.  The buyers made some gain on selling the other parcels and there was some fighting about the profit.  Some buyers gave school the profit that they made and others didn't so they went to court about it.  The book that was written about the fighting may be a little exaggerated, but it does illustrate what was happening.

                Within the school itself, there was dissent because of the changes in teachers and reasons for all those changes.  The first Head Master stepped down and Hugo Elkholm became the second Head Master.  He was hot headed and a fighting man but he gave himself complete to the call of teaching.  He was not a quiet man; he was fighting about the purchase and made a lot of enemies because of that.  There was a big clash as the ending of school year and he had to step down.  He was followed by Hugo Sommarstrom who was there for three years.  The last year of his administration, he took care of his job through a substitute.  There were a lot of changes in other teaching personnel at that time.

                In 1912 there were more economic problems because of the political situation.  The Guarantee Society didn't feel they could expect any more economic help for the school in 1912-13 and they didn't have any more resources left for themselves.  So they turned to a traveling school and gave the school the suggestion of combining Vora School with the traveling school.  They also turned to the Student Council with a request that they would dispose of 2,500 marks that the student council had. The Student Council turned them down and turned down the suggestion that the school should be combined with the traveling school.  Because there weren't any other ideas on how to solve the economic problems, they decided to close the school for one year.  They went to the Vasa Society with a request for cooperation because that society had been helping other schools.  The Vasa Society told them they would help by employing the teachers and overseeing the academic program, but they did not want to give any economic help.  The Vora school felt the school was treated rather like a stepchild by the Vasa School Society.  Vora School got very little economic help and that usually consisted of money collected from other areas for the society.  They thought because of the suspension of school was for the good, but for the economic reason it was not good.  Because during that year the state was giving large subsidies for these type of schools, building and maintenance subsidies, so others benefited from that.

                After all the fighting, some very calm years followed. As in the rest of the country, there was peace and more building and consolidation of the work going on.  The question of state subsidies for the schools was decided and they received subsidies on an annual basis.  In addition there was more continuity in the teaching staff.  After 1918 they were free from the Russian Czars.  This was the reason that for the calm.  Fighting against the Russians disrupted the whole school system also.  So the school then became a true Citizen's School


A Homestead that became the home for a school for young people.

                During its first year Vora school was located in a building on Murkais house in Makipaa.  On November 3, 1907 the Guarantee Society bought Holm's old homestead in Rokio village for the school.  The main building and a roomy servant's quarter were offered.  After extensive repairs, they had suitable school and work quarters.  Also the beautiful and distant location of the homestead made it a suitable home for a school.

                The school was able to move into the new buildings in the fall of 1908.  As the old Holms Homestead, the only homestead in the county, has many “DARK and LIGHT MEMORIES” from the old days.  I allow myself to draw up a short history of the homestead.


                The first owner of Holms that we know of for certain is Jons Ragvaldsson who was mentioned as the first farmer here between 1544-1566.  He was followed by his son Ragvald Jonsson who was the owner of Holms from 1569 to 1590.  The next owner was Per Larsson who had the homestead from 1593 until his death in 1603.  During the 16th and 17th centuries, the homestead was called Ragvalds after Jons Ragvaldsson's father Ragvald.  In the Church books, the name Holms is first mentioned in 1723.


                In the fall of 1603 the wife Karin (probably Per Larsson's widow) was mentioned as the owner of Holms.  In the year of 1604 the homestead was taken over by Gavril Pafuelsson Wernberg.  His father was a judge Pafuel or Paulus Persson who was a lawyer for Klas Kristenson Horn.  His mother Margareta, daughter of a farmer in Angermanland, Erik Sursill, known for many beautiful daughters.

                In 1573 Gavril Pafuelsson married Miss Barbro Viloides, daughter to the reverend in Vora, Jacocbus Martini Viloides Aboensis.  He was head of the Church for all of Osterbootten.  he was also mixed up in the "Klubbe War" because after the war when Klas Fleming gathered the reverends and the farmers from each village to Storkyro and there seriously reprimanded them, Jacob Viloides was reprimanded also.

