Thursday, July 16, 2015

Emma Severina Savilahti - Think Back Thursday

Last month, when I went to our family reunion, I learned of some more family documents that I want to add to my information on the Efraimson family.

First, some family tree information:

Diana - me
IdaMae - my mom
Esther - my gram, mom's mom
Emma (and Alfred) - my great gram (and grandfather), mom's mom's mom
Maria (and Antii) - my great, great grandmother (and grandfather) - Emma's mom
Anna (and Matti) - my great, great, great grandmother (and grandfather) - Antii's mother

In 1750, Kalle Happajarvi was born. Kalle is Finnish for Charles. We do not know the names of Kalle's parents or wife.

Kalle had a son, Antti Happajarvi, born March 28, 1773 at Virrot, Finland (when Kalle was 23). Antti married Regina, and together they had a son, Matti (born in 1804, when Antti was 31). Antti died in 1843 at the age of approximately 70, when his son was about 39.

Matti (born 1804) married Anna (born 3/6/1813), and they had a son in 1847. They named him Antti, after Matti's father, who had recently died (in 1843). Matti was about 43 when his son, Anttii, was born. Matti was born in Vaskivisi, Finland 10/26/1804 and died 11/2/1868 (about aged 64). Matti's wife, Anna (Antti's mom) died 9/9/1863, at the age of 50, as a result of the famine in Finland.

The 2nd Antti Happajarvi (born, remember, in 1847) lived from 1847-1938. Antti's dad, Matti, died when Antti was about 25. So sad! Antti Happajarvi (#2) married Maria Pirttimaki, and Antti and Maria had my great grandmother, Emma Severina Savilahti, on January 19, 1881. Emma was born in Virrat, Lansi-Soumen Laani, Finland. I find it interesting to look at things like the fact that Emma never got to meet her grandmother, Anna -- she died before Emma was born. I have no idea why Emma's name is Savilahti and not Happajarvi.

Emma was not the only child born to Antti and Maria. Other siblings were Alexsi (1878), Miina (1880), [Emma, 1881,] Ida (1882), Steve (Seeve, in Finnish) (1883), and Aina (1884). Almost a child a year for six years! Antti knew how to read and write, and he taught all his children to read and write as well. Maria only knew how to read, but could not write.

Emma's younger sister, Ida, died at the age of 20. She had been working at the neighbor's, and in the evening walked home. She took a path across a frozen lake. The river flowed into the lake, and there was an area that wasn't frozen, and in the dark, Ida missed the path and walked into the area of thin ice and was drowned. People heard her cries for help, but couldn't find her in the dark.

Aina, Emma's sister, never married. She worked at a factory in Turku for several years, and made periodic visits to Emma and her family in North Dakota.

Emma's brother, Alexsi, worked for the railroad in Finland for many years. Aleksi married Siiri. They had a girl, but she didn't live very long. Aleksi's folks lived with him for many years, until they died. Siiri's folks had a little farm on an island.

Emma had been born to a humble home. Money was tight. When Emma was nine, she had to leave home to earn her keep. Emma grew to adulthood in servitude, but did not lose hope. From America, her brother, Steve (who was working in the mines in Wyoming) sent money for Emma's passage to America. 

Because Emma had moved to America, her mom, Maria, taught herself how to write so that she could correspond with Emma (and I assume Steve, as well) once Emma had moved. Maria went blind, though, and was blind for 40 years before she died. She had cataracts, and there was no known cure at that time.

Emma traveled to America in 1901. She celebrated her 20th birthday on board the ship on the Atlantic Ocean. She went to where her brother, Steve, was living in Wyoming. Emma stayed there only briefly, finding the rocky, barren hills of Wyoming unbearable. She left the cold mountains, the coal mines of Wyoming, and traveled to Minnesota, state of pine trees like her homeland, and she found a place to earn her living, serving miners where they came for their food and lodging.

Alfred had traveled from his home in Hamilton, South Dakota, to the iron mines in Minnesota to work where he could earn money. Alfred won Emma's heart, and they were married 11/13/1904.

They made a sod home among the pine trees in Chisholm, Minnesota. Eleven months married and baby Esther was born to the couple. Eighteen months more, and brown eyed baby Jennie was in the arms of brown eyed mother, Emma. 

But Alfred's heart was longing for the treeless prairies of his childhood. The miners of Chisholm threw down their tools, demanding higher wages, and Alfred felt the time was right to find a place for his family in the Dakotas. He left Emma and the girls and went back to the plains. Though he was from South Dakota, North Dakota was no longer Indian Territory, and he followed some friends to these northern plains.

To the west of Rock Lake Alfred went, and found work on the farm of Frank and Clara Shanley. There he found a house for his wife and children, and he sent for them to come join him. Emma hurried to join her husband. She traveled to the treeless prairie, to the house on the hilltop where Alfred waited. She doubted she would ever be able to tolerate the barren Dakota prairies. She missed her pine trees.

Emma held her vows to Alfred sacred, though, so she stayed in the deserted prairies until she came to love them. And God blessed Alfred and Emma with more children: Baby Eino, strong boy to help his proud father; baby Emma, brown eyes and brown hair, like her mother; Ruth Josephine and Hilda; Arne Rudolph and baby William; and blue-eyed Viola.

Tragedy struck, when Arne's appendix ruptured. Rushed to a hospital in Minnesota, 16 year old Esther stayed with him, since mother had many others to care for at home. Seemingly recovered, home they traveled. But Arne played too rough and split his stitches, revealing infection still raging. To the hospital he was rushed, but he did not make it. In a coffin rested his six-year-old body.

They could not mourn forever, though, for they knew their God in heaven had called Arne home, and that he would be there waiting for them. And God again blessed Alfred and Emma, and they welcomed Carl, and Elmer Rudolf, and finally baby Rupert.

Alfred and Emma raised their children where the wind blows and the snow lies deep. They taught their children to do abhor all evil and to do what is right, and to love and fear the Father in heaven who gave His Son for us all.  

This clutch of children they raised through the Great War and the Depression, times of trial when life was bitter, clothing was meager, food scarce. With hope they trusted their heavenly Father, stood the trials, bore the burdens. Then He blessed them with good years, when the rains fell and the crops grew full measure.

The children grew to adulthood, one by one they left the home they had known. And they came back with their families to the home they still remembered, to the father and mother who had served them.

Emma's heart was joyful, and Alfred's proud heart content. The children they had nurtured were adults, and still returned to visit. They thought about their past, and made plans for their future. World War II was in its final year, the fields ripe and golden, and God showed it was his timing to call Emma home. After a bout with pneumonia from which she just could not recover, Emma closed her eyes and breathed her last.

Round her grave her children stood, remembering all the years of toil she gave them, serving on the prairie as faithful wife and mother.

And now her future generations remember her, my great grandmother I never got to meet. May I be as faithful to my Lord to my very end.

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