Posts by David Ouse

Boxer-turned-hitman Norman Mastrian

Not all forgotten Duluthians were model citizens, as the life of Duluth-native Norman Mastrian attests—in fact, the former boxer was convicted of first-degree murder for his role in one of the most famous crimes in Minnesota history. The Mastrians were early residents of the Zenith City. Norman’s grandfather Pasquale Mastroianni (the family later shortened the…

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Hannes Bok

Hannes Bok was a difficult, obsessive, nearly friendless recluse who may have died of starvation. He is also considered to be one of the most talented science-fiction and fantasy illustrators of the twentieth century, and got his start in the business with the help of a young Ray Bradbury. But when Bok lived in the…

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Clifton Karhu

Clifton Wayne Karhu was born in Duluth on November 23, 1927, along with his twin brother, Raymond Arthur Karhu. Their parents, Arne H. Karhu and Anna (Lido) Karhu, were both painters. Arne was born in Michigan on August 11, 1902. Anna was born in the state of Virginia on October 15, 1898, and moved with…

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Bertha Lum

Bertha Bull was born in Tipton, Iowa, in May 1869. Her parents were Joseph W. Bull and Harriet Ann (Boynton) Bull. Joseph was an attorney and a Civil War veteran, having served as a 1st Lieutenant in the 46th Iowa Infantry. The Bulls also had sons Carlton B. and Emerson K. and a daughter Clara.…

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William Norman

Artist William Norman was born on September 7, 1904, in Duluth, the oldest of three children of Walter C. and Nellie A. (Parmenter) Norman. Louise D. was born on Feb. 22, 1908, but died at the age of five on Nov. 20, 1911. Alice M. was born on Oct. 21, 1909. Walter and Nellie remained…

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Feodor von Luerzer

Unless you are an art historian, you likely don’t know the name Feodor von Luerzer. Don’t feel bad—most art historians probably aren’t too familiar with his work either. But you may be already familiar with his work, especially if you’ve been to Duluth’s oldest operating restaurant. The Austrian-born landscape painter lived in the Zenith City…

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Henry C. Dworshak Jr.

Henry C. Dworshak Jr. was born on August 29, 1894, in Duluth. His parents, Henry Sr. and Julia, resided at 725 East Second Street. The Dworshak family arrived in Duluth in 1879 when Joseph and Maria, Henry Jr.’s grandparents, moved there from Appleton, Wisconsin. They had immigrated to the U.S. from Austria in 1866. Joseph…

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Hugh Fawcett

Duluth pioneer Hugh Fawcett was born into a Puritan family in England on August 7, 1862. His father was a successful building contractor, and Hugh took up that trade. In 1881 he moved to Toronto, Canada, where he worked as a carpenter for a year before moving to Duluth to do the same. In November…

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Mary Allen Hulbert

Mary Allen was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on May 26, 1862. Her parents were Charles Allen and Anjenett (Holcolm) Allen. Charles was a doctor of dental surgery. Both the Allen and Holcolm families could be traced back to early Colonial days in America. Dr. Allen moved his family to Duluth in the early 1880s,…

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Lillian Mosher

Lillian Avenue is somewhat of an enigma, a tiny one-block street in Piedmont Heights hosting only four houses. Its namesake, Lillian H. Mosher, was herself much more of an intriguing enigma, and remains so today. As we’ve mentioned before, most Duluth streets that are named for people were given those names by the original plat-developers,…

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Henry & Henrietta Nesbitt

Victoria Henrietta Kugler (pictured at the White House) was born in Duluth on March 23, 1874. Her parents were Ernest Kugler, born in Germany, and Victoria Kugler, who was born in Hungary. Ernest had come to the United States in 1851 when he was 14 years old. The Kuglers were early residents of Duluth, moving…

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Dorothy Arnold

Dorothy Arnold was born Dorothy Arnoldine Olson on November 21, 1917, in Duluth. Her parents were Victor Arnold Olson and Clara F. (Kolbak) Olson. Victor, who used the first name Arnold, was a brakeman for the Northern Pacific railroad. Clara was a Duluth native. Both of Dorothy’s parents’ families had been in Duluth since the…

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Millie Baker

Amelia Baker was born in Minnesota in December 1887. Her parents, either biological or foster parents (it’s not clear) were Alfred George Baker and Mary Ann Baker. Alfred was born in England in the 1840s. He immigrated to America around 1860 and fought in the Civil War on the Union side, serving in the 61st New…

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Hugh Cameron

Comedy actor Hugh Cameron’s family moved to Duluth from Canada around 1891 (the image above is a sketch of Cameron from 1893). He was born in Grenville, Argenteuil, Quebec, Canada, on May 15, 1877, according to an 1893 Duluth newspaper article, although his birth date is often reported as May 15, 1879. His full name at…

