April 22, 1894: Birth of Elisabeth Mannering Congdon

On this day in Duluth in 1894, Elisabeth Mannering Congdon was born to Chester and Clara Congdon. She was the sixth of their children and the first born in Duluth, the family having moved to the Zenith City from St. Paul in 1892. Elisabeth and her brother Robert were the only Congdon children to spend part of their childhood at Glensheen, the family estate completed in 1909. Like her sisters before her (and her adopted daughters after), she attended Dana Hall, a private school for girls in Massachusetts. She entered Vassar College in 1915, but returned to Duluth after her father’s death the next year to help her mother run the family estate—and never returned to college. She dedicated herself to her mother and community service (her volunteer efforts could fill a book) and drove a Stutz Bearcat painted “Congdon green.” According to author Gail Feichtinger, “those who knew Elisabeth well said she didn’t give the impression of belonging to one of the richest families in town. She shunned fancy clothes, preferring instead to wear simply styled, fine cotton dresses…. According to a friend, Elisabeth ‘liked to do things for people, but she was very natural with people—they never thought of her as hoity-toity.’” She never married, although one former beau—Fred Wolvin, son of Captain August Wolvin—left her money in his will to buy a ring to commemorate their friendship. She purchased a diamond-and-sapphire dome ring she wore faithfully on her little finger until she died, murdered in her own bed on June 27, 1977. Weeks later, the ring was found in the possession of her eldest adopted daughter, Marjorie Congdon LeRoy Caldwell.

Elisabeth mannering Condgon ca. 1912. (Image: Glensheen Historic Estate)