Finlandia receives Big Louie scrapbook

(Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette) Joanna Chopp, Dana Richter, and Don Crawford stand together for a photograph Tuesday, when the Finnlandia University Finnish American Historical Archives, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock, received two donations. One was a scrapbook, donated by Richter on the campaign to create the Big Louie monument, and the second donation came from Crawford, which is a 1913 Western-Union telegram verifying the true height of Lauri (Big Louie) Moilanen.

HANCOCK — Dana Richter, who led the fundraising campaign to create the Louis Moilanen monument on display at the Finnish American Heritage Center, presented the Finlandia University’s Finnish American Historical Archive a scrapbook on Tuesday. He created it in reference to the monument campaign. The monument project was the result of an idea between Richter and his friend, Mike Gemignani.

“The monument project started in about 2012,” said Richter, “and it (the monument) commemorated the 100th anniversary of Big Louie’s passing, in a momentous year here, 1913.” Moilanen, he added, passed away on September 26, 1913, at the age of 29.

The scrapbook was presented to Joanna Chopp, staff member of the archives.

The scrapbook was created by Richter for the Finnish American Heritage Center Archives, and contains photographs of the monument, people who were involved in the project, and newspaper articles pertaining to the project, as well as Moilanen.

“He may not be a very famous man,” said Richter, “but he is known by everybody in the Copper Country.”

Richter added that in all honesty, other than his height, he thinks Moilanen is locally known as simply representing tall, Finnish man.

Another document was given to the archive Tuesday that verifies the actual height of Big Louie. The document is in the form of a Wester-Union telegram that states the casket is coming (from the manufacturer) is coming, and it is 8 feet 3 inches long.

Don Crawford, of the Crawford Funeral Home in Escanaba, donated the document, after he found it in the records of the funeral home organized by his grandfather in 1863. In 1913, the funeral home was located on Ravine Street in Hancock.

“The inside of the casket is what we measured,” said Crawford, “and that was eight-foot-three, and that was his height.”

The document also states the cost of the custom-built casket was $83, and paid for by Big Louie’s mother, Anna Moilanen.

“The reason this documentation is important,” said Richter, “is you can read many histories of Big Louie, and they say he is anywhere from 8-feet-3, to 8 feet 8 inches tall.”


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