Finnish heritage blooming along Maine midcoast

By Roxanne Moore Saucier, BDN Columnist
Posted Feb. 07, 2010, at 6:53 p.m.

Nineteen people participated in the Finnish language class last fall at the Finnish Congregational Church in South Thomaston. That includes teacher Karl Brooks, who I think deserves a round of applause for helping to keep the language and culture alive in coastal Maine.

The group had such a good time, according to Karen Bowers, that the class met two weeks longer than planned.

The class was offered by the Finnish Heritage House in South Thomaston, which ran Bowers’ nice article on the front of the winter 2010 issue of Iltahti, Evening Star, the FHH newsletter.

The Finnish Heritage House will reopen Saturday mornings in mid-March, and you’ll want to know that because its resources are growing.

John Manter of Veazie kindly donated three trunks of Finnish materials to FHH recently, both nonfiction and fiction. The collection numbers more than 1,000 books.

Manter, according to an Iltahti article by Steve Gifford, studied in Finland for a year at the urging of his University of Maine adviser and history teacher, the late Dr. John Hakola.

Hakola was one of 15 children of Finnish immigrants Mathew and Hilma Hakala, as it was spelled in the 1930 census of Stockett-Sand Coulee, Cascade County, in Montana.

Mathew, a coal miner, immigrated in 1903, and Hilma in 1902, they told the census enumerator. Both were naturalized citizens.

So a history professor from Montana came to Maine and inspired a student who went to Finland and later gave his collection to the Finnish Heritage House in South Thomaston.

I think that’s terrific. Also donating books to FHH recently was Dr. Richard Impola, who translates Finnish novels.

The newsletter also featured an account of last September’s Finn Fling at the Finnish Heritage House. Yes, there was food. Shouldn’t there be a cookbook?

There is. FHH member June Ranta Wilcox has compiled “From a Finnish Kitchen,” with more than 200 recipes from members and friends of the midcoast’s Finnish community.

Not every recipe is Finnish, but plenty of them are — Grammy Heino’s Squash Bread, for example. And Pannukakku (baked pancake). And pullas.

You may purchase a cookbook for $14.50, postage included, sent to June Wilcox, 25 Old County Road, Winterport, ME 04496. For information, e-mail her at kessal@aol.com.

The heritage of some of the contributors includes these names: Ranta, Anderson, Peterson, Hyvarinen, Matson, Niemi, Sulin, Nyberg, Keponen, Suomela, Harjula, Heino, Rytky, Hokkanen, Meklin, Riutta, Jura, Keravuori, Kiskila, Manninen, Oittinen, Peltola, Masalin, Makinen, Saari, Vaisanen, Rahkonen, Korhonen and Korpinen.

June Ranta Wilcox grew up in Rockland, where her family held “sauna night” on Wednesdays and Fridays in the sauna — pronounced “SOW-na” — on their property.

You can join the FHH for $10 a year, or $45 for five years, sent to Finnish Heritage House, PO Box 293, South Thomaston, ME 04858.

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Mike Gleason of Bangor e-mailed info about a portion of World War I draft registrations being online through RootsWeb at http://userdb.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ww1/draft/search.cgi.

Some 15 percent of counties in the United States are included at this point.

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“Who Do You Think You Are?” Actress Lisa Kudrow will host this NBC program interviewing celebrities about their family history.

The seven-week series is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Friday, March 5. Those profiled include actresses Susan Sarandon and Sarah Jessica Parker, director Spike Lee and football player Emmitt Smith.

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Black History Month book discussions in the third-floor Lecture Hall at Bangor Public Library, led by Dr. Josephine A. Bright, will be:

- Works by Zora Neale Hurston, 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13.

- Works by Paula Marshall, 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.

For information, call 947-4625.

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On Wednesday, Feb. 17, I will give a new program at 6 p.m. for the Penobscot County Genealogical Society at Bangor Public Library.

More about that next week, also.

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This week I enjoyed reading the Stetson Public Library Newsletter, which includes information on town activities, the library and the Stetson Historical Society.

The society’s first meeting of the year will be held Thursday, April 1.

The newsletter includes the 24th in a series of articles submitted by Charles Leighton on the early history of the town.

The February-March article offers information on the “World’s Largest Oxen” — Granger and Mt. Katahdin — owned by Fred Rand in the early 1900s.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to familyti@bangordailynews.net.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/02/07/living/family-ties/finnish-heritage-blooming-along-maine-midcoast/ printed on December 18, 2014