Why Newport?

A fair question to ask is why did the Finns decide to come to Newport in the first place? After all Newport is not the largest community in the United States, and certainly Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and even Manchester, New Hampshire had larger employment opportunities, or at the very least they were better known. Not every Finn who migrated and/or immigrated to the United States decided to move to Newport of course, but the ones that came were attracted by, “an abundance of work attracted Finns to Newport: the woolen mills, the shoe factory, the Peerless on Ash Street, the Draper Company in North Newport, and the town hired fifteen or twenty Finns every year to dig ditches for water department or tow work on the roads.”[1]

Where many of these Finns came from was the established Finnish community of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The Finns who decided to move to Newport,“… felt at home in Newport and if they wished to go shopping, they went to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, the center of Finnish activity in Newport. At one time about ten thousand Finns lived in Fitchburg”[2]. It’s safe to assume that many of these Finns that came to Newport came from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, but it is also safe to assume that many came from other places such as Finland itself. They were attracted to Newport for economic reasons, and then they stayed as an established community for decades. Not too many Finns live in Newport today, but there are still some that still live in and around town.

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[1] Olli, Turpeinen. The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire: A Partial Record of Immigrant Finns- Names and Events – in Newport, N.H., from about 1887 to November 14, 1997. New Brighton, MN: Sampo Publishing, Inc., 2001. 4.

[2] Turpeinen, 5.

Photos are from The Richards Free Library 58 N Main St, Newport, NH. 03773. 603-863-3430.