Mr Juho Niskanen was born in Finland (possibly Kannonkosken, Kuhaniemessä, Räihän) around 1870 1) but other details about his family and early life remain uncertain.
He was married around 1890 to Anna Leena Ruuskan (b. circa 1873) and they had several children. Having spent around three years living in the USA Juho had returned to Finland but with intentions of returning and bringing his family with him.
He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a third class passenger (ticket number STON/O 2. 3101289, £7 18s 6d) and was apparently travelling with Juho Strandén (they travelled on sequential tickets) with whom he shared a cabin. He was also acquainted with Eirikk Jussila. Niskanen was travelling from Kivijärvi, Finland to Boston, Massachusetts.
After the collision Strandén woke Niskanen who in turn went to and warned Eirikk Jussila of the situation. Together with Strandén he reached boat deck where, according to their account, they assisted with the loading of one of the lifeboats. Niskanen and Strandén were rescued, probably in lifeboat 9.
After reaching New York Niskanen made a claim of £50 for his lost luggage.
Juho Niskanen, who became known as John in America, encountered hard times in years after the disaster; unable to find stable employment it became impossible to finance his family to join him in his new home. Alone and in poverty it appears his mental health later suffered. He settled in Cazadero, California and worked as a rancher of the McCune Mill District, living a lonely and reclusive life in a redwood cabin eight miles up the Fort Ross Road in Cazadero and with nearby residents only recalling him travelling to town to purchase supplies.
Niskanen had at least one brush with the law: in August 1924 he was charged with threatening to kill his neighbour Mrs Emily Jenner. Mrs Jenner alleged that Niskanen had started several fires and that she had heard several shots the night before. The following day she went to his home to confiscate his rifle but he returned unexpectedly and caught her in the act at which point he reportedly drew a knife to her. The case was dismissed and charges dropped in early September 1924 and he was released from jail to return to his home in Cazadero.
Reportedly despondent over his failure to strike gold and perhaps in a fragile mental state already, Juho Niskanen set fire to his cabin on 13 August 1927. Neighbours had attempted to subdue the flames but it was too late; once the flames had died Niskanen's charred body was discovered, with a rifle and an exploded shell in the chamber close by. Whilst his remains were too burnt to initially identify any bullet wounds, a later inquest determined he had shot himself.
Described as being 60 years of age at the time of his death, Juho Niskanen was buried in Oddfellows Cemetery, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, California.
His widow Anna remained in Finland where she died in 1943.