While researching Finnish women’s experiences living in the UP, I came across “Marys in Pants” or housu maijat. Here’s a description, found in the great book, Women Who Dared: The History of Finnish American Women:
A small number of women choose to use America as an opportunity to live independently in the woods. These women build their own log cabins and live off the land, hunting, fishing, and trapping….The Finnish American community refers to them as housu maijat, and develop legends about their independence, bravery, and kindness. The legends suggest that while the Finnish American community admired these women, they define them basically as freaks, not considering their behavior could be a form of self-improvement.
K. Marianne Wargelin
I want to make a NPC (non-player character) woman that lives out in the woods. Maybe I’ll name her Maria Keranen (known locally as Loukus-Maiji). The real Keranen lived in the woods and “had a colorful reputation” in the UP in the early 1900s. People often visited her and wrote about her (37).
In an interview that I conducted with some relatives, they mentioned how many Finnish-Americans from the Amasa area had been recruited to go to the Soviet Union, to the northwestern Russia area of Karelia. They were eventually killed by Stalin. I decided to do a bit of research about it, and came across this film, Letters from Karelia:
For more information, see Disillusionment on the Grandest of Scales: Finnish-Americans in the Soviet Union, 1917-1939
Here are two random bits of information that I just uncovered about my great grandfather, Elias Puotinen. First, he owned his own logging camp in 1912 (source). Second, he sponsored a lot of immigrants coming over from Finland:
Mr. Puotinen was a prominent Finnish gentleman who was at one time manager of the Hematite Mercantile Store and, together with Matt Hurja of Crystal Falls, helped arrange for the immigration of his countrymen to work in the local mines. It is said that Mr. Hurja had agreements with the steamship lines in New York and was so well known that when men from Finland disembarked at New York, they were pinned with a tag which read “Matt Hurja”, and sent to Crystal Falls (source).
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Bonus: Also found this narrative by “Hap” Puotinen (my dad Art’s uncle/Grandpa’s brother) about logging in the UP.
This morning I found Finnish American Lives. It’s a great documentary from 1982 about three generations of a Finnish American family living in Ironwood, Michigan. It’s amazing that you can stream the entire film (45 minutes) online. The site has additional essays on Finnish Americans in the UP, the Sauna and 2nd and 3rd generation Finnish American culture.
I also found a preview for another film about Finnish Americans, Children of Labor: A Finnish American History
Like many Finnish farmsteads in the U.P., the Farm had a sauna. Here’s a trailer for a movie about the significance of the sauna for the Finns. I’d like to find a copy somewhere to watch:
Bonus: Are you pronouncing sauna correctly?