10 fun facts Finns probably don’t know about Finnish Americans

Finnish Americans are a tiny portion of the American population, and yet they have made a big impact on American culture. Read on for 10 fun facts about Finnish Americans that Finns probably don’t know.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / mestos

Finns first arrived in the US in 1638 as part of a Swedish colony

Map in Finnish of New Sweden colony

New Sweden was founded along the Delaware River in the Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The colony was populated by Finns and other Nordic immigrants until the Dutch took over the colony in 1655.

John Morton, who signed the Declaration of Independence, was a descendant of a New Sweden colonist. Martti Marttinen (anglicized to Morton) was originally from Rautalampi, Finland.



The Finns of New Sweden helped popularize the log cabin

The log cabin is one of the most well-known icons of the pioneer spirit, and it’s all thanks to Finns. The forestry expertise and building techniques of the Finnish colonists of New Sweden helped make the log cabin the must-have home of the time. Even Abraham Lincoln grew up in one!

The log cabin in the photo is the Schorn log cabin, built by John Morton’s grandfather.

During the 1860s through to the 1930s, Finns flocked to the American Midwest

A Finnish immigrant family in front of their first shelter, c. 1910. Photo: University of Minnesota.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan had a massive influx of Finnish immigrants. Sometimes called the “Great Migration”, it was the largest wave of Finnish immigrants in American history. The Midwest’s healthy mining industry, crop failures in Finland, and Russification were all common factors behind immigration.

Today, most Americans with Finnish ancestry still live in the Midwest

Finnish Salvation army in Finntown of Brooklyn, New York. October 1942.

But that doesn’t mean that Finns only stuck to one place — Finnish immigrants put down roots all over the country. Many so-called “Finntowns” could be found in places like Brooklyn, New York, where 20,000 Finns lived and worked.

Stanton Township, Michigan has the highest percentage of Finnish Americans

47% of Stanton Township’s population have Finnish ancestry, in comparison to the nation-wide percentage of a mere 0.2%.

In the 2011 census, there were 649,107 Finnish Americans

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Stefan

There are a surprising number of recognizable names included on the list. Matt Damon and Vanessa Williams are among the many celebrities who have Finnish ancestry.



Both sauna and the concept of sisu are popular with Finnish Americans

Da Yoopers Tourist Trap in Ishpeming, Michigan. Photo: Flickr / larrysphatpage

Naturally, certain parts of Finnish culture have been passed down through the generations. Sauna and sisu have not only survived, but thrived. Although most Finnish Americans don’t speak Finnish anymore, quite a few words have made it into common usage.

Finnish foods are also popular

Midwestern food has been heavily influenced by the many Nordic immigrants that settled in the area, including the Finns. Many of the foods that Finnish immigrants ate are still being enjoyed today. You can find Karelian pies, pulla, pancakes, pea soup, blueberry pies, and more. Sometimes you can even find lutefisk – the tradition of the “it’s only once a year, I might as well” Christmas dish continues to live on in some communities.

There’s even a Finlandia University

Founded as Suomi College in 1896 by Finnish immigrants, the university was created as a means to help preserve Finnish culture in the United States – which it still does today.



Finnish Americans invented St. Urho’s Day

Statue of St. Urho in Menahga, Minnesota. Photo: Flickr / Josh

Originating in the 1950s, St. Urho’s Day (March 16th) was created as a tongue-in-cheek counterpart to St. Patrick’s Day. According to legend, the fictional St. Urho (whose name was influenced by Finland’s president at the time Urho Kekkonen) drove the grasshoppers out of ancient Finland, saving the grape crops. The holiday has caught on in many Finnish-American communities, and there are even statues commemorating the brave St. Urho.

Finnish Americans, what would you add to list our list? Let us know in the comments below!

115 replies

  1. Sunset Park, a neighborhood in Brooklyn and even Harlem had a Finntown.

    Bay Ridge/Sunset Park was an enclave of Scandinavian and Nordic immigrants. My maternal grandfather’s family lived there for years after emigrating from Norway.

