On page 111 of my 2003 novel Season's Revenge appears this paragraph from the Porcupine County Tribune of October 24, 1932:
The paragraph was reproduced nearly verbatim from the October 24, 1932, issue of the Ontonagon Herald, the actual weekly paper of the Upper Michigan county that is the model for Porcupine County in my mystery fiction. All I altered was the real name of the paper and the real name of the town, Green. I added a fictional character, Heikkila, to support a subplot of the novel.
SIX FINNISH PEOPLE
LEAVE FOR RUSSIA
Mr. and Mrs. Simon Talikka, Mr. Arthur Weser and sons Arthur Jr. and Elmer, and Heinrikki Heikkila, who have lived at Greenfield for several years, left Thursday for Kontupohja, United Soviet Social Russia.
A farewell party was given for them at the Farmers' Hall at Greenfield Monday evening.
That subplot involved the historical reverse migration of more than 10,000 struggling Finnish farmers from Upper Michigan, Minnesota and Ontario to Karelia, a Finnish-speaking Soviet province next door to Finland, during the Great Depression. Most of the farmers were never heard from again, presumably having perished during the Stalinist purges of the late 1930s. Many of their American properties were abandoned for taxes and sold to greedy land speculators -- giving rise to a possible motive for murder.
This morning I sat down at the computer to the following e-mail:
Dear Mr. Kisor,
I was shocked when reading your book Season’s Revenge when I came across the section that talked about Karelia and Simon Talikka, Mr. Arthur Weser and sons Arthur Jr. and Elmer, and Henrikki Heikkila, who have live at Greenfield for several years, left Thrusday for Kontupohja, United Social Soviet Russia.
The reason why I was shocked is because your fiction story as it relates to Karelia was more non-fiction to me. You see, I have been searching for decades trying to find out what happen to my missing relatives that went to Karelia from Green, Michigan. They are: Simon Talikka, Mr. Arthur Wesa (your book says Weser), and sons Arthur Jr. and Elmer, and Eero. I find your story of them more than coincidence. Simon Talikka and his wife took in (unofficially adopted) Arthur’s boys shortly after Olga died (Arthur’s wife). Arthur also lost a very young son named Onni.
I pray that you might have some information (letters, news paper articles, etc) of my missing relatives. My family was from Green, Michigan, not from the fictitious Greenfield noted in the story. After Simon Talikka and Arthur Wesa and the boy’s went to Karelia sometime around October 29, 1932, we lost contact with them in 1936. According to Mayme Sevander's book titled "Of Soviet Bondage" has a listing of "Vesa, Arthur; from Green, Mich. US 1931." in Appendix 5, titled Wartime Labor Camp Victims. This suggests that they may have become victims of Stalin's purges.
The last time anyone heard from Arthur and the boys was in a letter written by Simon Talikka in 1936. Simon writes; "At this time he was no longer living in Karelia, but rather in a different area of Russia working in a gold mine. Wesa [Arthur] stayed with his boys in Karelia. They are working there in the woods. Young Paavo [Walter Kytöneva - Wesa] is a teacher in Tunkua.” [Tunkua is a town in the northern part of Karelia]. This was the last piece of solid evidence that Arthur and the 3 boys were still alive.
Thank you for your time and would appreciate any help you can provide.
Cell (408) 710-6606
Accompanying the e-mail was a reproduction of a listing of the members of the Wesa family (also with their mother's maiden name, Kytöneva) who had emigrated to Karelia -- and three photographs:
Left to right: Onni, Eero, Lauri, Paavo and Viljo.
I had to tell Mr. Levonius that I had no further information on his family, but that I would post his letter on this blog in the long-shot hope that someone researching the Karelia period who might know what happened to the Talikkas and the Wesas would discover it during a Google search.