Life in the Monola house in the summer of 1892
Picture: Monola House in 1932, Suomen maatilat IV.
A fictional story based on historical facts
At the time of Sibeliuses’ visit, Monola was hosted by Olli Vartiainen (1853–1927), who had inherited the farm after his father Petter passed away in 1886. Petter Vartiainen had acquired the Monola farm and moved to Pielisjärvi from the Kuopio region in 1870. Olli Vartiainen had married Anna Maria Toivanen (1868–1937) at Midsummer in 1888.
When Sibelius visited Monola in the summer of 1892, Olli and Anna had two children. Often seen running around the farm, Juho Petteri had reached the age of two in July. The smallest one, born in March, had been named after his older brother Olli, who had passed away at the age of one.
Housemaids Anna Kaisa Pehkonen, 25, and Elli Saarelainen, 20, helped around the house. The men’s work was handled by farmhand Mikko Mustonen, 42, and the younger farmhands Antti Eskelinen and Pekka Toivanen. Pekka lived in his own cottage with his wife Stiina Härkönen.
The 13-year-old son Juho and the 15-year-old daughter Maria of tenant Olli Kaverinen and his wife Brita Määttä had come to the house for the day’s work, while the youngest child, 11-year-old Olli, stayed with his parents and helped with the chores at the tenant farm. The oldest son, 19-year-old Pekka, had already moved away for work. Antti Kortelainen, who took care of his tenant farm with his wife Helena Väyrynen, was doing his day’s work at the house.
At the time, the Monola cottagers with their own cottages included the following couples: Antti Kärkkäinen and Margareta Honkanen, Antti Kuosmanen and Greta Tampio, Antti Piiroinen and Anna Tolvanen, and Antti Juhana Mustonen and Maria Turunen. You could see them doing their day’s work at Monola during the busiest working times.
The Monola lodgers, the slightly older ones who helped the others with their work, included 52-year-old Brita Korhonen, 65-year-old Mikko Tolvanen, and Jaakko Toivanen, who was already planning his trip to Russia in the autumn. The Monola house also provided shelter for Antti Eskelinen’s widow, Brita Poikonen. Lodgers Heikki Väyrynen and his wife Kaisa Nevalainen were originally marked as co-tenants in the croft hosted by Heikki’s sister Helena. Later, they acquired a cottage of their own to live in.
The courtyard of the imposing Monola house featured a handsome stone barn completed in 1870. The cattle grazed on pasture close to Monola or at the grassy shores of Monolanniemi. The Monola house was famous for its horses, and you could see them grazing further away. The late Petter Vartiainen had brought a good stock of horses with him from Savonia.
Monola was filled with everyday bustle as rowers and their strange cargo arrived at the Monola shore, in the middle of lush green nature that was ready to bloom in its midsummer glory. The guests received a kind welcome. The wealthy house readily offered the young couple accommodation in one of the granaries.
Finally, it was time for them to write to their relatives at Tottesund, which they hadn’t been able to do during their trip. Their host Olli was about to leave for a trip to buy some supplies at the church village, so he took Aino’s letter to postmistress Edla Hannikainen.
Monola had good waterway connections to the church village, so it had attracted people at the beginning of the 19th century: farmers, and secular and spiritual officials. From 1800 onwards, the Monola farm was owned by rural police chief Sven Samuel Mustelin, and then by vicar Jakob Abraham Strömmer and his widow until 1840. In 1817, police chief Mustelin’s widow purchased the entire Monola farm as hereditary land from the Crown, and this accelerated the development of the farm. The farm’s name of was changed to Strömsnäs under the ownership of vicar Strömmer. After Olli Vartiainen became the owner, the Finnish Monola name was brought back into use.
Text: Elli Oinonen-Edén
Pielisjärvi Church records, genealogist Marja Tolonen
Strömmer family archives
Email correspondence and interviews:
Representatives of the Strömmer family, Anna Heikinheimo and Anja Sakko, 2017.
Newspapers and magazines:
Hevoslehti 1 Oct 1927. Available at
Karjalan Maa 6 Aug 1927
Aino Sibeliuksen kirjeitä Järnefelt-suvun jäsenille. Second edition. Edited by SuviSirkku Talas. SKS:n toimituksia 756. Gummerus, Jyväskylä 2000.
Kiiskinen, Osmo – Sallinen, Harri: Pielisjärven historia 1865–1920. Pielisjärven historia IV. Pieksämäki 1991.
Kilpeläinen, A. S. – Hintikka, A. L. – Saloheimo, Veijo: Pielisjärven historia I. Kuopio 1954.
Oinonen-Edén, Elli: Pielisjärven ja Juuan historia 1811–1864. Pielisjärven historia III. Pieksämäki 1991.
Open in the summer.
Opening hours in 2020:
Tuesday–Sunday from 11AM to 4PM, closed on Mondays
Open for groups on request.
Adults 5 €
Children (ages 7 to 12) 1 €
Free entry for children under 7 years
Follow the signs from Vartialantie