A native of Wermland Province, Sweden, John Uno Sebenius graduated Stockholm’s Royal Technical Institute and School of Mining in 1886 and emigrated to the United States two years later. In 1892 he turned thirty years old and moved to Minnesota’s Iron Range, where he developed a cross-sampling technique and a concentrating process for iron ore mining. He eventually became Chief Mining Engineer and Superintendent of Exploration for the Oliver Mining Company. He would stay with the firm, which later merged with U.S. Steel, until his retirement in 1930.
Sebenius’s house sat on a very large lot on London Road, which enabled Sebenius to experiment with his hobby, raising farm crops and cattle. According to the Duluth News Tribune, his cows were considered “some of the finest dairy stock in the country.” Susan Sebenius, who married John in 1895, died in 1918. Sebenius continued to live in the house and remained socially active—he belonged to the Kitchi Gammi Club and the Minnesota Historical Society—until his death in 1932.