The Episcopal Church in Duluth (Early History)

Among the first needs of the new American community is a house for divine worship. Schools will come in time, almost automatically, through the workings of the law; road building, water supply, street lighting, etc., will also come in time through local legislation, but the church will not come except through the labors of individual men and women, and in this there is always a certain measure of economy and self-sacrifice entailed upon every individual. The first ambition of every hamlet is for a church structure. The church not only supplies their spiritual needs, but also administers to the people’s social cravings.

Men and women of diverse creeds will sink their especial beliefs, as a rule, in new communities, and work together for the first church structure. Such an edifice is usually catholic in the broadest sense of the word. Unable to engage a regular pastor for the first years of existence, its pulpit is usually filled by any clergyman that can be obtained. The Methodist divine may hold forth one Sabbath, perhaps a Baptist the next, and be followed in turn by an Episcopalian or a Congregationalist. Creeds are of minor importance to the new community-the main essential is the worship of God. In time, as the community grows and prospers, the pride of denominational lines leads to the erection of churches conducted along such lines, and by the time this condition comes about the hamlet has become the embryo city.

Duluth’s church history has followed the course usual in all new communities. In the early years of the settlement on Lake Superior’s shore it was so small numerically that it could not afford to build a church edifice. Superior, across the St. Louis river in Wisconsin, was then the thriving town of this region, and frequently visiting clergymen would come over from there to Duluth. There was only one building in Duluth at that time which could be used for church services, and that was the warehouse that Sidney Luce had erected, and that served the latter as a residence and also as offices for such federal officials as were located here. During the early ’60s there were not over ten or twelve families living in Duluth, although there was a large Indian population, mostly on Minnesota Point, and there was also a small colony of whites at Oneota, some four miles distant, and which now is embraced in the city limits. The territory was then a missionary jurisdiction and the visits of clergymen were infrequent and uncertain. Whenever they came, however, no matter what the creed they professed, they were cordially welcomed, and religious services were held.

While Bishop Whipple of the Episcopal diocese of Minnesota undoubtedly visited Duluth before 1866, the first official record of his visit that is found is under date of August 5, 1866. On that day he celebrated Holy Communion at Superior City in the morning and in the afternoon preached in Duluth in the house of Luke Marvin, United States register. Mr. Marvin, it may be mentioned in this connection, was a Presbyterian, but that formed no obstacle to his welcoming any evangelical clergyman. The Sunday following, August 12, Bishop Whipple preached again in the house of Mr. Marvin and baptized two children of Mr.

Nettleton and one of Mr. Ray. The following day, Monday, the bishop baptized at the residence of Colonel J. B. Culver five of the latter’s children, and in the evening delivered a lecture on Palestine.

Among the church people of Duluth at an early day was Mirs. Julia MacMullen, who came in 1869 with the family of General G. B. Sargent, who was the financial agent of Jay Cooke in Duluth. Mrs. MacMullen lived with General Sargent until 1872, when she returned to Philadelphia, her former home. and was subsequently sent on missionary work by the Bishop Potter Memorial Association. While in Duluth she was noted for her charitable visits and kindly offices. She died at her mission station several miles from Cape Palmas in Africa, of fever, in 1893.

In the Duluth “Minnesotian” of May 15, 1869, the following announcement appeared: “General G. B. Sargent is commissioned by Episcopalians East to build a fair sized church for worship according to Episcopal forms. ” Jay Cooke, of Philadelphia, who had acquired large interests in Duluth and who was raising millions of dollars to give it adequate railroad facilities, was an Episcopalian. General Sargent, an esteemed churchman, acting as the financial agent and representative of Mr. Cooke, was empowered to carry out his wishes in establishing the church in the new town of Duluth. Work was begun at once upon a building to be completed by fall, and early in July the basement was already excavated. There was no church edifice of any kind in Duluth at that time.

The first Episcopal clergyman who seems to have visited Duluth after work on the church was begun was the Rev. Mr.

Cooper of Astoria, New York, who held services August 8, 1869, in the morning and evening, at the schoolhouse. On the following Sunday, August 15, he held services at Superior, and through the courtesy of the Rev. Mr. Higgins, the Presbyterian minister, at the schoolhouse in the afternoon. The church was to be finished by September 15 and the basement to be plastered by the 13th of the same month. This contained a lecture room, 36×60.

The bell and organ arrived about the 30th of October. The bell called the worshippers together for the first time at the schoolhouse on Sunday, October 31.

