Published first in Trysilboka, bind 8, 2000.
Published at fennia.nu 20110320.
Trysil is located within the large Scandinavian slash and burn (swidden) area that was colonized during a 100 year period from 1570 to 1670. This colonization in the beginning was mainly a migration of people within Sweden. It started in upper Kolmården in the 1570s, then towards Tiveden and into Karlskoga Bergslag. The uninhabited areas of Ångermanland were soon also settled by the Forest Finns. Just before 1600 the first settlements were made in Gästrikland and Hälsingland. The Dalarnes Finnish area was established from two sides: from the east to Orsa, Svärdsjö, etc. and from the south to Bergslagen. With stricter legislation being imposed on the swidden culture in the 1630s, one starts to see an increasing movement of settlement towards the eastern part of Värmland and into Norway. Around 1640 the first Finns settled in Rotberget, Hof and from 1656 in Gravberget, and Våler in Norway. These areas played an important roll as gateways for the later settlement of the southern and western parts of Trysil before 1670.
Reasons for migration
Many theories have been proposed for why this movement of people occurred. Some theories are quite dramatic in nature. War, farmer rebellion, years of famine. Modern research shows that it was not because of unusual conditions, but merely the continued development of the land and increasing population. The same forest colonization happening in Scandinavia during this period was also being felt in Finland too, as settlements grew. Even in Finland with large desolate areas, the Forest Finns colonized the forest successfully. The settlement started in the southeast, up to Savolax and then to northern Tavastland (Rautalampi). It seems that much of the slash and burn techniques were further refined and developed before this time an dincluded the incorporation of new types of rye. This period was also known as the "little ice age" because of the colder summers and with the increasing population and need for more food, each individual farm needed more space to grow grains.
By the middle of the 16th century the middle part of Finland had been settled and was becoming overcrowded. The Forest Finn expansion began. The main part of the Forest Finns moved north to Österbotten and Kajanaland, east towards northern Karelen, and south towards Ingermanland (Swedish land at that time) and other areas around Finska Viken. Only an estimated 10-15% went across the Baltic Sea to Sweden and later Norway. From the 13th century to 1809 Finland was part of Sweden. Stockholm was the capital and the shipping industry was very active all across the BalticSea during this time.
An old theory proposed the lack of food and the ravages of war were the reasons why the Forest Finns left. Crop failures were no worse in Finland than in Sweden or Norway. Conflicts along the border with Russia certainly had an effect, such as the compulsory conscription of men into the army, but if this was the reason, all the population of the country would have done the same thing. The main group of those who moved during this period came from a relatively concentrated area in the middle of Finland which had become over populated and where there was now a lack of areas to slash and burn.
Sweden and Norway
In a simplistic way, one might say that before this time (1570-1670) the main population (and concentration of buildings) were around larger water areas and lakes. Outside of those villages in the forested areas were mountain farms. Around these and even further away were where future farms would be built. Forest Finns settled in the conifer belt area of Scandinavia from Tivenden in the south, to southern Lappland in the north, from Gästrikland in the east of Oslo (and even Delaware USA!) in the west. The limit of the migration was stopped by those who already lived in the areas and the mountains.
There were already Finns in Sweden at this time working in the silver and copper mines, others in the capital of Stockholm and in the Mälardalens farm district. These were not Forest Finns as they came from the coastal areas of Finland and had a culture like people in Sweden and Norway. Immigrant workers and seasonal help were common occurrences. Some of the "West Finns" also stayed in Sweden.
The tracks are still there
Through the peculiarity of the slash and burn culture, the language pronunciations (dialect), ("Runosangerne"), the Finnish national epic ("Kalevala") and the use of surnames of the Savo's, one is able to get a picture of how and where these Forest Finns lived. The slash and burn culture was the common link that demanded a large amount of effort by many people either working and/or living together in large clans. Even in Scandinavia there are examples of how the results of the harvest were divided between the owner, the user, and the so-called "house-Finns". These house-Finns were temporary help on their way west, looking for places to settle and cultivate their own land.
