John Drew, a successful businessman, was born in Connecticut in April 1817 and moved to Duluth in 1869. By the time he was elected mayor in 1876, Duluth was in a grave financial state. The city's debt was so large that in order to get any settlement, the city itself had to be dissolved and replaced by the village of Duluth. John Drew presided over this transition in 1877, and once the city had become a village he resigned his post as mayor. In 1879 Drew was again elected to office, this time as president of the village, and used his one year of office to help get Duluth back on its feet. He later enjoyed a successful furnishing and clothing business until his death on September 1, 1909. He had three children with his wife Emma H. Drew and was believed to be one of the oldest residents of Duluth when he died.
Peter Dean was born in New York City in 1828 and worked in a number of professions in several towns around Michigan before moving to Duluth. He was elected to office twice, once as Mayor of the City of Duluth (1875) and again as President of the Village of Duluth (1880). Though neither of his terms lasted more than a year, he was well-remembered as an eccentric and good-hearted man who cared deeply for the community and its financial troubles. When he died on January 4, 1884, he willed most of his property to Duluth itself, however it was organized at the time.
John B. Sutphin was the last mayor of the village of Duluth and the first mayor of the rebord city of Duluth. He was born in 1848 in New Jersey, and he arrived in Duluth at the age of 20. He was elected as village mayor in 1886 and reelected to the same office in the newly restored city of Duluth one year later. He presided over the construction of a new City Hall to celebrate the regained charter. During his time in office Sutphin began Duluth's sewer system and fire department in addition to improving city and harbor infrastructure. He was also involved in quelling citizen unrest with regards to labor issues. Sutphin died in 1908 of kidney failure; he was survived by his only son Robert and his wife Anna Louise Anderson.
The first mayor of Duluth, Joshua B. Culver, was born on Sept. 12, 1829 in Armenia, New York. Culver first came to Duluth in the 1850s when he surveyed and plotted the town site. He fought for the Union in the American Civil War, where he rose to the rank of full colonel. He returned to Duluth and became a civic leader, elected as Duluth's first mayor after the community initially became a city in 1870. Culver was elected to a second term as mayor in 1882, but on July 17, 1883, he died while visiting Buffalo, New York. In addition to his role as mayor, Colonel Culver served Duluth as its first clerk of court, postmaster, and superintendent of schools, and founded the first steel plant. His portrait was painted by J.W. Trussler in 1889.
Horace B. Moore, born in 1843, was employed with a lumber company before his stint in public office. In 1885 he was elected almost unanimously as the village mayor. Although his time in office was short, only one year, he enjoyed several successful accomplishments, including a new mail delivery system and the erection of named street signs. H.B. Moore died on December 2, 1906 with no known wife or children.
Josiah Davis (J.D.) Ensign was born in New York on May 14, 1833, and he earned a law degree and began practicing law in Ashtabula County, Ohio. He married Kate Jones, but after ten years of marriage she died in 1868. By 1870, Ensign had moved to Duluth, and in 1872 he married Rose Watrous. He served as Duluth's city and county attorney and wrote the seminal work on the history of the Duluth Harbor development in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1880, Ensign was selected to serve out Peter Dean's incomplete term as president of the village, and he was elected in his own right to the office in 1881. He succeeded in expanding the borders of the village of Duluth and was elected to a second (non-consecutive) term in 1884. After his terms he served as a District Court judge for thirty-two years, including work as the first "juvenile judge."
This oil painting by John Ruikka (April 16, 1880, to May, 1965) depicts the original Palkki gristmill, which was built on the Midway River and located on property of pioneer Erick Palkki. It was used from 1878 to approximately 1916, was built by pioneers to grind grain into flour, and was water powered. Please note that the original spelling, in Finnish, is "Palkki." The spelling as "Palkie" is an Americanized spelling of the name.
Marcus J. Davis, like many Duluth pioneers, was involved in the grain business and a stockholder in the Duluth & Winnipeg Railroad. He was not a native of Minnesota, being born in Oswego County, New York in 1841. He began his political career almost as soon as he came to Duluth, as he was elected alderman in 1874, the year he arrived. He was elected mayor in 1890 and began a crusade against the seedier aspects of the city, ordering saloons to close at 11pm and banning boxing. He also brought with him from New York plans for an aerial lift bridge, later built in Duluth. After his one term in office, Davis moved to Joplin, Missouri, though he was buried in Duluth.
Born on June 2, 1851 in Angelica, New York and well-educated in law, Charles E. d'Autremont, Jr. moved to Duluth on a whim in 1882 with his family. He soon began to make a name for himself, becoming county attorney in 1884 and running for state Attorney General in 1888. In 1892 d'Autremont was elected mayor and served two efficient but unremarkable terms. After his tenure he was heavily and successfully involved in mining throughout western North America. He died in Angelica, New York on July 25, 1919.
