Women I

Though not so obvious in written documents and despite more stories about lucky and unlucky men, women have always been part of gold history, all times and everywhere. Gold history in Lapland is not an exception so following are just few examples of different women throughout Lappish gold history.

Ralla-Kaisa and Iso-Anni (Big-Anni) are names from early times, during the first gold rush to River Ivalojoki. Especially stories concerning Ralla-Kaisa have probably been exaggerated or embellished. Rasti Ralla-Kaisa was hostess of Kultala saloon and bakery and couple of later books mention her as saucy person who fooled with men. On the other hand, if you just fool around you can’t keep saloon and bakery going on – being saucy was probably just good in those times in the middle of nowhere and many men around. Gold historian Seppo Partanen has also concluded that in real history Ralla-Kaisa might also have been Sanna Hurmasti, a maiden in prospector Frans Björklund’s worker list, and who did not serve until the end of summer like her colleague Greta Heikkilä did.

Iso-Anni (Anni the Big) worked as servant to Kultala police chief and got her nickname for her size. According to the stories she was worth of her name: strong, big and robust woman. One example that has been told is that when she and her chief argued, she occasionally crabbed him in neck and butt and threw him to the yard when standing on stairs herself.

Moppe aka Elvira Bono was a woman with colourful personality and history, and sometimes she was called Petronella of River Ivalojoki due to her appearance. She was born in Sweden to an Italian circus director and his Swedish wife. The family moved from country to another with the circus and Moppe became princess of the circus and an aerialist when she was only about 5 years old. She became also an excellent shooter and those skills she needed later in her life. While visiting St. Petersburg the father was killed as the revolution was raging around the city, and the mother and Moppe fled to Finland. Later on, in 1918, Elvira participated a bad-luck conquest trip to Petsamo. After coming back to Finnish side, she did not go back to south but stayed in Inari as she met her becoming husband Ivar Hallen there on her way back. The marriage was unbound in 1927 but Moppe had decided to stay in Lapland and worked as cook in gold fields, forestry fields and also in Jäniskoski power plant worksite. She worked also, for example, for gold company Luttojoki Oy in their Ritakoski base. Moppe was also always helpful and willing to support common happenings with her performance talent. She stayed in the north for rest of her life, especially when her third marriage from 1942 lasted until she died in 1974.