|The first Finnish Church in Minneapolis was erected by Apostolic Lutherans. Members standing in front of the new church in 1902. In this picture might be Mr. Peter Saarenpaa, too.|
The story of Finnish immigrant in Minneapolis. This interview was made by Alfred Backman in February, 1939.
Peter Saarenpaa’s interview
At the age of 19 Peter Saarenpaa, 242 Humboldt Avenue N., came to Minneapolis August 11, 1871 (should be 1878), from Tornionjoki, Province of Oulu, Finland. Peter say that, when he stepped off the train at the old Milwaukee depot 61 years ago, the Mississippi River seemed to him to be the grandest sight he had ever beheld, particulary that part where the huge sheet of water leaped over the rocks at St. Anthony Falls.
|The Minneapolis Journal, August 15, 1902|
|(Minneapolis) Star Tribune, January 15, !904|
|Anderson Store in Minneapolis Finntown|
|Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church at Humboldt Avenue North in the 1920s|
|The former Apostolic Lutheran Church some years ago, |
now a private building.
Upon arriving in Minneapolis in 1878, both father and son found employment with the Milwaukee Railroad as car cleaners, receiving $40 per month for a ten-hour day and a seven-day week. Mr. Saarenpaa remarked that it had not been for the confining hours he would have been able to supplement the family diet considerably by hunting game in the timberland surrounding the city. Incidentally, hunting licenses were required of any persons wishing to game in adjoining forests. The father worked for the Milwaukee Railroad until his death in 1904. Peter eventually learned to be a carpenter, and has sice worked at that trade, making it his regular occupation. In connection with his railroad work Mr. Saarenpaa spoke of having lived at a Finnish boarding house, called Wicksteads and Hermansons, at Washington Avenue and Second Street N. paying fifty cents per day for room, board and washing.
Like his father Peter devoutly followed the teachings of the Apostolic Lutheran Church and took an active part in it organization in North Minneapolis. Prior to 1895 meetings were held in a store building at Fourth Avenue and Main Street N.E. In 1895 Isaac Putas (Pudas) and Gustav Bergstadt, trustees, incorporated the Apostolic Lutheran Church at the Hennepin County Court House. It was the first Finnish Church in Minneapolis. In 1902 a church was erected at 237 Humboldt Avenue N., where services have been held regularly for 36 years. It was the first Finnish organization in this city- Mr Estenson (Torsten Estensen?), a Norwegian-Finn, who arrived in Minneapolis in 1880, performed all religious functions for the Finns in their own tongue during the years 1887 – 1888. Occasional services were held from time-to-time by Reverend Antti Wittikko-Huhta, who came to Minneapolis from Hancock, Michigan, whre he preached as an ordained minister of the Apostolic Lutheran Church as early as 1869.
The Saarenpaa family were, for 54 years, subscribers to America’s first weekly newspaper (actually, it was fifth, but the first one in Minnesota), the Uusi Kotimaa (New Homeland), established in Minneapolis by I.W Lahde in 1880 at 521 Third Street N. The paper was moved to New York Mills in 1884, where it continued publication until 1934, being purchased in that year by the Finnish Federation and moved to Superior, Wisconsin.