6 thoughts on “Mississippi Coast cities portray the past with cemetery tours

    • My great grandmother, Helen Stenman, was born in Finland. During the early 1900s to about the 1940s, it was frowned down upon to be Finnish in the United States (because of the Russian red scare and presumed allegiance to the Soviet Union). My great grandmother did not tell people she was born in Finland but in Brooklyn, New York instead.
      Her parents were from Finland as well. My great great grandfather (of whom the first name escapes me) helped build the Panama Canal. My great great grandmother was bedridden with rheumatism in her 30s and died at age 40 because of it.
      My great grandfather, Olavi Hirvonen, was the son of Finnish immigrants and was born in Illinois. He became a dentist and when he married my great grandmother, they settled in a small town named Spencer, New York. It was a predominantly Finnish town with a couple of Swedish families for good measure.
      My great grandfather was the only dentist for miles. Corb Johnson was the town doctor.
      My Nana (their daughter) was the oldest of three children. She told me she remembered effigies burning in town. People wanted the Finns to leave but they never did.
      Nana went on to graduate top of her class and become a nurse. Her brother, James, became a nuclear physicist. The youngest, George, became a dentist like his father.
      Olavi, their father, died in 1967 from heart problems. Helen, their mother, died in 1987.

      • Thank you very much. I am very interested, because three sisters of my husbands father moved to USA, also one uncle. It was about 1920-1930. Some lived in New York and some in Chicago. My husbands grandfather, mothers father, worked five years in a mine in Canada, anf the whole family was waiting in Finland to move there, but the grandfather got a severe lung desease and came back to Finland. So I have also a connection to USA. These stories are so interesting. And how brave they must have been to move so far.

      • That’s interesting! Very similar stories and not uncommon. I, too, wonder what possessed our relatives to come to the US?
        Very brave! It is hard to put ourselves in their positions.

      • I think in Finland were no work, no food. Life was very diccicult. One reason was the inheritance system. The oldest one, normally a son, got everything, the others had to leave. And families were big.
        So they left Finland and wished to get better life there.

      • My family became quite small when they arrived in America. Funny you should mention that. There are relatives in Canada and the United States.
        My great grandmother, her sister and cousin were a musical trio that toured the area in the 1920s (piano, violin and cello).
        The Hirvonens and Stenmans gravitated toward classical music as their hobby.

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