Jürgen Olofsson the Finn and the Log Cabin

For our final project for Historical Archaeology, I decided to go with a fictional account to help illustrate the historical and archaeological evidence for a group of people not know to much of the world: The Forest Finns. These people were a culturally unique group of people from Central Finland in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, who were famous for their lifestyle in and around dense forests. My fictional account follows the story of Jürgen Olofsson the Finn, who travels from his homeland to central Sweden, and ultimately to the new colony of New Sweden. There he partakes in building one of the most iconic symbols of settler America: the log cabin.

Forest Finns, painted by Eero Järnefelt,1893

The Forest Finns in colonial America in the 17th century were the first builders of what we know today as the modern log cabin. During my research to create my character and to better understand the history of these Finns, I soon learned that, when they were living in New Sweden, they would build the first log cabins, and would help spread the use of it to all of colonial America for generations to come. It is because of them that Abraham Lincoln would grow up in a log cabin, and why the log cabin is one of America’s icons.

17th century log cabin from New Sweden. provided by file:///G:/Historical%20archy%20proj/log%20houses.pdf

Doing this research has allowed me another view into the history of Scandinavian immigration and the lasting impacts of it today. The tiny cultural group that is the Forest Finns, has given me a new sense of knowledge and pride in that they have taught me the ways in which immigrants have lasting impacts upon places simply by living the daily lives that they have brought with them.

2 thoughts on “Jürgen Olofsson the Finn and the Log Cabin

  1. Hi there!

    And greetings from Savolax area in Eastern Finland, where Forest Finns are from. I am a log builder and writer and currently writing a book about this issue. Althought my book is about how to build wooden buildings I am going to write something about Forest Finns whose were a really interesting minority. I just learned that the oldest building Nohtnagle cabin was made by Forest Finns!

    It makes me happy to find out that others have also found these interesting people. Unfortunately their culture has already disappered but their legacy still lives!

    • Hello Jarmo,

      Greetings to you from a Finn in Idaho, USA who researches Finnish log construction in US and Canada (and Finland by extension). I’m currently researching for information on the Forrest Finns who came to New Sweden.

      I’m very interested in hearing from you and your research and writing. I know the Nothnagle cabin well.

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