Clifford H. Oppell

Clifford H. Oppell represents the third generation of a pioneer family of Duluth. His grandfather was one of the very first merchants on the site of the modern city. Clifford H. Oppel is a member of the firm of Hale & Oppel, mechanics, who have developed a highly efficient service chiefly for the benefit of automobile repair and reconstruction, the headquarters of the firm being at 217 East Superior street.

His grandfather, Christian Oppel, who deserves a permanent record in Duluth as one of the first settlers, came here from Michigan when the country at the Head of the Lakes was wild and inhospitable, with only a few settlements here and there and without wagon roads. Most of the settlers living on the site of Duluth at that time made trips for supplies to Two Harbors, going on foot and carrying provisions on their backs. This trip required two days. Christian Oppel is said to have been proprietor of the first grocery store at Duluth. Later he took in his son Frank as a partner, and they continued a general mercantile business under the name Oppel & Son until the death of the grandfather.

Frank Oppel, father of Clifford Oppel, was born in Michigan and was a youth when he came to Duluth. He was active in the grocery business until his death, at a comparatively early age. The Oppel grocery store was first located on Superior street and Lake avenue and later at 115-117 Superior street. This firm was the first to ship goods into Duluth over the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad.

Clifford H. Oppel was born at Duluth January 18, 1889, a son of Frank and Frances (Mannheim) Oppel, and was only twelve years of age when his father died. He acquired a public school education, and at the age of fourteen began earning his own way. For a time he was employed at surveying, and afterward followed other lines of employment.

He acquired a thorough mechanical knowledge not only in mechanical lines but as an electrician, and finally set up a small business for himself repairing automobiles. After four years he became associated with George T. Hale in the firm of Hale & Oppel, and they have conducted a very flourishing business.

Mr. Oppel is affiliated with the Elks, the Duluth Gun Club, and is well known in social and public affairs. On May 9, 1912, he married Miss Gertrude Mueller. They have one daughter, Mary Frances, born June 28, 1919.


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