Author Archives: Claire Lindell

My Finnish Grandfather

The Blacksmith of Bridge Street

The young Finnish merchant marine, Johan Hjalmar Lindell along with his mates went in to Boston while the ship was anchored. While ashore they were all encouraged to drink and they had more than a few pints. The drunken sailors were brought back on board ship. When Johan and another mate realized that they had been “shanghaied”, they decided to swim ashore. They had previously planned to remain in the United States, the land of opportunity! They were  successful. A decision neither ever regretted.

From all accounts Johan had a happy childhood. He was born in 1874 in Tampere, in  southern Finland. During his early years he received love, affection and caring from both parents. A tragic turn of events changed his life forever. His mother died. He was devastated. His father  was  a handsome, energetic man who before long began to seek a new companion. The step-mother was not very understanding toward the  young  lad and he would often find the cupboards locked. Unable to satisfy his appetite, he decided he could not live this way and made a decision to run away! He was twelve years old.

From the stories told over the years, he made his way to  St. Petersburg, Russia, where as a slender fellow, with nimble finger he worked in a woolen mill, his dexterity and size being an asset. This however, would not last. It was time to move on. His adventurous spirit took him to far-away places. During his travels he learned to be a blacksmith, a trade that would serve him well later in life. He made his way to the open seas and for several years he was a merchant marine who sailed the Seven Seas.

In the early 1980s after being shanghaied in Boston, Johan made his way to Pennsylvania. Upon learning there was a large Finnish community in Ashtabula Harbour, Ohio on Lake Erie. He headed north. His early years were spent working on the iron ore boats on the Great Lakes.

5In 1903 he  married  young Ida Susanna Karhu, born in the early spring of 1886 in Isokyro, Finland. She had immigrated in 1896 landing at Ellis Island with her mother, Sanna, brother, Jaako  and sister, Lisa Whilemena and were living in Ashtabula where the father had already established a home for them.

Johan and Ida had eight healthy children and lost a son at birth. They raised their family while Johan, or John or Herman, as he was sometimes known, worked at his blacksmith shop on Bridge Street in the Harbour. He had four forges and shod the horses that hauled the brewery wagons. He built wagons used for hauling coal. He also served as a court interpreter, inventor and banker.


The family lived above the shop. About a mile outside of town they also had a small farm. For many years the Lindell family thrived.

Times were changing and with the Ohio Dry Campaign of 1918 and the Women Christian Temperance Union’s actions, business at the blacksmith shop slowly dwindled. There were fewer horses  to be shod and before long the large brewery companies pulled up stakes. They left town without paying their bills. There were young children at home. Kaarlo his oldest son worked as a cook on the iron ore boats on the Great Lakes. He loaned money to his father. Grandfather was grateful for his son’s assistance and he made it up to him as the economy improved. Grandfather continued to work as an interpreter, along with all his other various ‘irons in the fire’. He was a resourceful man. He even tried his hand working on automobiles.

The 1940 United States Census report indicated it was the first time Johan had made the necessary inquiries about obtaining citizenship, although he had been in the United States for close to fifty years. At that time, perhaps it was a requirement that he work outside his business in order qualify to receive Social Security benefits. It was war time and he was in his mid-sixties. He began work in a munitions factory. While working there to secure his benefits he was struck by a young worker driving a tow motor (fork-lift). He was hospitalized and died several days later in 1944. He was seventy years old. He was to retire from his work in six weeks. Ida Susanna received the benefits Johan had worked so hard to obtain.

Twists and turns throughout his lifetime made Johan Hjalmar Lindell a strong, vibrant man who lived life it to the fullest. He lived long enough to see his son, Kaarlo go to University and became a successful  engineer. His daughter, Helen a registered nurse.  All his children, except  Alpo, who was a merchant marine, raised their families and had children of their own. Some stayed in Ohio. Others headed for California. Kaarlo ( Karl) settled in Canada.

Johan is buried in Edgewood Cemetery in Ashtabula, Ohio. In December 1967  Ida Susanna  died  and is buried beside her first love.