  2. I highly recommend anyone (especially Finns) travelling in the States to visit the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Just amazing how much Finnish and Finnish American heritage lies there. Simply brilliant how menus in coffee shops are in Finnish, alongside with street names etc. and of course Finlandia University (could you guess their team name is Lions). I was lucky as an exchange student to get to experience it all thanks to my host parents

  3. I’m a Swed-Finn Yooper. Born and raised in the U.P. of Michigan now in NC. A couple things I’d add to the list are home made woven rugs . A lot of Finnish women had looms and made the nicest and most durable rugs out of scraps, rags, old coats, etc. I still have a couple. And the yummy thing of dunking hard cinnamon toast in coffee. The toast is still made in some of the U.P. bakeries. I do miss those Scandinavian things.

  4. My Home town West Barnstable ,Mass, Was all Finnish at one time and still a few left .Its still called Finn Town or Shark City ! I beautiful place to see .

  5. This totally left out the fact of finnish immigrants actually going there as “renki” and “piika”, practically working in swedish families for food-salary. Also the fact many many many finns married american natives, mainly Ojibwas has been left out. There are still thousands of “findians” livung in the Peninsula area.

    • Yes, that is where the other half of my Finnish heritage comes from. I have to get to that museum.

    • My mother, Ida Raudasoja, was born and raised in Fairport, Ohio. Her parents were born in Finnland. My sister, Sally, and I have many fond memories of Fairport.

  6. Very interesting I originally was from Ironwood Michigan and am very proud of my Finnish heritage 100 percent Finn. Saunas and Finnish foods were part of growing up and still have them.

  7. Another noteworthy celebration of Finnish heritage would be Finnfest USA held annually in cities nationwide where Finns have left their mark, also a couple times in Ontario, Canada. This year it is being held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have attended it a couple of times, once in Hancock, Michigan, the area where I grew up, and once in Marquette, Michigan, where I presently live.

    • I love FinnFest! Been attending since I was a little girl. My family is from from Marquette, and were so happy when it was held there. We helped paint some of the chairs displayed along Fair Ave.

  8. I just attended a family reunion in Michigan and Wisconsin to meet all of my Finnish cousins, aunts and uncles, etc. We had a fish fry from Lake Superior. Being from Los Angeles, it was such a welcome change of scenery and traditions. I got to see where my mom and grandparents grew up. Susi is very big in my family. I have all of my grandma’s handwritten Finnish recipes in little metal boxes and my daughter and I have a great time making them.

    • Ah, i hope that sisu is big in your family. “Susi” means a wolf. But I also hope that there is some susi left.

  9. Cokato, MN has the oldest continuous Finnish settlement in the US (150 years in 2014). You will find a couple Finnish churches there, and an active community and historical society. The Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St Paul) with nearby Wisconsin area has the largest number of Finns and their descendants at over 44,000 in 2011 census.

    • I would then suggest that Hancock, Michigan would at least come in second where Finlandia University is and the street names are in Finnish with Finnish flags on the lamp posts.

    • I would suggest that Hancock, Michigan would certainly come in second with Finlandia Unversity being there and street names in Finnish and Finnish flags flying on lamp posts.

    • Heli Hunter – My husband taught at the middle school in Dassel-Cokato. I recall him remarking on the high number of Finns in the student population.

  10. Fitchburg, MA has been a center of Finnish American culture for more than 100 years. Urho Kekkonen gave a speech there in 1970. Until recently, the Finnish newspaper Raivaaja was published there. There are many second generation Finns (including myself) still living in the general area.

  11. John Koskinen, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service – the highest non-elected office in the United States.

  12. My only granddaughters live in Joensuu. I have been there a couple of times. My son married a very nice Finn and I love to see them and the granddaughters.

  13. Combining two of the above comments, a couple of rugs that my grandmother wove are in Fairport Harbor’s Finnish Heritage Museum. I live in Texas now and due to Nokia’s presence, there’s a decent-sized Finnish population near Dallas.

    • just interested. my maiden name is pelto, shortened from peltomaa. seldom do I find another pelto. have many cousins in finland on both my dads and moms side, thankfully a curious cousin from finland found me. it’s been exciting.

      • I remember my father saying that our last name had been shortened from Peltomaa! My paternal grandparents settled in northern MN; and my maternal grandparents married in the UP, later moving to northern WI. I didn’t get to know any of them as both of my grandfathers died before I was born, and both grandmothers shortly after. My parents are gone as well. Interestingly, they met in Chicago at the Suomi Club!

