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May 8, 1869: Henry “Typhoid” Truelsen arrives in Duluth

On this day in 1869, future Duluth mayor C. Henry Truelsen arrived in Duluth from Superior on a ferry boat and discovered that “Superior Street was only a country road that had been cut through. The hillside forest ran right down to the street, or road, and when a settler wished to erect a cabin, he was compelled to clear away the forest where now stand magnificent houses. The street was up and down, like a billowy sea, and later-day grades were made by filling in the hollows.” A native of Germany, Truelsen tried his hand at a number of trades, including a fishery, before opening a grocery store in 1886. About the same time he became involved with politics. A Democrat, Truelsen served as city alderman, county sheriff, and president of Duluth’s Board of Public Works. Truelsen was elected mayor in 1896 as the “people’s candidate,” ensuring Duluth would have safe drinking water—without overpaying for it—and earning him the nickname “Typhoid Truelsen.” He made good on his promise by building the Lakewood Pump House. After losing the 1900 election, Truelsen moved to North Dakota and found success in the coal mining industry. He died at the home of his daughter in Los Angeles, where he had gone to improve his health, in 1931. After his death, one person eulogized him by saying Truelsen “first taught people of Duluth how to take control of their city government and administer it in their own interest.” Read a biography of Mr. Truelsen here and a history of Lakewood Pump House here.

C. Henry “Typhoid” Treason’s mayoral portrait by Duluth artist David Ericson. (Image: Duluth Public Library)