                It was told that Klas Flemming told them with a cruel smile "You have hastened to come to Abo and tear down Abo Castle, but just as you can't bite with your teeth the hearth in this house, you will not be able to harm Abo Castle".  Then Klas Fleming ordered the reverends and farmers to walk up the hearth and bite into the stone while he sat laughing at the table.

                Gavril Pafuelsson was the ancestor of the families of Wernberg and Werenberg. According to the "Earth Books" he lived to be over 100 years old.  Earth books are church books.

                In 1637 Holms was owned by Gavril's younger son Christian Gabriel Wernberg, a Reverend in Vora from 1670.  Christian Wernberg was mixed up in the witch craft processes in Vora in the 1670's.  A court document dated 1675 told how an old woman, Margeta, was dragged in front of the court and accused of witch craft by Agneta Kristoffersdotter.  Margeta was disabled and she couldn't move without help.  She was accused of having visited Blakulla, a place where witches gather and do whatever witches do.  The principal witness was a Margeta's grandchild, a seven year old boy.  He described these visits to Blakulla in detail.  He also told the court that three years earlier when he was only four years old, he would see his mother and grandmother go to Blakulla.  The other witness was the Reverend in the village (Rokio), Christian Gabriel Wernberg.  He accused Margeta of killing his son though her witch craft because his son had take a knife which belonged to Margeta.  Margeta didn't know who had taken her knife had cursed the thief, but didn't think that it would kill the person or give him a sickness which would kill him.  She told the court that she had not done any witchcraft against that boy.  After several demands to try to persuade (torture?) this woman to confess, they finally got her to confess and she was sentenced to death by the court.

                The next year 1676, practices of witch craft were growing.  At least six witches were burned in Vora.  These procedures did not put Reverend Wernberg in a good light during the later years of his life.

                During 1684-1712, Holms Homestead was owned by Ingrid Hakansdotter.  She also owned a pub which she opened close to the church.


            NOTE:  In 1723 the name Holms was first mentioned in the  church books.  This would have been when the farm was owned by Catharina Ross; apparently she owned the farm 1722-23, after her mother, Margareta Wernberg, and before her stepdaughter, Anna Ross, who was the owner in 1724.

                The Holms Homestead was owned by Church people at that time, probably Protestants.  During this time of calamity, Holms was owned Christian Wernberg's daughter, Margareta Christiansdotter Wernberg owned the farm from 1713 to 1721; who was married to a Church official.  During this time of war, twenty houses at Holms were burned according to the Church books. (The Great Wrath Wars) 

                There is a long chapter about the burning of houses during war time as described in the church books.  One story describes Catharina Ross and the items that were lost in her house.  Catharina Ross wrote that her mother Margareta Wernberg gave her a servant by the name of Maria Mickelsdotter.  Catharina had fled to Sweden and left her servant to take care of several items which include: one iron pan, another type of pan, a wooden instrument used for making cloth, one large pewter plate, a distillery, two large pots of iron and eight pewter candle sticks.  Many of these items were gone when Catharina returned from Sweden and she accused her servant.  Maria answered the accusation and said that the Russians had taken the distillery.  Maria had traded some items for a cow and she gave or lent many other items and they were not returned.

                Catharina married Gabriel Kalm and had a son, Pehr Kalm, who was born in March of 1716.  He became a very famous scientist.  Another famous man, Elias Branner, came from Holms; he was married to Susanna, another daughter of Gabriel Wernberg.  Elias was a miniature painter as well as a scientist.  He lived near the end of the 1600's and beginning of the 1700's.  His father was Mustasaari Isak Branner

                The following owner of Holms was Catharina Ross' stepdaughter Anna Ross.  She was a widow of Kapellanen (title) Isak Wasbohm.  She had the homestead during the time 1724 to about 1732.  She also fled to Sweden and they know that she left a big chest in Kvimo in Maxmo archipelago.  The chest was stolen during the war times and there were court proceedings telling that it contained clothing and some five large plates of money.

