Hanka Homestead Marker – rural Embarrass, MN
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member wildernessmama
N 47° 41.397 W 092° 12.221
15T E 559756 N 5282147
Quick Description: This historical marker tells about the Hanka Homestead and the Finnish immigrants who settled in this area.
Location: Minnesota, United States
Date Posted: 8/17/2014 4:17:27 AM
Waymark Code: WMM9D0
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lenron
Views: 0

Long Description:
This historical marker tells about the Hanka Homestead and the Finnish immigrants who settled in this area. The text reads:

Times were tough in the life of an immigrant farmer in northeastern Minnesota. Subsistence farming was a way of life that had gone on for centuries in Finland. Immigrants knew what was needed to survive in the harsh climate of the area. All family members old enough to work – men, women, and children - did their share in clearing the land and creating a homestead. Facing thin rocky soil and a short growing season immigrants in Embarrass planted potatoes which became the major cash crop of the farms, supplemented by hay, rye, oats, and wheat.

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 in 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 own claim was no larger than 40-80 acres.

At the age of 26, Gregorious Hanka married Mary Steirna. 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.

Finnish folk building form, arrangement and farming practices were etched in the memories of the immigrants as they worked on “proving up” their homestead claims by erecting small houses and clearing the land for cultivation.

The Hanka homestead includes ten buildings, four of which are made of logs. As was common in western Finland, the homestead formed a U-shaped courtyard consisting of the house, sauna, and a double-pen barn in the center of the farmstead. Open hay fields surround the farm with a log hay barn located about 500 feet southeast of the house. This illustrates the common practice by Finns of erecting several buildings, each with their own special function. The hay barn in the field, at a considerable distance from the house is also based on the Old World arrangement of farm buildings, with the added the benefit that if the barn went up in flames, the other buildings would not.

Architecturally, the Hanka farm buildings embody the traditional distinctive construction techniques used by the Finnish immigrants at the turn of the century. Chinkless log walls and double notched corners indicate a rich array of building skills borrowed from their native Finland. The logs used were often from the trees that did not have market value of other woods, such as the tamarack, or the pine and poplar found in nearby woods.

National Register of Historic Places
Marker Type:: Other

Visit Instructions:
A photo of the 'Marker' or 'Plaque' is required to identify the location, plus a picture of the 'Historic Site'.
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