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Ira Cook

Ira Leigh Cook was born in Duluth on August 17, 1916. His parents were Barnett J. Cook and Lillian (Cohen) Cook. Barnett J. Cook was born in Russia in 1867 and immigrated to the United States in 1883, arriving in New York in September of that year. He came to Duluth around 1885 and soon…

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Tommy Cook

Thomas Mosely Cook was born in Duluth on July 5, 1930. His parents were Emanuel S. and Fern J. Cook, and they resided at 2321 East Eighth Street. Tommy had an older sister, Nancy, born on October 6, 1927. The Cook family had been pioneer merchants in Duluth. Tommy’s grandfather, Moses Cook, came to town…

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Marguerite De La Motte

Beatrice Marguerite De La Motte was born in Duluth on June 22, 1903. Her parents were residing in Superior, Wisconsin, at the time but within about a year had moved to Duluth, where her father, Joseph, practiced law. Her mother, Nellie, was a homemaker. They also had a son, Joseph, born in Duluth on May…

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Carol Dempster

Carol Dempster became a silent film actress and was a favorite of director D. W. Griffith. According to the 1900 Census, Carol was born in Minnesota in December of 1898. Later she often gave her birth date as December 9, 1900, and the place as Duluth. Her father, John W. Dempster, was born in Canada…

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Senta Erd

Soprano Senta Erd, who grew up in Duluth, led a successful operatic career for many years in Europe. She never forgot where she came from though, and regularly returned to visit friends in the Zenith City. Erd was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on August 6, 1889. Her parents were John B. Erd and Marie…

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Gil Fawcett

Gilbert George Fawcett was born in Duluth on February 2, 1893. He was the youngest of four children of Hugh and Emily. He grew up in a home at 126 West Palm Street in Duluth Heights and attended Lowell School. As a child, he performed recitations and both violin and piano solos and appeared in…

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Jane Frazee

Jane Frazee was born Mary Jane Frehse on July 18, 1915, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her parents were Walter Carl Frehse and Olga (Smith) Frehse. Jane had an older sister, Ruth, who was born on September 8, 1913, in North Dakota. The Frehse family moved to Duluth around 1917 and first lived at 3506 West…

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Sammy Gallop

Americans growing up in the 1940s and 1950s are probably familiar with some of the popular songs written by composer/lyricist—and Duluth native—Sammy Gallop. He wrote the lyrics for the songs “Maybe You’ll Be There” (1947),  which was recorded by Gordon Jenkins and was on the Billboard Best Selling Retail Records chart for 30 weeks in…

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Roger Grimsby

Roger Grimsby was born on September 23, 1928, in Missoula, Montana. As an infant, he was adopted by the Grimsbys. Rev. Oscar M. Grimsby was a Lutheran minister in Missoula. He and his wife, Ragna E. Grimsby, both grew up in Wisconsin and both were graduates of Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, which was where they…

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Sadik Hakim

In 1982, the music world lost a legend with the death of Thelonious Monk. At Monk’s funeral, thousands gathered to pay their respects. One of Monk’s former colleagues sat at the piano and played, according to legendary jazz writer Ted Joans, “a sad but soulful” version of Monk’s own “’Round Midnight.” That pianist was Duluth-native…

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Elinor Harriot

In February of 1932, actress Dorothy Gish was starring on Broadway in a George M. Cohan production of “The Bride the Sun Shines On.” On Saturday, February 6, she became ill with influenza and couldn’t perform. Elinor Harriot, a 22-year-old actress from Duluth who had a small role in the play, went on in Dorothy’s…

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Raymond Kark

Raymond Kark was born Reijo Emil Karkkainen on November 3, 1937, in Duluth. His parents were Emil Karkkainen and Ina (Niemi) Karkkainen. Emil was born in Finland and came to the U.S. about 1913, along with his wife Matilda, who was then 21 years old. They settled in DeKalb, Illinois, with his brother David, and…

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David Kahn

Nearly every baby boomer is familiar with the theme song to Leave it to Beaver, the still-popular television sitcom from the 1950s and 1960s, but few people know that the song was written by a Duluth native. Dave Kahn wrote that and other television theme music and probably hundreds of pieces of music used on…

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Peggy Knudsen

Growing up in Duluth, Peggy Knudsen dreamed of a life as an actress. After taking advantage of opportunities to learn her craft in amateur theater productions and local radio, she left the Zenith City and made a career for herself in radio, on the stage, and in movies and television. Peggy was born Margaret Ann…

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Don LaFontaine

In a world where a few top voice-over actors have successful careers making movie trailers, Duluth-native Don LaFontaine was known as “The King, “Thunder Throat,” and “The Voice of God.” When he died in 2008, he had recorded over 5,000 movie trailers and as many as 350,000 television and radio spots, and he was recognized…