                During the last part of 1720, Holms was used by Reverend Johan Larsson Gezelius.  In 1732 he seems to have completely taken over the Homestead.  His father was a little bit higher than a Reverend, more like a Bishop.  Bishop and Revered Laurentius Gazelius had taken care of the Homestead because Anna didn't have funds to run it

                There were 20 houses destroyed during the war and some of the agriculture was not kept up at the farm.  They burned a lot for heat.  The fields were falling into disrepair and the woods took over the field.  Anna Ross came home from Sweden and was very poor and couldn't afford to hire people to keep up the homestead or to help her with anything.  She was forced to leave the homestead because of that and it was received by the State. 

                The archives in Stockholm had an interesting piece of writing from Vora.  In 1740, some landsman named Oxe wrote to the Swedish government with a description concerning Vora County.  In this description, he tells that in Osterbotten, the larger area, there is only one apple tree and that is in Stewards, a garden, meaning the reverend's garden.  Among the strange plantings in our climate, there are two old maple? trees (uncommon trees).  The interesting thing is that these appear to be in this Homestead that belonged to the Bishop Gaezlius, that is, the Holms homestead.

                Johan died 1740.  His widow was married the next year to Jacob Gabrielsson Haartman in Vora.  Through this marriage , Jaacob Haartman became the owner of Holms and he had that from 1741 until his death in 1767.  In 1768-76, the Homestead was owned by Jacob Haartman's widow, Beatta Andersdotter.  She was born Kiemmer.  There is a copy of a will signed by Beata Kiemmer specifying who is inheriting what.


                In the year of 1794, Holms was taken over by Johannes Haartman's son-in-law, Gustaf Christophersson, a major in the Army's Navy.  He is the most famous of all the owners of Holms.  He had also been in the Merchant Marines which they know from the custom's journal.  He had bought and sold much custom in the Merchant Marines.  He owned several places and had bought several homesteads.  He became very wealthy.  In 1790, the major gave loans to several farmers.  He was a large landowner and was very important in the village and church.  He acted in many of important village and church matters.  There was one time it was suggested to raise the salary of Musical Director of the Church.  The Major did not want to give him a raise. There was a long document as to why the person should not get a raise.  In the summer of 1795, major Christopher stood up at a village meeting and he was very demanding; he had a lot of opposition and they were making a lot of noise so he had to keep quiet because all the farmers told him to be quiet.  "You can let other people talk," he said.  He started a new "character" building - think that means main building, in 1795 and insured the building.  He ordered a big boat 58 foot x 23 feet wide to be built for him.  The economic situation became worse.  His wife died young and left two sons.  Soon after his wife's death he started to drink and gamble.  He lost his money and was forced to sell his homestead.  Gustave Nicholas left him a lot of money, 750 riksdalars, towards the end.  That used to be Swedish coin in the old days.

WARRIORS, PRIESTS and LAWMEN (not lawers exactly)
under the 1800's
                In 1800, through the will of Beata and Elizabeth Haartman, parts of Holms were turned over to Beata's sons, Jacob and Hans, and a student Nils Aulin from Kronoby.  They were given 13/24 mantal.

