Room image

Drawing room

The drawing room was used at festive events, at parish catechetical meetings, and when ship owners’ accounts were closed. Children were not allowed to be there, and during the wintertime, the room was kept closed due to coldness. In the explosion-like fire, the drawing room and all objects there were entirely destroyed. ...

The rare wallpaper was re-printed based on old photographs. In addition, the chairs – characteristic of Pellas with hearts in their backs – were remade after the fire. The clock cupboard, featuring simple decorative paintings and a clock in the middle, is from the neighbour house of Andersas. Above the escritoire are photographs of the Eriksson family. The top photograph shows Erik Petter and Brita Stina Eriksson, as well as their children, Erik August and Erika Kristina with their spouses and children.

The drawing room walls have photographs featuring Erik August with his spouse, Irene, and their children. Erik and Irene took on the stewardship of the farm after Erik Petter and Brita Stina did. Paintings of the schooners Åland and Wendla were at Pellas before the fire, after which they were restored. Luckily, these paintings survived the fire because they were placed somewhere else. The painting portraying the Avenir ship was brought to Pellas after the fire. The drawing room also has a harmonium, which was a typical object in a shipmaster’s homestead, where sermons, Bible interpretation events, and services were often organised. Above the couch on the south wall is Elvi Henriksson’s painting of the shipmaster’s homestead Pellas.

Peasant seafaring at Pellas

While operating as a shipowner, Erik Petter Eriksson was the head shipowner of the following vessels: Trefanten, Fredrika, Augusta, Leo, Linnea, Elina, Ceres, Åland, Eli, Cedia, Primus, Elida, Wendla, and Freja. In addition, he was a shareholder of many vessels. Of Erik Petter Eriksson’s vessels, Leo was the most infamous; it was called “Människoätaren” (maneater) because it had a reputation for claiming lives on each trip. Despite its bad reputation, Leo was a successful vessel, also called Money Dragon because it was Erik Petter Eriksson’s most profitable ship. 

A couple of Pellas’ vessels were built in Lemland. These included Erik Petter Eriksson’s first sailing ship, schooner Trefanten, and Fredrika, the first schooner in the district. Seven sailing ships were ordered from Sideby, Ostrobothnia. Several sailing ships for Ålandian shipping companies were built in Sideby. After 1874, Pellas’ shipping company operations were reduced, and when the new Pellas main building was built, Erik Petter Eriksson directed two ships. 

The last vessel in Pellas’ ownership was Freja. Erik Petter Eriksson’s son August became the shipowner after his father. When the profitability of small, farmer-owned wooden vessels decreased at the end of the 19th century, August Eriksson left the sea and became a full-time farmer at Pellas. Many of August Eriksson’s sons became sea captains, and the shipmaster tradition continued through them.

The Christmas Eve fire of 2005

On Christmas Eve in 2005, a fire destroyed the Pellas main building. The fire started from a switchboard, and the house was already well ablaze when the neighbours called the fire brigade. The fire spread through the drawing room and up to the open attic. Both the drawing room and the attic were completely destroyed. The eastern part of the house survived better, and some of the objects from there were saved. Thanks to a full value insurance, the house was restored after the fire, and the construction work began right after the clearance work was finished. The timber frame survived the fire surprisingly well. The damaged timbers in the attic were replaced with old, recycled timbers and new timbers from Pellas’ forest. 

The fire revealed many interesting details in terms of what survived. Hand-painted wallpapers were found under the peeling, sooty, water-damaged wallpapers. In connection with the renovation, new decorative paintings were made based on the original paintings. The neighbouring Andersas farm has similar wallpaper patterns, and they have been also found in the Söderby shipmaster’s homestead, Lemland, and in a shipmaster’s homestead in Vardö. Painter Gabriel from Jomala made the paintings. The new wallpaper in the drawing room was hand-printed based on the original wallpaper. The renovated house was inaugurated in 2008.

Erik Petter Eriksson

Erik Petter Eriksson was born in 1823 as the oldest sibling of five. Erik Petter was very young when he got the possession of his fathers’ farm, Pellas. The father died in 1837 and left behind a house burdened with debt. According to the story, the intention was to sell the farm and its movables at auction, but enterprising 15-year-old Erik Petter managed to talk all creditors into waiting with their payment demands. Erik Petter’s plan was to build a cargo vessel and save money to pay his father’s debts.

Erik Petter married Brita Stina Persdotter (born in Rörstorp in 1830 and died in 1913). The couple had two children, August and Erika, who lived to adulthood. August started taking care of the farm, and Erika moved to the Hansas farm in Granboda after getting married.

