The first settler in this town was John Wirkkanen. He arrived in this town on the 15th of May, 1888, from Champion, Michigan. He came with his wife Minnie, and his two sons, Carl and David, came with him. He came to New York Mills by railroad and then he took an ox team and started north, and it took him six weeks to reach the place where he now resides. He had to cut a road through the woods a large part of the way The distance was thirty-five miles, and the road had been opened up only a small part of the distance. He had to fight pretty hard in those first years to make his living. He is always thankful to the government. He says the government presented him with a good piece of land that he filed a homestead, and that is the place he says he does not want to sell no matter how much money he is going to get for it. His farm is on Section 32. He was born in Finland in 1850. He says there is not much to say about his early life, that he always had to work and suffer pretty hard to make his living, because he was very poor in those earliest days, but that everybody should be happy to own the property he now has, and I guess there is not much more to say about him in this history.
But there comes another fellow; his name is Abel Kinunen. He came from Houghton, Michigan, in the year 1888, a little after Wirkkanen came, and he came with his wife, Kerttu, and he too had his two sons with him. The name of one was Gabriel and the name of the other boy was Charley. He too first came over to New York Mills, and there took an ox team and made his way up here, where he filed a homestead on Section 30, of one hundred and sixty acres, on the same place where he still lives. He too is a native of Finland, born and raised over in the western part of that country. He says he had to work hard in those days to get a living for himself and his family, but he too is a pretty prosperous farmer in our days.
In 1880 came a fellow by the name of Matt. Henrickson. I can-not tell just sure what way or how he came, but I think he came from somewhere in Michigan, and the next newcomer was Jeremias Soronen, and from what I have heard he was living in Duluth before he came over here.
The fellow who I tell you about now is by name Jacob Bakki. He was born in Finland, too. He was a young man, not over twenty years old when he left the country where he was born and went over to Sweden, where he worked in a coal mine, but as he wanted to see more of the world he came over to this side of the Atlantic and landed at Brainerd, because he had some friends there, but he did not like to stay there, so he made up his mind to come over to this town. Here he took up a homestead, but the poor living and hardships and hard work upset his mind, and he became insane, and in 1891 or sometime like that had to be sent to the insane asylum at Fergus Falls. He was there a little over two years, or a little under, I forget which, when he got over his trouble, and ran away and came back to see his homestead, and he is the same fellow who got murdered about the first of November, 1898 on Section 19 in the town of Carsonville, and that is the end of his life.
The next person who came was Henry Henning. who arrived with his family some time in 1891.
The first boy was born on the 1st day of August, 1893 to Mr, and Mrs. John Wirkkanen. His first name is Ivar.
The first girl was born on the 20th day of July, 1893, to Mr. and Mrs. Henning, and her name was IDa Aliina Henning. The name of the first person who died in our township was a son of Herman Larson. His name was Charlie and he died on the 2nd of September, 1895. The first wedding was that of Mr. and Mrs. Matt. Henrickson, who were married on the 18th of January, 1896. I do not know her maiden name. The first school teacher was Miss Mabell Newpolt, of Park Rapids.
Mrs. Minnie Wirkkanen was the first white woman in the township.
The first township election was held on the 4th day of April, 1896. The first township officers were: Chairman of board of supervisors, William Isola; supervisors, John Kangas and Henry Henning; clerk, Jacob Aho assessor, Erick Sullivan; constable, Leander Suomela; overseer of roads, Carl Wirkkanen; justices of the peace, Henry Henrickson and Carl Komulainen. The first election was held at the schoolhouse on Section 20. Gabriel Kinunen was the lucky fellow who killed the first wolf in thc township and Henry Larson helped him, and the men who killed the first bear were Charlie Salmela and John Koskela, in the winter of 1896. These animals were killed on Sections 2 and 3 in Wolf Lake Township. Twelve or thirteen wolves have been killed since in our town; it is hard to remember the exact number. There are a few hunters who killed a good many deer in those early days. One of them was Gabriel Kinunen.
The first wedding of our town people was that of Matt. Henrickson and his wife, hut they were married in Menahga, over in Wadena County. The first marriage that actually took place in Wolf Lake Township was that of David Wirkkanen and Miss Ida Baso, who were married at the house of John Wirkkanen on December 3rd, 1896.
The post-office of Lonnrot was first opened in the spring of 1898, and Wm. Isola was the first posttnaster The first church was built by the Apostolic Lutherans in the summer of 1898, and another church was built by the Evangelical Lutherans two years afterwards. All the people in our township are Finns.
I was born at Washingland, Finland, on tIle 30th day of October, 1869, and came to America in 1888. I came to Wolf Lake township on the 6th of March 1896, and took a homestead on Section 18, where I still reside.
Now I think I have told you all there is worth telling of our township history. Many good wishes to all who may read this history in the future.