C. R. Magney

C. R. Magney. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

The mayor and executive head of the municipal government of Duluth from 1917 until 1920 was C. R. Magney, who for about ten years preceding his election to this post was a successful young lawyer of the Duluth bar. He resigned as mayor September 15, 1920, and was elected judge of the District Court in November, 1920, for a term of six years.

Mr. Magney was born January 11, 1883, in the town of Trenton, Pierce County, Wisconsin. His father, Rev. Jonas Magney, was a native of Sweden and was brought to America in 1858 by his parents, who located at Center City, Minnesota, on a farm. Jonas Magney prepared himself for the profession of the ministry in the Lutheran Church, and made that his life occupation. He was a church builder, organizer and preacher at many points in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He died in Minnesota in 1910.

C. R. Magney is the eldest in a family of five children, all of whom are still living. He acquired his early education in the public schools of South Stillwater, Minnesota, and took his literary course in Gustavus Adolphus College at St. Peter, where he graduated A. B. in 1903. He followed that by a law course in Harvard University, from which he holds the degree LL. B. granted him in 1908. His work as a lawyer brought him rapid advancement and favorable recognition in Duluth, and on April 3, 1917, two weeks before America entered war with Germany, he was elected to the post of mayor. He gave a vigorous administration of municipal affairs throughout the critical period of the war, and showed every qualification for heading the government of one of the best cities in the northwest.

Mr. Magney is a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church of Duluth.

On April 26, 1911, he married Miss Lillian C. Lundgren, whose parents were natives of Sweden. They have one son, John.

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Clarence Magney | Duluth Mayor 1917 – 1920
Most Duluthians know Clarence Magney as a judge, not as a mayor. Magney was born the son of Swedish immigrants in Trenton, Wisconsin. His family moved near Stillwater, Minnesota, when he was young and he later attended Gustavus Adolphus college in St. Peter. He came to Duluth in 1908 after finishing Harvard law school and was quickly recognized for his sharp legal mind, which propelled him into the mayor’s office in 1917 as the U.S. entered the war in Europe. While in office, Magney and Finance Commissioner Phillip J. Phillips revived an 1892 idea to build a tunnel under the Duluth Ship Canal; they considered it the most reasonable plan for replacing the prematurely obsolete Aerial Transfer Bridge. While that effort failed, historians wrote that while in office, Magney “gave a vigorous administration of municipal affairs throughout the critical period of the war, and showed every qualification for heading the government of one of the best cities in the northwest.” Despite his success, magney would not complete his term in office, resigning as mayor September 15, 1920, to run for District Court Judge. He won the election less than two months after he left city hall and remained a judge for decades, serving as associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1943 to 1953. Magney is the namesake of two parks, Judge C. R. Magney State Park in Cook County, Minnesota, north of Grand Marais and Duluth’s Magney-Snively Park near Spirit Mountain, named for the judge and Sam Snively, Magney’s successor in the Mayor’s office.

Sources:

  • Van Brunt, Walter, ed. Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922.
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