Anna Elvira Granlund Johnson Oral History Interview, 1981  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Johnson, Anna Elvira Granlund
1981 (inclusive)
3 file folders
5 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Anna Elvira Granlund Johnson, a Finnish immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Anna Johnson was born on July 23, 1899 in Esse, Finland to Matt Leander Granlund and Josefina Lovisa. Her father was employed in a variety of trades, and the family owned a small amount of land on which they grew crops such as potatoes and hay. There were five children in the family, and all but Anna and her sister Maria died in their youth. Anna's father also died of a ruptured appendix at age thirty-one, after which her mother did practical nursing as a means of support until she too passed away when Anna was only nine. After her mother's death, Anna went to live with her uncle, where she helped take care of his children. She did not attend much school but learned to read and write as well as Bible history at home. When Anna was thirteen, her father's cousin visited Finland from America and invited Anna to return with him. Anna was happy to go with him and set sail from Hangö, Finland on November 24, 1913. After changing boats in Liverpool, England, Anna made a nine-day voyage across the Atlantic, landing at Ellis Island, where her name was changed from Granlund to Lund. From New York, Anna traveled to Bemidji, Minnesota, where one of her uncles lived with his family. Anna stayed with her uncle off and on until 1915, during which time she helped take care of his children, worked on a farm, and attended some school. The language barrier was difficult for Anna at first, but she felt that there were many opportunities to be had in America and worked to overcome it. After living with her uncle, Anna worked at a boarding house and then went on to work in a restaurant until 1920. At that time, Anna decided to move to the West Coast, settling in Everett, Washington. Anna quickly found another job as a waitress and joined the Cooks and Waitress Union as a way to make friends. In Everett, Anna was also reacquainted with a man named Frank Johnson, whom she had first met in church in Minnesota. Frank was of Swedish heritage and had served in WWI. Anna and Frank were married a year and a half after they met in Everett and remained in the city until 1945, during which time Frank worked at a sawmill and Anna continued to work as a waitress. The couple had three children: Rudolph, Clifford, and Roger, and Anna always made sure she was home when the children were, firmly believing in the necessity of a sound home-life. In 1945, the family bought a share of Puget Sound Plywood Co. and moved to Tacoma. Frank worked at the plywood company until he had a heart-attack in 1953. Through the years, Anna has been a part of the Vasa Lodge and has been very involved in the Lutheran Church. She was also the President of the Widows of WWI group. Anna is proud to be Finnish and has visited Finland four times, once with Frank in 1954 and three more times on her own.


Full Name: Anna Elvira Johnson. Maiden Name: Anna Elvira Granlund Lund. Father Matt Leander Granlund. Mother: Josefina Lovisa Tarvonen. Paternal Grandfather: Matt Mattson Tarvonen. Paternal Grandmother: Katarina Helena Tarvonen, Kajsa Lena Jakabror Hägglund. Maternal Grandfather: Matt Anderson Stubb, Matt Andrew Stubb Granlund. Maternal Grandmother: Kajsa Greta Erickson, Brita Kaijan Stubb. Brothers and Sisters: Matt Leander Granlund, George Leonard Granlund, Maria Olivia Granlund. Spouse: Frank Johnson. Children: Rudolph B. Johnson, Clifford Arne Johnson, Roger E. Johnson.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Anna Johnson on October 23, 1981 in Tacoma, Washington. It contains information on family background, emigration, employment, marriage and family, community involvement, and Finnish heritage. The interview was conducted in English with some Swedish at the end of the interview.

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Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The partial interview transcription highlights important aspects of the interview. Numbers may be used as guides to important subjects. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate that the first number is for cassette and the second for CD.

Container(s) Description
104, side 1 004: PERSONAL BACKGROUND
Born in Esse, Finland which is in the northern part of Finland.
104, side 1 011: HISTORY OF FINLAND
Old ties to Sweden. Family had bought land from Sweden long ago, which is now Finland.
104, side 1 028: PARENTS
Father - Matt Leander Granlund. Mother - Josefina Lovisa. Talks about where the parents are from near Esse, Finland.
Northern Finland has background of Swedes.
104, side 1 046: BIRTHDATE
July 23, 1899.
104, side 1 048: PARENTS
Father needed many trades to make it. Superintendent of school. Played the organ. Teacher. Deacon in the church. They lived in Esse, Finland.
104, side 1 057: LAND
Had a little land from the father's side of the family which her father shared with his brother's. Some brothers immigrated to the US.
104, side 1 071:
Enough land to grow a few crops, potatoes, and hay. In Finland didn't grow many vegetables, but mostly grain. Had 2 cows.
104, side 1 081: GRANDPARENTS
Grandfather had a large farm. He was also a mail carrier.
104, side 1 087: BROTHER & SISTERS
Five children. Maria died in 1973. The others died when they were small children. Maria had stayed in Finland.
104, side 1 094: CHILDHOOD HOME
Three bedroom house. Mother very religious. Lots of singing. Sunday school taught in their house.
104, side 1 101: WINTERS
Finland was very cold in the winter. Couldn't travel very far.
