En osannolik historia

An unbelievable tale

I går, tisdagen den 1 juni 2004, fick jag ett brev av min småkusin Bruce Muller i USA och därmed blev jag lycklig ägare till några av Woldemar Backmans släktutredningar: Smeds i Soklot, Forsbacka och dess ägare, Lassila i Kovjoki by samt Tornskär och släkten Boman. Mina förfäder på fädernet finns med i dem alla. Eftersom bakgrunden till att jag nu har böckerna var så osannolik, bad jag Bruce att skriva ner historien.

The books were originally purchased by Morbror Carl Finnström on one of his trips to Finland, or they were sent by Oscar Fors, who Carl met on his trip in 1927. The books were given to my kusin Diana Riggle on Carl's death. Diana contracted cancer in early 1998, and died in March 1998. I had been in contact with her in 1997. I had discovered that there was no gravestone on my Grandparents grave, and decided that it was up to the Grandchildren to do the job that our parents had not done. When I spoke with Diana, in addition to a generous donation, she told me that she had instructed her friends to send me her papers at her death.

In September 1998, I retired from Raytheon Co. and moved from Boston, Massachusetts to Western Michigan. I had not received Diana's papers, and had no knowledge of the person that was in possession.

In the summer of 2003 while recovering from a broken ankle, I discovered the website sunsetpark.com [som inte finns längre]. The website serves the Brooklyn New York neighborhood where my Grandparents lived, and I also lived in the 1940's and 1950's. Morfar had carved his name in the bronze mailbox with a chisel, and I wondered if the new owners had replaced the mailbox, or if the name ”Finstrom” was still there. I entered a query on the website hoping that someone in the neighborhood would read it.

In late 2003, Mrs. Pat Sprague, of Silver Spring, Nevada, had seen Diana's papers in a garage sale. The owners agreed to let her try to locate someone from the Finstrom family. Since there were some papers that related to New York City, Mrs. Sprague contacted a friend and genealogist in New York City, who then checked the local websites for the name ”Finstrom”.

My query for my Grandfather's mailbox came up; she passed my name to Mrs. Sprague, who then contacted me. In April, a box arrived with the papers of Diana Finstrom Riggle. Included in the box were the books published in 1932–34 giving the history of the Boman and Liljeström families as well as other families in Nykarleby.

I still don't know if the name ”Finstrom” is still on the mailbox. I think that I will have to visit Brooklyn, New York to answer this question.

Bruce Muller

Få se om cirkeln sluts och böckerna en dag återbördas till Nykarleby.
(Inf. 2004-06-02.)

*      *      *

Äventyret fortsätter

I oktober 2013 frågade jag Bruce om det framkommit något nytt under de nästan tio år som gått sedan böckerna senast var på tal:


Mycket tak for din brev.

— — —

I am glad that you sent me the link to the letter as I left some unfinished business at the end regarding the mailbox at the Finström house in Brooklyn. When Moster Margaret E. Leddy (Susan's Mor) died 11 August 2009, Susan had a burial service at the military cemetery on Long Island, NY where her father is buried. Margaret was my son Bruce's godmother. He was able to meet me in New York and we both attended the service.

After the service, we drove past the Brooklyn house only to find that the house and the house west of it had been renovated into apartments with a new brick facade. 

The house in Brooklyn 2009.

The mailbox was gone. Attached are pictures showing how the house changed over the years. The neighborhood is now the largest Asian community in New York. The main street is 8th Avenue and the Asians believe that 8 is a lucky number. The only remaining sign of the Scandinavian immigrants is the marquee for the Norge movie theater which shows Asian movies. The hedge in front of Mormor's house is gone.

Everything in Brooklyn is concrete – USCH!

Outside the Finstrom's 1920. As I remember, Moster Margaret told me the lady in the black dress was Mrs. Ecklund and was related to Morfar – either an aunt or a cousin. Mormor is sitting next to the railing and another Mrs. Ecklund – daughter in law –  is sitting next to Mormor. The children are a mixture of the Finnström and Ecklund families. The elder Mrs. Ecklund was returning to Finland on Sunday and could only visit on Saturday. The children had not had their weekly baths for church on Sunday which explains the scruffy look. Delförstoring.

Mormor Hanna Finnström (Finstrom) 1958 on the sidewalk in front of the house.

In 1927, Carl met Helen Beasley on his return to New York from Nykarleby on the ship Leviathan (also named George Washington as it was reparations from Germany).  In 1928 (?) he married Helen and moved to Stamford, CT.  He decided to ”come ashore” and be home every evening. 

