Eteläkarjalainen maisema

Eteläkarjalainen maisema
Tässä blogissa on sekä kuvia että tarinoita upean Etelä-Karjalan luonnosta, ihmisistä ja kulttuurista. Kuvassa syyskuinen näkymä Saimaan kanavan varrelta.

perjantai 18. marraskuuta 2016

Biography of Aleksander Leinonen, Pioneer of the Finnish American Press

Aleksander Leinonen
Alexander Leinonen, born 04/28/1846 in Paltamo, Finland, became after colorful stages a pioneer for the Finnish press in the New World. In Finland Leinonen went to elementary school in Kajaani and then continued his studies in Oulu. After school years  he worked for surveying office, until the summer of 1869 moved to the United States.

Leinonen published his memoirs during the years 1893 - 1894 in the paper he edited. They don't give motive to his emigration. Leinonen knew already when leaving, that in Cokato, Minnesota, was formed Finnish colony. After arriving in Minnesota, he first worked on the railraod, spent next winter in Cokato and later tried to support himself also as a fish merchant in St. Paul. Here, he discovered that it wasnt possible without language skills. So he went to a local Swedish college to study English. However, his studies were relatively short-lived, since the spring of 1872 he went again to work on the railroad, first in Iowa, Kansas, and then to Missouri. From there Leinonen went on his way to Texas and continued to Louisiana, where he fell ill with malaria. After recovering from the disease, he returned to Texas, where he worked as secretary to the local sheriff's, first in Boston and then in Texarkana. The wages he earned was just enough to live on until Leinonen got a job as a surveyor at the real estate company.

After receiving thanks to a new job his economic situation better, Leinonen started again his earlier hobby. He started again in 1871 begun correspondence with Oulun Wiikko Sanomia and at the same time studied American literature.  Real Estate Company he was working for was transferred from Jefferson to Dallas, where Leinonen lived for about five years. He praised himself to have been widely known as the cartographer of then sparsely populated North Texas.  Alec Smith, the name used at the time, used the pseudonym "-der -nen- in his writings.  He stopped writing for Oulun Wiikko Sanomia in the summer of 1876. The reason for this is probably that the newspaper editor in chief of Keski-Suomi.  H. F. Helminen visited the World Expo in Philadelphia, where he met Leinonen and recruited for papers correspondent.  Leinonen said later that he did not have to ask twice, for he had long been dreaming of career as a newspaper reporter.

Alex Leinonen's gravestone. Lakeview Cemetery, Calumet, Michigan
Which kind of topics Leinonen wrote in the articles he sent to his homeland? One could say that nearly everything. But in particular he was interested in the social and political conditions in America. His view of the United States in writings is positive. He saw the American society as opposite of the European. The clergy and the state church in the former homeland he even hated. The Finnish school system he strongly criticized, saying it was bad, brandishing a whip. Civil servants, he saw as the pseudo-aristocracy, who would benefit of common peoples part of the "plow horse." In the first article International migration to America , which was published as a series of writings in  April 2nd, 16th and 23rd 1870, he described his  journey to a New World. Finnish immigration had not yet started, so he was the only Finn on board in the ship, which departed 06/18/1869 Gothenburg.  The following year, he praised opportunities America has created for individuals for a new start as follows:

And how amazing is it how the most depraved human being receives a new mind and heart, to strive for the better in the country, where no one would ask her mistakes, and any kind of laws underestimating people are now not harming her life.[1]

Eva Karoliina Leinonen's gravestone. Lakeview Cemetery, Calumet, Michigan
Aleksander Leinonen was one of the first correspondents, which Finnish newspapers had in America. Because of his large quantity of knowledge, a wide range of topics, and the very active writing, he fulfilled this task well, better than many of his followers. Aleksander Leinonens in Finland published articles, his correspondence with the other, at that time still a few Finnish-American leaders, as well as writings in -  by Anders J. Muikku in 1876 founded - Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti/American Finnish Paper, probably contributed to the fact that Leinonen was invited to re-establish American Finnish Paper in Copper Country.

Newspaper project's background team included a group labeled by their opponents as "alliance of three". It consisted of the clerk in the Apostolic Lutheran Congregation, David Castrén, as well as of the members of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation, Nils Majhannu and August Nylund. Their aim was to collect funds for a printing house and newspaper whose readership would consist of all Finns across religious lines. The establishment of the newspaper was realized in the summer of 1879. Papers sample number appeared on 06.13.1879 and the regular appearance it started at the beginning of July. To this way born Finnish American Paper was called editor-in-chief from Texas, Aleksander Leinonen. Leinonen, who from the beginning was also a shareholder of the company, avoided the religious disputes and tried to follow the fairness when writing about the competing churches. Instead, he lashed his former homeland's clergy and the state church. Majority of the printing company's shareholders, which were a total of 65, seems to be Apostolic Lutherans, among them the parish priest, a layman Johan Takkinen. Printing company's shareholders' meetings were held in the parsonage Apostolic Lutheran Congregation. However, the first elected chairman was non-Apostolic Lutheran watchmaker August Nylund. The Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation, A.E.Backman, who was also printing company's shareholder and many other non-Laestadians were quite soon sidelined in the project. However, the American Finnish Paper remained relatively independent under Leinonen's management, and it wasn't used only as an Apostolic Lutheran voice. However, the Paper's line in local religious disputes was often Apostolic Lutheran form-fitted and critic to the Evangelical Lutherans. But otherwise, the paper's line was all the time very liberal. When interest in the publishing business waned among Apostolic Lutherans because of increasing internal disputes, Alexander Leinonen acquired full ownership of the paper. "[2]

After acquiring newspapers and prints full ownership Leinonen attitude toward Evangelical Lutheran Church eased off gradually. Thus, when Suomi Synod was founded in 1890, was Aleksander Leinonen's name among its founders. When Suomi College was founded in 1896, he was elected to the Executive Board. Leinonen took care of Colleges treasurer duties from founding until his death. In addition, he was involved in the Finnish Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

The population census in 1900 informs that Aleksander Leinonen got married in 1883 with Caroline (Eva Karoliina) Leinonen. He was born on 04/23/1855 in Finland and moved to the United States in 1880. The family had three children. Aleksander Leinonen died in Lake Linden hospital 11/19/1903. Karoliina Eva Leinonen died 10/09/1927.

[1] Oulun Wiikko Sanomia 22/3.6.1871
[2] ASL 3/18.7.1879, 15/10.10.1879; Ilmonen 1923, 114; Kirkollinen Kalenteri 1904, 215-217; Raittila 1982, 136-137.

1 kommentti:

  1. So interesting! I recall my grandmother talking about how important the Finnish papers were to her mother, an immigrant from Finland who lived in Minnesota.