By: Geoffrey Latta, Secretary-Historian,

The Latta Genealogy Newsletter - Fall 2021

    As some researchers will be aware, one country that has genealogical records for the Latta name is Finland.  Sites such as Family Search and have records for births and marriages between 1710 with a census record for Parikkala and 1909 (several census records).

    Both Family Search and have nearly 250 records from Finland as well as recording those in the US who had a connection with Finland.  Among US residents born in Finland were:

    1.  Mary Latta, a widow, age 64 in the 1940 Census living in West Pike Run, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  Her children were born in the US.

    2.  Fulda (male) and Anna Latta, living in New York City in the 1920 Census having immigrated to the US in 1912 and 1915.

    3.  John Latta, age 43, with his wife, Anna M, age 45, and son Edward H, age 21 in the 1910 Census in Ashtabula County, Ohio.  All were born in Finland and immigrated to the US in 1890.

   4.   Jack Latta, age 35, in the 1900 Census in Biwabik, St. Louis County, Minnesota.

    To understand the genealogical situation, it is important to recognize some of Finland's history.  For much of the last 800 years, the area of what is now Finland was governed either by Sweden or by Russia.  In the 18th century, a majority of ethnic Finns were governed by Sweden but in the 19th century by Russia.  This is important in looking at historical records not least because of name changes, particularly for places now in Russia.  Finland did not become an independent country until 1917 in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution.

    In Finland itself, the [Latta] name was widely distributed across the country. Mikkeli was a particular center for the name.  This is a town of 50,000 people about 150 miles northeast of the capital, Helsinki.  Other places near Mikkeli where Lattas were recorded included Juva, a town of 6,000 about 20 miles from Mikkeli and Anttola southeast of Mikkeli, Joensuu is a city of 75,000 people in North Karelia in eastern Finland near the Russian border about 150 miles northeast of Mikkeli.

There were also a number of Lattas in towns in the Finnish province of Viipuri (Viborg), which was owned by Finland until 1945 but is now part of Russia.  As a result the Finnish population largely let towns like Sortavala after 1945.  Elisenvaara is also a small village in Russian Karelia.

    Nehvola was a small village on the shores of Lake Ladoga, which is now in Russia nor far from St. Petersburg.  One source quotes that in the 1930s, there were three families with the name Lattu in Neehvola. 

    This hints at a fundamental issues with the name.  In historic records, the name is sometimes spelled with one or both letters "a" having an umlaut.  This is not like an umlaut in German, which slightly changes the pronunciation of the letter, but is actually a separate and distinct letter of the Finnish alphabet.  Thus, if the name was pronounced with umlauts it would not be spelled in English as "Latta" but more like "Laytay."  While some Finnish immigrants to the US may have kept the spelling and over time pronounced the name in a more English fashion, it is possible others may have changed the spelling.  The name Lattu shows up in genealogical records such as the 1924 US naturalization record for Onnie Lattu, born in Rutola, Finland in 1906.  Rutola is one of the  locations with Latta records from earlier dates.  Similarly, Irmali Lattu, born in Finland, was approved for Canadian citizenship in 1959.  In Russia too, the name would be transliterates into the Cyrillic alphabet.  This appears to mainly take the form JIATTY, which would come closer in pronunciation to Lattu than Latta.

    Even in Finland today the name Latti appears at least as common as Latta, which may hint at alterations in spelling.  Lattis born in Finland show in US census records as for Aida Matti Latti, age 50, born in Finland was a laborer living in Dublin, Cheshire County, New Hampshire in 1930 with his wife Lydia (also born in Finland) and three children, Tiovo, Hugo and Einar, all born in the US.  The parents immigrated to the US in 1903 and 1905.

    The Russian connection also shows up.  A senior official of the Russian Ministry of Defense in around 2000 was General-Major Vasili Filipovich Latta, and one might guess he came of ethnic Finnish stock.

    Intriguingly the name Latta also appears in Hungary, which has one of the only two languages that are linked to Finnish (the other is Estonian).  I have not found any reference to the Latta name in Estonia although there are references to both Lattu and Latti.

    Are there any readers of the Newsletter who have any Finnish connection?  Or does anyone know any Lattas who might have?