Aho, John and Ellen

John Aho and Ellen Lehto were both born in Oulu, Finland, John in 1890 and Ellen in 1895. They met in Minnesota, married soon after that, and in 1914 or 1915 they left for Alaska and first arrived in Knik, where their first of four children, Toivo, was born. They moved to Anchorage in 1919, and daughter Helen was born there that year, followed by Stanley in 1921 and Betty in 1923.

John and Ellen Aho divorced in 1925. Ellen Aho found a job in Curry, Alaska on the Alaska Railroad. All of the children were sent to McCain's Ranch in Anchorage, a boarding home for children whose parents were working out of town. In Curry, Ellen Aho met and married Bill McGettigan, a section foreman for the railroad. McGettigan was an Irish immigrant who had come to the United States in 1907 and arrived in Alaska in 1910. About 1930, the McGettigans moved to Anchorage, bought a home at Sixth Avenue and K Street, and were able to bring the family back together. Bill and Ellen McGettigan had one daughter, Mary Jane.

The oldest Aho son, Toivo, became a well-known bush pilot and operated his own company, Aho Flying Service. He married Evelyn Bowen, and they had seven children, one of whom died at an early age. The others were John, Terry Ann, Michael, Judy, Chris, and Tina. Toivo was killed in a plane crash in the Yukon Territory in 1948.

Helen Aho married Ed Manthey, and they had two children, Larry and Naomi. Stanley Aho married Vivian Vandelac in 1954, and they had three children, Doris Ellen, Thomas, and Ronald. (Thomas died by accidental drowning in 1997.) Betty Aho married Pete Anderson and they had no children. Mary Jane McGettigan married Angelo Hernandez and they had four girls, Kathy, Diane, Linda, and Margaret.

Bill McGettigan died in 1954; John Aho died in 1976; and Ellen Lehto Aho McGettigan died in 1989. Helen Manthey died in 1988 and Betty Anderson died in 1990.


No biographical sketch for John and Ellen Aho was published in John Bagoy’s Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001). See also the Aho family file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 1, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK. Photographs courtesy of the Aho family.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited slightly by Bruce Parham, May 10, 2016. 

Preferred citation:  Mina Jacobs, ed., “John and Ellen Aho,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501, or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, www.cookinlethistory.org. Copyright © 2017 by Cook Inlet Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.