Kivestö forest ranger farm

Kivestönpolku Lestijärvi


The forest district of Lestijärvi was established in 1860, comprising the state lands and forest ranger districts located in Kannus, Toholampi and Lestijärvi. In the Lesti forest district, there were several forest ranger farms and crown crofts. The forest rangers who lived in them and maintained them were in charge of supervising the use of crown forests and intervening in misuses. The Lesti district rangers are said to have been fair-minded and taken into account local people’s needs. They would give, for example, bread, flour, grain and potatoes to people in need of help. Many of the rangers were also known as rather unusual personas. When encountering actual illegalities, they had to strictly follow the instructions they had received.


Fredrik Juhonpoika Kivestö, aka Veelu (1864–1940) served as a forest ranger in the house that had been officially nominated as a forest ranger farm already in the 1860s. As was usual with forest ranger farms, Kivestö was located in a remote area, far from the parish village of Lestijärvi. Smoking his pipe, bearded Veelu would circulate his district wearing clothes made of coarse homespun cloth and shoes lined with sedge. He was known as a versatile, helpful and religious man. He used to give bread to the poor, practise folk healing and nurse sick animals. He is also said to have had supernatural skills. Later in life, Veelu and his wife Marjaana moved to the village and continued farming there, and their son Johan Emil, aka Eemeli, continued as a forest ranger on the Kivestö farm. In autumn 2018, the foundations of the buildings were still clearly visible.




Legend has it that when a farmer from Perho had gone missing and drowned in a stream one autumn, Veelu had been able to explain how the accident had happened. The following spring, the body was found in the place Veelu indicated. (Lindholm 1995, 340–341)


According to another story, Veelu had been walking towards the village when he met the Devil himself. The Devil had intended to touch Veelu, but Veelu claimed he was a clergyman. The Devil stepped aside and screeched nastily. In Veelu’s words, the Devil was a remarkably ugly creature. (Mäkitalo 1989)


Väinä Laakso (1992) talks about the “paralysis water” that Veelu used to prepare, which did not always work in the way he intended. Veelu’s brother Antti had a foreign object in his eye, and Veelu treated it with the aforementioned medicine. “Antti could not go to see a doctor because there was nobody to take him there. Veelu just washed the eye with the paralysis water and said it would soon heal. But the eye did not heal and started to fester instead. Veelu’s son, a forest technician, happened to come by and brought Antti to see a doctor. Even the doctor could not help and sent Antti to an eye clinic in Oulu. Antti went there, but the eye had already decomposed inside his head. It was cleaned and the eye was sewn closed. Antti bemoaned not having been sent to the doctor earlier, but said that there was no reason to lament since there were many one-eyed people as well.”




Stone footings of the Kivestö farm in autumn 2018



Stone footings of the Kivestö farm in autumn 2018


Original trees of the Kivestö courtyard, autumn 2018


Veelu and his family (photo archive of Aimo Itäniemi)


Veelu (1864–1940) (photo archive of Aimo Itäniemi)