As you may have seen from our earlier Laitala post, we had a mystery about William Laitala. Who were his parents? We had a few bits of information, but nothing that tied everything together:
- Alina, who we thought might be William’s sister, named her parents in a Social Security record: Johan Laitala and Anna M Wiitanen. Are these William’s parents?
- There is a fragment left from the very damaged parish book dated 1879 from Haapavesi showing Johan Laitala and Anna Marie Wiitanen and their children: Abel, Johan, Herman, Abraim, Anna Maria and Wilhelm. Is this our William? (By the way, we are so lucky the fragment survived! I had been told that no records were available due to a fire. Yippee! It is also an interesting story how this fragment came to our attention. A nice lady in Finland contacted a cousin and shared it with her and then she shared it with us.)
So my clever and persistent mother spent some quality time with the Finnish parish books, searching for a later record of the family. She looked at all the parishes surrounding Haapavesi too in case the family moved around. Nothing. (She had previously found records in the Hiski database showing Juho and Anna Laitala as godparents several times in the parish of Vihanti, between 1885-1895.)
Then she found the cousin had a notation saying that Sakri Juntilla, Alina’s husband, came to Chisholm to meet William Laitala, brother-in-law. Where did this come from?
It took a bit of looking around and then – Aha! The Ellis Island records!
So now we feel confident that this all ties together. William and Alina were siblings. We know their parents names. William was born in Jan 1878 in Haapavesi, Finland. (There are discrepancies on the exact date, but we’re sure of January.) Of his older siblings, we think only Abel and Abraim came to Minnesota, the others remained in Finland. We also think there were two younger brothers, Matti and Antti, who also came to Minnesota. And, of course, Alina Laitala Juntilla, the youngest sister, came to Chisholm with her daughter to join her husband.
So I couldn’t stop there! Then I stitched together these ancestors for William from the Hiski database and the parish pages. This could have errors, but it is a good start for further research.
Look at all the interesting things going on with the Finnish names!:
- Laitala was likely a farm name because it ends with -la
- Soininen changed to Witanen (Soininen might be an old style family surname)
- There is some Swedish and some Finnish
- We are going back far enough that we see the old fashioned “son of Juho”
More info here: