Submitted by: George
A. Nousiainen Past International President
A very good friend of mine, Klas Bjork, a longtime member of Lodge 205 IOR, gave me an interesting article to read about Valsberg, Finland.
Valsberg’s population in the 1900s was about 180 people. Emigration to America at the beginning of the 20th century put a stop to Valsberg’s population growth. I noticed a correlation between that emigration and the location of many of the Order of Runeberg Lodges, both past and present, in the United States.
The Valsbergsbladet, newspaper published in Valsberg, tells the story:
“People from these parts of Finland concentrated their settling in America to a number of places. The most significant one was Branford, Connecticut, which at one time used to be called “Little Overmark” due to the fact that a great number of its inhabitants came from Overmark. A list of places where the emigrants settled down could be very long, but a number of them has to be mentioned: Worcester and Gardiner in Massachusetts, Escanaba, Gladstone and Dollar Bay in Michigan, Astoria and Coos Bay in Oregon, Bakersfield and Eureka in California, Tacoma and Seattle in Washington and of course New York, both the city and the state.
When the U.S. census of the population was executed in 1910 there was1.4 million people in the U.S. that was born in the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark). Of these, almost 130,000 people were from Finland and they were represented in all the states. The Swedes dominated in most of the states, but Sweden and the other countries were outnumbered by Finland in Michigan, where the Finns were the largest group, with over 31,000 people.”
From its renovated old schoolhouse, the Valsberg Village Society offers a variety of activities, courses, society festivals and a meeting place. To support all the society’s operations they raise funds by publishing the paper Valsbergbladet. The fourth edition of the newspaper is in English, making it easier for those emigrants or descendants who have questions about the old country and their ancestors.
For further information about Valsverg’ history or if you wish information on your ancestors contact: Ralf Lind Pjasbacken 12, 3tr 172 47 Sundyberg Sweden
I thank you Klas for making me aware of this article. It was interesting to see the relationship between the immigration from Valsberg and the location of IOR Lodges.