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Suistamo

First mentions of Suistamo are met in XVI century. At that time the territory was a part of Sortavala circuit. In 1589 the orthodox church was opened in suistamo and in 1650 it becomes a senter of a new circuit.

In 1721, when Sweden lost the Northern war, Viborg and Ladoga Karelia (so-called Old Finland) were joined to Russia. They formed a new Viborg province.

Initially Suistamo tounship was croun land, but in 1730 was presented to St.Trinity monastery, which owns it till 1764.

Academitian N. Ozeratskovsky in his book "Travelling by Ladoga and Onego lakes" writes the following:
There are eight townships belonging to Serdobol circuit with able inhabitants, according to the last census ... in Shuistamo township - 1241. Of this areas Serdobol, part of Ruskeala, Impilahti, Suojärvi and Jakimvaara township are crown lands, others are owned by different landlords ... the lands of Shuistamo township owned by Lt.-General Kashkin.

In 1797 Suistamo again became crown land.

In 1811 Viborg province became a part of Autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, that itself became a part of Russian Empire.

The wooden Orthodox St.-Nicolas church was build by the project of the outstanding Finnish architect Johan Carl Ludvig Engel in 1844. Initially classicism style building had a bell-tower that does not live till our times.

In 1885 a basic school was opened in Suistamo.

In September 1918, after Finland got it independence, a college for basic school teachers was opened in Suistamo. The college buildings ensemble has not survived.

Not far from St.-Nicolas church a Parish Hall was built in 1920. Close to the building, erected in early Finnish functionalism style, there is a common grave of the heroes of 1918. On the left side of the monument pedestal there is a Karelian coat of arms, on the right - a cross. On the front side a list of 7 men, buried here. The granite monument of a solder is now broken and some parts of it can still be found nearby.

On the old churchyard there are the graves of rune singer Iivana Onoila and weeper Matjo Plattonen. The cousins are representatives of the old rune singers family Sotikainen, originating from Sotik of Loimola.

Onoila (deceased 1924) was a performer of runes and charms. He became well-known after his performance at the folklore feast in Sortavala in 1896.

Plattonen (deceased 1928) was a funeral and marriage weeper and also a rune singer. Around 20 new charms were written down from her. In 1906 performed at the folklore feast in Sortavala. In 1924 was awarded government pension for her input into support of national culture. In 1928 took part in the international cultural congress in Budapest. Wiped at the funerals of Iivana Onoila.

Monuments on their graves were erected by "Kalevala" society.

The well known rune singers family Shemeikka is also connectet to Suistamo circuit. The husband and wife rune singers Iivana Härkönen (03.09.1827 - 07.07.1905) and Pelagia Sotikainen-Härkönen (09.10.1834 - 23.02.1899) are buried on the new Suistamo graveyard.

In 1924, after Matkaselkä - Suojärvi railway was finished, Suistamo became a railway stop.

In 1928-1929 there were 13 schools in the circuit.

By 1930 there lived 7919 people in 24 settlements in the circuit. By 1936 their number roused to 8094 and by 1939 roused to 8986.

Orthodox parish constituted 7650 in 1939.

With the worsening of Soviet-Finnish relations in the autumn 1939 a military unit was moved to Suistamo.

In the early winter, right after Soviet attack the villages of the eastern part of circuit were evacuated.

By December 15-th Soviet troops were stopped at Kollaa River.

Solders came to rest in Suistamo on skis, had some rest and in the evening returned on skis to the frontline. Despite almost everyday Soviet attacks and lost of 56% of the people, Kollaa River line was held by Finnish troops till the end of warfare in March 1940.

After the Winter War, according to the March 12-th 1940 Treaty the circuit territory became Soviet. All the inhabitants were evacuated.

With the beginning of military operations in the summer 1941 Finnish troops under the command of General Talvela by the middle of July returned Suistamo territory.

On June 21-st 1944 there started Soviet offencive from Svir River, which was stopped along the line Lemetti-Käsnäselkä.

According to September 19-th 1944 Treaty Suistamo again became Soviet territory. The population again left the region.

At Soviet times there was a pioneers camp (children summer rest-place) in Suistamo. Parish Hall was used for administrative needs and St.-Nicolas church - as a kitchen and a dining room. Gravestones from old cemetery were used for football goals marking.

A memorial to Finnish warriors of 1939-1944 was erected by Finnish "Suistamo" society in 1992 on the territory of the cemetery were initial gravestones were destroyed at Soviet times. The names of 270 Suistamo-born warriors, killed on the Ward war II fronts are encrypted on the stone wall.

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