Thursday, February 14, 2013

Efraim's Son

You are about to embark upon a very long family history, so if you are not interested, abandon ship now!

Many years ago my Gram Holien told me a family story of how her maiden name came to be. You see, her family was originally from Finland. There was a story behind our family name that would make your head spin. Well, it involved the entire family, so I guess this isn't just about Efraim's son... but here goes...

My family records begin in Finland in 1788 when Johan Michaelis Palvalehto was born. He grew up and married Catharina Matthia "Carin" Pulckinen, They had one son together and named him Johan. Johan, Jr. was born in 1808, still in Norway.
Johan, Jr. grew up and married Britta Henricksdatter. Together they had several children: Mathias (born 1821); Lisa (born 1823); and Abram (born 1825). Then Efraim was the next child, but the records seem to indicate that Britta may have died and Johan may have remarried. Efraim was born in 1830 (B 1830, died 1901), and then Maria (1833) and Caisa (1834).
Efraim grew up and married Brita Kaisa Simonsson. They began their family. Margretta was born 1/8/1856 (died 1/3/1920). Then was born our relative, John Efraimson (November 1858, 100 years before me!)(Died 3/16/1938) (photo below):

Then came Mary (1860)(married name Hanson); Kate (1865)(married name Holappa) and Efraim (1870). Here is where the story really starts hopping!

The family decided to move to America.  

My gram had told me a history of how their name got changed. I need to find my notes. The "History" below tells a different story, but this is they way I remember my Gram telling the story.

Apparently, when the family arrived at the port of entry in 1888 (probably Ellis Island), the record-keepers had a great deal of difficulty with the name Palvalehto.

Poppa Efraim and his wife Britta were asked, "What's your last name?" With his thick Finnish accent Efraim said "Palvalehto." The man said, "No one can pronounce that! What was your father's name?" So Efraim said, "Johan". Now, "Johan" is the Finnish equivalent of "John", so their name became Efraim and Britta Johnson. 

Then, as his children approached the agent, each to check in, it got really colorful. Probably the youngest son came first, under Efraim and Britta's wing. The agent said, "What is this child's name?" And Efraim said, "Efraim." So the agent deemed little Efraim "Efraim Johnson" as well. 

Then the other offspring were next, and they were all adults. So one by one they each went through: Margretta, Katie, John, and Mary, and they were each christened with the name "Efraimson", as in "Efraim's son". So that is the line we are descended from (John Efraimson). Later the women married. Margretta married "Matti Paso," and became "Gretta Paso" (possibly "Passo"); Katie became "Mrs. Henry Hollapa"; and Mary became "Mrs. Hans Hanson". (I love that last one - Hans Hanson is like our John Johnson -- at least that's what John's name would have been if he hadn't taken "Efraimson" as his last name...)
I found this amazing news clip that was originally published as part of the Hamlin County, South Dakota History:

Efraim and Brita were buried side by side. I thought their headstone unique -- it maintained their heritage while showing their "taken" name in their new land. The spelling of Palvalehto is different from what earlier records show.

 So Efraim and Brita's children were:

Margretta Palvalehto (1858-1920) who married Matti Paso (1857-1908);
John Efraimson (1858-1938 - my great-great-grandfather) who married Liisa Kaisa Alavesi (1857-1935)(They were married in 1878 when she was 21 - more history below);
Mary Palvalehto (1860 - ?) who married Hans Hansen in 1885;
Kate Palvalehto (1865 - ?) who married Henry Hollapa (about 1885?); and
Efraim Johnsen (1870 - ?)
John Efraimson married Liisa Kaisa Alavesi in 1878, when they were still in FInland. The immigrated to America in 1888, and traveled to South Dakota to settle.  Their children were:
Brita Maria Efraimson (1879-1902, born in Finland);
Alfred Efraimson (my great-grandfather)(1880-1971 - born in Finland), who married Emma Savilahti (1881-1945)  on 13 November 1904 (more below);
John J. Efraimson (1882-1863 - born in Finland); 
Andrew Efraimson (1884-1959 - born in Finland);
Hilda J. Efraimson (1886-1930 - born in Finland);
Emelia Kaisa Efraimson (1887 - 1958 - born in Finland);
Hilma Alina  Efraimson (1890 - 1967 - born in America);
Arvid A. Efraimson (1891 - 1892, a twin, died between birth and age 2);
Carl Hjalmer Efraimson (1891 - 1982), who married Jennie Koistinen (1889-1986) on 5/2/1922;
Hendrick W. Efraimson (1894-?);
Sophia W. Efraimson (1896-1966);
Esther A. Efraimson (1899-1979); and
Edward R. Efraimson (1903-1904 - died an infant).

 Below are two photographs of John Efraimson and family. John Efraimson is the oldest man, with the white beard. Unfortunately I do now know who is who among the other folks. I expect he is holding Esther, and Sophia is in the dress on the left. To John's right is probably Hendrick; the next youngest in front is probably Carl. Beyond that, the two men in back and the woman on the right, I can't even guess.

