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November 26, 1843: The birth of Duluth pioneer George Spencer

On this day in 1843, future Duluthian George Spencer was born Westminster, Vermont. After attending high school in Boston, Spencer came to Duluth in 1870 to manage the Union Improvement Elevator Company. In 1880 he entered the grain shipping business with Melvin J. Forbes as Spencer & Co. In 1889, he and Forbes parted company as partners and he joined with Watson S. Moore to organize Spencer, Moore & Company, another grain brokerage company. Spencer was the first vice president and the second president of the Duluth Board of Trade—and served in that position twice more over the years. In 1884 a Great Lakes steamer was named for him. He left Spencer, Moore & Company in 1907 to replace Forbes, who had just died, as president of the Consolidated Elevator Company. He held the position until his death. Also civically minded, he spent time as the director of the American Exchange Bank, helped organized Pilgrim Congregational Church (before becoming a member of First Presbyterian Church), served as the first president of the Library Board, as director of the board of education, and as vice president of the Water and Light Board. Like most prominent businessmen of his day, he was a member of the Kitchi Gammi Club, Northland Country Club, and the Duluth Boat Club. After his death in 1915, the News Tribune wrote “If unbidden tears welling from the eyes of strong men testify to the greatness of a man in his life, then truly a man of wonderful character passed when George Spencer closed his eyes in the last, long peaceful sleep.”

Duluth pioneer George Spencer, dressed to play a role in a local theater production in the early 1870s. ((Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)