Only five years since the Keweenaw Copper rush first began, a group of speculators invested in mineral rights atop the steep hillside along Portage Lake and formed the Quincy Mining Company. For the next decade work continued sporadically at the mine without success. It wasn’t until 1856 – with the discovery of the copper rich Pewabic Lode – that the mine’s success was finally assured. With success came a massive influx in people to the area, prompting the mine in 1859 to sell off plats of land along the base of the hill to arriving merchants and businessmen. This new community became known as the city of Hancock.
In the beginning Hancock was nothing more than an oversized mining town, owned and controlled by the Quincy Mine. Quickly, however, the town outgrew its copper masters and by 1863 had established an independent municipal government. For the next several decades Quincy continued to platt and sell off more land as demand warranted, increasing the size of the city substantially. By the turn of the century it had become the second largest city in the region – just behind Houghton.
A large amount of Hancock’s growth was due to Finnish immigrants, who moved to the area to work at the Quincy Mine. The regions similarity in topography and weather to their homeland prompted many of these immigrants to remain in the area, buying up recently cleared land atop Quincy Hill for farming. In 1896 the Finnish Lutheran Church established Suomi Academy in the city to fulfill the spiritual and educational needs of those Finnish residents. It became a fully accredited college in 1924, and exists still today as Finlandia University.