Sharon OJanpa Mackey, FHM Staff Reporter

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Finnish Heritage Museum (FHM) in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, was held on July 8, 2019, at the Museum. President Lasse Hiltunen called the meeting to order promptly at 7 P.M. Guests and visitors were recognized and welcomed. Lasse then turned the meeting over to Events Chair, Anne Pohto.

Anne first introduced FHM member Amy Werronen Moyer who had designed and made a small quilt with a lighthouse pattern and a list of businesses that had been in Fairport Harbor when Amy was growing up in the town in the 1950s. Amy loaned the quilt to the museum so visitors could enjoy being reminded of the town as it was a few years ago. We hope you have a chance to see the quilt for yourself.

Anne then introduced Mr. Ron Ticel, who grew up in, and still lives in, Fairport Harbor. Ron has been a businessman and property owner in Fairport for many years. He is also a collector of Fairport memorabilia, and has a vast knowledge of Fairport history.

Ron started out by reminding his audience that as far back as 1650, the Erie Indians lived in our area. The Iroquois Indians came in and tried to eradicate the Erie so they could take over the hunting grounds and the land. Ron was able to salvage some Indian tools and artifacts by raiding the Fairport dump in past years. He laughingly calls himself a dump collector. Fairport was part of Ohio known as the Western Reserve, and was first called Grandon, later becoming Fairport, and now Fairport Harbor. The streets running east and west are named Second Street, Third Street, Fourth, Fifth, Six and Seventh Streets. Was there ever a First Street? And if there was, what happened to it?

According to Ron, there was indeed a First Street, and it was laid out along the shore of Lake Erie, but, because there were no breakwalls between the lake and the land, the street was washed away. There were at least 23 houses on First Street, along with an old cemetery. But because tidal waves were not uncommon the road was gradually destroyed. In 1913, a breakwall was built and the destruction stopped.

The docks on the Fairport side of the Grand River were built in the 1880s, attracting many European immigrants to the town because work was plentiful - Slovaks, Hungarians, and, of course, the Finns all came. The Finnish immigrants built their houses in what is now known as Finn Hollow, and lived there until the dock company needed the land. Then each house had to be moved by horses pulling it through the streets of Fairport. What a sight that must have been.

In 1879, gill net fishing was introduced to the port and lake. Legend has it that one fisherman caught 1500 sturgeon in one day. Sturgeon had no food value so it sold for $1 a wagon load as fertilizer to the nurseries in the area.

Ron had several old maps and books about the Fairport area that he invited the Museum membership to look at and study. He claims that no one has more books or maps about the town than he does.

At the end of Ron’s Talk, five door prizes and a grand prize were given away. Then the assembly broke for refreshments, provided by Mike and Cindy Loovis, reconvening shortly for the business meeting. To find out what is happening in our world, and the Museum’s open hours, please check out the museum’s website: finnishheritagemuseum.org.


Text © Sharon Mackey, Photos © Jane Hiltunen 2019








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