George Sargent

George Sargent. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

George Sargent was born in Boston in 1825. After he married Mary Perin he served as a Union Army general in the Civil War and was later appointed federal surveyor for Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Sargent left Iowa for Duluth in 1869 to work as Jay Cooke’s financial agent and is credited as being the prime driving force behind Duluth’s early commercial success. He opened Duluth’s first bank on Superior Street, oversaw the construction of Duluth’s first hotels (Clark House and Bay View House), and helped finance St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Duluth Township’s first church. He and Mary also had a summer home on Minnesota Point, later the property of their son William. Sargent Creek, between Gary-New Duluth and Fond du Lac, is named for him.

General Sargent died in 1875 in Germany where he had gone for his health. Mary Sargent died in 1896.


George B. Sargent was a native of Boston, where he was reared and spent his early years. In 1836 he went to Davenport, Iowa, and engaged in the mercantile business for a number of years, but eventually moved from there to New York city, where he became identified with the banking business.

In 1869 he came to Duluth and engaged in the banking business under the name of George B. Sargent & Company, but which was closed out by him at the end of five years. He had banking interests throughout the state of Iowa, took an active part in public affairs while there, and was the originator of the Old Settlers’ Association. As a contractor he built the first church in Duluth, the Episcopal Church at Second avenue, West, and Second street, and also built the Clark House and the Bay View House. In many ways he was one of the builders of Duluth, having by his efforts contributed in a very definite way to the early growth and substantial foundation of this thriving community. He sustained close relations with the Jay Cooke banking house of Philadelphia, and during the years 1871 and 1872 went abroad three or four times, selling bonds the proceeds from which were to finance the Northern Pacific Railway for this banking company. George B. Sargent was a man of high attainments, a discriminating and thoughtful reader and a close observer of men and events. He was an authority on matters of finance, and held a high position in the circles in which he moved.


  • Dierckins, Tony and Maryanne C. Norton. Lost Duluth: Landmarks, Industries, Buildings, Homes, and the Neighborhoods in Which They Stood. Zenith City Press, Duluth, Minnesota: 2012.
  • Van Brunt, Walter, ed. Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922.
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