In the “Minnesotian” of November 20 was the announcement that the Rev. Mason Gallagher of Paterson, N. J., had accepted a call to Duluth. Soon after this the ” Minnesotian”‘ published the following from the Paterson (N. J.) Daily Press: “Our citizens will learn with no less surprise than regret that the Rev. Mason Gallagher has resigned the rectorship of St.

Paul’s Protestant Episcopal church in this city to accept the charge of the new church just established by Jay Cooke, Esq., at Duluth.” Meanwhile a Sunday school was organized November 21 and a lay service was held in the basement of the church by Mr.

Hudson. The church was entirely completed in December and was formally opened on Christmas day, 1869. Mr. Gallagher officiated on the occasion. The editor of the “Minnesotian, ” in the columns of his paper, congratulated the citizens of Duluth on having one completed church.

The rectorship of Mr. Gallagher was of short duration and September 25, 1870, he preached his last sermon in the evening 579  to a crowded church. He belonged to the school in the east of extreme low churchmen, and brought with him to the west the same sentiments he had preached there. His ministry was active and zealous, yet ministers of other denominations were allowed to fill his pulpit and preach, after the use in all cases of the liturgy of the Protestant Episcopal church. This was due to the well-known wishes of one of the most prominent men in the east, who was identified with the material growth and development of the city, and owing to the same influence the church was not incorporated nor did it seek union with the ecclesiastical authority in Minnesota.

It may not be out of place to relate an incident of the parish during the early days of Duluth. It was the first spring during the ministry of Mason Gallagher. Navigation had closed the last of November and the lake was closed till the early part of May. Consequently the arrival of the first boat was an event of no ordinary character, and was looked forward to with daily increasing interest by everyone in Duluth, and as soon as she was sighted in the distance the citizens, with scarcely an exception, wended their way to the dock to witness her arrival, while those who had not sighted her hurried there from whatever occupation they were at the time engaged in when they heard her whistle blow, which she did when two miles out.

It was Sunday; the congregation had assembled and the service had proceeded with due order until nearly the close of the morning prayer, when the steamer Keeweenaw, the first boat of the year, blew her whistle. Almost instantaneously the church was emptied of all but Mr. Gallagher. Whether he completed the service or not is not recorded. At all events that evening after service he made the following announcement: “Service next Sunday morning at half past ten, Providence permitting, and if the whistle of the Keeweenaw doesn’t blow.” Soon after the resignation of Mr. Gallagher the bishop of the diocese visited Duluth, bringing with him Joseph A. Gilfillan, who had just completed his studies for the ministry. On Sunday, October 18, 1870, Mr. Gilfillan was ordained deacon in St.

Paul’s church and at once placed in charge of the services.

October 20 the bishop gave his consent to the organization of a parish at Duluth. The name selected was “St. Paul’s Church, Duluth, ” in memory of the Rev. R. J. Parton, who had been instrumental in its erection while he was the rector of St. Paul’s church, Cheltenham, Pa., the members of the latter church having been among the largest contributors to the building fund of the church at Duluth.

On this fact being presented to the Sunday school of St.

Paul’s church, Cheltenham, the funds were given by the school for a font. This font was cut from the first sandstone quarried from the Fond du Lac quarries in the early summer of 1872.

At a meeting held October 25, 1870, the following were elected officers of the parish: Wardens, General George B. Sargent and John B. Culver; vestrymen, James L. Smith and Charles C. James.

Soon Mr. Gilfillan was advanced to the priesthood in St. Paul’s church. Iie was the first candidate for holy orders ordained in the limits of the present Protestant Episcopal diocese of Duluth.

In his report to the Diocesan Council of 1871 Mr. Gilfillan reports occasional weekday services held at Oneota, four miles from Duluth, and at Thompson, sixteen miles distant. In 1872 he reports two baptisms at Kokoma, two at Northern Pacific Junction, four in Thompson, one in Brainerd. During these two years his pastorate had been a busy one. The greater part of the time he held three services every Sunday, one of which was at Superior City, Wis. He also held occasional services at Rice’s Point, near Duluth.

