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19 Sep 2021, last revised 16 Jun 2024

Nick Miettunen's bottles do not specify a town name, so one may wonder if they are actually Copper Country bottles. Based on historical records, they are. The Polk directory located his bottling works in Laurium (2,3). Plus, his bottles were found locally.

According to his family tree on ancestry.com, Nick Miettunen was born Niklas Jaakonpoika Miettunen on 13 Dec 1862 in Finland. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1887 (1). It is unknown where he settled first or when he arrived in the Copper Country. Most of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census was destroyed by fire and we could not find Nick listed in the 1900 census.

Nick Miettunen residence and bottling works<br>Courtesy of Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, Nara Photograph Collection, Nara 42-114
Laurium Bottling Works

The 1901 Polk directory listed the bottling works/residence of "Nicholas Miettunen" at 424 Tamarack St., Laurium (2), but it did not specify a name for the bottling works. The Sep 1900 Sanborn map did not label this address as a bottling works, so he likely started the bottling works after Sep 1900. The 1903 directory then listed Nicholas as proprietor of "Laurium Bottling Works" at 502 5th St., Laurium (3). A photograph from Michigan Tech Archives shows his residence/business with a sign stating LAURIUM BOTTLING WORKS / N. MIETTUNEN and a wagon stating N. MIETTUNEN. It is unclear why his bottles were embossed with NICK MIETTUNEN BOTTLING WORKS instead of Laurium Bottling Works.

His mid-size bottle is the only Hutchinson bottle of this size from the Copper Country. It does not have a maker's mark, but his pint-sized bottle was made by Illinois Glass Co. The 1906 Illinois Glass Co. catalog does feature a few 10 or 12 oz. Hutchinson molds, but they were not as numerous at the half-pint molds.

On 11 Jun 1904, the newspaper announced that "Nick Mieuttunen, the Laurium pop man," was going out of business in a few days and would be moving to Duluth to start a similar business (14). There is no record stating that he disposed of his pop company before leaving, so perhaps he took the bottling equipment and remaining bottles with him.

It is unknown if he actually moved to Duluth, but he did move to Minnesota where he continued to bottle for a period of time before switching to other occupations. Like the Copper Country, northern Minnesota was an area where many Finnish immigrants settled (13). He was listed in the 1905 Census of Minnesota as a resident of Chisholm with the occupation of pop manufacturer (4). The History Museum of East Otter Tail County listed him as starting his business in soft drinks in Chisholm in 1906 (5). The Minnesota HutchBook lists a bottle embossed, CHISHOLM BOTTLING WORKS / NICK MIETTUNEN, made by American Bottle Co. with a date code for 1911 (6). The Polk directory of 1910 placed him in Chisholm as a bottler with his business and residence having the same address (7).

Curiously, Nick also had bottles bearing his name from Aurora, MN (6), which is 43 miles from Chisholm. They are embossed AURORA BOTTLING WKS / AURORA, MINN. / NICK MIETTUNEN and NICK MIETTUNEN BOTTLING WORKS (6). One of the Aurora bottles has a date code for 1908 (6). We haven't found any record showing that Nick resided in Aurora, and it seems he operated both locations simultaneously.

After his bottling career, he was listed in Chisholm for a saloon in 1912 (10), as a woodworker in 1915 (8), and no occupation specified in 1917 (11). In 1920, he was in Virginia, MN with no occupation specified (1). In 1930, he resided on a county road in St. Louis County with occupation as a road worker (9). He (listed as Nikolai "Nick" Miettunen) died on 23 Nov 1930 in Chisholm (12). Him and his wife, Elizabeth Miettunen had no children.

Nick Miettunen Bottling Works may have been a short-lived business, but it connects to the Finnish immigrants that settled in the Copper Country. Today, Finnish heritage is still a large part of the local culture.

References

  1. U.S. Census Bureau. 1920 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  2. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-1902. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  3. R. L. Polk & Co. 1903. Houghton County Directory 1903-1904. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  4. State of Minnesota. 1905. Fifth Decennial Census of Minnesota. accessed on ancestry.com.
  5. The History Museum of East Otter Tail County. accessed 2021. Finnish Business and Professional Men.www.historymuseumeot.com/mfahs/htm/part8_0051.htm.
  6. Minnesota - HutchBook.com. accessed 2021. www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/42541031/minnesota-hutchbookcom.
  7. R. L. Polk & Co. 1910. City Directory of Hibbing, Virginia, Eveleth, Chisholm, Biwabik and Gilbert 1910-1911. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Duluth, MN.
  8. R. L. Polk & Co. 1915. City Directory of Hibbing, Chisholm, Buhl, Cloquet, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik 1915. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Duluth, MN.
  9. U.S. Census Bureau. 1930 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  10. R. L. Polk & Co. 1912. City Directory of Hibbing, Virginia, Eveleth, Chisholm, Biwabik, and Gilbert 1912-1913. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Duluth, MN.
  11. R. L. Polk & Co. 1917. City Directory of Biwabik, Buhl, Cloquet, Chisholm, Eveleth, Gilbert, Hibbing, Virginia 1917. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Duluth, MN.
  12. Find a Grave. accessed Sept 2021. Nikolai "Nick" Miettunen. findagrave.com/memorial/184468878/nikolai-miettunen
  13. Holmio, A. K. 2001. History of Finns in Michigan. Wayne State University Press. Detroit, MI.
  14. anonymous. (1904, Jun 11). Calumet-Laurium Brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 6.

136
Nick Miettunen Bottling Works bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
base: post-bottom
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1904
rarity: extremely rare
  • the A B Co. mark stated in the book was not found on this example
  • lacks a date code

s35
Nick Miettunen Bottling Works bottle
capacity: pint
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
base: cup-bottom
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1904
rarity: extremely rare

137
Nick Miettunen Bottling Works bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
base: cup-bottom
maker's mark: I G Co. (back heel)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1904
rarity: extremely rare
  • half-pint complement to 136
  • the book states a maker's mark of A B Co.