Last month my family had the opportunity to travel to Finland. It was part work for my husband and part vacation travel. Our adventure started when we met up with my husband’s parents, J and S, who had been on their own vacation. Our travel plans included arriving in a few days in the Åland Islands on our way to Finland.
J was very excited to be going to Finland. His great-grandparents, Wendla Båtmäster and Charles Oscar Mattson, had immigrated to the United States from Finland.
Although Wendla and Charles came from towns only 13 kilometers apart from each other, all family oral histories say they met in San Francisco through the Star of Finland Relief Society.
Grandma Shirley, J’s mom, did an excellent job of documenting her family in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I am so thankful to have digital copies of her research! While she had information regarding family in Finland for Wendla, there is really no further information for Charles. Part of this is due to the fact he died the young age of 33. His obituary states he left behind (besides his immediate family) a brother, Matt Mattson, and a sister, Mrs. Lena Carlson. Grandma Shirley had also found out Charles was from the town of Malax, Finland.
Basic searches for Charles did not have any positive results before our trip. I have to admit, I was not very thorough with my research due to the crazy that was the end of the school year.
Back to our trip. The Åland Islands were included in our trip because Grandpa John (J’s dad) had such fond memories from the trip he and Grandma Shirley had taken 40 years ago. We arrived early in the morning after an overnight ferry from Stockholm. The morning was spent enjoying Mariehamn, the capital of the Åland Islands. We then made our way to the summer cottage my husband had found for us to stay at. It was gorgeous!
Every afternoon was spent enjoying the front porch. The wifi made it one of the best offices my husband has ever used. I spent some of the porch time on my tablet trying to find more information about Charles Mattson and his family.
Then it happens. I get a hit for Lena Carlson at Ancestry.com. And not just a little hit. A big, bright shiny moment of search success.
It turns out Lena Carlson was just one of variations of names for Charles’ sister. And I was lucky enough to have most of them listed on the Petition for Naturalization I found.
No wonder why I was having difficulty finding her! I have found Lena under every possible variation of the above name plus the additional variations using her husband’s last name, Victor. More proof the family was from Malax, Finland but again no names for Charles’ parents.
So what is the serendipitous moment? About half way down the Petition for Naturalization are questions about Lena’s husband Victor. Guess where he was born? Mariehamn, Åland Islands, Finland. You will notice Åland is spelled with an “O.” This is not surprising at all since Å with a ring above it is pronounced as “oh”.
Seriously, how crazy that I had traveled a little more than 5,300 miles to find a document online that says Lena’s husband was born only 10 miles from where I sat on the porch with the most incredible view?!