Mauritz Reginanpoika Randell was born on 12 May, 1885 on the Hernesharju farm in Vanhakylä village, Isojoki parish, Finland. (Hernesharju means "pea ridge" in Finnish, and is the only farm in Finland with that name. Vanhakylä means "old village" and Isojoki means "big river" in Finnish.) As evidenced by Mauritz' female patronymic, Mauritz was of illegitimate birth. After consulting some researchers familiar with Isojoki, it is likely that the name of the father is lost to history. On C & H Mining Documents, Mauritz always left the name of his parents blank, stating only that they were Finnish.
At the age of nine, on 25 June 1864, Mauritz moved to the Hirvijärvi village in Siikainen parish with his mother, Regina Erkintytär Hernesharju. Regina soon married widower Elias Petter Ristiharju on January 1st, 1865 in Siikainen. Regina was 33 and Elias was 43 at the time of the marriage. They had 3 additional children, Iida Sofia,
Katriina Josefina, and Elias Aleksantari. Elias was born when Regina was 40 years old. In Siikainen, the family lived on the Ristiharju farm. When Elias gave up the tenant farm in Ristiharju, the new tenant crossed out Ristaharju and a new name Rantala was written.
Since the Ristiharju farm was also known as Rantala, it is possible that Mauritz took this name when he moved back to Isojoki Vanhakylä in 1872 at the age of 17 and lived with his Uncle: Vilhelm Pakokorpi-Hautala. At this time, Mauritz' mother, stepfather, and half-sisters remained in Siikainen, his half-brother Elias being born in 1873, the year after he left.
On the 1920 United States Census, Mauritz lists his date of emigration as 1887, and Naturalization date as 1895. It is not known exactly when and where the name was changed to Randell from Rantala. Rantala is a common surname in Finland, and means beach or strand. Mauritz spelt his own name as Maruids Randel in the family Bible.
Mauritz married Lydia Lindi on 22 November 1890. He started working as a miner for the Calumet & Hecla Mining company on July 8, 1906. He moved to dry man in October of 1917 and started work in the lab on March 18, 1922. Mauritz died on 16 January 1930 and is interred at Lakeview Cemetery in Calumet, MI.
Mauritz and Lydia had eight children, of whom seven survived. His youngest
son, Edward, died in a car accident in Laurium in 1932 at the young age
of 26. Mauritz' son, William, later lived in his house in Florida Location,
MI (near Calumet).
Even though Mauritz and his wife Lydia lived in the United States for
most of their lives, neither ever learned to speak English. This was not
necessary due to the large Finnish community in the "Copper Country"
of Northern Michigan. All of their children could read and write both
Finnish and English. Many of their grandchildren were not taught Finnish,
for fear that they would speak with a thick Finnish accent and have trouble
assimilating into mainstream American life. Lydia survived her husband
by 20 years, and some grandchildren spoke Finnish in order to communicate
Mauritz' maternal grandparents were Erkki Heikinpoika Mäkynen-Pakokorpi
(* 04 May 1798 † 02 February 1858) and Maija Kaisa Joosepintytär
Vidberg (* 1807 † 06 December 1867). They moved from Isojoki Svarti
to the Hernesharju farm between 1829 and 1832. Their daughter Regina,
Mauritz' mother, was the first of their children to be born there.
Above pictures are of Hernesharju in
In June of 2003, my friends and I were driving a rent-a-car
from Turku to Kauhava and made an impromptu stop in Isojoki. In about
30 minutes, after talking to 4 different local folks with cell phones,
we were able to find the Hernesharju farm, which is located about 10k
from the church in Isojoki. There is only one Hernesharju, or pea
ridge, farm in Finland. This is the place where Mauritz and his mother
Regina were born. The current residents are not relatives, as ownership
of the farm has changed hands. They were very friendly and it was a fun
afternoon. Luckily, two of my friends spoke a little Finnish. You can
imagine their surprise when on the afternoon of Juhannis three young men
from America stop by, one having documentation that his great-grandfather
was born there!
Markku and myself in front of the Church
Isojoki parish is located in the province of Western Finland in the region of South Ostrobothnia, between Kankanpää and Kristiinankaupunki. Isojoki has some Swedish-speaking Finns, and is known as Storå in Swedish. Its coordinates are 62° N and 21° E.
Mauritz is my only great-grandparent that is known to come from south of the 65th parallel. My other ancestors came from Tervola, Enontekiö, and Alatornio in the northern Lappi province, Kuusamo, and Tromsø, Norway.
Isojen Kunta Isojoki official website (in Finnish)
Vanhakylä village website (in Finnish). This site is designed and maintained by Railli Hernesharju, who lives at the farm where Mauritz was born.
Isojoki's vaivaispoika, or Fattiggubben. There are about 1200 "poor men" that survive in Finland. They serve as a reminder for patrons to give alms to the needy. This tradition goes back to the 1600's. In recent times there has been a preservation movement.
This is a communion record from Isojoki while Mauritz lived there with his Uncle between 1872 and 1887. Before his name is Drg., which means he was employed as a Farm Hand. Storå is the Swedish name of Isojoki. The record also notes he moved from Siikainen in 1871. The top three entries are the family of Mauritz' uncle, Vilhelm Erkinpoika Pakokorpi, later Hautala.
Photo was taken by Tapio P. in Isojoki, a direct descendant of William.
Kent's Genealogy Page (in case you've come here from someplace else)
compiled Nov 2003 by Kent Randell