In the Finnish culture, places were named after the people who settled there (in Sweden and Norway it was the opposite: the farmer got his name from the place he moved to). That is why one can find the place in Finland where the surnames "lived". A particular person may be hard to find, but the family farm/village can be found. But one must remember this name does not necessarily indicate the original name. The Forest Finns were sort of a nomadic culture. Before their movement to Scandinavia, they came from areas farther to the east.
Kuosmala, Raatikala, Tossavala
A family name that for sure can be traced to a specific village is Himainen. Heikki (Henrik) Himainen is mentioned as having emigrated in the "national archives sheriff and land records for 1598". He lived in the village named Himala, south of Ristina in Pellosniemi. Today the name is Himalansaare (the Island of Himainen). Members of the family still live there. The father "Hendrik Hendrikson Himain" is mentioned as having paid taxes in 1571. Henrik, like so many others, probably took a boat across the Baltic Sea and came to Tierps parish of northern Uppland (north of Stockholm). His sons Johan and Henrik were born there. In the court records in Orsa of 1636 they had moved to Björkberg and Rosentorp and listed as cottagers. Henrik we know from the Norwegian census "Finnemanntellet 1686" (all Finns were counted in Norway by the government) had a son, Henrik, in Orsa in 1625. Henrik came via Gravberget, newly-built by the Lyytiäinen family, married the daughter Ingeborg, and later built his farm in Galåsen, Trysil. In a similar way we can follow Kuosmainen to Kusmala, Tossavainen to Tossavala, Ronkainen to Ronkala, Lyytiäinen to Lyytiälä, etc. All these farms, some are villages today, are located in a circle with a radius of 50 kilometers close to Mikkeli and Juva [Finland].
The slash and burn culture is the common link
This whole eastern culture of slash and burn is linked by its common needs: where to live, what type of house to build and how to do it, and what other trades should these people have. Yes, everything was tied together. The needs of the people motivated them to build their farms close to each other and to have large families, or hire extra labor (house Finns) so that there were enough workers to exploit (develop) the land. They did not use the farmland in the normal way, but developed it by using axe and saw.
Many historians and students of these people consider the slash and burn culture to be primitive. But that interpretation is because they don't have enough knowledge about this foreign culture and judge it from an agricultural community's traditions and perspective. As long as the slash and burn culture continued to be used in the way generations before had learned it, they made the land better. Just as good as the Swedes and Norwegians did in their own ways. When the conditions of lack of open land for raising crops, and the continued imposition of laws by local authorities restricting use of slash and burn methods, these people attempted to convert to other methods of making a living with poor results. Often they were forced to become agricultural farmers in areas of the forest with lots of stones that was not suitable for the cultivation of crops. For many these conditions started the continued, and at times dramatic, decline in living standards.
"Huuhta" (a sort of slash and burn) swidden in a big way
Using the term "swidden culture" means to burn the land to grow food. In its most developed and refined method, this slash and burn technique is called "Huuhta", in Swedish "storsvedjande" [slash and burn in a big way]. The method for growing food is based upon a special kind of rye grain which grows in tussocks for two years and the understanding that the best soils (acidic – sour) for this rye are those in mature spruce forests and which can produce large amounts of grain.
The process takes four years: 1.) cutting, 2.) drying, 3.) burning and sowing, and 4.) harvesting. In early spring the spruce trees are cut or ring-barked and left to dry (in April="huhtikuu"). Some accounts say that only half the trees were cut and the rest were taken down by the fall wind storms. The forest trees had to dry thoroughly and preferably be compacted for two winters. Around midsummer of the third year the dried wood was burned, just before the seasonal rains came. When the ashes had cooled, the rye was sown, kernel by kernel. One kernel under every "näversko" (shoe made of birch bark) or seven kernels in a "kalvskinn" (calf skin rug) being the standard method. When the rains came the ashes became hard and protected the seeds. The acidic ground of the spruce forest now was neutralized by the rainwater and lye of the ashes. This process started the growth of micro-organisms that created lots of nitrogen and other nutrients important in the development of the rye grain. This specific type of rye (called forest rye, a special kind of rye that grows in tussocks) manages to grow well in this environment. Within a few weeks one can see big tussocks in the cultivated areas and the cattle are allowed to graze that same autumn. The following spring the rye grows up with many new shoots and in good years many of these shoots (coming from one kernel) can grow taller than a man. For as long as possible the land would be cultivated from just this one sowing of rye. A special type of turnip was also an important part of their food.