Altonen, Karhu, Kuivinen, Lindell Family Reunion 1919

The older couple sitting in the center of the photo – Johan and Sanna Karhu,  grandparents, grandmother Ida’s parents. They are surrounded by their family.  Johan Hjalmar, Grandfather, Ida and their eight children are in the left side of the picture. Kaarlo is standing directly behind his grandfather, beside Ida who is holding baby brother Alpo


I  never knew my Grandfather, but, certainly wish I had! What I do know is from stories my father, Karl told me over the years. In 2010 I attended an  Altonen, Karhu, Kuivinen Lindell family reunion in Ashtabula and visited with cousins. This was my first visit to the area. It was a heartwarming experience to meet with relatives and see the sights my father had so often spoken of; the harbour, the lighthouse, Bridge Street where Grandfather’s blacksmith shop was and the famous Bridge Street bascule swing bridge that crosses the Ashtabula River not far from his shop.

During my grandfather’s time Ashtabula was a thriving port. Iron ore was being transported up and down the Great Lakes. The railroads were busy transporting goods. Today there is very little activity in the port. For many prosperity in the harbour is but a distant memory.
















What Could It Possibly Be?

by Claire Lindell.

In today’s world we can walk in to a grocery store and buy fruits, vegetables and all kinds of fresh produce from every country imaginable.  Grapes from Chile, shrimp from Thailand and raspberries from Mexico, to name a few. There was a time not too long ago when our choices were limited to what was available locally and in season.

In the summer of 1948 my Mom received a phone call from the Station Master in Danville telling her that a package had arrived  and would someone be available to pick it up.  Off we went on a four mile drive to the railway station. We were presented with  a large wooden handled basket with newspaper on the top to protect whatever was inside.

What could it possibly be? We were wondering and trying guess who it came from. What was inside this huge basket? It was heavy and the newspapers had protected the contents.

It didn’t take us very long to figure out what it was, once we knew where it came from and who had sent it. You see, it was blueberry season in northern Ontario and  Granny and Aunt Ted knew how much our family enjoyed blueberries. They also knew how much we missed the opportunity to pick them. They had picked a huge basket  full of this delicious little fruit and sent them by train from Sudbury, Ontario to our home in Asbestos, Quebec. We picked up the basket at the nearest railway station.

Can you imagine how this basket of blueberries must have been treated by the employees on the train? They must have known that there were folks eager to receive the package and they handled it with great care. The basket arrived safe and sound after such a long journey and several transfers from one train to another. There would have been a transfer in Montreal, then again in Sherbrooke and the last one in Richmond. We received it in perfect condition, almost as fresh as they day they were picked.

We drove home with visions of fresh blueberries and cream and of course, Mom’s famous blueberry pie dancing though our heads. Once home, Mom began baking pies. She was allergic to flour and often wore a mask, and when she didn’t wear her mask she would sneeze incessantly for  at least a dozen times. For her, that was a small inconvenience when it came to baking pies, especially blueberry pies.


The basket contained enough fruit for at least ten pies.  Some of the pies were placed in our huge Amana freezer, while we enjoyed several of those  freshly baked. At that time we were a family of seven, one pie really wasn’t enough, especially since they were right out of the oven!

In today’s world there are many different kinds of blueberries. There are the cultivated blueberries which are quite large that  can be purchased all year round. Wild blueberries from Lac St-Jean are very tiny and are available seasonally. Their tastes differ substantially from one to  another, however, being originally from northern Ontario you can guess  what my choice is when it comes to real blueberries with great flavour.



Not Once, But Twice

by       Claire Lindell

In the mid 1600s and for nearly one hundred years there was great unrest between “Nouvelle France” and New England. Many inhabitants were caught in the crossfire of the Indians and Canadian soldiers. Anne, a young girl from Dover, New Hampshire witnessed it all first hand, not once, but twice.

Anne was born in 1681 in Cocheco, (Dover) New Hampshire where her father, Benjamin Heard ( born February 20, 1644) was a shoemaker. He had come from England and married Elizabeth Roberts. There were nine children. Anne was the sixth.

In September of 1690 Anne Heard, aged nine, was captured for the first time and soon recovered by a Captain Church and returned to her family. On Sunday, January 25th 1692, Abenaki Indians, numbering 150 and soldiers from Sillery, near Quebec City  burned the homes and garrisons of the citizens near York and Dover. 73 citizens were taken prisoner and among them was Anne, captured for the second time. She spent a year living with the Indians and was eventually was brought to Montreal.

