Helma Penrose
Helma Penrose, date and photographer unknown, from the Hile Family Collection

In the early1890s, Otto William Korhonen emigrated from his birthplace in Oulu, Finland to the United States. settling in New England. In 1896, he married Marianna Fiskalli, also a Finnish emigrant, in New Hampshire. Eventually, the family settled in Ironwood, Michigan. Thirteen children were born to Otto and Marianna, including Helma Sylvia, my grandmother, in 1908.

When and why Otto Korhonen changed his surname to Johnson is not clear but will be the subject of further investigation in an upcoming post. There is a myth that immigrants to the United States had their surnames changed by the government. That is not true and there is documentary evidence that Korhonen used his given surname at least several years after entering the United States.

Sisu Down Big Boy

Helma Penrose

Happy Thanksgiving


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