The Chapel’s Story
The Upper Peninsula is full of little towns and bergs that have long been lost or forgotten. These bergs were once a flurry of activity back when the copper mines and timber companies were thriving. Jacobsville is one such community that became a quarry and major provider of red sandstone.
In 1856 a group of Finnish Immigrants banded together to organize the Jacobsville Finnish Lutheran congregation.
A young man by the name of Leander Sinko, of Lohtaja, Finland, arrived in the United States in 1880 seeking work and new opportunities. After moving to the Upper Peninsula, Leander met an auburn-haired girl named Maria Niemi, also a native of Finland. Upon proposing to Maria, Leander heard the young woman declare to him, “I want to be married in church.” Leander, not to be deterred by the fact that there were no churches in the area, simply responded, “I’ll build one.”
Leander Sinko held true to his promise. In 1888 he completed the little chapel in the woods, and on December 22, 1889, Leander Sinko and Maria Niemi were the first to be married in the newly constructed Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jacobsville. Presiding over the marriage ceremony was Dr. J. K. Nikander, the founding father of the Suomi Synod and Suomi College (now Finlandia University in Hancock, MI).
When demand for the Jacobsville sandstone dried up, the quarry closed and the community of Jacobsville became little more than a memory.
In 1952, the church became the property of Gloria Dei, and in 1975 efforts began to restore the old chapel. With the help of local congregations, interested individuals, and Lutheran Brotherhood, the Jacobsville Chapel received some much needed attention, and in 1987 it became part of the Michigan Historic Site registry.
Since then, Sunday evening vespers services have been held during the summer.