Before the railway was built, many kinds of people travelled on the Bothnian Coast Road. So-called dignitaries took lodgings at vicarages rather than at inns. There were also some disadvantaged people among the travellers. The story goes that the wife of one Lohtaja vicar was not particularly friendly with the beggars who came to the kitchen door – so they received no food from the vicarage. Then a maid started to work in the kitchen and, in Christian spirit, secretly gave food to the beggars. After the vicar’s wife died, she appeared in the maid’s dreams asking to have some of the gratitude that the maid had received from the beggars. The maid turned to the vicar, who advised her to give the late wife a bit of the gratitude, as the maid herself had received so much. Soon the vicar’s wife appeared again in the maid’s dream with the same request. The maid retorted, “Take it all if you want!” and was thereafter able to sleep undisturbed. (Himanka: Lohtajan pappila 200 vuotta)


During the term of Vicar Arthur Keckman, Lohtaja and the rest of Finland faced a serious famine in the second half of the 1860s. For example, in Lohtaja there was a lot of snow until late spring 1867, so sowing started later than normally. People and animals ran out of food, and typhoid fever was common. Flour was imported from Russia and mixed with bark and straw flour in the Lohtaja vicarage. Baked bread was distributed to hungry parishioners. (Himanka: Lohtajan Joulu 1978)


Arthur Keckman tells about the pharmacy of the vicarage: “The most common medicines were salt liquor, floral spirits and so-called devil dung liquor.” Keckman found that particularly salt booze was a good cure for many diseases. (Himanka: Lohtajan Joulu 1979)


Vicar Mikko Himanka was a history enthusiast, who also received the ecclesiastical title of rovasti. His wife Maj-Britt Källström-Himanka thinks back to the time when the family moved from a small deaconess residence in Kaarlela to the Lohtaja vicarage: “The last day of July 1973, we moved to a large, historical, traditional vicarage and parish. I had a feeling – but no knowledge – of how my dear husband would be ´married to the parish´. And me, too.” Maj-Britt tells about the various tasks of the vicarage, for which they also needed to use different services. “Mikko and I had tried to make the vicarage more accessible. We knew that the local people are frugal and warm-hearted. When asked, they are ready to serve the community.” Maj-Britt says she is used to people coming to the vicarage also otherwise and sitting on the bench, telling stories. (Interviewer: Helena Anttiroiko-Mehtälä)