Eteläkarjalainen maisema

Eteläkarjalainen maisema
Tässä blogissa on sekä kuvia että tarinoita upean Etelä-Karjalan luonnosta, ihmisistä ja kulttuurista. Kuvassa syyskuinen näkymä Saimaan kanavan varrelta.

Snoma ( in English )

Snoma Finnish Cemetery’s unassuming sign stands behind barbed wire to keep freerange cattle out of the final resting place of early Finnish immigrants to South Dakota
Last summer (2004) I had the opportunity to tour the “New Continent” for one month. My journey was aimed at areas where Finnish immigrants settled in the 19th century and first decades of the 20th. The areas varied from one another, especially in scenery and climate conditions. While driving in Northern Michigan it seemed from time to time that I had been transported to Central Finland. On the other hand, North and South Dakota’s, Wyoming’s and Montana’s prairies, nearly deserted land, mountains, waterfalls, and thermal springs differed greatly from Finnish landscapes.
                      My visit in the Black Hills was fascinating. The area became well known for its 19th century gold discovery. Celebrities who made their mark in the area include Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickock, and Bat Masterson. The giant Homestake gold mine operated in the town of Lead. In 1901, 950 Finns lived in the town. The neighboring town of Deadwood is legendary as a town of the Wild West. Finnish immigrants began to move to the area in the 1880s. In the early phase, however, a significant portion of the Finnish speaking immigrants were actually from Northern Sweden and Northern Norway. They had a central role in, among other activities, congregational organizing. 

             Many of those Scandinavian immigrants were Laestadians. The first services, according to tradition, were held in 1882-1884.  The service location was the Oskari Forsman family home. Regular service activity began in 1885, when Alatornio-born Nels Pietilä (1847-1927) moved to the area from Calumet, Mich. He began to travel the Black Hills as a preacher right after moving to the area. The first Apostolic Lutheran (Laestadian) congregation was founded in Lead in 1886. In addition to Nels and Hilda Pietilä , one of the founding members was Solomon Johnson, who was born (1849) on the Swedish side in the village of Vojakkala, a locality neighboring Haparanda. He began working for a living at about 10 years old by herding cattle in his home village. As a 19-year-old, he had earned enough money to make his way to Northern Norway. There, fish were plentiful even in the famine years. In Norway he married Anna Rokaniemi. The couple moved to the United States in 1878, first to Michigan and hen very soon to the Black Hills area. The Johnson kept a boarding house for the miners.       

  The Johnsons were deeply religious. Solomon Johnson felled timber from the surrounding forests for the mining company and at the same time for his own house. When Laestadian believers built their first church in Lead in 1886, he donated the needed log materials for framing from his own supply. Later, he served with Nels Pietilä as a pastor in the congregation. That congregation was named the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation of the City of Lead.
We did not find a better picture of the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation of the City of Lead’s church building despite our searching. The church had to be demolished when, in the 1970s, the property was appropriated for the openpit mine. The picture is an enlarged detail of a panoramic photograph of Lead in the 1950s.
Solomon Johnson's headstone at Snoma Finnish Cemetery. Solomon Johnson (1849-1940) was a  preacher and founder of Apostolic Lutheran church in Lead and later in Snoma.

Solomon and Anna Johnson moved from the mountain town of Lead some 20 miles north to the rolling prairie of the Belle Fourche River Valley. The name of their new location has an interesting history. The Finnish immigrants, who moved there starting in 1887, gave the area the name Suomi. When a post office was established there, the officials did not have a command of Finnish spelling [or perhaps handwriting] and they mistakenly recorded the name as Snoma. Here also a Laestadian congregation was established. Among its founders were again the aforementioned Pietiläs and Johnsons.

Isaac Färdig's gravestone at Snoma Finnish Cemetery. Isaac Färdig was founder of the local Apostolic Lutheran Church and also preacher.
      Our July visit to that now defunct congregations graveyard spoke volumes. The small sign beside the road, which shimmered in the prairie heat, went unnoticed at first. A barbed wire fence stood between us and the cemetery. We hopped over the fence, and began to walk up a rough gravel road. The actual cemetery was a few hundred yards up a hill from the main road. At the gate, a sign read Snoma Finnish Cemetery. We were on the prairie, yet it felt as if we were in Finland. The burial land and its surroundings were comprised of a pine grove as is usual at home in Finland. It was likely the only stand of pine for miles around. I suspect it was long ago chosen for the Finnish Cemetery for that reason. The immigrants, who had gone far from their home areas, wanted to buried like there at home. Sap dripped on my shirt from the ancient pines that drooped in the heat of the day. The prairie wind quietly bent and swayed the tufted clumps of scorched grass. A perfect peace reigned. I had come to the final resting place of a good 200 Finnish immigrants. The words of an old hymn came to mind: Saints of God have peace foreverwho endeavored, while on earth to battle strive.           

View south from the Crooked Oaks Rd, near the Snoma Finnish Cemetery. The Snoma Finnish Cemetery is a cemetery located about 3.5 miles southeast of Fruitdale, in Butte County, South Dakota. If you come from highway 212, turn to Fruitdale, after a little bridge drive to the Snoma Rd and turn to the left. After about 2/3 miles turn to Crooked Oaks Rd, drive one mile and you will be at the right place. You should only walk 300 - 400 yards through pasture land.

 Some information about Snoma's past you'll find here
Record of the Snoma Finnish Cemetery was compiled in April 1996 by the late Ernie Gottschalk 
of Vale, SD. You can find  records here.

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