January 13, 1920: Death of Marion Fitger

On this day in Duluth in 1920, Marion Fitger—the youngest child of brewer August Fitger and his wife Clara—died suddenly at the family home at 629 East Sixth Street, where she had been born in 1893. She had been ill for just a few days, suffering from tubercular meningitis. Marion Fitger, according to the Duluth News Tribune, was “very popular among Duluth’s younger set.” Her name appeared in the paper’s society pages more than fifty times during her brief life, often for the parties she hosted or the events she coordinated for the King’s Daughters, which evolved into the Junior League of Duluth shortly after her death. She had been educated the National Cathedral School in Washington, D. C., and Miss Chamberlain’s School in Boston, where she focused on studying music. In 1905 she and her brother Arnold spotted a “young” black bear in a tree near their home; they captured the bruin with a lasso, and newspapers said they intended to keep it as a pet. Fitger’s historian Coopen Johnson writes that the loss of Marion devastated August Fitger. Her death came the morning after the brewery he purchased in 1882 was destroyed by fire and just a few days before Prohibition became the law of the land. He recorded the following in his diary in his native German: “Now bow before the unchanging law of the way of things and pull yourself up to your old manhood to master your pain. Learn to rid yourself of the thought that you are only destined to happiness. And learn to bear your pain for the world is full of pain.” The Fitgers buried their daughter in the family plot in Milwaukee, after which August Fitger spent less and less time in Duluth and more time looking after another business interest in California. Zenith City Press is working on a book about the historic breweries of Duluth and Superior, due in stores September 2018. In the meantime, you can read a brief overview of Duluth’s beer brewing history here.