May 13, 1856: First post office in what is now Duluth opens in Oneota

On this day in 1856, the first post office so serve one of the original eleven townships that would become Duluth opened in Oneota with the Reverend Edmund F. Ely serving as its postmaster. Ely had first envisioned Oneota (Ojibwe for “the rock from which the people sprang”) in 1854 when the then-Superior resident rowed across the bay and landed near today’s Forty-Second Avenue West. He founded the township along with Henry Wheeler, Lewis Merritt, and Merritt’s son Napolean in 1856. The town was platted using a “carpenter’s square and level,” marking an area that today would stretch from about Thirty-Ninth to Forty-Seventh Avenues West, from the bay all the way up to Oneota Cemetery, just below today’s Skyline Parkway. Much of the Lower Oneota was demolished during the expansion of I-35 through Duluth between the 1960s and early 1980s. Read more about Duluth’s original townships and how the Zenith City became a city here.

The Lewis & Hepzibah Merritt Family. (Image: Grant Merritt)