Zar Scott

Zar D. Scott was a lumberman who hailed from Michigan.  As a young man he was involved in a federal government survey of the Great Lakes as well as some railroad surveys.  He moved to Minneapolis in 1876 to take a position with a lumber company there.  In 1880, Scott relocated to Duluth and started a lumber business with D. A. Holsten—the Scott & Holstein Co., which was active for ten years.  By 1890 he dissolved that partnership and had entered another, establishing the Scott-Graff Co.  That company specialized in value-added lumber products, such as fine millwork and cabinetry.  As with so many of the other residents of the East End, he was also active in civic affairs, serving on the city council, school board and the Minnesota State Forestry Board.  Scott was also a forerunner of the environmental conservation movement, as indicated in his 1931 obituary:

11-20-1931 DULUTH HERALD OBITUARY:  Final Rites For Z. D. Scott Set For Saturday.  Veteran Lumberman, Civic Leader Dies After Long Illness.  Funeral services for Zar D. Scott, aged 83, 2125 East First street, veteran lumberman and civic leader, who died yesterday after a five month’s illness, will be held tomorrow…He was formerly vice president and general manager of the Scott-Graff Lumber company, was president of the Minnesota State Forestry board for several years and was largely instrumental in the creation of the Itasca State park…Begun Survey Work Early.  Mr. Scott was born at Plymouth, Mich., Oct. 25, 1848.  He received his grammar school education in Plymouth and Northville and his college prepatory work at Kalamazoo college. He spent two years at the University of Chicago and two at the University of Michigan.  He was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity.  He received his degree of B. S. from the University of Michigan in 1873.  In his university years he worked during his summer vacations on the Great Lakes surveys which the government was making at that time.  After graduation he continued to work on lake and railroad surveys for some time, but became more and more interested in the possibilities in the lumber business and in 1876 he took a position with a Minneapolis lumber firm.  In 1880 he settled in Duluth, where he and D. E. Holsten established the firm of Scott & Holsten which carried on a successful lumber business for ten years.  In 1980 he became vice president and general manager of the Scott-Graff Lumber company engaged in the wholesale manufacture of lumber and interior finishings and also in the buying and selling of Minnesota and California timber lands.  He retired from active business several years ago and since that time has spent much of his time in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Active in Civic Affairs.  He was a member of the Commercial club and the Gitchi Gammi club.  He was always active in civic affairs.  For years he served on the city council, school board and the Minnesota state forestry board.  he was an ardent advocate of reforestation, and made a trip to Germany to study German methods. It was his desire to replant the barren lands from which timber had been cut.  He began by planting 30,000 young pine and spruce trees, many of which were brought from Germany.  In 1909 he planted 100,000 more young trees.  The fires of 1914 were a serious blow to his plans in this line, but did not change his belief that the people of Minnesota should work out some intelligent plan by means of which the forests may be restored and perpetuated.  He knew by name and counted as his loyal friends scores of the men who had worked in his lumber camps, sawmill or factory, and he often spoke of his great good fortune in having such wonderful men to work with.  Mr. Scott married Frances Gage who died five years ago.


Zar Delevan Scott, one of the prosperous, enterprising and public-spirited men of Duluth, Minn., is a native of Plymouth, Mich., and was born October 25, 1848, the son of George and Abigail (Hart) Scott.

After leaving the public schools he prepared for college at Kalamazoo, then entered the old University of Chicago, and spent two years, and from there went to the University of Michigan, where he was graduated with the degree of bachelor of science, with the class of 1873. After leaving college he spent some time in the government lake surveys and in railroad surveys and in September, 1874, began working on a salary in the lumber yards and saw mills at Minneapolis.

Mr. Scott settled in Duluth in 1880, and as a member of the firm of Scott & Holston, began in a small way and carried on a successful lumber trade for ten years, each year increasing the volume of business. Since 1890 he has been vice-president and general manager of Scott-Graff Lumber Company, engaged in the wholesale manufacture of lumber, lath, shingles, sash, doors, moldings and interior finishings, and also in the buying and selling of Minnesota and California timber lands. Mr. Scott has been somewhat active in civic affairs and takes an interest in whatever relates to the betterment of the city and community.

He was for three years president of the Duluth school board; is a member of the National Association of Manufacturers, and of the National Geographical Society; is actively identified with the Commercial Club, of Duluth, and with the Duluth Boat Club, and belongs to the Psi Upsilon fraternity. He is a Republican in politics, and in religious belief is affiliated with the Baptist denomination. He likes athletic sports and is especially fond of fishing and hunting.

Mr. Scott has recently been experimenting with a view to restoring the forests on the barren lands from which the timber has been cut. He began by planting 30,000 young pine and spruce trees, many of which were brought from Germany. The young trees were set six feet apart over the ridges of twelve forty-acre tracts from which his company had cut the timber, and the results give such promise of success that Mr. Scott ordered 100,000 more young trees to be planted this season—1909 —estimating from the results that 75 per cent of the plantings will live, and his plan is to continue the planting each spring on the company’s barren lands.

Mr. Scott has made a study of forestry and in his plans is guided somewhat by the methods that prevail in forest reserves of Germany. The young trees will be allowed to grow as planted until large enough to be utilized for manufacturing purposes, and then one-half of them cut out, leaving about 600 trees to the acre to be utilized in after years when fully grown.

In his efforts to restore and perpetuate the forests, Mr. Scott looked for help from the state in the matter of taxation, his ideas being that the taxes on the lands should be released during the growing period of the trees, thus reducing the cost—one of the most serious obstacles in the way of his plans. He realizes that his undertaking is a large one, and being yet in the experimental state, the final results are awaited with much interest.

In 1875 Mr. Scott married Miss Frances Gage, of Lyons, Mich., who graduated from Michigan University in 1873. The children are: Ruth, age twenty-nine, and now Mrs. Hubbard Allen Dancer, attorney of Duluth; Alice, age twenty-six, lives with her parents; both graduates from Michigan University.


  • Larson, Jill. Intensive Survey of Historic Resources in Duluth’s East End (Part 1). City of Duluth, Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission, Duluth, Minn.: August 2007.
  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
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