October 23, 1902: Death of George Stuntz, Duluth’s first “permanent settler” 

On this day in Duluth in 1902, the legendary George Stuntz—the first citizen of Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota, whose name is mentioned in stories from the construction of the Vermillion Trail to the discovery of iron ore to bringing Jay Cooke to Duluth to the digging of the ship canal—died at the red Cross Hospital in West Duluth of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 82 and had suffered a stroke months earlier that left him partially paralyzed. He and his wife Mary had been living at Munger Terrace at the time. His funeral services were held at the Oneota Methodist Church and pall bearers included fellow pioneers John Rakowsky, Henry Truelson, Henry F. Ely (son of Edmund Ely), Superior’s Robert McLean, Judge John Carey, and Leonidas Merritt. The Duluth News Tribune reported that at the service, Reverend E. K. Copper noted Stuntz’s legendary “hardihood and daring” and proclaimed, “Let a monument be erected by the people at the Head of the Lakes to this man who did so much to lay open to view the resources which this section had to offer. His sacrifice will be remembered always in the hearts of the citizens of Duluth, Superior, and the adjacent territory.” Rev. Dr. Long, a Stuntz family friend from Pennsylvania, also “advocated for the erection of a shaft in honor of George Stuntz and suggested the value of local history of a collection of whatever incidents of biography of the dead man’s career could be accumulated.” But Duluth didn’t build such a monument. In fact, for more than 35 years his grave in Oneota Cemetery was left unmarked. In 1936 the issue that Stuntz’s grave remained unmarked was taken up by the Head of the Lakes Old Settler’s Association, which Stuntz himself had helped establish in the 1880s. Two years later they placed a simple yet elegant stone at the head of Stuntz’s grave. It reads “In Memory of George R. Stuntz / 1820 1902 / Surveyor / Arrived Here In 1852.” Read more about this remarkable man here.

The grave marker of George Stuntz in Duluth’s Oneota Cemetery. (Image: Ava Francesca Battocchio)tuntz