Ethnic diversity spreads at the end of the 19th century | News, Sports, Jobs
With the start of commercial copper mining in the Lake Superior Copper District in 1844, the first ethnic groups to arrive were mainly Cornish, Irish and German. In large part, this was due to the company’s first two agents to start mining. Colonel Charles H. Gratiot grew up in the lead mining districts of Missouri and Wisconsin. De Garmo Jones, one of three directors of the Lake Superior Copper Company which operated on the Eagle River in the Keweenaw Point district, recruited Gratiot to oversee the operation and development of the mine there. Gratiot, in turn, recruited a dozen Cornish immigrant miners from the Mineral Point area of ââWisconsin, and they were the first Cornish miners recorded in the Lake Superior mining region.
At the same time, John Hays, the agent for the newly formed Pittsburgh and Boston Mining Company, as well as a Quaker, took with him to Copper Harbor in June 1844 a dozen German coal miners who immigrated from Pennsylvania or the United States. Ohio. An interesting note in this regard is when the work at Copper Harbor was halted and Edward Jennings was appointed captain and mining agent at the Cliff mine, the employment of the Germans was terminated and Jennings only hired Cornishmen. . This is not to say, however, that the Germans were excluded from mining in the copper region; far from there.
In addition to the Cornish miners, historical evidence suggests that the Lake Superior Copper Company (most often referred to as “The Boston mine”, also hired Irish immigrant workers. The Boston Company and the Pittsburg Company were not the only ones to organize in the 1840s; they were only the first two. Others quickly organized themselves, and the demand for miners experienced in hard rock and deep wells rapidly increased.
When the Cornish, Irish and Germans arrived, they encountered the French, who had been in the area since the 1620s, when explorer Etienne Brule reached Sault Ste. Marie at the eastern end of Lake Superior.
These ethnicities each brought with them as much of their indigenous cultures as possible into the wilderness of the northern border. This, of course, included their religions.
The Cornish people as a group were Methodists. Proud of their ability to sing, they continued their centuries-old tradition of Christmas carols through mining sites around Christmas time. The vast majority of the Irish were Roman rite Catholics. Formal and steeped in over 1,800 years of tradition, as well as Tradition, the Irish tended to limit their social chanting to hymns sung during mass. The Germans, depending on where they migrated from, were a mix of Catholics and Protestants, as well as incredibly different cultures.
As reported by the MTU Archives and Copper Country Historical Collection, Interior Ellis Island website, âThe German Protestants in Prussia were very different from the German Catholics in Bavaria. With such regional diversity among German immigrants, it is difficult to build a common history of Germans of German descent.
Although there were other ethnic groups, these were, again, the predominant European ethnicities in the region. This will start to change during the Civil War.
Like all other metal mines in the Lake Superior mining region, by 1864 the Quincy Mining Company in the Portage Lake mining district was struggling with production at a time when copper was reaching record prices due to the war. The struggle was the result of a labor shortage across the region. Quincy’s management offered a potential solution to the problem.
Armas Holmio was a Finnish immigrant, pastor of the Lutheran Church in America and professor of history at Suomi College and Theological Seminary. In his book History of the Finland 1864), where he hired workers in the English mines of Kaafjord and Alten. Holmio went on to say that in the summer of that year more than 100 contract workers from Taftes arrived in Hancock. Mostly Norwegians from the Kaafjord and Alten mines, there were also a few Finns and Swedes, although unfortunately their names were not known.
“May 17, 1865”, wrote Holmio, âA sailboat from Trondheim, Norway, left with 30 other kvaenar (Norwegian-Finnish) for the Quincy mine. Landing in Quebec, a lakeside steamboat brought the all-male workforce to the port of Hancock on the eve of Juhanipaiva, Midsummer’s Day, a Finnish public holiday on June 24.
By correspondence, he further writes, these workers introduced their friends and family in Norway, Sweden and Finland to the possibilities of resettling in Michigan and Minnesota.
In the north, Calumet and Red Jacket established themselves as Finns and Scandinavians arrived in greater numbers in the region. Finns have settled down along Pine Street in sufficient numbers that they are starting to call MÃ¤ntykatu Street, after a street in Kotka, Finland. Residents of Red Jacket, however, called him derisively “Avenue of shoe bags”, Hancock’s Tezcucco Street has become “Shoe bag aisle” for the high concentration of Finnish immigrants along this street. The shoe pack referred to a type of winter boot worn by the Finns at the time.
Finnish immigrants were not confined to mining sites or villages. In early May 1875, three Finns, Jacob Ojanpera, Oskar Eljasson, Deric Garnell (signed by his name Oscar Eliassen) and Sakari Hendrickson had purchased 510 acres of woodland in Hancock Township and built their homes about a quarter mile from there. mouth of Schlotz Creek, in what is now Stanton Township. They bought the property to start a business harvesting firewood, logs and railway ties for mining companies. The small forest products business was the start of Oskar, who would come to support a logging business, charcoal production, a brick business and then a farming community.
As the Finns continued to swell the mining region, despite their numbers, they would experience a controversial time in their new home.
Inner Island of Ellis said Finnish immigrants often felt the sting of discrimination at a higher level than their European immigrant neighbors. Many mine managers found the Finns reluctant to integrate and slow to learn English.
Local society in general harbored suspicions about the Finns, about the politics of some of them and about their unfamiliar customs. A settler from 1887 said, “The ancient settlers despised them with the same aversion as the inhabitants of the west coast towards the Chinese pagans.” But the ethnic discrimination did not end with such statements of ignorant fear. As if that were not enough in 1880, the Finns of the first great wave of immigration would come to pay for the radicalized Finns who arrived a few years later.
Graham Jaehnig holds a BA in Social Sciences / History from Michigan Technological University and an MA in English / Creative Non-Fiction Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. He is internationally known for his writings on Cornish immigration to the mining districts of the United States.