Posts by Tony Dierckins

Cross River

Missionary Frederic R. Baraga, born in Yugoslavia in 1797, came to the United States in 1830 to devote his life to the American Indians of the Upper Great Lakes and was named Bishop of Upper Michigan in 1853 (Baraga, Michigan, is named for him). But before that, he had a little trouble in a canoe.…

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Brief History of Duluth, 1856–1939

Boom, Bust, Boom Two years before the Treaty of 1854, George Stuntz had pulled up stakes in Superior, made his way to Minnesota Point, and driven them back down, becoming Duluth’s unofficial first resident of European descent. He wasn’t alone for long. With the treaty in place, mining speculators hoping to make it rich pulling…

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Duluth’s Development, 1856–1939

The city we now know as Duluth began developing in 1856, after the 1854 Treaty of LaPointe opened land north of Lake Superior for settlement by Americans of European descent. Superior, Wisconsin, pioneer George Stuntz famously set up the first structure—a trading post on the southern end of Minnesota Point—four years earlier. Between 1856 and…

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Important Dates in Duluth History

1854 | 1854 Treaty of La Pointe opens settlement on the “Minnesota side” of Lake Superior. 1854 | Townsite surveyed and platted by Richard Relf (unofficial: anecdotal information provided by pioneer James Bardon). 1855 (March 3) | Minnesota’s Superior County is renamed St. Louis County. 1855-1856 (winter) | Township of Duluth at the base of…

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Duluth’s Mayors

March 6, 1870: Duluth becomes a City 1. J. B. Culver, 1870 2. Clinton Markell, 1871 3. Sidney Luce, 1872 4. Vespasian Smith, 1873 5. Peter Dean, 1875 6. John Drew, 1876 March 4, 1877: Duluth’s city charter expires and the community becomes the “District of Duluth” October 22, 1877: Community becomes “Village of Duluth”…

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Duluth & St. Louis County, Minnesota: Their Story & People

by Walter Van Brunt (1921) In 1921 Duluth pioneer Walter Van Brunt completed editing a three-volume history of Duluth and St. Louis County from 1856 to 1921 called Duluth & St. Louis County, Minnesota: Their Story & People. The book was published in three volumes by the American Historical Society of Chicago and New York.…

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The History of Duluth & St. Louis County, Minnesota

by Dwight Woodbridge and John Pardee (1910) In 1910 C. F. Cooper & Co. of Chicago published The History of Duluth & St. Louis County, Minnesota, by Dwight Woodbridge and John Pardee. This book covers the history of Duluth spanning from the days of the voyageurs through 1910 and includes a year-by-year account of Duluth’s…

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African Americans in Duluth

Duluth’s earliest African American residents were also part Ojibwe. In the 1850s, seven of Duluth’s eleven African American residents were members of the George Bonga family. Bonga was the son of Pierre Bonga, a free Black fur trader, and his Ojibwe wife. Bonga, who legend says was born on Minnesota Point in either 1799 or…

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Duluth’s Immigrant Patterns 1880–1920

During the 1880s waves of immigrants began to pour into Duluth and would continue doing so for the next thirty years. Some were recruited for specific skilled jobs, such as Norwegian and Swedish fisherman. Some were well-educated western Europeans—Protestant English, Scots, and Germans, mostly—and came to Duluth, as did Yankees from the eastern U.S., with…

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Immigrant Sentiment in the 1890s

Many in the “servant class,” who tended to the needs of the wealthy, were Irish Catholic. Anti-Catholic sentiment ran high among Prohibitionist Protestants of the day, who considered the Irish Catholics prone to alcoholism. The fact that (for the most part) the Protestants were wealthy and the Catholics were not, further divided the two groups.…

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