104, side 1 105: MOTHER
Did practical nursing when her husband died. She made her living this way. She would keep patients in the house.
104, side 1 107: BROTHERS & SISTERS
Died young. One died at age 12 from an inflamed knee injury. Doctors couldn't treat it. Dad died from ruptured appendix. One brother died of TB of the stomach.
104, side 1 118:
Epidemic of TB from the milk of the cows.
104, side 1 121: CHILDHOOD
Didn't go to school much because her mother died when Anna was 9 years old. She lived with her uncle and took care of her uncle's children.
104, side 1 132: EDUCATION
Learned to read and write mostly at home. Learned Bible history.
104, side 1 142:
Mostly worked. "Learned how to work."
104, side 1 144: TICKET TO THE US
Father's cousin came in 1913 from America and asked Anna if she wanted to go to the US. She was glad to go and get away from Finland. Ticket was $92.
104, side 1 152: CHRISTMAS
Started around Thanksgiving time to kill sheep and store the meat for Christmas. Roasted some meat. Tree hung from the ceiling if there were small children around. Homemade decorations for the tree.
104, side 1 169: HARVEST
After the grain harvest, the grain was ground for bread and for the animals. The horses had bread for a treat.
104, side 1 181: BAKED GOODS
Sweet bread. Raisins and prunes to make sweet soup. Never saw cookies.
104, side 1 190: CHURCH
Went to church at Christmas. Lutheran church. Mostly Lutheran and a few Baptist churches in Finland.
104, side 1 195: SCHOOL
She described the ages that children go to school.
104, side 1 208: TRIP TO U.S.
At age 13, she came to the U.S. with a cousin of her father's on November 24, 1913.
104, side 1 217: BOAT TRIP
Sailed from Hangö in Finland. Changed boats at Liverpool, England. "Conrad."
104, side 1 224: BOAT TRIP
Travel on the North Sea very bad. No food. Crawled along. Rough sea. Took 9 days to get across the Atlantic.
104, side 1 239: BUYING TICKET
Took care of travel from Finland to Minnesota.
104, side 1 244: TRAVEL
Stayed in Liverpool for 2 days. Mostly Swedish people around her. Cousin could read English which helped.
104, side 1 261: FAMILY
Left behind a sister in Finland.
104, side 1 268: ELLIS ISLAND
"Just Fine". One Italian lady had a knife around her neck - she was going to stab someone if they didn't change bunks. Stayed one night at Ellis Island.
104, side 1 287: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Not distorted by Ellis Island.
104, side 1 293: TRAIN TRAVEL
Food on the train. No trouble on the train.
104, side 1 301: LUGGAGE
Clothes and an old black scarf from the 1880's.
104, side 1 307: CHURCH
In Finland, they always wore a black scarf when they went to church.
104, side 1 318: MINNESOTA
Arrived in Bemidji, Minn. in the evening. Went to her uncle's house.
104, side 1 332: UNCLE'S WORK
Sawmill workers made $1.75 in 1913. Uncle worked in Minnesota in the mills. This wasn't much to feed a family.
104, side 1 341: WORK
Anna helped take care of children. Scrubbed clothes on a board. "Plain" food. She worked on a farm in the summer. She liked this.
104, side 1 358: SCHOOL
Went to school some in Minnesota.
104, side 1 368: NAME CHANGE
Her uncle's name was Emil Lund. Anna's name changed to Lund at Ellis Island because they didn't want the name Granlund.
104, side 1 375: SCHOOL
Children didn't like foreigners at school who couldn't speak English. At first the teacher had Anna come after school from 3:00 - 4:30pm so she could get special help. Was a Norwegian school teacher.
104, side 1 404: LANGUAGE
The language barrier was the most difficult thing in coming to America another was being lonesome. Many good opportunities in the U.S.
104, side 1 416: WOMEN
In Finland, there different expectations of women. Women do very hard physical labor.
104, side 1 425: MOTHER
Drowned in the river. There was a hole in the ice and she slipped through. No one saw her drown.
104, side 1 440: FATHER
Sick for a long time. Died of appendicitis. Doctors in Finland could treat it. He was 31 when he died.
104, side 1 454: WORK
Stayed with her uncle off and on until 1915, then she went to work for a lady who owned a boarding house. She cooked, cleaned, etc for $2.50 a week.
104, side 1 473: WAR
When the war broke out she quit the boarding house because the owner couldn't afford it anymore. Food was very high.
104, side 1 478: WORK
Went to work at a restaurant in Bemidji, Minnesota until 1920. Started at $6 a week with room & board. Made more by 1920.
104, side 1 510: MOVED
Left Minnesota for the West Coast. Went to Canada to visit her Aunt who had brought her to the US. Took the train to Everett, WA.
104, side 1 535: WORK
Started work in an Everett restaurant. Not hard to find work. Made wages of $3 a day.
104, side 1 549: UNIONS
Way to make friends. Cooks and waitresses Union.
104, side 1 562: MARRIAGE
Husband came from Alaska. He had been in the service in WWI. He found work on a fishing boat that went to Alaska.