Piirtti- black cottage- the house where they lived
The Forest Finns' life was totally depended upon the climate and forest around them, from deciding where to build, what materials were available for building and how the buildings were constructed. In this country there are three main characteristics of buildings which can be associated with the Forest Finns. First, they look different. Second, the no chimney oven besides the front door was part of every home.
The Forest Finn's house is called "rökstuga" (means smoke cabin) - black cottage. The oldest known are almost always built as a square room with a large oven that covered up to ¼ of the floor area. The oven was made of clay, as high as a man and without a chimney. The main purpose of the oven was to retain heat by slowly warming it up over a long time so that it didn't need to be stoked every day even in the winter. The oven was preferably built (made by a mason) on a timbered outside wall and was heated from the front. On the ceiling, a short distance from the oven, there was a smoke hood connected to a chimney that could be regulated. The draft was adjusted using a hole in the wall or door which led the smoke up through the wood channel (chimney). The smoke which contributed to the heat in the room enveloped the ceiling and was a discomfort to the occupants only for a short time when the oven was first lit. Almost every oven has a stair that made of bricks along the oven wall or an ordinary ladder beside the oven. People with gout or "frozen" people would go up the backside of the oven to sleep. Food, at least in the summer time, was made in a cooking house on the farm. There are black cottages on the Gravberget farm, in the Glodals museum, and Grue Finnskog and Södre Finnskoga parishes. Norway has about ten such buildings in museums, but in Sweden we have more still remaining on their original land than in Finland.
Rihi - drying house
In the high drying house the approximately 2 meters tall sheaves of rye were dried in the form that they were cut. The sheaves were placed standing on a thin set of cross timbers built between the floor and the roof. The roof was built using logs that pass through one gable to another gable about a man's height above the floor. The drying house's oven was low in height and made by a mason and placed in one of the corners inside the door. The opening [draft?] for heat was against the door. Beside keeping a high and even drying temperature, the construction of the drying house should prevent the formation of sparks that might ignite the dry rye. The seeds that have dried for a few days are very flammable. In some places the drying house was built in combination with a so called "agnhus", ("bait house") that was constructed beside or behind the dry house. The drying house, sauna and smithy were all placed far away from the smoke cabin (black cottage). The Finns did not locate their structures in the same manner as the Swedes or Norwegians. One would think the houses were placed in a random order if they did not understand the swidden culture.
The drying of the rye could be accomplished even in spite of bad weather. Usually the first part of the drying process took place near the swidden ground [where the rye was grown] using large hay racks. Since often these racks were a far distance from the farm and often with no roads, they had to wait until winter to transport the rye back to the farm. Drying houses were also built in the forest.
From Swedish government archive documents the King called upon the people to build these drying houses because the process of growing and harvesting the rye in the swidden manner improved the condition of the soils and increased the durability of nutritive substance like nitrogen. There are only three drying houses remaining in Norway. One is at the Glomdals museum (in Elverum), the other two in Grue. Dalarne (Sweden) is unique in the large number of houses still surviving. Gräsmark, Värmland has the only house remaining with an oven. In Finland there are many houses still standing.
Sauna - sauna to bath
The Finnish sauna has become a tradition for us. For many centuries all northerners took a bath in the sauna, but in more recent years this tradition has not been so widely kept. The sauna comes from the Forest Finns. The oven's purpose in the sauna is opposite from its function in the drying house. Here the oven should deliver high heat for only a short period of time. As in the drying house, the oven was placed in one of the corners directly inside the door, usually on the gable. On the opposite side of the room was the bench where you sat. The stones the oven was made from were taken from a stream or lake bed and should have been submerged under water; thus saturated with water, so as not to break from the heat. No loam was used. They wedged the stones together in a semicircle above the fireplace. The contact area with the air should be as large as possible. This is why the oven was built with loose stones. The size of the oven could be over 3 cubic meters or more. After a period of intense heating of the stones, the fire was put out. That is why there is no smoke when the water is thrown on the stones to create the steam. The temperature was regulated with a stick and a small gate that could be moved aside. There are documents attesting to the fact that a number of epidemics didn't devastate the Finnskogen (places were the Forest Finns lived) as they did in the parishes. Even lice and other insects were kept effectively away [all attributable to the use of the sauna].
