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 17. helmikuuta 2017

Immigrants journey from Finland to America in 1883

I've retyped a Finland to Upper Michigan travelogue published in the American Finnish Journal in July, 1883. In the article Reverend Johan (Juho) Takkinen, a layman in the Calumet Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation, describes his return journey from Europe to the current residence in Northern Michigan's Copper Country. Finnish immigration to America was in the early 1880s just getting up to speed and shipping companies had not yet organized direct travel links from Finland. The Finnish migration had begun in the mid-1860s, first among Finns living in Northern Norway, from where the "American fever" gradually spread, first to Lapland and Northern Ostrobothnia. Migrants' route at that time passed through either the Norwegian or Swedish ports to Hull on the west coast of England. From there, the journey continued along the railway across the UK to Liverpool, where the Atlantic crossing started. Takkinens description clearly demonstrates how the migration already employed lots of people at that stage. Ship companies had agents and interpreters at journeys every stage, who took care of the success of the monolingual immigrants trips. Except shipping and railroad companies, travelling immigrants maintained thousands of hotels, guesthouses, restaurant owners and their staff at European ports and rail hubs. In the past I often wondered, how almost illiterate boys and girls, maids and grooms from remote villages and without language survived the long journey to the unfamiliar kind of conditions.  Johan Takkinens writing opened my eyes to see that when purchasing their ticket the immigrants got in a sense a complete travel package with instructions.
National Line's advertisment in Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti

The ship ticket price from Germany over the Atlantic at the time was about $ 30 and only $ 26 from England. The ticket price from Finland has remained unclear for me. I guess the author of this report has got full travel package at the remarkably low price, which is probably the reason for the National Line-glorification report. For the Shipping Company, a widely known religious leader was a great advertiser. 
In this case, he was the leader of the largest religious group among Finnish immigrants at that time. He was presumed to be more honest than other advertisers. Takkinens credibility was further increased by the fact that he had already made several trips between the former homeland and the new residence in Northern Michigan.

Memoirs of a journey [1]

Castle Garden in 1888

Since I have now traveled on the National line [2] back and forth between Europa and America and I have gotten in every way a good treatment, I'm obliged to rule on the said company my sincere thanks, and also to give some information and instructions to the people who are traveling this line.

We were 24 Finns ready to set off last April 20 to travel on National lines from Throndhjem (Trondheim in Norway) to America. The National line
s agent in that city is a very polite man, Karl Johansen, who provided us on a journey as well as he could.  With a steamboat called "Hers" we began roll on the waves of the North Sea towards England. There isn't any particular service on this route, since different shipping lines' migrants travel on the same route, and they do not belong to the ocean steamlines. Every Thursday a ship from Throndhjem to Hull departs, and every Friday from Gothenburg to Hull, where it always arrives on Sunday. There (in Hull) are agents of each Steam Line Company taking care of immigrants. When you come to the wharf, you must take care of your stuff and show your tickets to the agent. Then comes the customs officer, who will check your stuff. Once the goods have been cleared through customs and marked, Steam Line agent delivers them to the wagons and takes the passengers to National Lines hotel, where there was passably good care. In the morning, we left the hotel to the train station, where you have to change railway tickets at the office, the agent submitted the immigrants to the railway wagons at the right time and so we went on a journey across England to Liverpool. The steam trains are excellent fast and the scenery charming on that route. In the same evening, we arrived in Liverpool, which is a glorious big city and a well-known large seaport. From here almost all of ocean steam ships depart for America, from which much could be told. At the Liverpool railway station we had again a National Lines agent welcoming us, who took us to the Company hotel. It can accommodate several hundred people at the same time to eat and the service there had no need to criticize. Here you should also give your ticket, which was changed at the company's office. On departure day each passenger is given their ticket, but then it must be concluded that it has the correct name, as the Finnish interpreter does not exist there, and when you come on board, all passengers will be checked. On the 25th of April, we went, a big group of immigrants, with shipping companys agent from hotel to companys wharf. It was supposed to show your ticket there to the company's agent, which carried us with a little steam boat to the National Lines ship. The ship was named England [3], it was reaching 4800 tons and seems to be a giant ship, and was so well equipped in every aspect for the immigrants, you might think there was nothing missing. However, England was like a chip on the ocean waves. When we got onboard we had all go to the doctor to be vaccinated, except for those who had former [vaccination] proof visible. The doctor then gave testimony, which was supposed to be retained. When you arrive in New York, a doctor is supposed to come onboard, and will verify the certificate.

Charles Frederic Ulrich's painting In the Land of Promise. 
Inside view of Castle Garden in 1884.
We arrived happily to New York on 7th of May, when we said goodbye to the ship England and its staff. Here too was the company staff welcoming us and we went to the wonderful Castle Garden[4], which has been for decades the first place to lodge to many millions of migrants, as also a place of refuge against crooks. This old large stone building was so well equipped inside, that it does not lack anything a traveler needs. There was a currency exchange, bills exchange, post office, telegram and employment offices if ones destination is not beyond the New York City. Jobs all the way to the west were offered, and where you wanted to go was up to you
 There is information about work possibilities, but you dont need to start, if one has an opportunity to go farther. In the same building there are a wide range of shops, so-called clothing stores and groceries, but from the outside it is a terrible looking old castle, especially because there are groups of crooks and thieves outside the building, trying to get an opportunity to cheat the newly arrived immigrants. When we got into Castle Garden, at first all goods were cleared through customs, and after that we all had to walk through an alley, where every ones name was written in the book. When it was done, so we were taken to Captain R. E. Jeansons office, where there was a Finnish agent, who would guide us into wagons with goods. From there we took a train to the west and came to the city of Buffalo, where we went aboard to the Great Lakes. National Line company gave us a free of charge stay at the hotel in Buffalo; In New York we got a special meal ticket.

To those who intend to enter this country, I can testify with my 24 comrades, that the National Line
s transport and food service on board is, without boosting, praiseworthy. Every third day the hold was opened, so that the people were allowed to visit their chest for taking what they needed, which was quite a good thing, especially for those who have children with, so they could change clothes. it is necessary to get a brass token of your goods in New York, before you get wagons. Caretaking of immigrants goods was excellent, but when lot of Finns travel this line, so lack of language skills may cause [to some] trouble and harm. For Norwegians and Swedes there are interpreters all over the place, but there are sections where none of the shipping lines have Finnish-language interpreters. National line has a Finnish-speaking agent in Stockholm, Göteborg and New York, but aboard on the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea ships have not yet acquired the Finnish interpreter, which, however, would be so necessary for such a large number of Finnish immigrants.

[1] Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti 29/ 07.20.1883.
[4] See

2 kommenttia:

  1. Tässä blogissa on sekä kuvia että tarinoita upean Etelä-Karjalan luonnosta, ihmisistä ja kulttuurista. Kuvassa tammikuisen pakkaspäivän näkymä Linnoituksen valleilta ortodoksisen kirkon suuntaan.

  2. This is so amazing to me, to think my great grandparents arrived this way!