                When Major Christopherson had economic problems in 1803, he was forced to sell 3/8 mantal of Holms to Captain Baron Alexander Erik Stromberg.  He took part in the battle of Oravis and was Head of a Company of men from Vora,  Kykarleby, and Kryro.  He was considered a very good leader, very calm.  There is a little except telling that when he was fighting against the Russians, he sat down on a log or stump in the woods.  He saw a soldier and called to him,  "Give me a piece of chewing tobacco".  The man replied, "Yes, Captain, yes, but you have to come over here".  He got up and left his place to get the tobacco and a cannon ball cut off the stump he was sitting on.  This didn't seem to bother him, he was as calm as ever.
                Captain Stomberg was a very fierce leader but he often beat his subordinates and swore at them.  But when they went off to fight, he told them to "forgive and forget."  He gave them good food and fought at the head of the Company.  After the war, he had Kullas kronobostalle in Rokio as well as the part of Holms that he bought from Christopherson.  He lived in Kullas kronobostalle.  He built a very large building at Holms.  No sooner had the building been built than Stomberg got sick and died.
                Major Christopherson gambled away everything he owned and so in his old days had to rely on others for help.  He died in 1823.  His son, Jacob Reinhold Christophersson, was a Captain in the Royal Swedish Navy and he had inherited part of Holms from his mother.  A few weeks after his father died, he sold his part (3/16 mantel) to the Reverend in Lillkyro, Zachris Forsman.  After that there were also calmer and better times at Holms.  There was a notation in the Vora School archives concerning this sale - a legal document witnessing the sale. 
                The Reverend and Bishop Zachris Forsman was in full ownership of Holms.  He bought the large homestead from other owners for 500 riksdalars.  A document mentions the names of the owners he purchased the property from.
                During his lifetime, Bishop Forsman seems to have had the Holms farm run by tenant or leasehold farmers.  After his death in 1839, his widow Eva Aurora Forsman moved to Holms.  She was a very prudent hardworking woman and ruled the homestead with a strong hand.  She was also very helpful and tried to help her servants get their own homes, but everyone didn't appreciate this helpfulness.
                There is a story about two servants who stole from Mrs. Bishop Forsman.  She usually kept her money in a large chest in her attic and two day workers, Skaj-Matt and Jafs-Matt found out she had her money there and one night they broke in and took the whole amount..  Jafs-Matt was brought to court and since he still had the money on him, it was not thought he had much of a case.  The court proceedings were dragged out and during this time, Jafs-Matt hid the money behind the window in the court room.  Then when he was brought to court he denied everything.  Because of the lack of evidence, he was set free.  The farmer who owned the place where the place where the court proceedings had been held found the money and he kept it.
                Skaj-Matt hid his part of the money in the  woods above the village.  Before his death he showed the place to his daughter.  The daughter had a position in the house of a farmer in the same village and he noticed that she often went to a particular place in the woods.  One time he followed her and found out about the treasure and the following night he took the money and kept it for his own use.  Skaj-Matt's daughter became very poor and had to walk around the village and beg.  Neither Jafs-Matt nor Skaj-Matt were able to gain from the money they stole.
                Mrs. Bishop Forsman had the Holms Homestead until 1852.  She had the good fortune of seeing all of her sons go into church service and they held very high positions.  The oldest son, Georg Jakob, was an official in Vasa school from 1824-42.  Later he became a Revered in Tavastkyro.  He was the father of George Azckris Yrjo-Koskinen who was made a nobleman in 1884 and took the name Yrjo-Koskinen.  The other son Carl Rudolf was a headmaster for Abo higher elementary school.  In 1852 he became a Reverend in Ilmola and he was contract Bishop in Vasa at the same time.  In 1864 he became a doctor of theology. He was well known scientist of classical languages and wrote many works about classical languages and wrote about religious subjects.  One of his sons, Ivar Rudolf Koskimies became Bishop of Kupio Church County. 
                Her third son, Zackris, became Kapellan in Laihela.  Her fourth sons Gustav Erik was Kapellan in Ylistaro.  The youngest son, Oskar Vilhem, was a Revered in Kktorkyro a contract Bishop over Osterbottens and he as also an expert in classical language.  This was a very prosperous family, with many titles.

                There were also grandchildren that visited their grandmother and stayed with her for quite a long time. A businessman, Marten Ingamanin Abo, met with her and talked about the Vora and all the people who came from there and about Yrjo-Koskinmne who had a very important position in government as a senator.

