Tag Archives: Finnish Settlement in Georgia

Finnish Community Hall, 1920s, McKinnon

This was one of the first public buildings constructed in Finn Town (as McKinnon was popularly known) after it was settled in 1921. It was registered as a church to avoid taxation but was never used as a church. Instead, it was a gathering place for the Finnish community. For a fascinating bit of Georgia history, with great vintage photographs, visit Ernest Larson’s website.

Gable Front House, McKinnon

Stucco House, McKinnon

This is one of several vernacular houses in McKinnon dating from the era of Finnish settlement.

Suomi Road, Dodge County

Suomi Road Dodge County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Were it not for the name Suomi Road, there would be no hint that such a strange-named (for rural South Georgia) place ever existed. The origins of the name are lost to history, but John Goff (Placenames of Georgia, UGA Press, Athens, 2007) proposed that it was likely settled in the 1870s or 1880s when the lumber industry and the Dodge Land Wars were in full swing. It’s located very close to Normandale, a historical community that was the epicenter of the Dodge Lumber operations. Goff guesses that another mill may have been located here and that a railroad siding or station was probably given the name Suomi (in honor of the Finnish word for Finland) by Finnish lumbermen who may have been working in the area. They were most certainly transient workers as Goff posited no evidence of Finnish surnames in the area. The area has a Chauncey address today.

Jerry Jarrard writes: Suomi was a rail stop in Dodge Co. Ga. I remember when Grandpa took down the Suomi sign and put it in the barn. He owned what had been a hotel for the Finnish lumbermen. It sat behind the rail stop. It has since burned. In those days there was a country store beside the Suomi sight. it may have been named Weeks store. A weeks family lived two houses to the right of the old hotel The platform for the rail stop was a concrete pad, which is probably still there.

McKinnon, Georgia

This was the old McKinnon School. A sign above a side door reads “Wayne Produce Association”, which was a cooperative related to the Finnish settlers who made McKinnon their home just after World War I. It was also J. A. Jansen’s Grocery for a time.

The idea of a group of people from near the Arctic Circle coming to the heat of Southeast Georgia was certainly a radical one, but it happened in Wayne County. In 1921, a group of Finns in New York came here to to set up a farming community on land they had purchased through the Southeast Georgia Land Company. They named it the Fairfield Cooperative Association and planned on using the name Fairfield for the community. But as there was already a Fairfield in Georgia, post office officials required a name change. Settlers chose McKinnon, for the abandoned sawmill about a mile down the road which had been the site of an earlier post office. It was p0pularly known as Finn Town, though. The community thinned over the years but persisted throughout much of the 20th century.

Ernest Larson’s McKinnon website provides fascinating insight to the curious history of this Finnish settlement with the Scottish name.

Signs on the dirt streets of McKinnon are indicators of its Finnish origin.