Tens of saunas remain in Norway as well as those in Grue and at the Glomdals museum.
The way of the Forest Finns to Trysil
The Forest Finns who came to Trysil had many things in common. None of them were born in Finland, most were second or third generation immigrants. All of them came from the eastern part of Sweden or lived for a short time in Hof or Våler. The main documents that give us a picture of this migration are the court records of the Finns in Orsa in the year 1636 and the "Finnemanntellet" 1686 (census) in Norway. In Sweden some of them are mentioned in the tax list. Even Norwegian probate records shed light on this migration process.
Raatikainen from Raatikala
Mikko Raatikainen is listed in the tax records for the Haapamäki village in what was at that time the Rautalampi parish from 1552 to 1560. Reko (Greger) 1560 – 80, Mauno 1580 – 1616 and Paavo (Pål) 1616 – 32 [listed as owners? of the farm, more than likely descendants]. The family came to Haapamäki from Säminki (Savonlinna area). The Raatikala farm was passed from generation to generation within the family until 1994 when Eero Raatikainen sold the farm to a distant relative. The farm today has the name Eljaksela. We cannot prove that this was our distant relation, but we can say that the traditional naming pattern was the same at this ancestral farm. One can point to the fact that a Pål Raatikainen emigrated from Sääminki parish and Iitlahti village probably to Sweden in 1601 (NA 66853). Interesting also is that Haapamäki means Aspberget (Aspen mountain) in Norwegian. Today there are about 2,475 people with the family name of Raatikainen in Finland.
In Haapamäki (Aspberget), just north of Rautalampi, the family of Raatikainen has lived and worked since the middle of 16th century.
"Our" Pål Raatikainen, settler of Raatikala (Rotberget) in Hof (Norway) was born about 1614. His wife, Gertrud Mattesdotter was born about 1606 in Grangärde, in southwestern Dalarna (Sweden). From the "Finnemanntallet 1686" we find that the two oldest children were born in 1636 and 1638. The youngest Marie, who married Anders Kuosmainen and settled in Tørberget, is mentioned as being born "at the Big Copper Mine" (Ved det Store KoobberVerk). Stora Kopparberget is Falun and there is no documentation that any Forest Finns lived there. But in Nya Kopparberget (New Copper Mountain) in present day Ljusnarsberg, a parish that borders Grangärde in the south, the majority of the population were Forest Finns. We also find [in the records] a small farm named Ratkens. Per Pålsson Raatikainen who settled in Østenheden in Søre (south) Osen was born in Rotberget in 1643.
Tossavainen from Tossavala
The oldest information we have comes from Tossavalansaari (the island of Tossavainen) in the lake Syvänsi, just south of Jäppilä [Finland]. Olaf Tossavainen left here in 1601. The family who lives there today is related to the place Tossavanlahti (inlet of Tossavainen) near Sulkavajärvi in Keitele parish. The family is documented as living there since 1571 and still lives there. In 1984 1,739 Finns had this family name.
On November 7, 1622 Olof Markusson got a royal license [charter] from King Gustav II Adolf to settle in the forest in the east part of Dalarne. He was born about 1585 on the Markkula farm in Lievestuore village, Laukka parish, the son of shoemaker Markus. He came to "Orsa Finnmark" after he had lived for 10 years at Alfta, Hälsingland. Why he is mentioned here comes from "the apostle of the Finnmark", Carl Axel Gottlund in 1817, who met Olof's great grandson and wrote the family name Tossavainen in his records.
