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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Anna Hallsten Johnson

Born: 7 May 1867 - Alajärven, Möksyssä, Finland
Married: 3 Jan 1891 - Red Jacket, Houghton County, Michigan
Died: 24 Jan 1936 - Toivola, Houghton County, Michigan

Toivola Matron is Summoned by Death
Daily Mining Gazette - January 25, 1936

Mrs. Anna Johnson of Toivola died yesterday morning at the age of 68 years. She was born in Finland, came to the United States 48 years ago, and had lived in the Copper County ever since.

Surviving are five daughters, Mrs. Anton Warren of Hancock, Mrs. Isaac Keturi of Beacon Hill, Mrs. Samuel Mattila of Toivola, Mrs. Walter Salmi and Mrs. mike Taskila of Toivola, three sons, Jalmer, Ralph and Wilhart of Toivola, three sisters, two brothers, 41 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Funeral services will be help Wednesday afternoon at 1 o'clock at the home, the Rev. Mr. Heideman officiating. Burial will be in the Toivola Cemetery.

Destination: Toivola, 'Vale of Hope'
Taisto Hayrinen
The Co-Operative Builder - May 18, 1944


Shades of Irish Finns!

All the settlers were Finns, except for Grant Goyle-an Irishman, John Spiegel-a German, and Lyn Blum-an Irish-German. They all learned to speak Finnish with hardly an accent, and did that ever mystify strangers. They had learned some of it already in the copper cities, where we first came to know them. They married Finnish-born girls and settle here. Their descendants are numerous. Those are about the most interesting things I can recall…"

Among the first comers, Anna Johnson was outstanding for her contribution to the community. She did everything except shoe horses and weld iron in the black-smith's shop. She tanned leather to make moccasins for the little ones, of whom she had 13 herself, raising 10 to man and womanhood. She was the community's only midwife for 40 years, attending 103 deliveries, and losing not a one.

Because her husband worked in the mines and lumber camps most of the time, she had to take full charge of the farm and her brood of children. She harnessed and hitched the horse to the harrow, and trudged in its wake. She sowed the grain from a dishpan, later with a hand driven seeder. She was the community nurse, calling Dr. Aldridge of Winona in the severe cases.

She was also the veterinarian. She spun wool and knitted garments, sewed the dresses for the little girls from store goods. There were innumerable other things made at home, for trips to town took three days through the forest, and once when the storekeeper made a delivery, it cost more than the goods did.

On that occasion, the wide-eyed storekeeper told Anna's friends in town how he found her soldering a dishpan, and of how she had "made the chimney longer." It seems the stovepipe chimney was too short, so Anna had raised the stove on blocks of wood.

Always, A Solution Was Found

She took hold of tragedy with a firm hand. Once, when one of her little daughters fell into the well, where there was 28 feet of water, she commanded that she be tied to the bucket and lowered into the well. This done, she grasped the child by the hair and drew her up in approved life-saving fashion. After several hours of artificial respiration, the youngster recovered.

While she was helping a neighbor, the eldest children, tho little more than knee high, were left in charge. Their cooking ability was limited, as was the larder, and the main dish and only one was a concoction of hot water poured on rye bread, with fried salt pork added, to be eaten with milk. It stopped the tears of the little ones, and they again waited patiently for mother to return.

She was always ready to help her neighbors, and everyone in Toivola was her neighbors, and everyone in Toivola was her neighbor. She did everything for a mere "thank you," never expected any more. She felt no sense of being a heroine, but because she had versatile ability and unquenchable energy, she lived up to the standards of that day. Those people had to work hard, do those things or go under.

Elias and Anna Hallsten Johnson with son John Walter Johnson

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