                In 1852 Mrs. Bishop Forsman Holms left Holms and lived with one of her sons.  The homestead was sold now to a nobleman of Stanislaus Order Third class who was some kind of government secretary and had another title, Carl Johan Solfvin.  The sum of the purchase was 400,000 silver rubles.
                New times started at Holms - calm and peaceful times.  The main building was rebuilt; the garden put into very good order.  The stables were known as the best in the vast neighborhood.  Birch trees were planted on each side of the street to make a birth alley going up to the main house to the street. There was a big party at Holms and Mr. Solfvin was going to take a couple of young ladies who had been to the party to the road.  As he was turning south to the road, he turned over and both of the ladies were thrown out in the snow.  This made Mr.Solfvin very aggravated and the next spring, in 1868, he made a new road down to the main road  and he planted an new row of birch trees.  It was straight road.  According to legend, there was a man called Stand in the hunger spring of 1868 who planted the birch and asps and in payment he got one meal of food each day.

                Solfvin was very stern - like a policemen.  He was head of the police force and had police investigation in the first room when you come into the house.  He sometimes forced (did not torture?) the accused to confess.  A few years ago, there was a big birch tree in the back of the house and you could read the name of several girls; Solfvin's daughters who had carved their names in the birch trees.

                An aunt of Solfvin who ran the house, Aunt Ulla, was very greedy and careful with her money.  She was very miserly in everything she did.  She took care of the preparation of the food and always tried to save on the food.  It is said that Aunt Ulla still haunts Holms on dark autumn nights.

All three buildings at Holms

The house in the picture was in 1959-60, when Lis-Britt and I studied (and met eachother) at "Vörå folkhögskola", the house where the principal had his appartment, the kitchen and the diningroom for the pupils were also located in it.
Before 1907 the house or parts of it was the house of the "länsman" (=the highest policeman, goverment representant in the region) at Holms. Grandma Lisa was as I remember it a servant at Holms before she emigrated.
Before that Holms was a "majors boställe" (=residense for a Swedish army major).
 Perhaps only the seller "källare" is from that time.

The Purchase of Holms

                In the year 1873, Solfvin was forced to sell Holms because he was transferred.  Holms was bought for 30,000 marks by two farmers, Johan Kock and Mickel Raback.  They later sold small parcels to their relatives so finally six farmers owned the homestead.  Now worse times started again.  The buildings were run down; the beautiful garden overgrown and the bushes and ornamentals were ruined.  There was a wall of grey stone that was torn down and the stones sold to the church where they were used for the graveyard.  Only the turf below the main building was left untouched.  One of the owners went as far as to cut down the beautiful birch alley but then the neighbors came and stopped that.
                In the year 1907, Holms was transferred to Vora folkhogskola.  The woods and the fields were sold separately.  But to this day, the school got the best home possible in this building.  Old times give witness to honest work and honest ownership, but if you are too immodest, it brings shame and poverty.  Honest work gives rise to profit.

VASA BLADET (Newspaper)  19 July 1873 Add or announcement in the Newspaper

                Because of the peasants moving away from the farm, the Holms Taxed Farm which is one and 1/8 mantel in size and is located in Rokio Village and Vora Parish close to the church on the General road to the Post Office.  Because of the moving of the peasants, the Farm must be sold.  This property on which there are six crofts (six tenant farm places).  There are six crofts with permanent rental income.  The present harvest from the farm is on the average 130-150 barrels of grain besides root vegetables.  The farm can feed six horses over the winter, 24 cows, 30 sheep and other animals.  More modern farming methods could double the output of hay and grain.  The larger buildings have been reconstructed for better class of people to live in.  The buildings are ideal for a large daily or a commercial farm.  Advantageous payment conditions are offered to a serious buyer and if so desired the cattle and the crops that are growing can be purchased.  Oral or written purchase offers and inquires can be done at the place or at the address Gamlakarleby.
                This was the add in the Vora Bladet that prompted Great Great Grandfather Johan Simonsson Kock and Mickel Raback to purchase the Holms Farm. 

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