April 12, 1859: the first wedding in Duluth Township

On this day in Duluth Township in 1859, William Epler and Jennie Woodman became the first couple of European descent to be wed in Duluth Township, centered on the base of Minnesota Point. (The first such marriage in what is now Duluth occurred in Fond du Lac in 1834.) Epler, a surveyor from Illinois, arrived in Superior, Wisconsin, on August 5, 1856, “afoot and foot sore.” Epler had planned to live in Superior, but curiosity caused him to cross the bay where he met J. B. Culver, who at the time was recorder of deeds for St. Louis County. When he arrived, Epler wrote, “Duluth and Portland [a township located between today’s 3rd Avenue East and Chester Creek] had a population of a dozen or so. Duluth was confined to Minnesota Point.… [and] boasted a sawmill and two houses that I distinctly remember, perhaps two or three more small houses. One of the two was afterwards known as the Culver House. It stood on the east side of Lake avenue, close to the north side of the canal.” Epler called Culver’s home “the capital of St. Louis County. What little county business that needed attention was transacted in this house.” One item of country business conducted at the house was the marriage of Epler to Culver’s sister-in-law, Jane Abigail Woodman. Epler called her “Jennie” and described her as a “noble, lovely woman,” The Eplers left Duluth in 1860 to try their luck in the silver mines of Nevada where Jennie died on October 2, 1863.

An 1871 illustration of the home of Joshua B. Culver, which pioneer William Epler called “the capital of St. Louis County.”