February 13, 1886: First meeting of the Old Settlers Association

On this day in Duluth in 1886, a number of Duluth and Superior pioneers formed the Old Settlers Association of the Head of Lake Superior. George R. Stuntz, Horace Saxton, S. Wakelin, F. LaMargie, Waterman Green, Dr. Vespasian Smith, James D. Ray, E. W. Wakelin, C. L. Saxton, J. D. Howard, Geo. E. Wheeler, S. C. McQuaid, J. J. Hibbard, E. H. Hall, J. R. Carey, and J. G. Rakowsky gathered in Carey’s law offices. They elected Stuntz president and assembled a committee of five to draw up a plan for the organization. The committee decided that the group’s purpose was to “collect and record Vol. 1–20 the history of the country about the Head of Lake Superior, from its earliest settlement, and to gather and preserve the Indian legends prior to that time; to collect and preserve the facts and proofs pertaining to the settlement location and boundaries of the towns, villages and properties of importance within its jurisdiction.” The group met five days later at the Y.M.C.A. hall, then located on East Superior Street. Fifty-two pioneers arrived to join, and all but two of them had been in the region as early as 1857. In 1911 Walter Van Brunt became the organization’s secretary; he had been responsible for compiling much of the history the group had gathered by then. While the Settler’s Association never produced 20 volumes of history, it did produce 5 volumes of typewritten pages that in 1922 Van Brunt edited as a three volume Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3.

Walter Van Brunt. (Image: Duluth public Library)

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