Between the years 1693 and 1700 Anne was raised by Pierre Prud’homme, a master gunsmith, and his wife, Anne Charles. It is thought that Pierre was able to purchase her freedom. She became a house servant. On April 10, 1694 she was baptized and confirmed in Notre Dame Basilica by the Bishop of Quebec City.

Several years passed and little is known about Anne during that time. Along the way she met Sebastien Cholet dit Laviolette, a young weaver from France. On the  October 17th 1705, two days before their marriage the future spouses met with the Notary Adhemar to clarify and sign their wedding contract according to the custom of Paris. Anne being from another country there were legal issues that needed to be addressed.

October 19, 1705, Sebastien and Anne were married by a Sulpician priest, Henri-Antoine Meriel in Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal.  The young couple moved in to a rented home on Saint Paul Street and within the year their first child, Marie Anne was born. Four more children were born while they lived in Montreal.


Sebastien had foresight and began buying property on the island outside the wall surrounding Montreal. In 1707 he purchased land bordering on Lake St. Louis in what is now know as Valois Bay ( Anse Sebastien Cholet between Point Charlebois and Point de Valois) in the city of Pointe-Claire. Although he owned the land he did not move with his family to the area until 1714. Once they settled in their new home, the family continued growing, but not without deep heartache for  Anne. Between 1711 and 1720  she had witnessed the death of seven of her children. Her eleventh child Jacques was born in 1723. The first three children and the last survived to adulthood.

st-joachim-pointe-claire-2Saint Joachim Church Pointe-Claire

April 14th, 1728 Sebastien died at the age of 49 leaving Anne in good hands financially. Three years later on the August 1, 1730 she married a widower, Claude Sansart Le Petit Picard,  in Saint Joachim Church in Pointe-Claire. He died December 25th 1739 and Anne spent her final days with her youngest son, Jacques. She died on January 2, 1750 and is buried in Pointe-Claire.

Anne experienced heartache and hardships throughout her lifetime. She was captured twice by Indians and lost seven of her eleven children. She possessed courage and perseverance. Many would have crumbled under the load.


Destination: Amerikka



Claire Lindell

Amidst the many tombstones in a shady corner of Edgewood Cemetery in Ashtabula, Ohio is a very simple thick slab of granite, about the size of one of those washboards our mothers and grandmothers used to hand wash items before washing machines were invented. Inscribed on this granite in very large letters, as simple as the stone itself is the word  “AITI”. which means mother in Finnish. It is the resting place of my great grandmother1, Susanna Karhu (Klemola) who had immigrated to the United States in 1896.


Susanna was born in Waara, Finland in 1854. In their home country in 1876 at the age of  twenty-two Sanna married Johan Karhu. Over time they raised a family of eight children.

In 1893 Johan seized the opportunity to immigrate to the United States. He left his family in Finland and made his way to Ashtabula, Ohio, a port city on Lake Erie, where he worked on the docks and lived in the area of Ashtabula Harbor. At that time the port was thriving with constant activity. Large flat boats and barges loaded with coal and iron ore were sailing up and down the Great Lakes. These were prosperous times. New immigrants were eager to earn a decent wage.

Once settled, Johan sent for his family. In 1896 Susanna ( Sanna), at the age of forty-two along with her three youngest children, Ida, Jaako, and Lisa set sail by way of Hanko, Finland.2. They boarded the S.S. Cunard ship ‘Lucania’ in Liverpool, England en route to America. Ellis Island was their port of destination in America arriving  there on the 30th of May 1896,  and continuing on  to Ohio.

Very little is known about Sanna. We do know that her two oldest children chose to remain  in Finland. It must have been heart wrenching to know that she would be leaving behind these children and  two of her babies’ graves.

She was a housewife and at the time of her death August 18th 1929. She was 75 years old and among the oldest of the Finnish residents of Ashtabula Harbor having lived there over 30 years. Johan died in 1948. Where he is buried is still a mystery?

GGR-Gram-GGR-Jake-Vic Karhu

Sanna, Ida Susanna, Johan, Jaako and Lisa. Photograph taken several years

after arriving in the United States. Ida, my grandmother appears to be about fifteen or sixteen.

