George Spencer

The great natural resources of the northwest have been developed through the vision, initiative and vigor of men of unusual caliber, some of whom have passed away, although the results of their unceasing zeal in behalf of their communities remain to benefit generations yet unborn. One of the men who was responsible for the organization of the Duluth Board of Trade, and for many years extremely active in the grain and elevator business of this city, was the late George Spencer, whose name stands for reliability and sterling uprightness of character.

He was born at Westminster, Vermont, November 26, 1843, and was reared on his father’s homestead and educated in a high school of Boston, Massachusetts, from which he was graduated. His first business experience was gained in a clerical position in a store owned by his brother, where he remained until 1870, but in that year he left his eastern home and came west to Duluth to become manager of the newly organized Union Improvement Elevator Company. It was not long before his resourcefulness enabled him to go into business for himself in partnership with M. J. Forbes, and he subsequently formed connections with the firm of Spencer, Moore & Company, which he assisted in organizing.

He continued the head of this firm until November 3, 1907, when he became president of the Consolidated Elevator Company, succeeding his former partner, M. J. Forbes, deceased, and continued to serve as such until his death, February 15, 1915. He was one of the organizers of the Duluth Board of Trade in 1881, became its first vice president, and its second president, and in 1894 and in 1906 was made its president again. It is but just to him to say that he was one of the most successful business men of Duluth. For a number of years he was a director of the American Exchange Bank, and had many other interests, being beyond question one of the ablest pioneer grain 790and elevator men in the northwest. His activities were not confined to the business world, for he was one of the organizers of the Duluth Congregational Church, although he later became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. He was a man of considerable practical benevolence, but his charity was of the unostentatious kind.

Mr. Spencer was exceedingly happy in his married life, which was inaugurated February 26, 1874, when he was united in marriage with Miss Helen Mattocks, at Saint Paul, Minnesota. She was a daughter of Rev. John Mattocks of the First Presbyterian Church. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer became the parents of three children, namely: Elizabeth, who is Mrs. H. L. Hartley; Helen, who is Mrs. Ward Ames, Jr., and George Herbert, who is mentioned below. During the war between the North and the South George Spencer enlisted in defense of his country, August 27, 1862, in Company A, Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and was honorably discharged at the close of the war.

George Herbert Spencer, whose adult business life has been passed with the Consolidated Elevator Company, was born at Duluth, August 7, 1876, and he was educated at the Duluth Central High School. On September 16, 1914, he was married to Miss Jessica Marshall, and they have three sons: Marshall, George Herbert and Thomas.


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