April 10, 1880: Death of Duluth pioneer Luke Marvin

On this day in Duluth in 1880, pioneer Luke Marvin died in the city he helped shape from its infancy. Marvin had first come to Duluth from St. Paul in 1861 and shortly thereafter was appointed registrar of the U.S. Land Office. It took an entire week for Marvin, his wife, and his five-year-old son (and namesake) to make the 150-mile trek up the Military Road from St. Paul to Superior City; Mrs. Marvin is considered the first woman to ever travel the road’s entire length. The Marvins made the treacherous journey because Mr. Marvin had invested in Oneota Township. He had started a correspondence with Oneota pioneer Reverend Edmund Ely in 1856 and a year later had one share of Oneota Township. While he remained in St. Paul, he looked after “matters and legislation concerning Oneota.” Before he left for Duluth, Reverend Ely warned him in a letter: “If you love your family, do not attempt to bring them over the old military road from St. Paul, Mrs. Marvin and the children could never make the trip. It is hard travel for a strong man.” Obviously, they made it. In 1869 Marvin and John Hunter helped to found Duluth’s First Presbyterian Church, and the pair became that institute’s first two elders. For many years he served as Assistant Auditor of St. Louis County. At his death Marvin was serving as Duluth’s “President Postmaster,” a position he had held since 1875; his job was handed over to his son Luke A. Marvin, a decision the Lake Superior News said “gives very general satisfaction.” The Ashland Press called the elder Marvin “one of the best men of Duluth” and noted that “the loss of Mr. Marvin will be severely felt.” The St. Paul Globe wrote “Mr. Marvin was a man of great public spirit, and always active and foremost in promoting public interests. He was generous to a fault, and utterly unselfish in his devotion to religious interests, and also to the locality where he lived. He was straightforward, never deceiving any one in the slightest degree. His loss is especially severe to the community where he resided as well as to the family.” Before the street names on Minnesota Point were converted to numbers, Oak Street was renamed “Marvin Street” in his honor; it is now 9th Street South.