GGR-GR Karhu 50thAn@ Laine Farm

In a photograph taken during a family gathering in 1919 Sanna and Johan

are surrounded by their children, grandchildren and great-grand children.



  1. 1. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images,FamilySearch( : 8 December 2014), Sanna Karhu, 18 Aug 1929; citing Ashtabula, Ashtabula, Ohio, reference fn 50528; FHL microfilm 1,991,908.
  2. 2. Finnish Institute of Migration

George Spencer Pincott 1897-1975

by Claire Lindell

George was sitting at the dining room table where tiny boxes and huge albums were spread out, along with all the accoutrement he needed for the task at hand. The young girl watched intently as he methodically and meticulously placed each item in to its proper place in the album. He spoke very little, but, briefly explained what he was doing. It was  fascinating and inspiring to watch him as he worked.

     “I am the world’s greatest traveler. I have been transported by camel, dog sled, pony express,               bicycle, train, steamship, automobile, airplane, airship and rocket….. On my face are the                       portraits ………of  poets, aviators, dramatists, novelists, painters, athletes, cardinals, saints and          sinners.” 1                                

It was the summer of 1948. I was eight years old. This was my first and only encounter with my Uncle George. He made a lasting impression. One that left me wondering about why adults would spend their time collecting stamps. He specialized in mint stamps, pristine, never used stamps. Many stamp collectors specialize in specific areas of collecting. I wondered, perhaps these stamps were more valuable having never been cancelled.

George Spencer Pincott was born in Buffalo, New York on the 6thday of the shortest month of the year in 1897. He was the son of Emile Spencer Pincott whose family was originally from Cardiff, Wales and Susan Jane Woodring. At a young age  George’s family moved from Buffalo and immigrated to Canada and took up residence in Westmount.2

George Pincott WW1


At the age of twenty-one on May 13th, 1918 George was recruited to serve in the First World War. At the time he was an office clerk and joined the 1st Depot Battalion of the 1st Quebec Regiment. 3 With the war almost over when he was drafted, I have yet to find his records of service. Did he go overseas?

Four years later on May 5th 1922 George married Marie Aline Jodouin in St.Joseph’s Roman Catholic  Church in Sudbury, Ontario4 and for a time they settled in Iroquois  Falls, in northern Ontario near Temiskaming, where he had been working before their marriage.  Prior to their marriage an Affidavit was required by the province before issuing a Marriage license.George did this on the 25th of April 1922 in Iroquois Falls.5

Sometime between the late 1920s and 1932 the family moved to Twillingate, Newfoundland where their fourth child, Robert was indicated in the 1935 Newfoundland Census. They returned to Canada in the late 1930s. It is to be noted that Newfoundland joined the Dominion of Canada in 1949.

On the 6th of July 1946 George was named as an Officer of the British Empire6,  a Civilian award.



 “King George V created these honours during World War I to reward services to the war effort  by civilians at home and servicemen in support positions. The ranks are Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE) and Member (MBE).They are now awarded for prominent national or regional   roles and to those making distinguished or notable contributions in their own specific areas of   activity.” 7


The next time we find the Pincott family in any records such as a Voter’s List 1953, they were living in Senneville, Quebec. George worked for Woodpulp Montreal and commuted to the city by train every day where he worked as an Accountant.

George and Aline moved to the United States upon his retirement as a Management Business Executive in the pulp and paper industry. He died in Tryon, Polk, North Carolina,  April 18th, 1975.8 He is buried in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Aunt Aline came back to Canada and lived in Sutton, Quebec for many years close to her youngest son, Robert.

Uncle George was instrumental in inspiring me to collect stamps and as a youngster a group of friends formed a stamp club.  It has been a life-long hobby that allowed me to travel the world, learn history, geography, art and a multitude of other interesting subjects which are found on these little, somewhat insignificant pieces of paper that we call stamps.


For a number of years I specialized in First Day Covers.


