Frank John Nixon

Frank J. Nixon. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

Frank John Nixon has been a resident of Duluth more than thirty years. In a business way his name is chiefly associated with the building up of one of the large and important wholesale houses of the city, the Paine & Nixon Company, of which he is president and treasurer.

Mr. Nixon was born at Fort Scott, Kansas, June 5, 1870, a son of Samuel and Clara Selina (Matthews) Nixon. His father was born in the historic locality of Paisley, Scotland, and came to Connecticut when about fourteen years of age. Later he went to Kansas and still later to Canada, where for many years he was a manufacturer operating plants in Three Rivers and Chesterville, Ontario, and on December 1, 1889, took his family to Duluth, where he is still living, as are his three children.

His wife passed away at Duluth, March 13, 1919.

The oldest of these children, Frank John Nixon, though born in Kansas, grew up in Canada and acquired a common school education at Three Rivers. In his early youth he worked for his father as a clerk and later as a bookkeeper at Chesterville, and for about three years was employed as timekeeper and billing clerk for the James Smart Manufacturing Company at Brockville, Ontario. He was not twenty years of age when he came to Duluth with his parents at the end of 1889, and soon afterward was employed as assistant cashier in the retail department of the well known hardware house of Chapin-Wells, now the Marshall- Wells Company. Leaving this firm, he became storekeeper with the Marinette Iron Works for about four years, following which he was assistant storekeeper and timekeeper at Iron Junction, Minnesota, for the D. M. & N. Railway for several years. This was followed by a short period as a bookkeeper, and from 1893 to 1899 he was a salesman for builders supplies.

Out of this varied experience he acquired the knowledge, the acquaintance and the capital that enabled him to organize the Paine & Nixon Company, a close corporation, which was established in January, 1900, for the purpose of handling all kinds of builders’ supplies, including glass, paints, brick and specialties. The business has had a most substantial and satisfactory growth and development during the past twenty years, and the house is one of the prominent ones in the wholesale district.

The firm uses about twenty-five thousand square feet of floor space at 310-312 West Michigan street. The trade territory is northern Minnesota, North Dakota, northern Wisconsin and northern Michigan. Since January 1, 1920, the company has confined its lines exclusively as distributors of glass and paint.

The original officials in 1900 were Asa Paine, president and treasurer; P. C. Schmidt, vice president, and F. J. Nixon, secretary and manager.

Mr. Paine died about four years ago and was succeeded by Mr. Nixon as president and treasurer, the other officers being E. F. Achard, of Ottawa, Illinois, vice president, and C. S. Nixon, secretary.

Mr. Nixon has other business interests in Duluth and Minnesota. He is a member of the Commercial Club, Duluth Builders Exchange, Rotary Club, Duluth Boat Club, United Commercial Travelers, and affiliated with the Masons, Knights of Pythias and Elks, and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mr. Nixon’s first wife was Nancy Brown Morrow, of Towanda, Pennsylvania. The one child of this marriage is Harriet Morrow. Later 1069Mr. Nixon married Ida Evelyn Callahan Park, who died April 6, 1919.

The one son of this marriage is Frank John, Jr. Mr. Nixon has also adopted the three sons of his wife by her former marriage, William, Elmer and James.


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