  14. Why on earth did they go a place that looks exactly like the place they live? Id head south to sun, sea and surf 🙂

    • Florida has a big showing of Ffinns. The street names are in Finnish. I think it’s Miami. I used to tease my parents “What didn’t Grandpa and Grandma settle there where it’s warm.”.

      • I grew up in Lake Worth, FL (near a West Palm Beach). There and Lantana still have large Finnish populations, many Finn businesses and churches exist. Even an honorary Consulate. My mother is an accordion player (student of the great Lasse Pihlajamaa) and my wedding reception was at the Suomi Talk in Lantana.

  15. Finnish flat bread, pasties and rag rugs. My grandmother’s flat bread recipe was taught to me by my Aunt (the bread lady). Remember watching Grandma and my Aunts rip old clothing into strips and roll into a ball to take the neighbor’s loom to make rag rugs. Proud 3rd generation Suomalainen from Annandale, MN.

    • Pasties aren’t Finnish. The Cornish miners from Cornwall UK ?? brought the pasties to the states. You can’t find a pasty in Finland. Pasty is a protected (PGI status) food in Cornwall.

      • The Finns took the Cornish Pasty, added rutabaga, made it a Pasty shape and went into business selling them. They started COOP stores, saunas, Paul Bunyan logging, the only ethical university in the country and pukka fighting.

        • Finnish pasties are available online at pasty.com … straight out of Calumet, Michigan, my hometown. The real thing. (Our family name is Kentala.)

  16. Double Vowel Day.
    Being a keen code-worder a rule of the English languages is NO double A,I or U. Then I met Niina Kaariinimi (now a great friend). keeping an eye out I have discovered Finns also double U’s, and also some double consenants not usually used.

  17. My Gramma was Finn/Swede from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She was born in Toivola near Misery Bay. I heard her speak Finnish from birth. I still vaguely remember my Great-Gramma, who we called Aiti. She spoke little to no English. I also remember my Great-Great Aunt who would make the best coffee cakes and braided breads! I hear someone speak Finnish and it brings back so many great memories.

  18. Live in southwest Washington (state) in a small town named Woodland. Family on my mother’s side moved here from Finland in 1903. Numerous Finns lived in the area and surrounding towns. Had a Finn Hall (no longer there, many roads named after Finnish families including mine (Niemi), and almost everyone had a sauna on their place. I grew up in the log house my grandfather built. Lots of Finns still in area but not together like in the past.

  19. Salolampi is a Finnish Language Immersion Camp established by tenacious and big-dreaming Finnish-Americans in 1978 in Northern Minnesota and since 1992, has resided in Bemidji, MN. Every year hundreds of participants come from around the world to take part in Finnish language and culture immersion programming. Finnish food is served at every meal and learning is done through singing, crafts, sports, and fun. Even many of the buildings (including one of two saunas) were imported from Finland! More information here: http://www.concordialanguagevillages.org/youth-languages/finnish-language-village

  20. There is a Finland, Minnesota in northern Minnesota and Chinatown in San Francisco was origially a Finntown.

  21. My town, Ishpeming, made the list! I play music with the son of the guy who built Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, there.

    Those old dovetail log cabin saunas are beautiful. I have one from the early late 1800s in my yard. Nobody even knows how to make those anymore — all the old timer Finnish carpenters died out, and the technique with them.

  22. As a Finnish ex-pat , visiting Finland every summer, this discussion brings memories of summers in our cabin in Central Finland. It still is our
    “Finnish Labor Camp”.

  23. We went to the Finn Hall in Harlem NY every year for a Christmas party. There was also one in Shrewsbury MA that Finns from Worcester and Fitchburg used for meetings and recreation. It was on a lake.

  24. My grandmother came from Finland in 1895 with her parents and siblings when she was five years old. The family settled in the Negaunee-Ishpeming area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where most of the men were employed in the iron ore mines owned by the Cleveland Cliffs Company. My mother was proud of her Finnish heritage pointing out that Finland was the only country that paid its war debt to the United States, that tiny Finland had been able to fight off the Russian incursions, and that the Finnish immigrants possessed one of the highest rates of literacy of any immigrant group. Finland’s schools still excel in international rankings. My grandmother wove “rag” rugs in her basement on a large loom, read the Tarot cards for her friends, and rented her sauna on Saturday nights to families without one. We still own a log cabin with a sauna on a spring-fed lake in the U.P.

