Isaac Jeremias Abramson and Jennie Mary Karjalainen
Wedding Picture. 1904.

Jennie Karjalainen was born on March 21st, 1866.  She is my only great-grandparent born in America. Her parents are John Frederick Karjalainen from the Kumpalahti farm in Vasaraperä Village, Kuusamo parish and Maria Augustava Posio from Posio. Posio is now its own parish, but at that time was part of Kuusamo. John Frederick and Maria Augustava married in Kuusamo, Finland on 26 December, 1878. They changed the family name to Karjala after emigrating to America.

Jennie Karjalainen married Isaac Abramson in Michigan in 1904, at the age of 18. Isaac was a Finn from Northern Norway, or a Kven. Jennie lost her citizenship when she married Isaac, an immigrant, and was naturalized on 12 June 1940.

Isaac and Jennie had five children, four boys and one daughter. Their daughter, Irma Abramson, is my maternal grandmother. Irma walked from Tecumseh Location near Osceola to Calumet High School every day for 4 years at a time when women were not required to attend High School, and graduated 2nd in her class.

Isaac and Jennie lived in Bootjack, MI. On very old maps, Bootjack is sometimes called Karjala - possibly due to Jennie's family.

Jennie lived to the age 84 years, and died in Hancock, MI in May of 1970.  Below is a picture that spans 4 generations, containing my 2 sisters, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. The picture was taken on my grandfather's farm in Woodland, MI. about 1970:


Click here for Jennie's chart, in .pdf format.

A handful of genealogists have done an incredible amount of work in Kuusamo parish. Therefore, it is possible to complete large charts for Kuusamolainens. Here are some of Jennie's ancestors:

Sami connections

In 1670, Kuusamo was 100% Sami. About 40 Finnish families migrated to Kuusamo in the 1670's.1  By 1700, the Sami were a 10% minority, as the Finns had populated the area. In 1696-97 there was a starvation among the Sami people and about half of the population starved. Only 8-10 families remained and by 1730 all were living as Finns.

The largest Sami family to survive the starvation, and the first to "become Finn," was the Pitkä family. Antti Martininpoika Pitkä is mentioned in tax records in 1640, predating Finnish settlement by 30 years.  The Pitkä/Pitkänen family has been heavily researched and there will be a reunion in Kuusamo in July of 2004.

Jennie is a descendant of Maarit Antintytär Kallunki-Pitkä (* 1713 † 30 April 1770) and Simo Anitpoika Kämäräinen (* 1722 † 06 December 1789).

Another Sami family to survive the hunger years was the Sarvi family.  Jennie is a descendant of Antti Sarvi (*1668 † 08 March 1744).

Jennie is the 5th great-grandaughter of Lauri Laurinpoika Tauriainen (* 1640 † 01 June 1710). He was one of Kuusamo's original settlers, moving from Paltamo Suomussalmi to Poussu village in Kuusamo parish.  Lauri's wife, Priita Matintytär Aikasarria, was a Sami and her father was Matti Tavajarvi-Aikasarria. The Aikasarria family moved freely between Paltamo and Kuusamo.

The 4 Karjalainens

The name Karjalainen means from Karjala, or Karelia. No published lineages trace the Kuusamo Karjalainens back to Karelia, but it is fairly certain that an ancestor did come from the Karelia Peninsula of Southern Finland, much of which is now part of Russia.

Four of the original settlers of Kuusamo were Pekka, Yrjö, Heikki, and Aapraham Karjalainen, each born about 1625-1630. Jennie is a descendant of Pekka, Heikki, and Aapraham.  It is known that Yrjö and Heikki are the sons of Yrjö Karjalainen, born about 1600 in Paltamo parish, Melalahti village.  It is not known if the other 2 original Karjalainens, Pekka and Aapraham, are also related to Yrjö from Paltamo. Paltamo is on the shores of Oulujärvi (Lake Oulu), from where a large Karjalainen family originates.