104, side 1 571: HUSBAND
She'd met him first in church in Minnesota. His name was Frank Johnson.
104, side 1 587:
Married one and a half years after they met in Everett.
104, side 1 592: WEDDING
Married in the pastor's parsonage. The witnesses were the only ones there. Pastor Pederson at the Mission Covenant Church.
104, side 1 603: CHURCH
No Lutheran ministers in Everett at the time.
104, side 1 611: HUSBAND'S WORK
Worked in a sawmill. Stayed in Everett until 1945. Came to Tacoma. Bought a share of Puget Sound Plywood Co. Worked there until his heart attack in 1953.
104, side 2 004: CHILDREN
Three - The oldest, Rudy Johnson was in WWII. He is now a pastor at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Seaside, OR. He has four children. His wife's name is Ruth. They were married in the First Lutheran Church in Tacoma. His children are described below.
104, side 2 016: GRANDCHILDREN
Gerald was in the service for 3 years. Now is a police captain in Greshem, OR.
104, side 2 018: GRANDCHILDREN
Elaine graduated from Pacific Lutheran University. They live in Corvallis, OR. She is a teacher.
104, side 2 021: GRANDCHILDREN
Kathryn is married and living in Portland, OR.
104, side 2 026: GRANDCHILDREN
Clifford is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University. Now an accountant in Portland, OR. He has 3 kids - all educated.
104, side 2 035: CHILDREN
Roger Johnson: Bought their share of Puget Sound Plywood Co. He has three children. They live in Tacoma.
104, side 2 042: FAMILY LIFE
Happy family life. Close ties to the church.
104, side 2 045: CHURCH
Goes now to Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Very involved.
104, side 2 050: WIDOWS OF WWI
President of this group. She gives talks to other chapters.
104, side 2 057: HUSBAND
He was a deacon in the church. He had a Swedish background. She talks about her husband's mother & father.
Order of Runneberg. She wasn't a member of this.
104, side 2 073:
Member of the Vasa Lodge in Everett.
104, side 2 076: DEPRESSION
Worked after she was married during the Depression. Mills down. She worked in restaurants.
104, side 2 085: CHILD-RAISING
Was home when the children were home. Important for young children to have a home life.
104, side 2 094:
Crime now because children have no one to turn to.
104, side 2 100: TRIPS TO FINLAND
Went with her husband in 1954. Second time in 1967. Third 1969. Fourth 1975.
104, side 2 105: CHANGES
Finland is very modern now. Oil heat. Hot & cold running water. Farm machinery. More modern buildings than here in the US.
104, side 2 117: TRAVEL
Cheaper travel in Finland than in the US. Senior citizens get reduced rates.
104, side 2 123: FINLAND
Modern restaurants - McDonalds. Travel safer in Finland - not so much fear as here in the US.
104, side 2 128: CHURCH
Church background important to many in Finland. This reflects the ideals of the population.
104, side 2 132: EDUCATION
Trade schools. It's free education. Can learn various trades.
104, side 2 145: EDUCATION
In Finland today it is compulsory to learn more than one language. Some know many languages. Swedish a basic language in Finland.
104, side 2 158: AFTER WWII IN FINLAND
Troubled times. People sharing food. Not much meat.
104, side 2 167: RUSSIA & FINLAND
Russia now buys many things from Finland. Now friends with Russia. Have been wars between them for many years.
104, side 2 174: LANGUAGE
Didn't teach her children Swedish. Now they have picked up some Swedish.
104, side 2 185: TRIP TO NORWAY
Went in 1975 and visited some in-laws. She talks about her in-laws some.
104, side 2 203: HERITAGE
Not ashamed to be Finnish. Still had contact with his brother-in-law in Finland.
104, side 2 217: SPOKEN SWEDISH
She speaks in Swedish. Good example of the language.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Education--Finland
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Finland
  • Finland--Social conditions--1945-
  • Finnish-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Finnish-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Ocean travel
  • Personal Names :
  • Granlund, Matt Andrew Stubb
  • Johnson, Anna Elvira Granlund Lund--Interviews (creator)
  • Johnson, Clifford Arne
  • Johnson, Frank
  • Johnson, Roger E.
  • Johnson, Rudolph, B.
  • Lund, Emil
  • Moans, Kajsa Greta Erickson
  • Stubb, Brita Kaijan
  • Tarvonen, Katarina Helena
  • Tarvonen, Matt Mattson
  • Granlund, Matt Leander
  • Hägglund, Kajsa Lena Jakabror
  • Stubb, Matt Anderson
  • Tarvonen, Josefina Lovisa
  • Corporate Names :
  • Emmanuel Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • First Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Puget Sound Plywood Company (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Vasa Order of America. Lodge Number 231 (Everett, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Granlund family
  • Hägglund family
  • Johnson family
  • Lund family
  • Moans family
  • Stubb family
  • Tarvonen family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Bemidji (Minn.)
  • Esse(Finland)
  • Everett (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics
  • Restaurateurs
  • Sawmill workers