  25. Both sets of my grandparents were Finns. The Anttilas, from Alajarvi, moved to Chisholm, MN; he worked underground in the iron mines. The Kukkolas moved to Cromwell, MN, to farm. I spoke Finn as a kid, but I lost most of it from lack of use. I can still understand it when I hear it. We ate kalamoijakka, pulla, & all other Finn food. I make pulla yet, braided, gleaming w/ browned egg white.
    My Italian husband likes it too.

    • Hello! Nissua …..what makes it different from pulla? My Nanny was 2nd generation Finn/Sami…..she was born and raised in East Harlem, NY (she had 4 of her 5 children there before they moved to NJ in 1956); however, she and our extended family also lived part time in southwestern Vermont from early 20th century through present. We all have sauna….and —for whatever reason—our cardamom bread was called nissua. It wasn’t braided like pulla ( or challah ). Anyone else ever hear of it??? Thanks! Kelly : noescapeartist1@aol.com

        • The Finnish spoken in U.S.gets frozen. Pulla is the modern word. When I went with my father to Finland in the 70’s, my cousins were falling off their chairs at many of the expressions he used from the language that existed decades earlier but had moved on in Finland. Their favorite was when he was earnestly explaining how he had come over in the “flying machine.”

        • Nisu means wheat in Finnish. Yet, as the borders changed between Sweden and Finland many words are the same. True for Nisu. Interchangeable with Pullu. In both languages. Finns put cardamon and braid theirs. Particularly popular during the holidays.

        • I read somewhere that “nisu” or “nisua” is an old word for “wheat.” Finns in Mendocino County, CA still know pulla by that name. My paternal grandfather was born in 1852 in Rantsila, Finland, emigrated to CA (via MI) had a brother in MI) in 1873, and became a citizen in 1886 or so in San Francisco. Lutheran church where I was born in rather remote Mendocino County was founded in 1889 by Finns. Several Finn families from the 1870’s and early 1880’s still have descendants who live there.

  26. I grew up in Kaleva, Michigan, named by Finnish settlers after the Finnish epic poem Kalevala. The old high school gym had big paintings of scenes from the Kalevala- scary stuff to a kid. Street names are Finnish- I grew up on Kauko Street.

  27. Bemidji MN is home to the Corcordia Language Villages which has a Finnish village. My uncle Larry Saukko was the dean there for many years.

  28. My mom made Finnish Pancake when feeding a crowd! A lot less labor intensive to mix it and bake it in the oven! Still have it today!

    • Yum! Pannukaku is the Finnish name.
      My mother is from Laurium in the UP of Michigan. She was half Finn and half French. Her father was Johan Kauppila. We grew up with many things “Finlander” as he used to say!

  29. All of my grandparents settled on Cape Cod. There were lots of Finnish immigrants settling in Massachusetts. Many other places in New England claim Finnish heritage, not just the middle of the US.

  30. We also have a museum, in a modern log cabin, in the historical harbor area of Ashtabula, Ohio called the Finnish American Cultural Center by a group we call The Finnish American Heritage Assn. A local church bakes and sells Nisu or pulla as a fundraiser and to the delight of many from our area!

  31. My mom came from Finland in the late 50’s while my dads parents came from Finland in the late 1800’s. On the old homestead where I still live there is an old log sauna. I still use it occasionally. I miss the older folks who were still so Finnish in their ways. In the next few years I want to visit some of those communities in the USA and Canada that still are “all those things Finnish”.

  32. Both my parents were from Finland. They spoke Swedish to us three children and other friends we knew in B.C. Canada —(New Westminster, Vancouver and Fraser Valley) They told us that they always spoke Svensk
    at home —but, spoke Finnish when outside with all their community. Dad was from Petalax (part of Vassa’s mailing district, and Mom was from Skaftung, near Kristinastad. They didn’t know each other until they met in Vancouver, B.C. Canada at a Scandinavian Dance with many new Canadians attending. We went to Finland in 1993. My father had passed away and Mom asked us children to accompany her as she had always wanted to visit her homeland again. We found Finland so friendly , (changed a lot , since Mom and Dad left in the early 1900’s )–and very clean -organized and beautiful. We attended a huge Family Reunion for all the relatives on my Father’s side. It was well -attended and finally us children found out about Dad’s family-(Haggbloms). Momma’s family too, were wonderful to all of us and made sure we discovered relatives and learned all about the Bobergs (.Thankyou for sharing on FB.)

