Is it true in the 1800s a family took the name of the farm they have purchased?

Is it true in the 1800s a family took the name of the farm they have purchased?

Is it true in the 1800s a family took the name of the farm they have purchased? My maternal great-grandfather, John Oscar Hakala, purchased a Hakala farm. My mother believes that he might have been Swedish with the name Freegle (phonetically spelled) but I can't find a Swedish surname that sounds like that. Can you help?


In Finnish genealogical research, researching people with a common surname is not always productive because people often changed their surnames when they moved or for other reasons. In the beginning of the 1900s as Finnish nationalism grew, many Swedish and other foreign sounding names were changed to Finnish names just like Hakala. New names could be direct translations, partial translations, or completely different names. A law requiring permanent surnames for all Finnish citizens was passed in 1920.

However, eastern and western Finland have different naming traditions. Both naming customs date back to the earliest written sources. There was frequent overlap of these practices in both areas.

Finnish birth records did not generally list a surname for newborn infants, but instead, listed a first name. In creating a surname standard for the International Genealogical Index, the Family History Library assigns the surnames strictly by whether a parish is classified as a patronymic parish (western) or a set surname parish (eastern). Without knowing which way a parish was classified, it is best to try all known possible variations, such as patronymic, farm names, and fixed surnames, when searching the International Genealogical Index.

All Finns had patronymic names. If they also had a farm name or a family surname, the patronymic name may or may not have been written out. The same person may have used a patronymic name in one record and a farm or family surname in another record. Following is a brief description of various types of Finnish surnames according to geographic (east-west) distributions:

Western Finland (Ahvenanmaa, Häme, Kymi, Turku-Pori, Uusimaa, and Vaasa Counties with the exception of certain parishes). Surnames changed from generation to generation according to the Scandinavian patronymic naming customs used in Sweden. Eastern Finland (Kuopio, Lappi, Mikkeli, Oulu, and Viipuri Counties with the exception of certain parishes). Surnames did not change from generation to generation.

In Western Finland two types of surnames were common, patronymic and farm names. A farm name could be used in additional to a patronymic name. Patronymic surnames were common throughout Finland, but most people in western Finland used only a patronymic surname.

Patronymic surnames are based on the father’s given name. Swedish patronymics end with -son (son) or -dotter (daughter). For instance, Lars, son of Anders, was named Lars Andersson, and Maria, daughter of Anders, was named Maria Andersdotter. Although church records used the Swedish form of the names, Finnish genealogists often convert them to their Finnish equivalents. Patronymic names in Finnish end with -poika (son) or -tytär (daughter). For example Lars Andersson is Lauri Antinpoika and Maria Andersdotter is Maria Antintytär in Finnish. In cases of illegitimacy, a child’s surname might be based on the mother’s given name. For example, Henrik Mariasson would be the son of a Maria.

In the late nineteenth century, patronymic surnames became fixed. In other words, they no longer changed with each generation. As names became fixed, brothers could take different surnames. One may have taken his own patronymic name, while another may have taken his father’s patronymic name. For example, brothers named Sven and Pär could be listed with different surnames. If their father was Lars Andersson, one son might be listed as Sven Andersson (from his father’s patronymic) and the other son as Pär Larsen (from his own patronymic).

Farm names were often used like surnames, but they referred to a person’s place of residence. For example, a person called John (Johan, Juho, Juha)Hakala lived at a place called Hakala. If he moved, he would use the name of the new farm as a surname. During the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, farm names often became fixed family surnames.

The surnames used in eastern Finland are family surnames, which means that they were used in a family from generation to generation. They represent some of the earliest family surnames of Europe and most of them indicate relationship or common origin, although this cannot always be proved because of few sources. Family surnames have certain types of endings: -nen or -ainen/-äinen. For example, Huuskonen and Liimatainen are family surnames.

Farm names were also used in eastern Finland. Here they developed into permanent family surnames and did not change as a family moved. These names often end in -la/-lä or -lainen/-läinen. Examples of these names include Heikkilä (Heikki’s farm) and Haapalainen (place of aspens).
Name Hakala can refer to some kind of forest pasture.

It is important to know, where Your great- grandfather was born. Name Freegle doesn't sound swedish, are You sure about spelling of the name?

You might be interested in searching material concerning your great-grandfather in the following data-bases:

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