Contributions to the Community

The improvements the early Finnish settlers in this area made on their buildings and land resulted in better farm production. This meant more revenue, most of it spent for farm and home supplies purchased from local business establishments. Building materials were also bought for the new homes and farm structures as well as for the improvements made on existing building.

Long before it became fashionable to have a sauna, every Finnish household had built at least one, and often a better second sauna. Most of the Spencer residents became familiar with this type of bathing long before it became nationally popular.

The old (1828) Methodist Church, given to the Finnish Lutherans, has been greatly improved. A large basement was dug under the whole structure to replace the small cellar that was just big enough to contain the smoky wood-burning furnace. The new basement contained a large all-purpose room, kitchen, lavatory and a room for the new oil furnace. The ceiling of the church was lowered and the dark interior was lined with Finnish birch plywood. This was all done with donated labor. Pastor Ahlskog was a willing member of this work crew.

The Spencer Co-op maintains a well-stocked hardware store in Spencer with a wide range of household, garden, farm and building supplies. It also serves the area with a feed mill and a gas and fuel-oil business.

The Spencer Ford Sales Inc., operated by Jorma Uotila and his son, Jeffrey, is a successful business that was started by Jorma’s father, one of the early Finnish residents of this locality. In addition to the large garage and busy service station, the Uotilas have a Ford dealership that covers an area far beyond the limits of Spencer.

Another important and reliable business operated by Finnish descendants is the P & R Oil Company. This includes the busy Arco Gas Station, a garage and a fuel oil and furnace service for customers over a large area. It is owned by the Efthimiou brothers, Paul and Ralph, who also own and operate a large, modern dairy farm east of the village.

With the Greek name Efthimiou, the Finnish background and influence could be overlooked. The brothers born in New York City, had a Greek father and a Finnish mother who died when their four sons were quite young. To have the boys grow up in more wholesome surroundings, their father sent the boys to Spencer to be cared for by Mrs. Charles Kokkonen while he remained at work to pay for their upkeep. The farm home in Crumtown provided good care and training in responsibility for the boys until they were grown. They all learned to speak the Finnish language.

Ralph’s wife, Helmi, is a former home making teacher from Finland. They occupy the farmhouse. Mrs. Paul Efthimiou, the former Sarah Mallula, also of Finnish descent, is a teacher in the Spencer school. They have a house in the village. Both families have been active in civic, school and church activities.

Next Conclusion

Return to Spencer Finns