  33. My paternal grandparents were from Finland, arriving here around 1906. They met somewhere in the Midwest, lived in Arizona, and ultimately settled in Northern California. Fort Bragg had a Finnish settlement where they lived for a while. There’s a Finnish cultural heritage center in Sonoma County. We live in the western part of Berkeley where there are two Finnish Halls. Finnish boat builders built the house we live in.

  34. Hi everyone,

    This is off topic but it was nice to read this story and comments.

    I live in Finland, Helsinki and hope to live in California some day.

  35. The migration from Finland to America was very popular from 1880’ies until 1920’ies. All together 8 of my granduncles, my grandfather’s (Viirret) and grandmothers (Rantala) brothers went there during 1890’ies to 1910’ies. Some granaunts also.
    Mostly they went to California, but some also to Minnesota. Some lived their later lives at Washington state. I suppose one my granduncles was a taxi driver or a chaffeur of a wealthy businessman in New York.
    During latest years we have found a lot of American cousins mostly in Fort Bragg, California but also elsewhere. Modern ancestry applications and Facebook have done it possible. Some of those new cousins have been in Finland to see their new cousins. This has been great!

  36. My parents both came from Finland, and I’ve visited relatives and friends there many times. I encourage visiting Finland, especially for those with Finnish roots, and get enjoyment from organizing group tours there every summer. If interested, information can be found at the Finnish American Reporter in Hancock, Michigan.

  37. I grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and sauna was just a part of weekly life. All my family, including a grandfather, are from Finland. My family names include Niemi, Lustig and Jarvensivu. My family moved to Battle Ground, WA 15 years ago. I noticed all these blonde kiddos and mothers speaking to them in what I thought was Finn, and it was! There is a large population of Finns in my little town and all over the Pacific Northwest! I work as a substitute teacher, and depending on the school, lots of the students have Finnish names. It was a fun surprise. They are usually of the Apostolic Lutheran faith around here, and when it holiday bazaar season, they have home bazaars and sell pulla and even pasties.

  38. I got an ancestry.com kit for Christmas. Found out that I am 65% Finnish. My dad was 100% as both his parents were full Finns. My mother must have some Finnish in her blood also. My maiden name is Niemitalo. There is also a small settlement of Finns in Kaleva, Michigan. This is where my dad grew up. My sister and I still own property up in Kaleva that my grandparents owned. We also celebrate St. Urho’s Day on March 16th, which coincidentally is my youngest son’s birthday. I love finding out about my heritage so thank you all for posting your comments. And yes, I GOT SISU!!!

  39. I am a Finn from both sides. My parents grew up in Covington MI. They would speak Finn but didn’t teach us kids. One day at the dinner table I understood what they were saying. However, I can’t seem to understand how to put a sentence together. I had the privilege of spending a summer in Finland when I was 16. Mostly in Oulu and Lahti. We maintain contact with some relatives in Finland with hopes to visit again.

  40. I put our family name (Suutari) on FB, picked one name that appeared and miraculously, his grandfather turned out to be my Dad’s brother. This has started a chain of communication that has ended with my families history going back to 1550 in Finland encompassing 12,600 names. I’m now documenting the family tree on myheritage.com. I’ve discovered a whole new side of my families history.

  41. My grandparents settled in Bruce Crossing, MI on the UP. Even though we’ve scattered to WI and MN, those UP roots run deep and periodically pull us back…proud of my Finnish heritage.

  42. Hi! As an expatriate Finn I am proud of my Finnish heritage. I was born in zostrobothnia rehion of Finland in the church village the county of Jurva to Anni and Toivo zpalmqvist as the last one of five boys. In the mid sixties st age 17 I had the sudden opportunity to immigrate to wonderful country of United States of America. I neeer regretted doing so. I have enjoyed a continued stream of opportunities through good effort. I joined the local Fonnish American Society of Milwaukee WI and found much that was familiar to me. Even wrote many language lessons for the club. Based on imagined conversations between my neighbor couple Annikki and Eino. I have kept up my Finnish by reading and writing a lot in Finnish. It is retirement hoppy besides glider flying.