He was hired by min Far's brother in law, Max Eitelbach to work in his mortgage banking business. Max and Carl had mutual interests. Max had spent several years in the US Navy during the Spanish American war rising to Yeoman first class, and Carl had 10 years experience as a ships officer at sea. Helen had some mental problems and was placed in an institution in Connecticut where she died in 1936(?). Max also became sick with a brain tumor around 1932. Faster Ethel knew there was a problem as he was taking photographs crooked. Without Max, the mortgage business started to fail, and around 1934, Carl decided to return to sea with the Moore-MacCormack Steamship Co.

Using this timeline, I assume that he acquired the books by mail through friends in Nykarleby. His Seaman's log shows one trip to Hamburg and the trip to Sweden. Nothing into the Gulf of Bothnia. I will try to put together a list of addresses showing the path of the book assuming that he lived in Stamford, CT when he acquired the books.

And here is the list: (Kursiverad text avser Carls adresser. Regular avser ytterligare adresser/ägare där böckerna funnits.)



66 900 Nykarleby, Finland



Shippan Point Rd, Stamford Connecticut  06902



7002 Ridge Blvd, Brooklyn, New York 11209



Hurlingham Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina 



Naval Ship Repair Facility, Azore Islands



751 -51st St., Brooklyn New York 11220



Hurlingham Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina 



Trail, Oregon 97541. The ranch that he bought when he retired was seized by the Corp of Engineers for construction of a flood control dam on the Rogue River. My son Bruce thinks that the dam may have been removed because of damage to the river and the fish migration.



Finstrom Rd, Medford, Oregon  97501



Diana Finstrom Riggle, Silver Spring, Nevada 89429. Died 20 March 1998.

  2003 Pat Spargue, Silver Spring, Nevada 89429



Bruce Muller Otsego, Michigan 49078



Fredrik Liljeström, 178 02 Drottningholm, Sverige

Böckernas odyssé på google maps. Med viss reservation för B–I om böckerna inte följde med till alla plaster där Carl bodde. Förstoring.



Carl W. Finstrom
1918 to 1956



Morgan Lines – Coastwise to Galveston.
AB Seaman coastwise ship.
Several sailing yachts that started fitting out as the war was nearly over.
Long island Sound & NY bay trips out and back to NY days or weeks, and coming back to the yacht yard.
British ship to Marseilles.
Sailing ship to France and back.
Assortment of freighters and British freighter.
Coastwise freighters up & down the east coast carry phosphate rock, sulphur – crew of 25, including American freighter to Iran with coal 1921 just before strike. Laid up until after the strike broke the Seaman’s union until 1934.



Oil Tankers.




Got off in Portland to see what being a logger was like. Logging in Washington for 4 months. In Astoria, Luckenbach ship to the east coast via San Luis Obispo, Calif. where crew got Stevedore duties and pay & via Cuba.




Barber line “Independence” First trip around the world. AB 2 watches $52 1 day + 1 other. Los Angeles, Yokahama, Kobi, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Philippine Islands (several ports) 35 days in manila – damaged propeller, Saigon, Singapore, Bali, Papau, Aden, Gibralter, NY.




3rd Mate and first aid certificate.
Difficult to get a job, unless took a job as sailor in one of the companies where had worked.

Interviewed Capt. Donnelly, Isthmian Line & became 4th officer, 2 stack, 10 knot, 35 passenger old wreck “Crofton Hall” to South America. 21st birthday in Buenos Aires.




Transferred to “San Francisco” 4th officer – west coast, Vancouver, British Columbia, etc. – full cargo for London, Liverpool, Avenmouth (Bristol), east coast. Made 2 or 3 trips (told Chief Mate “I smell land, want to take a sounding). 4th officer stood a watch with Chief Officer.

Transferred to “Steel Engineer” as 3rd officer. Capt. George P. Shanahan – who read philosophy, etc. and discussed us. Fine man – attended Trinity College in Dublin – good enunciation, walrus moustache. Besides Burton Mortimer Green – chief officer – lived at Boston Spa. George T. Horan, who made 1 trip to South America, quit and became an airlines pilot. Tupper took his place as second mate. This represents 1 voyage to South America, several to west coast and Hawaiian islands, pineapple from Maio, etc. to west coast to east coast. Second Mates license. 2 years occupied by 4 voyages around the world, Hawaii, Japan, Philippines, Shanghai, Straits settlement, Peneng, Pt. Swettenham. In and out of the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston. For 2 years, never near NY. Then Chief Mates license.




Carl when he received his second officer license 1925.





Took George on trip to Finland on “George Washington” ex German ship, tourist class. Passage included England, LeHavre, Bremerhaven. Got off & got on train to Stettin & then boat to Helsingfors. Helsingfors back by Finland Steamship Company to Copenhagen, Hull, train to Southampton. 3 months – met Helen on way. Finland visited with Grandmother, uncles, aunts, Aline Skog (Father’s cousin, aunt in Vasa (clock episode)). On bus from Nykarleby to Vasa, Aunt talked about all of Carl’s exploits. Also visited a cousin to Mother (school teacher [Oskar Fors] married to school teacher). School near Nykarleby had apartment attached to school. He later sent extract of Lassila genealogy & later on request got Forsbacka, Smeds, and Boman genealogy booklets.