Chinese Lunar Year of the Monkey 2016 One of Canada Post’s most recent  First Day Covers


       1   Soliloquy of a Postage Stamp   –       From the pen of Ernest W. Brady

  1., Library and Archives Canada,Canadian Census 1911. Ottawa, Ontario
  2.  Particulars of recruit
  3. Affidavit of Maarriage License

        5     Register of Marriages St Joseph Roman Catholic Church Sudbury Ontario

  1.  Family Search, Newfoundland Census 1935. Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador; FHL microfilm
  2. Canada, Military Honors and Awards Citation Cards 1900-1961 Ottawa , Canada: Library and Archives Canada
  3. North Carolina deaths 1931-1994 Family Search

Jon Lindell Memorial Hockey Tournament

Every year in January, since his passing in 1998 Arviat holds the Jon Lindell Memorial Hockey tournament, a tribute to the contribution he made to the community and in particular his love of the game and his many accomplishments. Teams from across the north take part. All four of Jon and Nancy’s sons play along with a number of the members of Nancy’s family. The team is known as the ‘Karetakers’. This past January they won the tournament.(2016). It is always a well attended event and a highlight of the hockey season. First Air even gives special rates to participants to fly in to Arviat.

The tournament is a constant reminder of Jon and his commitment to the community.

jon 1

Nancy is always on hand to thank the players and fans alike. She attends the games and  presents trophies to MVPs and winners. She takes pride in the success of this event. What better way to honor her husband, Jon, who had such a passion for the game.

Jon Karl Lindell was born in the small town of Espanola, not far from Sudbury, Ontario on the 18th of March 1957. He was the second son of Karl and Laurie Jackson. As a youngster and throughout his life he was full of energy, a going concern and  the complete opposite of his brother. He was boisterous,  fun-loving, and always up to something. The family referred to him as  ‘Jolly Jon’, in order to distinguish him from his Uncle John.

When Jon was seven years old his parents divorced and the children lived with their mother. They moved to Ontario. We saw them when they would come to the farm during the summer to spend time with their father enjoying the country fresh air, the  sauna and the horses.

At the age of fifteen Jon requested to live with his father in the Montreal area. He attended High School but was having great difficulty with French and figured he had had enough of school. Because he was under age his father signed the necessary document for him to quit school. He acquired a job on a Government construction site on Baffin Island, a far cry from the life he had known. There he began an adventure that would keep him  in the far north all of his short life.

Eventually he made his way to the small hamlet of Eskimo Point in the Northwest Territories on Hudson Bay, now known as Arviat, Nunavut. There he met his future wife, Nancy Karetak, of Icelandic and Inuit descent. One of ten children. Her father was a constable for the RCMP and her mother was actively involved in the church. She had attended High School in the Yellowknife. Following her parents example she  was very active in community affairs as a financial controller and municipal councillor. Together, Jon and Nancy were involved in a thriving family business, Eskimo Point Lumber Company. All merchandise was shipped either by air or  by boat. The nearest large community was Churchill, Manitoba.

To reach Arviat even today, air transportation is the only way to access the community. This is one of the primary reasons the cost of living in northern communities is so high.

Together they started a family. Nancy continued her work in the community and Jon was instrumental in setting up a hockey program. He coached for many years and his sons were proficient players. Jackson, the oldest was the goalie for Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Amauyaq, his second son played hockey for St. Michael’s College in Toronto. Jon was well received and  loved by the community. His friendly manner was respected by all and he was a good coach.

In 1997 Nancy was elected to represent Nunavut in the Federal Election and she began her career as a politician. A year and half into her mandate as an MP she received news that would change her life and her sons forever. On December 8th, 1998 in Arviat,  while playing hockey, the sport he loved, Jon suffered a tragic death. He had a massive cardiac arrest. He was 41 years old.

Nancy found herself a widow with four young boys between the ages of nineteen and eleven. She continued her work in Ottawa while the boys attended schools in the area.

She was in attendance in Nunavut on the 1st of April 1999 when it became a new Territory.  Her biggest regret was that Jon was not there to share in this momentous occasion.

Jon Karl LIndell and Nancy Karetak LIndell           .Arviat family

     Jon and Nancy                                                  Happy Family Times visiting in Ontario

Update: Nancy Karetak Lindell in full dress

Nancy Karetak-Lindell continues to contribute her talents and expertise. She was recently named  President of the Inuitcircumpolar Council for Canada and Vice-Chair International, to a land claims organization working with the  Inuit  of Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Greenland. She still lives in Arviat and all four sons are also  raising their ever growing families, in Iqaluit, and Rankin Inlet. They have maintained  their Inuit heritage and traditions and like their parents serve in their communities.

