Accepting the Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks — #1 Frank Nikkari

by , under 52 Ancestors, Ancestry.com, Ethnic Origins, Ethnic Research, Immigration, My Family History

Today I accepted the challenge issued this morning by Amy Johnson Crow in her blog, No Story Too Small, of posting a blog once a week for a year about an ancestor. Go to http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/posts/challenge-52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/ for details from Amy.

My first post will be about my uncle, Frank Nikkari, who emigrated from Finland in 1904 with three siblings. I posted about the Nikkari family under “Where’s Otto? The Final Chapter” on 17 Oct 2013. Since that time, I have received a nice history of the Nikkari family written by Anita Ligon Miller, a daughter of Hilda, one of the eight Nikkari children to make their way from Pori, Finland in 1904. She was assisted in the project by Amy Deegan Mazzoli, a niece. Before I began researching the Nikkari family story, I did not know of any of Frank’s relatives.

While doing my research, mostly online, I learned considerable detail about Frank’s parents and siblings. When I reached out late last year to some descendants, I was rewarded with many exchanges of information. During these exchanges, I shared my finding of the fate of Otto Nikkari, the main subject of my blog posting in October. Go here to read that story: Where’s Otto? The communication exchange has resulted in Anita sending me “The Nikkari Family from Pori, Finland” just before Christmas. And that is why I am creating this blog posting to start the 52 in 52 challenge.

I knew the broad details of Frank Nikkari’s life. I knew, for example, that he was a carpenter most of his adult life (and that was appropriate, as Nikkari translates roughly into carpenter in English). But Anita’s publication provided some details I wasn’t aware of. For example, Anita wrote that “When his sister Hilda became seasick [during the voyage across the Atlantic in 1904] and stayed below, he visited her, gave her comfort, and showed his concern. She remembered his kindness always.”

Here are more quotes about Frank from Anita’s family book:

He stayed on the family farm in Kaleva, Michigan, for a while, but was in NYC certainly by 1912 working on skyscrapers. He had a lift-threatening fall from a high-rise, which injured his spine. Hilda remembers he was in the hospital for about a year, and she visited him there every day she had off.

Frank had his father’s carpenter skills. He made high quality furniture by hand and out of beautiful woods. He gave his niece Amy (Hilda’s youngest daughter) a beautiful desk he made by hand.

He wanted to visit Hilda in Bisbee, but Edith [Frank’s wife, and my aunt] could not leave her mother (who was ill and lived with them). After retiring in 1956, he came to Phoenix for a mini-family reunion. This would be the first time he was with [brother] Charlie, and [sisters] Amelia and Hilda, since arriving in America. Frank stayed with Amelia. Charlie, who came from Los Angeles, probably stayed at a nearby hotel with his wife and step-son. Hilda was living with her daughter Anita at the time.

Frank’s niece Amy, who lived in Ohio, would bring Hilda to visit him in Ashtabula. Hilda’s other daughter, Helen, came from Virginia to visit him in the hospital in 1966.

Frank died in 1966. Unfortunately, I do not at the moment know any details of why he was in Ashtabula General Hospital, or the cause of death. The death record I have for him at this point is the computerized record offered up by Ancestry.com.

Frank’s social security application and the 1940 census do place him, wife Edith, and son Melvin in New York City for a period of time. Frank and Edith lived in Ashtabula after his accident and returned there by 1941. During the war years, he worked as a carpenter. On his Old Mans’ Draft Registration, in 1942, he listed his employer as Hunkin-Conklin Construction Co. and place of employment as Goodyear Tire Co.

My brother, Walfrid, remembers more about Frank than I do, and he said that Anita’s book filled in some blanks for him and corrected some memories he had–particularly about his construction site fall and injury.

In another recollection about Frank’s carpentry skills, my cousin, Joyce, daughter of Hugh Huskonen, younger brother of Edith and older brother of my father, Walfrid, recalls when Frank came to their farm in Williamsfield, Ohio, to replace the wood flooring in the dining room.

As a side note, Hugh was the only Huskonen sibling to stay with farming, the occupation of their father and my grandfather, Evert Huskonen. My father, Walfrid, and another brother, Emil, left farming to become a patternmaker and a railroad engineer, respectively.

Yes, I think I can meet Amy Crow’s challenge of posting about relatives once a week for a year. Watch this space.

Leave a Reply