A Research Trail: Finding the Finnish Midwife

Research in Finland

The trip to Finland in 2017 had several purposes. We were meeting some relatives for the first time at a family reunion in northern Finland.

After the reunion my husband I traveled south by train. When we arrived in Vaasa (western coast of Finland) we rented a car. The midwife that I had been researching lived in the area at one time. Her husband had owned a brewery in Anixor, which I assumed was a village outside of the city.

I wondered how we might find this place. We visited a museum village not far outside of Vaasa and I asked questions as we toured. When we left the museum and were back on the road, we saw signs for Old Vaasa and decided to check it out. We stumbled on the Korsholms parish church. 

We parked the car and I approached a man who was walking a dog and asked him if he knew where Anixor was. I showed him information I had found on the internet. He read it over and said, “No, but you could ask the priest. He is at the back of the church.”

We walked around the back, looking for an entrance. I saw a doorbell on the addition to the church and pressed it. As we stood waiting, a woman walked towards us. I showed her my information. She recognized the name, Anixor, but said. “It is a very small village, just a few houses. I don’t know how to tell you the way.”

As we were talking the priest came out and joined the discussion. He said, “I have a computer. We can google it.” He invited us to follow him, and we went into his living quarters. He was able to find a map that showed the place and the way to get there.

As we were talking, I explained that I was interested in the Pörn family that once lived in Anixor.

I asked if there were parish records.

He responded, “We must go see the church secretary.” He led us to another building on the church grounds.

The secretary listened with interest as I showed her an article about the midwife who had immigrated to the United States in 1895. She patiently went through the books of church records. 

She was able to find Hanna’s birth date, her marriage to Karl Edward and the date their son’s birth. She also found the death date of both son and husband. The family’s home in Anixor was listed as Lalle Farm.

She found information showing that Hanna had moved to Helsinki for two years after the death of her husband, presumably to take a nursing course.

After expressing many thanks to the priest and secretary, my husband drove to the little village of Anixor. It was down a country road and the area was bordered by a river. We found the house where Hanna had lived with Karl and extended family.

Some times research requires wandering.

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By 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 comments

  1. Wow, that sounds like quite an adventure, but you didn’t give up and finally got the info you were looking for. I don’t know why it should seem an oddity in that neck of the woods, but the part about the priest having a computer and using Google made me smile.
    P.S. Did you take the picture at the top of the moose(?)? Love it.

  2. There is a house across the sea
    in a village long forgot,
    from which, long past, someone gave me
    so much of what I now have got
    that lives within my questing heart
    and drives my soul to each new dawn,
    off the map, beyond the chart,
    to make me wander on and on,
    and in the sum of winding days,
    find the ghost who has long waited
    for my care, and, yes, my praise,
    that pilgrimage be consecrated
    in uncovering a mirror
    from the past to make the present clearer.

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