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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tall Tales, Grandpa Johnson and Researching Your Michigan Roots

We all grow up with family stories that have been handed down from generation to generation. While I always knew that some were probably embellished, I had no idea how much until I started researching my great grandfather Elias Johnson, one of the original settlers of Toivola Michigan.

The stories Elias told of his childhood and adulthood before he married my grandmother Anna Hallsten Johnson are all a bit suspect. And did I mention he left a wife and three children in Finland that he never mentioned until they showed up in a nearby town!

I also think that the art of 'spinning a good yarn' is genetic because his son Hardy and my uncle Kenny Keteri were also great story tellers. In fact, Hardy seems to have taken Elias' stories and spun them a little taller!

Uncle Kenny's stories were just pure fun. He made saunas an event for his own children and his nieces and nephews with stories like "The Three Little Pigs from Beacon Hill". We were so lucky that he recorded them because no one could ever tell them the way he did.

If you are starting to research your Michigan roots you might want to check out the website "Seeking Michigan" @

And while you are on the website read "The Rough and Rocky Road to Statehood" to get a better understanding of the road to statehood your ancestors travelled 174 years ago.

Michigan became a state on January 26, 1837.

Take Care,

Elias and Anna Hallsten Johnson with son John Walter

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