Although the Finnish farmers typically changed their names when they moved to different farms, the Karjalainen name was prestigious enough to have been kept through the generations. This has resulted in a great many Kuusamolainens with the last name of Karjalainen.  A common practice emerged of people taking 2 last names, such as Ruokamo-Karjalainen, Rukajärvi-Karjalainen, and Raistakka-Karjalainen.

Another common surname in Kuusamo is Määttä. I have heard variations on the expression Kuusamo Dozen, but it usually goes something like: "For every 10 people in Kuusamo there are 12 Määttä's.


Jennie's paternal grandmother is Susanna Paavontytär Raistakka-Kellinsalmi-Holappa (*22 November 1827 † 23 August 1911). Susanna's 7th great-grandfather was Olli Olinpoika Holappa, who was born about 1510 in the parish of Jääksi in Finnish Karelia, which is now part of Russia.  Jääksi is situated between Imatra, Finland and St. Petersburg.  Olli's family moved to the parish of Muhos in Oulu Province. His son, Matti Olinpoika Holappa (*1538 † 1590), settled in the Sanginjärvi village in the Utajärvi parish, where Holappa has been farm No. 1 since the 1500's 2. Matti's son, Juho Matinpoika Holappa (*1584 † 1638) settled a Holappa farm in Pudasjärvi parish. Juho's great-grandson, Paavo Pavonpoika Holappa (*October 1719 † 01 November 1810), settled in Kuusamo.

Other original Finnish settlers of Kuusamo

The following people are ancestors of Jennie's maternal grandmother, Priita Kaisa Pavontytär Lehtoniemi-Määttä (* 04 November 1821 † 13 May 1880):

Heikki Määttä (born abt. 1630) emigrated from Paltamo to the Vasaraperä village in Kuusamo parish.

Simo Määttä moved from Sotkamo to the Poussu village in Kuusamo parish.  His son, Simo Simonpoika Määttä (*1673 †13 December 1757) was born on the Haukiniemi farm.

Heikki Olinpoika Veteläinen (born abt. 1640) emigrated from Pudasjärvi to Kuusamo and settled near Kurkijärvi.  

NOTE: This page references the pre-Hiski genealogy work done by Erkki Aikkila3, Reijo Kiviniemi 3, Veikko Väätäinen, Esko Pitkänen, and Veli Holappa, as well as the Taurainen family book, "Esivanhempiem kautta tutuksi Lars Tauriainen s.1600  jälkeläisiä Suomussalmi Peranka" and was published in 1985, authored by Pauli Kaisto.

A view of Kuusamonjärvi (Lake Kuusamo).

A reindeer under the midnight sun. Taken outside of Kuusamo.

A view from the top of Pentilänvaara (Pentti's Hill).  Looks strikingly similar to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Winter War - Continuation War Memorial in Kuusamo.

Kuusamonkirkko (Church). This was built after the Nazi's burned down every building in Kuusamo at the close of World War II.

Above photos taken by Kent in June of 2003.

Jennie at her 50th Wedding Anniversary

Jennie in Bootjack, MI.

Kuusamo is a large parish located on the northeastern edge of Oulu province, bordering Russia and jutting into the Lappi province.  Kuusamo village, which sits on serene Kuusamonjärvi (Lake Kuusamo), is at the coordinates of 65°N and 29°E. The town of Posio, birthplace of Jennie Karjalainen's mother, is now its own parish.

The entire town of Kuusamo was rebuilt after World War II due to the Nazi's burning of Lapland. Only a small handful of original structures remain.

Kuusamo is known for its fishing and hunting, as well as cold temperatures and snowfall. It is an internationally known destination for its hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. There are large parks north of the town.

Kuusamo Official website (in English)

Posio official website (in Finnish). This site has a web-cam and current temperatures. Find out about Kuusamo's outdoor activities.

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Kent's Genealogy Page (in case you've come here from someplace else)

compiled Nov 2003 by Kent Randell