Eskimo Point Lumber Supply and Airport Services has grown since 1978 and continues to thrive. Their  facebook page gives some insight into what life is like in  Arviat .

Sources :
Jon Karl Lindell 1957-1998 ready for Genealogy Ensemble passi

nuzmap 2

The Thunderbird

by Claire Lindell

Every year, even after all these years when the Feast of the Annunciation draws near, my memory is flooded with the events that transpired more than fifty years ago. Decisions that would change my life seem to come to the forefront of my mind.  I think back to that weekend.

Early on the bright spring Thursday morning of March 25th, 1965  the chauffeur driven car pulled up beside the convent. My father walked up to the front door and welcomed me with opened  arms. He had come to bring me home.

For almost six years Joan of Arc House had been my convent home. Taking the Holy Habit, becoming a bride of Christ,  two years in the Novitiate, studying theology, teaching Kindergarten, daily prayers and community living were the  way of life. Leaving  all this behind was not an easy decision.

We set out on the  long drive from Ottawa to Asbestos. We had much to talk about, but to this day I can not for the life of me remember any of our conversation. Heading in to the unknown can be rather daunting. There was a great deal to ponder.

Mom was waiting for us at home. The following day, Friday morning, she took me to the hairdresser to have my hair cut and permed. It was in dire need of something. I had worn a veil while a nun and “one’s crowning glory” was not a priority under a veil! I came away from there somewhat transformed and ready to face the challenges that lay ahead. That afternoon we  drove to Richmond where I signed a contract to begin teaching Grade One beginning the following Monday morning. Arrangements had been made earlier when a friend knew I was leaving the convent and they needed a teacher at her school.

The weekend flew by as I tried to come to grips with my new surroundings, not to say anything about a new look! Life was so different. No bells. No prayers. No meals in silence. No community time.

Monday morning arrived and my Dad suggested I use his  car to drive the fifteen miles to Richmond until I could buy my own. His  car was a 1962  white Ford Thunderbird convertible with bright red leather interior! It was a very snazzy sports car for an ex-nun to be driving. It was a perfect way to get back in to “the real world” and forge ahead on to the next chapter.


That Monday morning I could only chuckle to myself wondering what my new colleagues were thinking when they saw this “to die for car” pull in to  the parking lot and out I came, the new teacher, an ex-nun  who was the driver of the Thunderbird convertible! Can you imagine?

Since that day in 1965 life has been good and there have never been any regrets about the decisions made. Within two weeks I had my own car and I can assure you, it was nothing like that 1962 white Ford Thunderbird with the beautiful red leather interior!

Me and my Mom   on Holy Habit Day

April 30th, 1960

Hart Island

This article is a follow-up to a recent blog entitled “Harbour Lights”.

It was noted  that Alpo Hjalmar Lindell had died in the Bowery in New York City and was buried on Hart Island, a Potter’s field. Here is a brief summary of Hart Island.

Hart Island

Hart Island 1

A 101 acre potter’s field

Under the jurisdiction of New York City

Largest tax-funded cemetery in the world

Records are found on microfilms in the Municipal Archives in Manhattan

More than one million dead are buried there

Approximately 1,500 burials a year

One third of the burials are infants

Dead are buried in pine boxes in trenches


Hart Island 2

Babies are placed in various sized coffins and stacked five coffins high

Adults are stacked three coffins high in two rows and 25 across

Trenches were used to facilitate disinterment

Ceremonies have not been conducted at the burial site since 1950

No individual markers are set

Currently historic buildings are being torn down to make room for new Mass burials that are conducted by Riker’s Island inmates who are paid 50 cents an hour

Burials are of those people who could not afford private burials

Those unclaimed within a two week period by relatives were also buried there

Burial records are currently kept within the prison system

New York City Department of Corrections created a searchable database starting in 1977

It is not possible to visit the actual grave where a loved one may be buried

There is one ferry to the island every month, other than the ferry used to transport prisoners from Riker’s Island who work at Hart Island

April 30, 2012 jurisdiction of Hart Island was transferred to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation from the Department of Corrections


Hart Island 3

In 2008 a Freedom of Information Act request for 50,000 burial records was granted to the Hart Island Project.

