I have very little knowledge of my father's family. I didn't even know his parents' first names until I was grown. His father was a stonemason who built cowhouses. He died in the 1930s. His mother died when I was still a baby, so I don't have any memories of her either. They had six sons and one daughter.

Our surname means 'fighter, warrior'. In my father's home parish there have been soldiers of the military tenure establishment with that name in the mid-19th century, so it is possible that it is a "soldier's name". On the other hand, in a book on Finnish surnames it is said that the first known instance of the name is from the 16th century in the parish of Jääski. In another old book it is claimed that the type of name would refer to foreign mercenaries who had acquired land in Finland, and there actually is a tradition - or fantasy? - linking the family to Germany.

In any case, all warlikeness seems to have vanished from the family in the mostly peaceful years of the Grand Duchy (1809-1917). My father, a lance corporal in WW2, was proud to tell how an officer had once said he had never seen a man as unmilitary as he. Still, he got a fairly high decoration, Cross of Liberty 4th Class, in addition to the usual medals, and marched in the Independence Day parade with other veterans until he died.

The War Victims 1914-1922 project lists two men with our surname from the parish who died as Red prisoners, and one who died as a White soldier. Whatever the political affiliation of the family, my father was a Social Democrat of the anti-communist persuasion, a trade unionist and a shop steward until he retired.

I was the first university student of the family.