Visit to USA 1997

Meeting relatives in the USA 1997 

Written by Kalle Juntunen

Juntusten Sukuseura implemented a visit to the USA and Canada on 5.-14.8.1997. The visit was organized by Travel Agency Area. There were 29 family travelers in our group, among them the writer of Juntusten Sukukirja Matti J. Kankaanpää and our tour leader Pirjo Juntunen.

At first we had a flight from Helsinki to New York, where we stayed two days wondering the miracles of the metropolis. Then we continued via Minneapolis to the old centre of the Finns, Hancock in Michigan. Hancock was the place, where we were meeting the Juntunens of America.

There was a group of Juntunens waiting for us at the airport of Hancock with big posters. By small buses and cars we drove to the town, where we had lodging in the rooming house of Suomi College. In the Restaurant of the College we had a delicious dinner organized by Hannes Juntunen.

The day after arrival in Hancock, Friday 8.8., we had a party in the home of Nancy and Orval Korpela in Houghton. When we sang as community singing the rich-in-atmosphere "Kotimaani ompi Suomi", the gates opened and new bridges were built between distant relatives. The party continued late by singing, eating and drinking coffee and there was also an authentic Finnish Sauna.

The next day there was the proper main festival in Suomi College. There were over a hundred visitors from different sides of the USA. The festival began by National Anthems of the USA and Finland and after that we had a lecture of the history of Hancock by pastor Olavi Rankinen. After versatile speech and music performances we had a delicious festival lunch together.

We found that the Juntunens of America had done research on their roots more than we had believed. Nancy Korpela had produced a booklet about the descendants of her grandfather Niilo Juntunen in 1988. Margaret Ann Smith had done research on her roots as far as to the beginning of the1700's and John H. Stierna had made a careful research on the descendants of his grandfather Edwin Juntunen in the USA and on the Finnish ancestors of Edwin.

After the main festival we had a meeting in a cabinet of the festival house. We planned how to continue the research on American Juntunen immigrants so that the results of the reseach could one day be published as a family book. The members of our planning team were John H. Stierna, Margaret Ann Smith, the chairman of Juntusten Sukuseura Kalle Juntunen and the writer of the Finnish Juntunen Family Book Matti J. Kankaanpää. After several hours' deliberation the decision was, that the writing of the book "Juntunens of America" is started and the leaders of the research are John H. and Ruth Stierna. Juntusten Sukuseura supports this process by searching for the personal information of the immigrants.

Many travellers got personal contacts to their relatives but because of a rapid schedule deeper meeting with relatives was not possible. The main aim of the family meeting was anyway achieved. The process to write a book of immigrants was started and the basis of active connections between Juntusten Sukuseura and the descendants of the immigrants was founded.

After the visit the family book project has proceeded quickly. One instrument in searching for the descendants has been internet, with the help of which the tentacles of the search have spread over the whole continent.

From Hancock we continued our trip to Canada by bus. Via Sault Ste. Marie we travelled to Toronto, from where we made a one day trip to the Niagara Falls. From Toronto we had a flight to Helsinki, where we arrived with our minds full of memories and bodies full of tiredness.