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Don Marlowe

Don Marlowe was born Donald Paul Northrup in Duluth on October 23, 1919. His father, Fred Earl Northrup, was born in Ellsworth, Wisconsin, the Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin, on October 21, 1888. By 1910, Fred had moved with his family to Cloquet, Minnesota. Fred first got into the grocery business and later became president…

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Russell Mayberry

As a kid growing up in Morgan Park in the 1930s, Duluth-native Russell Mayberry dreamed of working in radio. Later dreams of becoming an actor didn’t come true, but Mayberry did find work in television in the early days of that industry in the late 1940s; he worked his way up to become one of…

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Philip Morris

Philip Morris was born Francis Charles-Philip Morris in Duluth on January 20, 1893. His parents were Alphonsus L. Morris and Celia Matteman. Alphonsus was born in Canada about 1865 and first appears in the Duluth directory in 1890, living at 706 East Fifth Street, but he moved frequently in the next couple of years. He…

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Lorenzo Music

Gerald David Music was born on May 2, 1937, in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were Harry Music and Sophie (Nessell) Music. Harry was a master mechanic and also a drummer. He moved the family to Duluth around 1943 for a job in the Walter Butler Shipyards in Superior. The family first resided at 912…

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Charles Nolte

Charles Miller Nolte was born in Duluth on November 3, 1923. The Nolte family played an important role in the early development and growth of Duluth. Charles’ grandfather, Henry Nolte, came to Duluth in 1882 when he was transferred from St. Paul by the St. Paul & Duluth Railroad. By 1884 he was buying land…

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Ralph Oxman

As a young boy, Ralph Oxman attended a concert in Duluth featuring a famous British cellist, and he fell in love with the instrument. After being mentored by Duluth’s foremost music maker, Oxman would enjoy a decades-long career playing with some of the finest orchestras in the country. Ralph Sanford Oxman was born in Duluth…

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Emily Schupp

The development of modern dance in the United States began in the 1890s with Loie Fuller and, most famously, in the early 1900s by Isadora Duncan. They were moving away from the strictures of ballet to a more interpretive style of dance. About the same time, Duluth-native Emily Schupp was beginning her fascination with dance.…

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Clara Stocker

Duluth-native Clara Stocker devoted her life to the study of music, art, and language and travelled the world to gain her knowledge—then returned after each trip to teach what she had learned to the people of Duluth. Stocker was born in Duluth on May 9, 1886, the daughter of Dr. Samuel and Stella Prince Stocker.…

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Adelaide Thurston

Duluthian Adelaide Thurston dreamed of being an actress from childhood, and through hard work and determination made a career for herself on the stage. Thurston was born Adelaide Belle Sawyer on October 7, 1871, in Red Wing, Minnesota. Her father Harridon S. Sawyer, a Civil War veteran from Pennsylvania, moved to Red Wing after the…

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Alexander Miles

Users of early elevators were responsible for opening and closing the doors manually, sometimes neglecting to close the doors and creating a hazardous situation with the shaft exposed. Duluthian Alexander Miles solved this problem by inventing an improved mechanism to open and close elevator doors automatically when the elevator arrives or departs the floor. This…

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Irving Copi

Irving Marmer Copilowish was born on July 28, 1917, in Duluth. His parents were Samuel B. and Rose (Marmer) Copilowish, who had emigrated from Russia. Samuel was born on Aug. 10, 1883, in Russia, and immigrated to St. Paul in 1894. Rose was born in Russia on Dec. 15, 1884. The family moved to Duluth…

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Robert Gilruth

Robert Rowe Gilruth was born in Nashwauk, Minnesota, on October 8, 1913. His parents were Henry Augustus Gilruth and Frances (Rowe) Gilruth. Henry was born on a farm near Davenport, Iowa, in 1882. He became an educator and, at the time of Robert’s birth, was superintendent of schools in Nashwauk. Frances was born in Michigan…

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Abraham Kaplan

Noted philosopher Abraham Kaplan was born in Odessa, Russia, on June 11, 1918, and moved to Duluth at the age of six with his family. His father was Joseph J. Kaplan, a rabbi, and his mother was Chava Kaplan. Joseph, who was born in Russia in 1883, immigrated to the U.S. in 1923. The rest…

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Richard Nolte

Richard Henry Nolte was born in Duluth on December 27, 1920. His parents were Julius and Mildred Nolte. Richard’s younger brother was Charles Nolte, who became a very successful actor and theater professor. The family lived in houses at 333 West Victoria Street and 331 Kenilworth Avenue in Duluth. Richard attended Washburn Elementary School and…