Sidney Luce, Duluth's second mayor, was born in Kingsville, Ohio, on September 19, 1819. He moved to the Duluth area in the mid-1850s and served as registrar for the U.S. Land Office. He built Duluth's first commercial structure, a warehouse at the foot of Third Avenue East at the lake shore, and helped found the city's first brewery. He was elected mayor in 1872, but resigned while still in office to return to Ohio. His portrait was painted by J.W. Trussler in 1896.
Trevanion W. Hugo was born in Boddinoc, Cornwall, England on July 29, 1848 but spent most of his youth in Kinston, Ontario. In 1881 he and his family moved to Duluth, and he soon became an alderman and president of the city council for eight years. In 1900 he was elected mayor by just five votes, and he held the office for four years. He was appointed mayor once again to finish Clarence Magney's term in 1920 but declined to run again in 1921. Outside of City Hall, he was a prominent member of the Masons, rising to the rank of grand chancellor of the supreme council of Scottish Rite Masonry. He died on February 27, 1923 of complications from influenza and was survived by two sons.
Captain Ray T. Lewis, born in 1940 in Brunswick, Maine, was a man of the sea. He sailed around the world several times before eventually moving to Duluth in 1886, where he became a successful real estate businessman. In 1894 he was elected mayor, and he is reported to have been a very strict mayor. After his tenure as mayor, Lewis served in the state legislature twice. On a trip to his hometown he was involved in a carriage accident, and he died of his injuries on July 21, 1912.
Roland D. Haven was born the son of a carpenter on October 17, 1866 in Sudbury, Vermont. In 1883 he moved to Minnesota and worked as a carpenter in Northfield, St. Paul, and Minneapolis before reolcating to Duluth in 1889 and becoming a factory foreman. From 1894 to 1908 he worked with several companies in the manufacturing, tug, real estate, and farm implement businesses. He served two terms as alderman (and council president) beginning in 1902, and in 1908 was elected mayor. He served two fairly unremarkable terms, and shortly after leaving office he moved with his wife Belle to Silver City, New Mexico, where he died on April 21, 1930.
Born on Oct. 20, 1844 in Schleswig, a Danish territory, Henry Truelsen worked in a variety of trades before entering political life. As president of the Duluth Board of Public Works, he led a battle for public ownership of the city's water supply at a reasonable price. This role contributed to his populist candidacy for Duluth mayor and was referenced in a plaque affixed to the portrait's frame which read "Henry Truelsen, mayor of Duluth, 1896-1900. Through whose untiring efforts Duluth obtained its water and gas plant. Presented to the city by Thomas A. Merritt. The portrait was painted by David Ericson (1869-1946), a renowned portrait and landscape artist who lived in Duluth. In 1910 Ericson was commissioned to travel to Zenith, North Dakota, Truelsen's new home, to paint the mayoral portrait. Truelsen died on Dec. 4, 1931, in Los Angeles, California.
Born in Camden, Ohio on October 11, 1867, William I. Prince was a very successful banker in Bessemer, Michigan. He was later elected mayor of Bessemer for three terms, after which he relocated to Duluth, Minnesota in 1902 to organize the City National Bank. In 1913 Prince became Duluth's first mayor under the "commissioner" model, which Prince helped to establish. His single term as mayor was unremarkable, after which he was heavily involved in the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. He died on November 11, 1941, leaving behind his wife Mary and two sons.
Clarence Magney is better known as a judge than a mayor. Born January 11, 1883 in Wisconsin, he was a successful lawyer until his election as Duluth mayor in 1917. During his stint as mayor, Magney worked to preserve and increase Duluth's parkland and parkways. He resigned from this office on September 15, 1920 in order to take a post as judge of the District Court, where he served for 23 years. He then served as associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1943-1953. He died on May 15, 1962, leaving behind his wife Lillian and their three children.
"Doc" John A. McCuen, born on July 17, 1864 in Guelph, Ontario, was better known as the St. Louis County Coroner than as mayor. Elected in 1912, McCuen was the last mayor under the old aldermanic system of government. He declined to run for a second term, since that would have meant serving under the new commissioner model with less power. He remained active in civic affairs until his death on November 4, 1927.
Andreas Mitchell Miller, born on July 16, 1839 in Copenhagen, Denmark, was the first mayor of the village of Duluth after the city lost its charter in 1877. As such, much of his two-year term was concerned with reassessment of Duluth's assets and activities. After leaving office in 1879, Miller moved to New York with his wife Anneliza and two children. He died there on May 22, 1917.
This painting by W. Gillette depicts the First Pera family home that was built in 1900 but destroyed by the 1918 Forest Fire. Also in the frame is the Pera family's home built after the 1918 Forest Fire. W. Gillette was a relative through marriage to John Pera's wife, Mabel Kaanta.