Together with Morten Mortenson Liitiäinen, Olof Olsson Tossavainen was the first settler of Risberget in about 1668. His wife, Annika, was born in Sandsjö, nearby on Orsa Finnmark. Her father, Staffan Pålson, came from Mulkkamäki in the Lauka village where (probably) his father, Pål, paid taxes from 1554. The family connection between Olof Olsson Tossavainen and shoemaker son Olof Markusson is therefore possible, but not proven. Olof Olsson lived first in Vålberget (Mulikkala) on Grue Finnskog where the family of his wife, Annika Staffansdotter, settled. His son Ole Olsen Tossavainen, who came to Søre Osen, was born in Risberget in 1660. His wife, Kari Pålsdatter was born in 1665 at Fryksdalen. This information and her age prove that she is not the sister of Per Pålsson Raatikainen as Trysilboka #III tells us. His mother was born about 1606.
Kuosmainen from Kuosmala
Since the area along the southern border between Finland and Russia (Novgorod) had been Christianized in the late 1200s, the Finns were baptized using different Christian names. The family name Kuosmainen comes from the Greek Orthodox saint name "Kosmas". At this time the Forest Finns lived in a clan community. The members of the Kosmas family [clan] were after this named Kuosmainen. The tradition was that even men who married into the clan took the new family name. Thus even on the woman's side the name could continue.
Tørberget Historielag visited soldier cottage in Kosmala 2000 (between Mikkeli and Juva).
In the tax roles from Savolax in 1541 you will find the name Kuosmainen in two different parishes, Mikkeli and Juva where the name is also mentioned in 1562, 1571, and 1614. Records of the silver taxes (silverskattelengden) in 1571 even include the first name of the tax payers.
Around the village of Mälkölä in the Vesulahti parish (today Mikkeli) there were 10 tax payers with the family name Kuosmainen. Among these were Anders, Olof, Henrik and Per. All of them well known in Tørberget. Olof Larsson Kuosmainen emigrated in 1598 from Mälkölä in Vesulahti and in 1601 came Olof Johansson Kuosmainen. Today no family remains and the village is uninhabited.
16 persons with that family name in the Juva parish paid taxes and even today we can find two villages-farms with the name Kuosmala.
One of the farms is a few kilometers north of the hamlet of Juva and the other one a couple of [Norwegian] miles southeast, between Juva and Mikkeli. Here we find the names Olof and Per, but otherwise Kuosmainen first names not known at Trysil.
Olof Olsson in Sefaståsen in Ore Finnmark most likely was the father of Anders Olsen Tørberget. At a court examination with the Finns in Orsa in 1636, Olof tells that he was born in Vuolinko in Vesulahti. He got his letter from the king to settle at Stora Kopparberget in 1618. Olof first settled in Håven to the north of Ore Finnmark. Before 1636 he moved closer to the mountain farms of the people from Ore in Sefaståsen. This was encouraged by the farmers as they wanted to look after their own property and have a place to stay overnight in the forest while traveling on business to Hälsingland. The records of the "Kvarntullsskatten" of 1638 indicate the household consisted of 4 persons over the age of 12 years. About 1654 Olof died and his property was divided according to his will. At that time he had at least 3 sons and 2 daughters.
The first farms in Tørberget are situated like so many other Finnish villages on a southerly slope on the shores of a lake.
From 1656 Mats is recorded as the user of the farm. His son, Staffan, moved to Løvhaugen in Grue about 1647. By 1683 Staffan had moved to Kirkesjøen (church lake) to work for the sheriff, Arne Grinder. Anders [what connection to others?] settled in Röjden, Södra Finnskoga. In 1658 he bought half of the home from Lars Rastoinen, grandfather [mother's father, "morfar" ]to Lars Olsen Kahilainen/Koikkalainen and in the 1700s came to Søndre Tørberget. This was after he had a fight (disagreement) with a neighbor and sold his home to Anders Andersson Hämäläinen in 1667. He lived for a few years with his father-in-law, Pål Raatikainen in Rotberget before he moved north to Tørberget.
