The following list has some of our favorite genealogy sites on the World Wide Web. On-line research continues to become more productive, thanks to thousands of volunteers contributing their time and sharing genealogical information on the Web. We hope our information is helpful to someone researching their ancestors. Connecting with distant relatives would be another great experience resulting from this Web site.

  • Finnish Genealogy This site, administered by the Genealogical Society of Finland, is a must for third and fourth generation Finns. Many of its pages have an English option and there are continuous additions and updates being made by Finns on both sides of the ocean. Finland’s Institute of Migration can be accessed through this site for individual passport and ocean vessel passenger information.
  • Us GenWeb Project This project consists of groups of volunteers working together to provide Internet websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. The Project is non-commercial and fully committed to free access for everyone. Organization is by county, and provides links to all the state websites. The project also sponsors important Special Projects at the national level and its home page provides an entry point to all of those pages, as well.
  • PA GenWeb Project A part of the USGenWeb Project, the PAGenWeb Project has been online since early 1996. The goal of the Project is to have every county in Pennsylvania represented by an online website and hosted by researchers who either live in their county or who are familiar with their county’s resources. Since that time, the project has remained faithful to the goals and continues today to provide free resource and reference information to researchers of the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Ellis Island Site This is the site for the American Family Immigration History Center (AFIHC), located in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The AFIHC allows visitors to explore the extraordinary collection of immigrant arrival records stored in the Ellis Island Archives.
  • Latter-day Saints Site This is the official site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Genealogical Library System which consists of Family History Centers located where ever one of their churches are located. For a reasonable fee, research information will be sent to the nearest Family History Center for use by the requesting Genealogist. They have a wealth of information available.
  • Cyndislist This site is an excellent genealogical research entrance into the Internet. It is a ctagorized and cross-referenced index to practically all genealogical related resources on the Internet. As the site developers explain it: (Cindi’s list is). . .”A card catalog to the genealogical collection in the immense library that is the Internet”.
  • Rootsweb This is the oldest and largest free genealogy site available. It is financially supported by and is a clearinghouse for all kinds of genealogical information. Rootsweb also publishes three (free) newsletters that provide a wealth of information and guidance for beginning and experienced researchers alike.

Finnish American Newspapers

  • New World Finn (A Quarterly Journal Exploring Finnish Culture) Published since 1999, New World Finn is a 28-page non-academic newsprint tabloid about Finns and Finnish emigrants.
  • Raivaaja (The Pioneer), a weekly, was founded in 1905. Articles are in both Finnish and English.
  • Finnish-American Reporter a monthly, is published by Finlandia University. Established in 1986, it features English-language articles and news reports of interest to Finns across North America, in Finland and around the world.
  • Amerikan Uutiset (American News) began publication in New York Mills, Minnesota as the Minnesotan Uutiset (Minnesota News) in 1935. The newspaper absorbed New Yorkin Uutiset when the latter went out of business in 1996. It moved to Lantana, Florida in 1980. Articles are mostly in Finnish.

When I Initiated this project, files were organized for each of our Parent’s families. I then began reading about the process of genealogical research. In addition, various places that might provide needed information were visited. Through the on-line computer service Prodigy, communication with a Finland interest group was established. In addition, information from various agencies and organizations that maintain demographic records were contacted. The year 1992 was early in the developmental stages of the Internet and my son, Evan, introduced Prodigy on-line services to him. Evan’s wife Teresa worked for Prodigy and enrolled Wes as a part of their family (free). Over the years the Hakanen’s left Prodigy and accessed other services as they became available, trying to stay current with the times. The World Wide Web and the Internet have become invaluable tools to this research. Advancements in technology and the over-whelming interest in genealogy have provided a continuous stream of available information on-line.

Through the Prodigy connection it was learned that the Lutheran Church, the official church of Finland, is responsible for maintaining Finland’s vital records. The various Finnish Parishes provided valuable research assistance over the first few years of the project.

Other places visited during those early years were: the libraries at the Church of Latter Day Saints; the various historical societies, and numerous County Libraries. The State Library in Harrisburg, the Hillman Library in Pittsburgh, graveyards and courthouses in several counties and many other places where information could possibly be found were also visited. Once the genealogy bug bites you, research possibilities surface wherever you go. As previously mentioned, the Internet has grown to be an invaluable research tool and interest in genealogy has exploded over the years. E-mail contacts continue to expand and new information continues to be discovered and added. We have organized the information within the following pages.

It all starts. . .

. . . Mimi and I met while attending Indiana State College in Indiana Pennsylvania. We were Art Education Majors. Mimi, whose proper maiden name was, Marian Cathryn Roberts is a graduate of Leechburg (PA) High School class of 1955. My proper name is Wesley Edwin Hakanen and I graduated from Turtle Creek (PA) High School in 1951. I served three years in the U.S. Army before entering college.  We both entered Indiana State College in the Fall of 1955. We married in 1959, at the start of our senior year. After graduation we acquired teaching positions in the Punxsutawney Public Schools.

Beginning a family. . .

. . We spent the next three years in Punxsutawney (PA) where our first son, Chriss, was born in 1961. I then took a teaching job with the Gateway Public School System in Monroeville (PA), in the Fall of 1962. We then moved to Penn Hills (PA), a suburb of Pittsburgh, adjacent to the Borough of Monroeville. In 1965 I took an administrative position with Penn State University’s Continuing Education Services. That job took us to Uniontown (PA).

The family grows. . .