“Since 1994, The Hart Island Project has independently assisted families in obtaining copies of public burial records. The group also helps people track down loved ones and negotiate visits. An ecumenical group named the Interfaith Friends of Potter’s Field has intermittently conducted memorial services on the island.”

Visit the following websites :        a video clip records/search/plot=317


Source for the above information:

Hart Island, New York    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Further Reading:

  • Visiting the Island of the Dead A Rare Visit to New York’s Potter’s Field on Hart Island

                By COREY KILGANNONNOV. 15, 2013   The New York Times


  • Is your family member buried on Hart Island, off the coast of New York? Sorry, you can’t visit

            PRI’s The World  February 17, 2015 · 1:45 PM EST

Reporter Alina Simone 



Harbour Lights

by Claire Lindell

In the early half of the twentieth century Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio was a thriving port on Lake Erie. The Great Lakes were humming with cargo ships, barges and freighters moving slowly up and down the waterway delivering supplies.

One evening a young man of twenty or so stood on the shore and pondered his future. He was certain about one thing. He did not want to remain in the Harbor and become a dock worker like several of his uncles. He yearned to see what lay beyond. Where were all these ships going? What would it be like to live and work aboard ship? Where would it take him? His whole life lay ahead of him.

Alpo Hjalmar Lindell was the seventh child of eight children, born on November 9, 1917 to Johan Hjalmar Lindell, the Harbor blacksmith and Court interpreter. His mother, Ida Susanna Karhu, was a local activist in the Temperance Movement.

Alpo decided to become a merchant marine and fulfill his dreams The job description  stated clearly that it was an arduous, tedious and strenuous occupation. Seaman worked long lonely hours swabbing decks, lifting heavy cargo, polishing brass. They were the custodians of the ship. Their responsibility was to see that everything aboard remained in “ship shape”.

       P4_AUX_174_256           Cletus Schneider

Click to open a new window to view a current job description:

Job Description

which is not that much different than it would have been back in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

The first indication that Alpo became a merchant marine was  on September 12, 1944 . His name appears on a departure Passenger List in the Panama Canal, Cristobal Canal Zone. He was twenty-six years old.

Later at the age of thirty-one he is on an Immigration and Emigration List leaving Copenhagen, Denmark on June 18, 1948, destination, New York City.

A third document  showed that in 1950 he was working much closer to home on board the “Cletus Schneider”, a long sleek freighter on the Great Lakes as third Assistant Engineer.

tn_image (1)

Cletus Scneider on the Great Lakes

Information about Alpo  between 1950 and the middle 60s is mostly hearsay. We do know he continued to work as a merchant marine.

Over the years he fulfilled his dreams. After more than twenty years as a seaman he could no longer  do the demanding work. He settled in New York City, a city he knew well.

In New York City he would occasionally have a short visit  with  one  of his older brothers who visited the city regularly on company business.  They would meet and chat briefly at Grand Central Station. Alpo would leave with a few extra dollars in his pocket and make his way back to the Bowery.

It was shortly after such an occasion on April 6th, 1968 that perhaps he flashed money, settled debts,  or paid a round for his ‘friends’ that he was rolled and later found dead. He was only fifty years old! A broken man.

At the time of Alpo’s death the authorities could not locate any family members. He was buried on Hart Island in a pauper’s grave.

Shortly thereafter, his brother was made aware of Alpo’s tragic death. The brother had the body exhumed and brought back to Ashtabula where he was given a proper burial. He lies in Edgewood Cemetery close to his parents.

That brother was my father.

We are all our brothers’ keepers.

Alpo Lindell Ashtabula Ohio

Sources: found on Ancestry

1920 United States Federal Census CENSUS & VOTER LISTS

1930 United States Federal Census CENSUS & VOTER LISTS

1940 United States Federal Census CENSUS & VOTER LISTS    Click to view

New Orleans, Passenger Lists, 1813-1945 IMMIGRATION & TRAVEL

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 IMMIGRATION & TRAVEL



Note: Alpo’s older brother, Karl,   left home to study when Alpo was only six years old. They hardly knew each other and their paths did not cross for many years. Karl moved to Canada and became a successful Mining Engineer.

The Twelve Days of A Genealogy Christmas


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