During his ministry Mr. Gilfillan was unremitting in his unselfish devotion to his duties and constant in visiting among the poor and strangers and seeking out among the new arrivals of families all those to whom the visit of a minister is welcome under such circumstances. He pursued his work noiselessly and quietly, asking the newcomers to attend the services of the church. All at once an objection was made by a clergyman of another denomination to what Mr. Gilfillan was doing, and he was openly charged with aggressive proselyting and with going out of his way to do it, and the ministers of the other churches were called to meet together to unite in a protest against what was considered his indiscreet zeal and inordinate interference with their own people. The matter was laid before the brethren by the one referred to with characteristic warmth, and a letter written to Mr. Gilfillan purporting to embody the united protest of all present. What the words of the letter were may be gathered by the following copy of Mr. Gilfillan’s reply: “Duluth, April 16, 1872. Rev. Mr. – . Dear Sir: After having considered our conversation of last Saturday I have now 581  hit upon the following plan which I hope will be all right and which you will communicate to the Ministers’ Association. It is that I hand in to the next meeting of the association a list of all the families in which I would like to visit if the association will permit, that the association then strike off the names of all the families and persons they don’t wish me to visit and hand back the corrected list to me, and that in future I visit only among the names left on said list; that if at any time afterward the association should think the list too extensive they are to be permitted to strike off as many more names as they may deem proper, stipulating, however, that I am in any case to be left a small range, say five families or thereabouts, just enough to keep my hand in; that the association also appoint certain hours between which and no other time shall it be lawful for me to visit; that they also prescribe a list of topics which, and no other, may be introduced during said visits, and that they also regulate things generally as may seem good to them in other matters relating to visits not above specified. That as at our conversation Saturday last my (reported) views about baptism, expressed at the bedside of a dying child, were objected to, the Ministers’ Association draw up for my use what views it deems proper for me to express under such circumstances, and that such and no other shall in future be expressed by me. That though aware that the association differs on that subject, some being utterly opposed to infant baptism, others in favor of it under certain circumstances, yet it is to be hoped that will present no insuperable difficulties and that they will be able to agree on a common platform for the regulation of my conduct in that respect. Hoping this will be satisfactory, I am, “Yours sincerely, “J. A. Gilfillan.” After the-resignation of Mr. Gilfillan in 1872 the parish was supplied for a short time with lay services, following which rectors were Arthur J. Wilson, F. R. Millspaugh, Richard Wainwright, Charles A. Cummins and Charles A. Poole, who became rector in 1883. During his residence of five years the parish was prosperous and every effort was made to keep pace with the growth of the city. Mr. Poole closed his work August 26, 1888, when he removed to Faribault and became an instructor in the Seabury Divinity School. He was succeeded in March, 1889, by William M. Barker.

The rectors and congregation of St. Paul’s church, however, were not confining their activities to the immediate affairs of the parish. The city had been steadily growing and this resulted in a number of communities springing up which were a long distance away from the neighborhood of the church. It was felt that these communities should have religious services and pastoral care, and in the winter of 1884-85, the first steps in church work were undertaken at Rice’s Point. Mrs. Craddock, a devoted church woman, and James Bromley were the first to move in the matter, and by interesting others at length succeeded in starting the Sunday school work. They obtained the use of some rooms in a private house kindly given by a resident of the Point. This gentleman, of Swedish nativity himself, took an active part in the work and his family also took part. A considerable number of children were thus gathered from Sunday to Sunday during the winter and spring of 1885.

Mr. Bromley acted as superintendent. A lot was purchased and a plain hall was erected and nearly ready for use; in fact, was used for services a few times, when the St. Paul & Duluth Railroad Company instituted proceedings to vacate territory on the south side of Rice’s Point for tracks. This action deprived the church workers of their lot. The railroad company offered to give another lot and move the building further out on the Point, but this offer was declined because it was considered that the new location would be too far out and another more suitable location was sought, but in vain. Meanwhile the building was removed from the lot a short distance and set upon blocks in the sand. A few days afterwards a heavy storm canted the building off the blocks and into the sand, where it stood useless for a number of months. It was finally decided to donate the building to the “Home for Women.” It was at length sold for $100 and the proceeds handed to the treasurer of the “Home.” Thus ended the first effort. Later attempts were made and at the time the Rev. Mr. Poole resigned to take work elsewhere the mission at Rice’s Point was in a flourishing condition and making good progress. Organization was effected by the appointment of a bishop’s committee and the mission was given the name of the Church of the Holy Spirit. Dr. S. S. Walbank of Duluth had given two lots conditionally in his addition. But 583  the mission was not ready to move its center of work to such a distance from its birthplace as the use of these lots required, nor were the people able to comply with the condition attached of putting up a building within two years of a valuation fixed in the title deed. The lots accordingly reverted to the donor.