  43. Anita Aijala Fitzgerald (Rahnasto) all of my grandparents were born in Finland they came over I believe in the 1920’s one set lived in Leicester, MA the other could not get 2 visa’s to the US they settled in Canada then moved to Leicester, MA. My grandparents had a Sauna my parents spoke fluent Finnish and could write it but my generation lost it I am 100% Finnish I am going to take a DNA test and the park in Shrewsbury, MA in SAC park on Lake Quinnsigamond.

  44. Mom was born and raised in Helsinki, but has Swedish and Russian in her. Dad met her visiting the 52 Olympics, married then Mom came to the US. I was born and raised in the UP.

  45. To Seppo P.
    Hyvää päivää! Your Finnish lessons always gave us something to smile about.
    We never tire of learning more about our ethnic roots. It has been great traveling to meet family in Finland and hosting them here in return. Finnish grandparents came from Vaasa area and Hailuto.

  46. Both of my parents were Finnish. My Mother came over as a young child and my Father was born here. Until my marriage, my last name was Wainionpaa which had many very different pronunciations. I have only set foot in Finland once for a short stop on a cruise. As the years go by my Finnish vocabulary has diminished for lack of use.

  47. I grew up in Toivola, MN which was a Finnish community. That meant watching our grandmothers and mothers making rag rugs, sauna on Saturday nights with friends and neighbors. The men and women went in separately but took sauna totally naked. Christmas meant lutefisk and creamed potatoes. Confirmed in the Finnish Apostalic Lutheran Church which meant first service was in Finnish, second service was English. God’s peace! Life was good.

  48. My Mom and Dad were the founding members of a small Finnish settlement in Sac County, IA. After about 18 year the settlement started to fall apart with the departure of my brother to college in the big city lol Ames, IA. It was downhill from there, my older sister, me and younger sister all left and didn’t return. Dad was born in Menahga MN, where the statue of St Uhro is located. We keep the heritage alive by making Finnish flat bread and following this site

  49. Hei and greetings for all of you, here from the Finland! Nice stories here, my late grandfather, born in michigan, moved back to Finland as a yongster. Never went back but had a impressive amount of American crime/detective paperbacks ?
    Pulla is still heavily used here and some, older people mostly, also call it nisu, depends what dialect you are using.
    That pastry in picture is Karelian Pie, karjalanpiirakka in Finnish. Basic delicacy of my Karelian ancestors.

  50. Butte, MT was a large melting pot due to the mining activity. East Broadway was known as Finntown and my Grandpa (Johnny’s Hot Shots) had a bar next to the Helsinki Bar called the Broadway Bar up until the 70’s. Previously out of Cloquet, MN with the Mississippi Trio. Very proud of the Finnish heritage.

  51. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, born in Hancock and lived in Negaunee. I’ve been to the Finnish celebration in Lantana, FL and joined a nice group of Finns in Daytona Beach. How was I invited? A lady looked at me and said Your are Finnish! and invited me to join the group. Once while traveling in Maine near Rockland riding a country road to visit the house and site of Andre Weyeth’s Chrstina’s World painting I was so surprised to see Finnish names on the mailboxes!

  52. I live in North Texas and I was surprised to hear about any Finnish people living near Dallas. My maiden name is Lahti, and my hometown is Ironwood, Michigan. I am 100% Finnish.

  53. I loved reading all the stories of the Finns I am 100 percent Finnish parents came from Finland in 19 hundreds to cape cod

  54. Grew up in the heart of the U.P. near Ishpeming. My grandpa was 100% Finnish. I absolutely love my Finnish heritage. Most Yoopers from my area are Finn’s with SISU! Been learning Finnish in honor of my Grandpa. I would love to visit my family in Finland.

  55. Folks interested in sauna construction might be like Frank Eld’s book, “Finnish Log Construction – The Art” Check with Finlandia Foundation. Frank, son of Finnish immigrants, is the Foundation’s 2019 lecturer of year and lectured around the country demonstrating unique Finnish hand-hewen construction methods. We loved having him visit Finger Lakes Finns in Western New York. Frank traveled in his Finnebago and was interviewed for the blog – “Stories about Finnish-American people, places, events and culture.”