In this photo, on the left is John. I am only guessing, even on the first photo, because his youngest children were the same age as his oldest grandchildren!
John and Liisa Efraimson's 2nd oldest child was my great-grandfather, Alfred Efraimson. Alfred (1880-1971) was born in Finland, as was his wife, Emma S. Savilahti (1881-1945). They were married 13 November 1904 in Finland!, and my grandmother was born 13 October 1905! They must have gotten on the ship to America pretty quickly, because my Gram was born in Minnesota! Now here is some confusion -- the records show John's parents came to America in 1888 when he was 7, so he would have come with them right? I really can't be sure, because in 1905, when he married, documentation indicates he and Liisa were in Finland when the were wed. Hmmmm. Went back for childhood sweetheart? Stayed there with relatives all that time? I have no idea.

But let me stick to the format. 

Their children were:
Esther Eina Efraimson (1905-2003 - her name was actually Eina Esther, but none of the records have it that way and if you search that way you will not find her....) who married Theodore (Ted) Norman Holien (1905-1942).
Jennie Maria Efraimson (1907-2003), who never married (photo below)
Eino Efraimson (1908-1988) who married Martha Juntunen (1914-1998);
Emma E. Efraimson (1910-2002), who married Ivan L. O'Brien (1908-1985);
Josephine (Jo) R. Efraimson (1911-2004), who married Vern Leroy Larson (1911-2003);
Hilda H. Efraimson (1914-1997), who married Roydon Cyril Gregor (1911-1961);
William A. Efraimson (1917-1975);
Viola A. Efraimson (1919-2003);
Carl Efraimson (1920-2008);
Rudolph (Rudy) Efraimson (1923 - ...2005?);
and Rupert Efraimson (1925 - present, still living!)

When the siblings were younger they used to have an annual family reunion at the farm every year. In 1960 my mom went, and took me. This is me at age 1-1/2 sitting with my great-grandfather Alfred Efraimson:
I don't think that cute doll belonged to me; I think they were just letting me play with it while I was visiting there. I have no memory of that trip. I can't imagine what it would have been like driving from MD to ND in 1960 -- the Eisenhower interstate network was not entirely build yet. (He was President when I was born.)

I need to find my Gram's "Letter to my Family". She had another brother who is not turning up on -- must have been born about 1913. In her story she told that her brother had a ruptured appendix and was hospitalized far from home, maybe transported from North Dakota to Minnesota... because of peritonitis. Gram had given up her job and moved to that city to stay with him while he was in the hospital, but he died. I think he was 7 and she was 16 or 17.

 In this photo, in which the ten surviving adult "children" of that Efraimson generation are shown. Here is my best effort and putting the right names to the right faces. Front row, left to right: Rudy, Bill, Rupert; 2nd row, left to right, Emma, Jo, Vi, Gram Esther, Jenny and Hilda, with Eino in back.

Another Family History Blurb:

Esther Eina Efraimson (10/13/1905-4/6/2004) married Theodore Norman Holien (1/6/1905-11/6/1942), who was an alcoholic. Esther had to insist that he not live with them, and at some point I believe he was either killed in a bar-room brawl, or found dead in a ditch or something.
Esther and Ted had four children:
Wayne Holien (1928 - present), who married Mary Ann Walton (1934-present);
Carole Holien (1930-2008) who married Robert Hall (1928-2007) (they had four boys, three of which are in the photo below;
Ida Mae Holien (1933-2007) who married Herbert William Hall (1925-2006)(Robert Hall's brother);

and Larry T. Holien (Theodore?) (1937-present) who married Darlene M. Hanson (1937-present).

Ida Mae and Herbert William Hall had three children, who are all still living, so for privacy reasons I won't post any further information. But the 3rd of their children together was moi!

They divorced, and Ida Mae remarried to Emmert King Walker (9/6/1925 - 10/23/2006); together they had one child.
So, in summary, Johan had Johan (Johanson); Johan, Jr. had Efraim (Johanson); Efraim had a son named John (Efraimson); John had a son named Efraim Johnson and John Efraimson.... ya still with me? I just couldn't resist. What a mixed up name story!

So that is my very long story of Efraim's son, a.k.a. the Efraimson family line, from as far back as I know it (1788) to the present day. Thanks for reading! ;)

Think Back Thursday is a photo meme that encourages sharing something from the past.  It is hosted by Debbie's Digest.
In February
2/14, 2/21. 2/28  a series on Playing with Photos
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Let us know and show some of the things the program does.
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  1. I just think it's awesome that you have so much of the family history going back several generations! And awesome old black and white photos.

  2. Ditto what Kym said. I read through some of the history and enjoyed all the old photos. Thank you for joining up.

  3. Whoa great blog! My dad's in the picture of Carole Hall's children. Amazing what you can find of your ancestry online. Thank you!

  4. Nicole, I am unable to find a way to contact you. If you see this, could you email me? d malament @ yahoo dot com -

    Your dad and I were (are) what is called "Kissin' Cousins" - that is my mother and his mother were sisters, my dad and his dad were brothers, making us as close as possible, genetically, to brother and sister without actually being brother and sister. I'd love to be in touch.