Anders was even mentioned in the Swedish courts. The court matters were about the same as those later at Trysil. He did not appear in court on 14 Nov 1664, paid for unlawful slash and burn on 6 Mar 1665, and was charged with unlawful moose hunting on 29 Mar 1667 but set free on 25 Sep 1669.
Larsstua probably is the oldest kept living house from Törberget. The first Lars in the area was Lars Olsen Koikkalainen and came from Kindsjön in S. Finnskoga obout 1750. According to tradition he is the builder of the house.
Lyytiäinen or Lytikäinen Litiainen or Liitiäinen(in some court records or other letters and books even called Lijten) is according to Finnish language researchers and local history researchers wrong. Lyytiäinen or Lytikäinen pronounced with a weak "uu" should be right. (Today in 2005 we are back to Litiainen or Liitiäinen again!) We can trace the family to Suomenniemi and Mäntyharju parish south of Mikkeli. In the first place mentioned above, you can find "Lyytikäinen talo" now a farm museum that earlier belonged to Pellosniemi. Here the family has been numerous ever since 1548.
In Suonenjoki near Rautalampi lie Lyytilä and Lyytilänmäki. The first one is a small farm, the second a village. The traditional first name convention of the Finns, however, was not kept with many of the Lyytiäinen children that were born in Gästrikland and came to Östmark, Våler and Trysil.
The oldest brother, Anders Mårtensson is mentioned in the lists of persons for Mulltjärn in Østmark in 1655 and in 1658 with his brother, Mattes. Additionally, Steffan is listed as being at Norra Røjden in the same parish in 1664. Steffan appears again in "Kvarntullslängden 1681" at Aspberget, Norra Finnskoga with a household of three persons. The first mentioned, Anders, is the one who settled in Gravberget with three of his brothers, Mårten, Johan and Jacob, and a sister Ingeborg. She married Henrik Himainen and they settled in Galåsen. (Today, 2005, we think this is wrong. The Ingeborg who married Henrik Himainen was an aunt to those children.)
The first period in those new places was often told in the old reports in a dramatic flair. Yes, it was hard work, but probably no one moved to a different place before the first harvest was secured and a decent house built. This would take at least 3 to 4 years. During this time there were other "house Finns" near by. In the case of Anders Kuosmainen, it was only his family that lived in Rotberget with his parents-in-law after moving from Røjden. He and his helpers were probably already in Tørberget in a hurry to build a new establishment for his family.
Rautalampi = iron small lake
It is clear that the Forest Finns knew how to produce iron. Bog and lake iron ore was made and worked, probably mostly for home purposes. The Tossavainen family in Fågelsjø was widely known for it rifle productions. Carl-Axel Gottlund bought one. In Bergslagen the Finns were partners and users of the mines and miners huts before the middle of the17th century. That "Rautalampi" means iron lake is no coincidence. It was certainly rich with those raw materials and the fact they carried this knowledge with them over here.
Important animals and a new time
The grass that grew on the swidden soil was good for pasture. Keeping animals gradually became a more important part of the Forest Finns existence. On the other hand, mountain dairy farming was a Swedish/Norwegian tradition that the Finns adopted later on. The so-called "finnplog" (Finnish plow) was not used on the swidden soil as we sometimes have been told. It came into use after the slash and burn method was restricted and they were forced to use the stony fields in Finnskogen. [Norway and Sweden, to make a living] From the court records we can clearly see that hunting for moose and other animals was just as necessary for the Forest Finns as for the agriculture farmers.
Gradually as the value of the forest increased, forestry became more important to both the Forest Finns and the "Tryslingene" in general. During the19th century both cultures melded together. Primary dependence upon the slash and burn method slowly stopped and not only because of that the big families lost their identities, but also because of the changing economy, the church, the building of an education system and the development of communications. What remains today in Vestre Trysil are habits and practices [customs], special foods, names of places and people, and the history which lives on.
Translated by Mary G. Tangen and John Arneson
Original title: "Svedjekulturen och vägen til Trysil". Bo Hansson (2000)
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Brevväxling mellan prof. Veijo Salohheimo, Joensuu och Maud Wedin, L-O Herou och Bo Hansson
© Bo Hansson 2011