For Erik Petter Eriksson, Trefanten was the first vessel of which he was head shipowner. Erik Petter Eriksson’s vessel Fredrika used to be Lemland’s biggest vessel and the first schooner in the district. In 1869 and for two years after that, Erik Petter Eriksson was the head shipowner of the brand-new schooner, Leo. He and the other shareholders had the vessel built in Sideby. From 1874 to 1875, Erik Petter Eriksson was the head shipowner of ten vessels, seven of which were built in Sideby. Erik Petter Eriksson’s last vessel, Freja, was built in Söderby, Lemland.

Erik Petter had a good reputation as an honest man, and he made good profits with his vessels. He was called the “bank of Lemland” because he ran his own private loan business for other peasant shipowners who wanted to build vessels. He could write, which was not common in the region that time. He was self-educated and held auctions, drew up estate inventories, and performed distributions on estates in Lemland and Lumparland. When the profitability of small wooden peasant vessels decreased, Erik Petter thought that it was time to invest his money in a new house instead of building new vessels. Erik Petter died in 1908.

The following excerpt from Leo describes Erik Petter’s thoughts on building the Pellas house:

Erik Petter har fortfarande kvar en del av skulden därför att det är mera lönsamt att satsa på nya skepp än att använda hela överskottet till skuldens betalning. Han känner inte längre ett lika skriande behov av att göra sig fri från den. Stora penningsummor har upphört att förskräcka honom, och sedan länge är seglationen ett större intresse än skulden. Men föresatsen står fast: innan skulden är betald byggs här inget hus.

Ulla-Lena Lundberg in her book Leo.

August and Irene Eriksson

August (born in 1856) got possession of Pellas after his father, Erik Petter. He also became the shipowner of Freja after his father. August started his seaman career at the age of 13 as a ship’s boy. After passing a merchant marine examination, he became captain of schooner Cedia, barques Augusta and Tähti, and schooner Freja before becoming a full-time farmer at Pellas in 1902. August was known as a very careful shipmaster who did not take unnecessary risks.

August was a member of the municipal council and parish board, and he was interested in politics. August’s wife, Irene, was a member of Åland’s maritime nobility and was Mathias Lundqvist senior’s daughter from the Hinders farm, Flaka. Mathias was one of the most important shipowners in Lemland; rumour has it that it was a marriage of convenience between two important families. August died in 1931 and Irene in 1954.

The couple had nine children: Filip, Nils, Sally, Adele, Mery, Ebba, Jens, Sven, and Peder. Filip died at a young age after getting ill on his way to New York, where he was also buried. Filip, Nils, and Sven followed in the footsteps of their father and grandfather and became sea captains. After disembarking, Nils became a farmer in Norrby. Sven also disembarked and was a farmer at Pellas for a while before moving to South Africa. Jens and Mery settled on their own farms near Pellas. Sally and Adele moved to their spouses’ farms in Lemland’s Norrby and Flaka. Ebba never married, remaining at Pellas. The youngest son, Peder, moved to the USA.

Erika and Carl Gustaf Lundberg

Writer Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s books Leo and Stora världen are based on and inspired by life at Pellas and in Granboda. Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s paternal great-grandmother, Erika Lundberg (“Kristina” in the novels), was born at Pellas in 1851. The tie between the Eriksson and Lundberg families was created when Erika from Pellas married Carl Gustaf Lundberg (born in 1839) from the Hansas farm in the same village. Carl Gustaf was a shipmaster and farmer – a great match for young Erika. Carl Gustaf owned shares of many vessels and was the captain of schooner Leo for a couple of years.

It is said that the marriage was happy. However, they both died at young ages, leaving behind five sons. The two youngest were only one year old when their mother died in 1885 and five years old when their father died in 1889. Their mother’s father, Erik Petter from Pellas, became their guardian. The second-oldest son, Erik, became a farmer at Hansas. He was only fourteen years old when he got possession of the farm after his father, Carl Gustaf, died. Erik was of the same age as his mother’s father, Erik Petter, had been when he got possession of Pellas.

Erika and Carl Gustaf’s oldest son, Carl, became a priest, Erik a farmer, the middle child Algot a teacher, and the two youngest, Gustaf and August, who were twins, became sea captains. These orphan boys succeeded in life, and four of them lived long lives. Sea captain August died at the age of 40 in Cádiz after becoming ill on one of his trips there. In the following excerpt from Leo, “Kristina” talks about wanting to marry “Carl Gustaf”.

Får man fråga vem lilla hjärtat går och tänker på? […] “Eskils Carl Gustaf!” Erik Petter har på tungan att ropa: “Det måste jag förbjuda!” för så ropar fäder när deras döttrar hittar någon som de vill ha. All erfarenhet säger att unga flickor inte kan välja med förstånd. Nu får han bita ihop käften om orden i sista ögonblicket. Eskils Carl Gustaf är sjökapten och arvtagare till en gård som är större än Simons.

Ulla-Lena Lundberg in her book Leo.