Mr. Poole was succeeded as rector of St. Paul’s church by William M. Barker, who entered upon his duties March 3, 1889.

His pastorate was very successful, both in his own parish and in aggressive missionary work in the city. The first diocesan council north of Minneapolis was held in Duluth in 1892. Mr.

Barker was chosen as one of the delegates to the General Convention of 1892, and at the latter meeting was elected missionary bishop of western Colorado, from which he was translated in 1894 to the diocese of Olympia, the western part of the state of Washington. His last service as pastor of St. Paul’s church was on Ash Wednesday, 1893. He was not the only rector of St.

Paul’s to be honored by elevation to the episcopacy, for F. R.

Millspaugh, who resigned from the rectorship in 1876, was afterward elected bishop of Kansas, and is still living.

The successor of Mr. Barker in the rectorship was Albert W.

Ryan, D. C. L., of Warren, Pa., who assumed the duties of his new charge October 1, 1893, and is still in charge of the parish after nearly seventeen years of active service. In his years of service Dr. Ryan has seen a great growth, not only in the church, but in the city. When he came to St. Paul’s there were only two other Episcopal churches in the city and Duluth as a diocese of the church did not exist. It was then a missionary district and was visited at intervals by Bishop Gilbert, who was the assistant to Bishop Whipple of Minnesota. The membership of the Episcopal church in the city at that time was perhaps from 1, 500 to 2, 000, including communicants and members of their families. Today there are six churches besides St. Paul’s, all housed in handsome structures and with approximately 6, 000 members, including communicants and their families.

These churches are: Trinity Pro-cathedral, Rt. Rev. J. D.

Morrison, D. D., LL.D.; Very Rev. Arthur H. Wurtele, dean and rector; St. Andrews, on Minnesota Point, served also by Dean Wurtele; the Church of the Holy Apostles in West Duluth, Rev.

E. B. Collier, rector; St. Peter’s church and St. Luke’s church, both in the West End, both of which are ministered to by Rev.

William Harmann, and St. John’s church, Lakeside, Rev. Albert 584 Parker, rector. Despite occasional hard times they have all prospered, and today every Episcopal parish in the city but one is out of debt and its church has been consecrated. Dr. Ryan has as assistant in the work of St. Paul’s parish Rev. R. S. Read.

The work of the Episcopal church in Duluth is not confined entirely to the spiritual welfare of its people; it has also taken an interest in their material welfare. The finest hospital in the city, St. Luke’s, has been erected and is conducted under the auspices of the church. There is nothing sectarian about the conduct of this hospital, however. It is open to the sick of all creeds and of every nationality. This hospital work was started in 1882, and its first building was erected at Second avenue east and Fourth street. It gradually outgrew its accommodations, however, and the need of larger and better equipped quarters became imperative. The land and buildings were sold and the present hospital erected on a site that was purchased at First street and Ninth avenue east. Here a commodious, fireproof building, equipped with every modern sanitary and scientific convenience, was erected and opened in 1898.

There is no medical or surgical staff attached to this hospital, contrary to the general rule in such institutions, but each patient received is permitted to choose such medical or surgical attendance as he or she may desire. Equal facilities are afforded to all schools of medical practice. The hospital has accommodations for from ninety-two to ninety-five patients, and its facilities are generally pretty well taxed, many of its patients coming here from distant points in the diocese or St. Louis county, which is the largest county in the state and extends north to the international boundary line. Especial attention is paid by the hospital managers to the nursing staff, which numbers thirty, and which is prepared by a rigorous course of training before employed in the hospital. Patients are expected to pay for board, rooms and attention, but there is a large amount of work done for the afflicted which is purely charitable. The hospital is supported partly from the income of certain endowments and partly from the donations of the wealthy and public spirited men of the city. Its running expenses amount to about $150, 000 a year, and in time it is hoped that with the increase of the endowment fund there will be no necessity of soliciting funds for its support, as is now the case.

The officers of the hospital are the Rev. A. W. Ryan, presi- 585  dent; Henry Taylor, secretary-treasurer; Miss Frances E. Smith, superintendent, and Miss Margaret Dunlop, assistant superintendent.