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Abbott Washburn

Abbott McConnell Washburn Jr. was born on March 1, 1915, in Duluth. His parents were Abbott McConnell Washburn Sr. and Ruby Leslie (Frisk) Washburn. His grandfather was Jed L. Washburn, an important figure in Duluth history. Abbott Sr. was a graduate of Harvard and the University of Minnesota Law School who became the vice president…

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Lois Dworshak

Lois Dworshak was born in Duluth on April 1, 1913. Her parents, Louis and Elizabeth Dworshak, were living in a house at 2129 West Second Street at the time. Her father Louis was a very successful photographer who had moved to Duluth from Appleton, Wisconsin, as a child. He owned the Dworshak Studio at 8…

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Albert Faille

Albert Faille was a quiet man, a trapper and prospector in Canada’s vast, unexplored north, but by the end of his life he had achieved relative fame as one of the most steadfast explorers of the South Nahanni River region in the Northwest Territories. Albert lived in Duluth for only a short time, but according…

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Clinton Russell

Anyone who has tried golfing knows it’s a difficult game to play well. Imagine a blind person trying to master the game. Native-Duluthian Clinton Russell, who lost his sight in his late twenties, not only relearned the game as a blind man but pioneered golf for the sightless. For years he was one of the…

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Gar Wood

In the 1920s and 1930s, Garfield Wood—known as “Gar” or the “Silver Fox of Algonac”—was probably the most famous powerboat racer in the world. Growing up in Duluth, he learned many of the skills that made him both a millionaire in business and a fierce and fearless competitor on the water. Garfield Arthur Wood was…

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Margaret Culkin Banning

Margaret Culkin (christened Marguerite by a French priest) was born on March 18, 1891, in Buffalo, Minnesota. Her parents were William Edgar Culkin and Hannah Alice (Young) Culkin. William was an attorney who served three terms as county attorney of Wright County and one term as a state senator from the 38th district. In 1897,…

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Sidney Buchman

Sidney Robert Buchman was born on March 27, 1902, in Duluth. His parents were Robert Buchman and Sarah (Zalk) Buchman. Robert was born in Russia in 1874, immigrated to the U.S., and settled in Duluth around 1895. He worked as a clothing merchant and for a while owned his own store, Buchman and Josephs, at…

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Margaret Ann Hubbard

Margaret Ann Hubbard could not be stopped. She graduated High School at 15, the Duluth Normal School at 17, and supported herself an her widowed mother while attending college. When she couldn’t find a job teaching, she turned to her talents and earned her living writing plays, stories for young adults, and mystery novels—and then…

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Ethel Ray Nance

As a young girl growing up in Duluth, Ethel Ray would sit on the rocks above her Central Hillside home and, watching ships head out of the harbor and onto Lake Superior, dream of traveling away from her hometown. When she did leave the Zenith City, she began an amazing life devoted to black activism…

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Jack O’Brien

Jack O’Brien grew up in Duluth in the early 1900s with a reputation as a natural leader and an athlete who was considered to be reckless and adventurous. His teachers said his Irish blood seemed to make him afraid of nothing. So people who knew him in Duluth weren’t surprised when he was selected to…

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Lauran Paine

Duluth native Lauran Paine was one of the most-published authors in the world. He was best known for his westerns, but he also wrote romance, mystery, and science-fiction novels and non-fiction books. He published over 1,000 books under about 80 different pseudonyms and in the 1980s was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records…

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Hickman Powell

Harbeson Hickman Powell was born in Duluth on November 27, 1900. His parents were Roger Sherman Powell, an attorney born in Maryland in 1859; and Rina (Hickman) Powell, born in 1868 in Pennsylvania. Hickman, or “Hick,” as he was later known by friends, was named for his maternal grandfather, Harbeson Hickman, a successful Pennsylvania farmer,…

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Winifred Sanford

Winifred Mahon Sanford (shown above in 1907) was born Winifred Balch Mahon in Duluth on March 16, 1890. Her parents were Henry S. Mahon, an attorney, and Helen (Brooks) Mahon; they were married on October 24, 1888. Henry was born in Ohio and had moved to Duluth from Detroit about 1886 to practice law. Helen…

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Wellyn Totman

Duluth native Wellyn Totman turned a youthful interest in films and entertainment and a talent for writing and promotion into a career in Hollywood as a successful screenwriter. The Totman family were early residents in Duluth. Everett Totman and his cousin Harry F. Totman were the first of the family to move to Duluth from…

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Claude Washburn

The Washburns were an important family in Duluth’s history, and author and Duluth-native Claude Washburn—although he lived much of his life in Europe—never lost his connection to the city. He used Duluthians he knew as models for his characters and used the Zenith City as a backdrop for some of his novels. Claude Carlos Washburn…

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