All we are saying… is give peace a chance

The late 1960’s were a turbulent time in the United States. Living in the suburbs of Chicago was an experience in American politics up close. With the peace movement in full motion and the 1968 Democratic Convention splashed all over the news everyone had an opinion; especially me.

Growing up I knew that my maternal grandfather Isaac Keteri had left a family in Finland and come to the United States. I really did not understand the naming conventions in Finland, but I knew that his original surname had been Lyllykorppi. I could understand why Keteri was preferred!

When I started embracing the peace movement my mother would joke about how Grandpa had left Finland so he would not have to fight in the war. We would laugh and say that I was following in his footsteps. But was I? Why did grandpa leave Finland?

My Aunt Sharon visited Finland and saw where grandpa had lived. In an email she shared these memories:
“He hated the Russians and called them "the Bloody Bolsheviks." Did I tell you about the story when they stayed in their house and closed the shutters as the Russians drank of their well.”
I had always assumed it was a joke, but maybe he had left so he would not be forced to fight for the Russian Army and those Bolsheviks in one of the many wars that occurred from 1905 to 1917.

A quick lesson in Russian History

My favorite site online for a quick answer is Wikipedia. I can always rely on finding the information I need quickly and written in a concise manner. So what was happening in Russia / Finland in 1913, the year my grandfather left Finland?

According to Wikipedia, Finland was a Grand Duchy of Russia from 1809–1917. What does this mean?

Here is Wikipedia’s explanation:
The Tsar ruled Finland as a constitutional monarch through his governor and a native Senate appointed by him. The country nevertheless enjoyed a high degree of autonomy, until its independence in 1917. In 1917, after the February Revolution in Russia, Finland's government worked towards securing Finland's autonomy in domestic matters and possibly even its increase. On December 6, 1917, shortly after the October Revolution in Russia, Finland declared its independence. Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse was elected the new monarch as king instead of grand duke, marking the new status of the nation, but he never reigned as a republic was proclaimed.

I knew that World War I had begun in 1914. I then looked to see what wars might have been going on in 1913. Further reading told the story. Russia had been involved in the war in the Balkans. Russia had allied itself with Serbia. Serbia was having a territorial war with Bulgaria who had Austria-Hungary on its side. In June of 1914 a Serbian terrorist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and World War I began.

So, grandpa may have left Finland so he would not have to fight in the Balkan war. I have no proof of this, but maybe a family joke is a bit of family history?

Welcome to America

When I am doing research on I tend to do it in groups. One night I was searching for immigration records for a number of people and I found where Grandpa Keteri had come to the United States in 1913. I finished looking up the other names and then started on my next list. I am on a quest to find the middle name of my paternal grandfather William I. Pahlke. I had thought maybe, just maybe it would be on his World War I draft card. So I looked it up. No luck. So out of frustration, I entered the surname of Keteri, and there he was! Isaac Keteri, who had allegedly left Finland so he would not have to fight in the Balkan War had filled out his World War I Registration Card on June 5, 1917 in his adopted country. I was shocked and so were my mother and aunt.

A Perfect Blend

My grandfather Isaac Keteri lived to be 90 years old. I remember vividly him sitting in the kitchen of his house in Beacon Hill telling me that a “little butter on the donut is good.” He loved his eggs and he always had a box of those small donuts. I doubt he ever had a cholesterol test done.

My father Earl Pahlke had a favorite pan that he cooked his eggs in. When I was young, he taught me to make an egg sandwich, my favorite breakfast. Dad could never figure out why I cared so much about genealogy. He endured my constant questions and would take me for rides when I visited explaining where various relatives had lived. He actually knew the answers to my questions, but he would forget until we had breakfast with his brother, my Uncle Newt. I think he just enjoyed getting me up at 5:30 a.m. when I was suppose to be on vacation. After all he had been up for at least an hour.

My grandmother Florence Schwemm Pahlke had a very important task every year. She decorated the graves of the relatives every Memorial Day and cleaned them up after Labor Day. She never forgot those who had passed before her. She called me a Pack Peddler. I never throw anything out, and Chuck would attest to that fact.

I love eggs, I feel war should be the choice of last resort, I am an early riser, and I love researching all these lives that came before mine. I am not sure that these are traits that are passed on genetically but I would like to think they might be.

When people ask me why I spend all these hours at the computer, in libraries, and in cemeteries looking for dead people I know why I do it, but I do not always say.

The answer is simple: I think Grandma would want me to. If she was still alive, she would be right next to me. Actually sometimes I think she is guiding me through some of the research.