Herman and Elisabeth Hallonblad were doubtlessly the most significant persons in Sortavala at the latter part of the 19th century. Both Herman and Elisabeth hailed from old and influential families. Elisabeth's maiden name was Siitoin, and she was the daughter of merchant Ivan Feodorovits Siitoin.
The mother of the Siitoin family passed away when Elisabeth was only three years old. As she had no siblings and as her father's time was mostly spent on business, Elisabeth's education was largely dependent on governesses. Herman Hallonblad's home life could not have been more different from Elisabeth's. In addition to his mother and bailiff father, Herman's family included seven siblings. The family stressed the importance cultural pursuits, and the children were happy to learn music, plays and dancing. Despite their differing backgrounds, Elisabeth Siitoin and the Hallonblad daughters became firm friends. This was also how Herman first got to know his future wife. The couple became engaged in 1848 when Elisabeth was 17 and Herman was 23, but the bride's father would not give his blessing to the marriage until three years later. After marrying, the couple moved to Käkisalmi, where Herman acted as mayor between 1852 and 1861.