. . Our second son, Evan, was born in 1966, shortly after we moved to Uniontown. Our third son, Eran, was also born in Uniontown, in 1969. Shortly after Eran was born, a transfer moved us back to Penn Hills.

Settling in. . .

. . We purchased a house in Level Green (PA) in 1972 and spent the next fifteen years there. Our three son’s graduated from Penn-Trafford High School. Chriss and Evan went on to Penn State University from which they both graduated. I then took a job with Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and moved to Edinboro (PA). Our youngest son Eran attended and graduated from Edinboro University.

Expanding the family . . .

. . In 1988 our middle son Evan married his high school sweetheart, Teresa Maleski. The marriage lasted only five years. They were divorced in 1993. Then in 1995 our oldest son married Dolly Hsu, a divorcee with a beautiful seven year-old daughter, Freda. They blessed us with three grandsons, Chriss Wesley II, born in 1996, Billy, born in 1997 and Denny, born in 2001. Then in June 2001 our youngest son, Eran, married Peiyu Lan and the couple has blessed us with another a grandson, Wesley Tai, in 2003 and a granddaughter, Marcella Rae in 2005. Dolly and Peiyu were born and raised in Taiwan, a fact that adds another challenging dimension to our research.

The story continues . . .

. . As mentioned, this is a “work-in-progress” and things change. In 2003 we learned that Chriss and Dolly were going through difficult times in their relationship. They separated and then divorced in 2008. Time marches on! We continue to enjoy our role as grandparents and help Dolly as much as we can. We still hold onto the hope that all our kids and grandkids will someday value the information we have gathered. You can see what we have gathered so far by going to our ‘Genealogy’ and ‘Photo’ pages. In addition to reading some of Wes’s thoughts about his past and present memories and impressions regarding just about everything you can click here.

To our Web Site. . .

Through the process of making new friends, family and acquaintances from researching genealogy over many years, my Father learned of the Finnish word Sisu. If you don’t know this word, it is very familiar to the Finns and is often used to describe Finland as a whole. Sisu can loosely be translated as going beyond one’s mental or physical capacity, to have guts, grit, stoic determination. My Father continually displayed his Sisu regardless of the challenge, whether it was getting his PhD to prove “anyone could do it” or not giving in to the statistics of cancer. He approached all aspects of life with action and not just words, not resting on his laurels and never boasting of his accomplishments. My Father had Sisu, he was a true Finn.

. . My name is Wes Hakanen and my wife Mimi and I have developed this site with the guidance and patience of our son Eran and his wife Peiyu. The purpose of the site is to share information about our families with an emphasis on their genealogical roots.

The site you are reading is a change from the original. The first effort was done using website developer software. This new format is following a Blog style. Our son Eran recommended we make the switch to simplify the entry process and to make it more ‘user friendly’. We agree with him and hope you like the new format.

An early start. . .

. . Genealogical research is one of several interests I started to pursue after retiring in December of 1991. As I began gathering information, it became apparent that very little documentation takes place as people go about their daily lives. While this adds interest to the research process, it is a sad fact that much endearing information about our ancestry is lost forever and consequently future generations lack precious information about their heritage.

It was this realization that motivated us to develop this site. It consists of things remembered, researched information and recollections of others. The site will continue to be a work in progress since information will be added as new things are learned, discovered and clarified. We think and hope that the information will be of interest to our descendants and others someday.

Rather than focus on only one family or branch, the research follows the paternal and maternal linage of both our parents. More information has been gathered about my parents, since I started seriously gathering data in 1992.

Sporadic effort. . .

. . Although there are periods of time I leave this effort (when the maze of names and relationships become mind boggling), I plan to continue the research as long as I can.

Our plan is to continue adding information regarding Mimi’s family as we expand our research. Hopefully Mimi will become increasingly interested and contribute to this project accordingly. You can see the results of our efforts, to date, by going to the other pages of this site.

The Site has six divisions . . .

. . . After this page, there is the ‘About’ page which gives you information about Wes and Mimi and their family. The next two pages, ‘Genealogy’ and ‘Photo’ , provide information resulting from our research. The ‘Contact’ page is for anyone who wants to contact us by email to explore possible connections with our research or to provide advice or comment about the site. We made typing the address a little cumbersome to eliminate “hackers” who click and make outlandish comments.  For those not familiar with genealogy, there is a page featuring some of our favorite genealogy linkages called ‘Favorites’.

In Addition. . . There are pages that can only be accessed through the text. They are mostly genealogy information about individuals or families and of interest to a limited number of people. One page, however, I call “Wes’s Retrospectives” and it consists of thoughts on anything and everything. I add to this page as things are remembered by me or others. These pages are reached by clicking on a bold italic “here” placed in key places throughout the pages of text. For example, in this case, for Wes’s Retrospective page click here

The maze of names and relationships . . .

. . . Here are some of the Surnames that have connections with our families. This partial list gives you an idea of why there is need for a break occasionally.




The Finnish names are the toughest.  However I am now communicating with a cousins in Finland.  Arja who is related through my uncle Mike’s wife.  Her grandmother was a sister of Laimi, Mike’s wife.  She has been extremely helpful in helping me sort out the names and contacting others in Finland.  One person she “found” for me was a cousin Leena from my grandmother Hakanen’s family.  Cousin Leena’s grandfather was my grandmother’s brother.  Both Leena and Arja have provided a lot of information about Finland  and qualified many things that had me confused.  In the past, in Finland, they named their houses, their villages and their farms.  In fact they changed their surnames to match where they lived.  Arja and Leena have helped me sort all that out.

Hope you enjoy the Site!

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