Flying to Finland to visit my Grandmother’s birthplace

In July of last year my husband and I flew to Finland to visit my grandmother’s birthplace and to attend a family reunion. We had a nonstop flight on Finnair from Chicago to Helsinki Finland. Relatives met us at the airport.

My grandmother’s travel to the United States was much more arduous. She traveled by boat from Oulu, Finland to the port city Hanko. From Hanko she took another boat to Hull, England, then a train from Hull to Liverpool. As far as I know she traveled alone in 1903.

In Liverpool she boarded the Ultonia (a former livestock carrier). She traveled third class in steerage. She had a bunk, along with many other immigrants, in the hold of the ship. This crowded space had inadequate sanitation, and many of the passengers were seasick. I can’t imagine what she endured.

She arrived in Boston and was directed to a train  that  took  her  to  Chicago.    From Chicago she took a train to  the  Upper  Peninsula  of  Michigan where she was met by two of her brothers.

My grandmother had told family members that she planned to go back to Finland to visit one day. But after completing her journey to Michigan, she decided that she could never make such a difficult journey again. Instead she asked her daughters to promise that they would one day visit Finland.

Vuostimo Finland
House that neighbored my grandmother’s girlhood home (now gone).

My mother, my aunt and my sisters have all made the trip. We are blessed by the ease of air travel.

Linking with the Five Minute Friday Community. Today’s prompt is: FLY

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Carol

Carol is a follower of Jesus and a wife, mom & grandma. She worked for many years as a childbirth nurse and prenatal educator. She recently retired from clinical work. She has written articles for nursing journals and devotionals. Her novel, Aliisa's Letter, was published in 2010 and she is currently working on another project.

4 thoughts on “Flying to Finland to visit my Grandmother’s birthplace”

  1. We’re truly blessed with the ease of travel, aren’t we. As an American who lives in the UK, I can’t imagine not going back to my homeland, like your grandmother did, or my ancestors too. My great grandfather left Germany as a 17 year old in 1898, having to renounce his German citizenship and be a man without a country until his papers were processed in the States. He ended up in Iowa. I’ve been to visit the little village in Germany where he grew up, seeing a light house that he would have seen….

    Thanks for your post! I love thinking about my European heritage and the nation that was born from immigrants.

    1. It was wonderful to hear a couple of my older, distant cousins talk about their memories of my grandmother. And to be in the place where she grew up.

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