Emil Hurja graduated from the Crystal Falls High School in 1909. Having decided to seek his fortune elsewhere, he followed Horace Greeley’s advice. With the consent of his parents and the blessing of his pastor, he boarded a train in June for the West. His local Lutheran pastor gave young Emil a one-dollar gold piece to ease the travel discomfort for a penniless sojourner and a copy of the New Testament in Finnish. Although Emil spent the coin, he carried his ethnic identity with him for many years. Stopping in Ironwood, Michigan, to work, and later in Duluth, he spent most of his money and had to take a freight train for Butte, Montana, to look for work. He traveled by boxcar or by “riding the rods.” Butte was also the home of many Finnish immigrants working as miners. He lived there for half a year, delivering groceries as he had done at his father’s Michigan store.


Freight Train Student Representative Signal Corp Dance Program Newspaper Reporter 
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  1. 3.
    A. W. Greeley, Handbook of Alaska ( New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925 ), 49–51.Google Scholar
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    Henry Clark, History of Alaska (New York: Macmillan, 1930), 144–145; Jones, “Story of a Michigan Boy.”Google Scholar
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    Louis H. Lochner, America’s Don Quixote: Henry Ford’s Attempt to Save Europe ( London: Kegan Paul, 1924 ), 93.Google Scholar
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    Herndon Booton Ford: An Unconventional Biography of the Man and the Times (New York: Weybright & Talley, 1969), 321.Google Scholar
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    Robert Ferrell, Woodrow Wilson and World War I, 1917–1921 (New York: Harper, 1985), 111; Hurja and Spruce Division, Box 139, Hurja Papers, FDRL.Google Scholar

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© Melvin G. Holli 2002

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  • Melvin G. Holli

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