Finnish immigrant farmers began settling regions of St. Louis County in the late 1800’s. They purchased their homesteads from private properties and through the provisions of the Federal Homestead Act of 1862. Many Finnish immigrants moved to the rural homesteads to escape poor wages and unhealthy conditions in the mines on the Vermilion and Mesabi Iron Ranges. Others took up life as backwoods farmers for ethnic, political or religious reasons and the desire to own their own land, even if one’s claim was no larger than 40-80 acres.
At the age of 26, Gregorius Hanka married Mary Stierna. Together they purchased an 80 acre parcel of land from the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad. While staying with neighbors, the Hankas erected a one-room log house built of logs short enough for one man to lift and tight enough to survive the cold winds of winter. By 1915, several other buildings were built, including a sauna, hay barn, and cattle barn.