  56. I am also a Finnish hybrid–Dad was Antti Arrtu Piippo from the
    U.P. Mom was Irish (O’Reilly) and English (Moffatt) extract. Mom
    was Edith A. Hudson Piippo. Mom learned to cook Finnish, take saunas, and visited with Finnish relatives and friends. She used to say she was 40% Finn because she was married to Dad for so many years. I loved being raised Finnish—Even if it was as an American Finn.

  57. Both my parents were from Lavan Saari [ Rusia took the island during Talvi Sota }. My father settled in NYC in a Finnish Boarding House on 5th Ave. He and a buddy of his were both drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943. After Guam and Philippines Dad sent for Mom and settled in Fairport Harbor , Ohio. Army shortened Dad’s suku nimi to Suomi from Suomaleinen. So here I am living not 3 miles from Fairport 70 years later. I still make my Mom’s Nisu.

  58. I have enjoyed reading these comments !! My grandfather Albin Kekkonen came to the USA at the age of 17 years old, settled in northern Minnesota. Married my grandmother Ida Marie Johnson (also Finnish) . I have always wanted to visit Finland but just never got there, still have many relatives there. Yes, we are related to Urho Kekkonen, he visited in Duluth, Minnesota and my one uncle was able to meet him there. I have my grandmothers recipe for Pulla and still make it, especially around the holidays.
    I loved the greeting Hyvaa Paivaa on one of the entries, I’m trying to teach my grand-puppy to shake hands while I say this to him. My grandpa always said this to us when we saw him!!

  59. Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin is a living museum. There are two Finnish homes that were moved from Maple and Oulu, Wisconsin. There are also buildings from German, Norwegian, and English settlers. It’s a whole day experience.
    The workers are dressed in authentic costumes and they cook on wood stoves, spin linen from flax, plow using horses, etc. There’s a blacksmith shop, a town hall, a one-room schoolhouse ;it’s very interesting.

  60. I would love to know more about John Morton and his descendents, could someone give me directions? Also my last name in Finland was M?enpää. Grandfather was Matti M?enpää.

  61. My grandparents came from Finland in the early 1900s, settled in the UP, and then moved to So Cal. Grandpa John Alfred Arola, was hired by Walt Disney to build the log cabbins in Frontier Land in the 50s. Seeing the cabbins here brought back memories of them, and what a talented carpenter he was.

  62. I’ve got Finnish family on both sides. Fitchburg, MA was where my great grandmother lived when she died. My grandparents lived in Westminster until the end. Still remember the sauna out back. I am dying for some Karjalanpiirakka. Wish I could find some frozen and shipped to me in NC!

  63. For some reason I was looking for an image I saw in an article once that shows a saloon sign that bars Finns and Indians from entering the establishment. The traditional knife worn on the belt may have looked intimidating and dangerous. The stereotype of a drunken Finn may have had roots in miners joining the first ever labor union in the world, the IWW (International Workers of the World) and we all know how they got a reputation for being trouble makers wanting safer working conditions and a fair wage.
    I appreciated the upbeat article and positive information. I wrote a sociology paper once on the struggles many faced immigrating to the US, community cooperation, and more current demographics gleaned from census data.
    My family is still in touch with family in ‘the old country’ and I have a lot of Finnish influence in my life which defies my Danish and swedish name. ML Henriksen

  64. I’m from Upper Mi where there still are 7 generations+ of Finns living under practically one roof & speaking ‘Finglish’ as we call it. I am 3rd generation – still 100% Finnish-American and 46 y.o. My brother kids are 4th gen!!!
    I now live with my 3 kids (half Finn – I had to break the cycle!) north of Boston.
    My parents were born & raised way up north in Michigan. My mom lived RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from Suomi College / now Finlandia U. Her home is now a parking lot. I grew up living there in the summers. My dad was born/raised in the neighboring town on a farm. Time stands still up there.
    My uncle, my Mom’s brother, is a famous Finnish-American artist whose art is in a number of museums – in Detroit where he was born, in Finland & the Finnish-American institute at Finlandia U used his art for their first exhibition. (Tarmo Watia).
    If anyone wants some art – look us up! It’s what I now do for a living – promote Finnish culture through my uncles art sales. I love my career!

    BTW, I’m divorced with an Irish American bf. In the past 3 years with him, I can’t tell you how many Finn Irish couples we’ve met! Does anyone else agree this is a common ‘mix’? We seem to share enough similar culture to bond over it without it being the same. MK Rajala, MA

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