Finland Days 7 and 8: Research Fun, Libraries and Touristing...

The last two days have made up for my lazy days at the Summerhouse, as I reckon I’ve walked every street in the centre of Helsinki. Some probably twice. And my Fitbit can prove it. Anyway I was fortunate enough that another Finnish cousin of mine was happy to play tour guide for Wednesday and Thursday, and as a bonus as he’s also into research and libraries took me to all the fun places, as well as a heap more. Wednesday 5 July 2017 Wednesday was pretty much a visit-libraries-and-research-day. I think I went to three libraries, one museum, and the National Archives of Finland. Sound fun doesn’t it … well it does if you’re into that type of thing. Fortunately for me my tour guide cousin, also played interpreter when we were at the archives. I can read names, but don’t understand the record that I’m looking at otherwise. Anyway it was a great day at the archives as we found a death duty record for my 4x great grandma, Ulrika Winter! Who would have thought, eh? But oh so very cool!! Thursday 6 July 2017 This was set aside to be another another research day, but rather than heading back to the archives, my cousin and I spent a couple of hours comparing information, before heading off for a day of touristing. First stop was Suomenlinna (previously named Sveaborg which is the Swedish name for it). Founded in 1748 when Sweden owned Finland, this sea fortress which is built on a group of islands was so they could defend themselves against Russia. Soumenlinna is is now UNESCO World Heritage Listed and is really something to see. The scale of it is phenomenal, and it is all so...

Finland Day 6: Countryside, a Cemetery and Pizza...

I can’t believe it’s been a week already since I arrived. My trip seems to be going so fast, but in some ways it also seems longer, as I’ve done so much … and I have almost another week to go. Tuesday 4 July 2017 Today was a packup-and-leave-Heinola day, but rather than heading straight home, my cousins took me to another beautiful cemetery. They know me so well already! Anyway it was here at the town of H√§meenkoski I got to see my 4x great grandpa’s grave. This place is about a 1 1/2 hour drive north of Helsinki. So that was another very exciting day. The journey to and from the cemetery really was beautiful, as we went through the most spectacular countryside. And as you do, on lazy country drives, we found strawberry farm and got the tastiest strawberries EVER. My cousins and I had pizza for tea, and I must say their “small” pizza is huge. I would expect that in America as everything there is supersize, but not Finland. Anyway it was very tasty, but waaaay to much. Oh and here’s a Finnish thing, when you buy a pizza it’s not pre-cut into slices for you. If you want that done it costs more. Tomorrow I head to the archives for some research...

Finland Day 4 and 5: Summerhouse, Games and Long Nights...

My adventures in Finland continue and the last couple of days were spent at Heinola, at my reli’s summerhouse. This is just over an hour away from where they live… so it’s not far, but it truly is a whole different world, and not just the scenery but also the house and everything in it. It kind of reminds me of my grandma’s place which was filled with everything from a past era, it’s like walking into an antique store. Old knick knacks, old tools, old everything, even an outdoor toilet … but that’s part of the charm of it. In Finland it is a common thing for families to have a summerhouse. It’s school holidays in Finland at the moment and those who work tend to take their holidays during summer if they can, and then all head off to the summerhouse. Some might get there a for a few days, others the entire holiday period. Apart from the noise from roadworks that are happening nearby at the moment, it is incredibly tranquil, and you could totally lose track of day and time very easily. And remember it doesn’t even get vaguely dark until maybe 10.30pm … so you really can stay up all night, outside playing games, or whatever. Sunday 2 July 2017 to Monday 3 July 2017 I won’t go into detail of the past few days, but with the nice weather we had breakfasts outside, went in their sauna (by the way the correct pronunciation of it is sow-nah, not sor-nah), playing games, reading, learning more family history, checking out the town centre, including the bird rescue centre and more. It’s been relaxing and fun, and I’ve taken hundreds of photos. Below are just a...

Those BSOs Make it Hard to Focus...

As researchers we want to find out everything possibly can, about every member of our family. Right? I’m sure I’m close anyway. While family might say we’re nosy, we tend to prefer the term detective or record keepers. Tracing your family history is a good thing, however you DO NEED TO BE FOCUSSED. Because when you’re not and want to find EVERYTHING at once, it becomes so overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there, so I can truthfully speak from experience. And despite me knowing this, I can feel myself edging towards it again. Why, because of BSOs (yes, those bright shiny objects). You know the ones that distract you, and your suddenly are off chasing someone else. Needless to say that I have a few of these at the moment. I haven’t actually been doing any real solid research for a couple of years, instead I tend to pick up a branch, family, or ancestor and follow them for a bit. I have done that with Charlotte Phillips (one of my fav’s), and also my great grandpa, Otto Winter. However a new and “reasonably-likely-but-yet-to-be-proven” convict has taken my attention recently (you’ll probably read about him in due course), and last week Trove had the most incredible article on my great grandpa going to prison (a family story that wasn’t passed down, well not to me anyway). Again that’s another story, but it needs a little more research first before I share it with the world. And did I mention that I’m completely fascinated by the Adelaide Arcade now? I did a ghost tour there recently, and I am totally in love with that place, and have big long post planned. But seriously the history in that building is phenomenal....

Is This Otto Rafael Winter?...

Do you have an ancestor or two that you are totally fascinated by? And by that I mean you spend ten times as much time on just that one person, than you do for whole other branches. Well I do. I have two of them in fact, and great grandpa Otto Rafael Winter is one of them. I have written before about Otto Winter (see the links below), though not for a while as I’ve not done much research on him for quite some time, but I have recently come across a ‘new-to-me’ photo which I think may be him. Anyway back to my fascination and a little intro: So why him? Well possibly because he’s from Finland for a start, as opposed the most of the rest of my ancestors who were largely from the UK, so researching him has been quite different. But also because there’s so few photos of him, and he wasn’t a diary-keeper, he’s always seemed a bit of a mystery.¬† So I’ve had to piece what I know of him from records, as well as my grandma’s memories. Otto was the third of six children, but the first son. As I find seeing a chart easier to read, than writing who was who, and where they fit in, I’ve included a little chart to show the family details. He left his home in Helsinki, Finland when he was young and made a life for himself working on cargo ships around the world as it was a way to avoid to joining the Russian Army which was compulsory for all young men at the time. He jumped ship at least twice, once in England and the second one being in Queensland, Australia. From there...