Lassila was grant from Sweden. Smeds land taken up (bought from gov’t) abandoned land laid waste after pillage, devastation by Russia. Smeds started strain of people talented and skills developed to land, so passed onto heirs more than they had and whose sons served actively in local church and community responsibilities. Lassila descendent married Forsbacka & land so divided that became really nothing like the original Lassila place. A Smeds & Lassila married & one of the Smeds boys married a Lassila & got Forsbacka place. Took name of place. Grandmother got as a temporary right of use of the land on Gulf of Bothnia. Forsbacka really same blood as Smeds + part Lassila. Forsbacka means rapids hill.

Bomans – 3 months in Finland mostly fishing with Uncle and cousins on their island (wooden beacon tower on it) from which island called Tornskar (town skerry, scotch for islet in a group of islets). Put out big nets with big hoops. Fish entered in one end, hauled up in whale boat and ? them.
Whitefish – fish 1–2 ft. long.

Back on the Leviathan from South Hampton to NY anchoring in NY harbor on November 7, 1927 – 25th birthday.




Isthmian Line “Steel Seafarer” 2nd mate, 6th voyage around the world with terrible captain. Got Chief Mate’s license at end of voyage.



Nov or
Dec returned

Saw much of Helen Beasley, descendant of 1st child born in Pilgrim Colony. After talking to Asst. Port Captain of Moore-McCormack Lines, decided not worth the trouble of filling out their application form & taking shorter trip in such an employ & decided to give up sea career & marry.




End of Carl’s hand written notes

Remainder is from Continuous Discharge Book # 026933





May 1935

Scanpenn” 3rd mate – West Indies and Baltic ports.



May 1937 Aug 1937

City of Fairbury” Chief Mate – foreign.



Oct 1937

Sagaporack” Chief Mate – foreign.



Mar 1938

Mormactide” Chief Mate – foreign.



Oct 1938

Brazil” 2nd officer - foreign.



Jul 1939

“V. Donald McKay” Chief officer – Coastwise & Foreign.



Aug 1939

Mormacwren” Chief officer – Coastwise & Foreign.



Jan 1940

“Sea Fox” Chief officer – Coastwise and Foreign.



Dec 1940

“Argentina” Chief officer – foreign.



Jul 1941

Moore-McCormack Lines Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Asst. Operations Manager.



June 1942

Asst. US Naval Attache, Buenos Aires, Argentina.



Jan 1946 – Jun 1956

Moore McCormack Lines Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Operations Manager/ Port Captain.



May 1949 

“Moormacpenn” Chief officer – foreign.



May–Jul 1949

“Uruguay” Staff captain – foreign.



Sept–Oct 1949

“Mormacsaga” – Master – Montevideo.



Carl standing. Left to right Moster Margaret Leddy, Mary Finstrom (Carl's fru), Moster Martha Novotny, Moster Anna Olson, Kusin June Olson. The person to the extreme right is Louis Junker with his wife to his left. I do not know her name, nor do the cousins.  Moster Martha was secretary to Louis Junker. Seated in front Frank Novotny Martha's man. June died young – age 48 – of heart attack. She was 6 years younger than me.

A Bon Voyage party for Mary and Carl Finstrom on board the Moore-MacCormack ship SS Argentina docked in New York. Carl and Mary were returning to Buenos Aires after purchasing the ranch in Trail, Oregon. This was 1–2 years before Carl retired and returned to America. This was an age when the ship docked in port and passengers had a party for friends who came to the dock to meet. Now they can't get the passengers off fast enough to get the next load on. Förstoring.


Jun 1956

“Argentina” – staff captain – foreign.


Jun 1956

Retired Trail, Oregon.


Mary and Carl Finstrom, taken shortly before he died. When Carl retired, he held the rank of Commander in the US Naval Reserve. With his Moore-MacCormack pension, Social Security, and US Navy retirement pay, he was comfortable in retirement.

Läs mer:
Smeds i Soklot (1932) av Woldemar Backman.
Forsbacka och dess ägare (1933) av Woldemar Backman.
Lassila i Kovjoki by av Nykarleby landskommun (1933) av Woldemar Backman.
Tornskär och släkten Boman (1934) av Woldemar Backman.
Bruce resa till Nykarleby.
(Inf. 2004-06-02, rev. 2023-12-27 .)
"Det vita är något mindre än tidigare efter renoveringen." Hösten 2001.