Any history of St. Paul’s church would be incomplete without a further reference to Mr. Gilfillan, who was ordained to the ministry in it, and who resigned his rectorship in 1872. After Mr. Gilfillan’s resignation he was appointed archdeacon to assist Bishop Whipple and Bishop Gilbert in the Indian missionary field, a work to which he consecrated twenty-five years of his life. In 1894 the rector of St. Paul’s, Rev. A. W. Ryan, was invited by Mr. Gilfillan to accompany the latter and Bishop Gilbert on the latter’s annual confirmation trip through the Ojibway Indian Reservation, and did so. Of this trip he says: “It was a long trip of about 400 miles, the most of which was made in lumber wagons and in canoes. The scenery was exquisite and animal life luxuriated on every side. Our church missions were planned by Bishop Whipple and fostered by Bishop Gilbert, but have been carried on to a glorious success by the pious, patient and self-denying efforts of Mr. Gilfillan, archdeacon in charge of the Indian field. He is one of the heroes of the Indian work. A man of wealth and taste, capable of enjoying all that our civilization can afford, for years he has given himself freely to his chosen work. Month after month he made his rounds in winter’s cold and summer’s heat. He was instant in season and out of season, preaching the gospel of his Master.

He can talk the intricate Ojibway tongue better than the Indians themselves and thoroughly understands their peculiar temperament.

Altogether he is a noble sample of what the Christian missionary should be. He was already at that time entering into the fruits of his labors. He had several Indian deacons to assist him. Church schools were maintained where the government failed to do its duty. Three young ladies were engaged in teaching Indian women needle and lace work. Comfortable chapels and good services were maintained at nine different points. The confirmations that year amounted to seventy-two, part of whom were confirmed by Bishop Whipple. There was one Indian village where there were probably more Christians in proportion to the population than in any white town in the country. The seventy-two confirmed made about 14 per cent of the whole population-a vastly larger proportion than could be found in any more civilized community.” In the years that have succeeded this work among the Indians has been sedulously prosecuted under the leadership of Bishop Morrison. After the resignation of Archdeacon Gilfillan on account of failure in health, the supervision of the Indian work was, under the bishop, in the hands of Rev. H. M. T. V. Appleby.

He was succeeded by Rev. H. F. Parshall. There are now among the Indians of the diocese of Duluth eleven established missions, served by seven fullblood Ojibway Indians and one mixed-blood, of whom five are priests. Some of their churches are built of logs, some are frame buildings and tasteful in their appointments, and one, that at White Earth, is a dignified building of stone, seating about 400 people.

There are still some Indians who could not be reached and many who could not be called civilized. Bishop Morrison thinks there are fully 9, 000 Ojibways in his diocese, of whom about 1, 200 have been baptized. Rev. Mr. Gilfillan is still living.

In 1895 the northern two-thirds of Minnesota was set apart by action of the General Convention as the missionary district of Duluth, but it was not until October, 1896, that a bishop was elected by the house of bishops, and the Rev. J. D. Morrison, D. D., LL.D., rector of St. John’s church, Ogdensburg, N. Y., on February 2, 1897, was consecrated the first bishop of Duluth and entered immediately on his duties. The district embraced an area of 57, 000 square miles, much of it being wilderness, where the settlements of the pioneers were slowly forming. Since that time nearly thirty new churches and many excellent parsonages have been built. In the city of Duluth there has been a steady advance in the affairs of the church. In 1897 the Episcopalians had one self-supporting parish-St. Paul’s-and two mission churches, the Church of the Holy Apostles, Fifty-seventh avenue west, and St. Luke’s, Nineteenth avenue west. Both churches were built on lots that were not owned and large debts for city assessments had accumulated against them. With great difficulty Bishop Morrison raised the money to purchase the sites and satisfy the assessments and the property is now vested in the diocese of Duluth free from all incumbrance.

At Lakeside, the eastern extremity of the city, there was in 1897 a little mission worshipping in the town hall, by courtesy of the civic authorities. The mission has since become St. John’s parish, with a handsome little church of its own which is free from debt and with a self-supporting congregation. In 1900 the bishop obtained the use of a disused car barn at Twentieth avenue east and Superior street, where a Sunday school and occasional services were conducted. Gradually funds were gathered to purchase the car barn and adjacent lots, until a plot of ground 150×300 was secured. Meanwhile the congregation increased and Rev. A. H. Wurtele, then a curate in Trinity parish, New York city, was called to carry on the work in a systematic manner.

In 1906 the present Pro-cathedral was erected on the site mentioned at a cost of more than $30, 000. It is a splendidly built edifice, of red sandstone, and in addition to the beautiful church there is all the necessary equipment of an excellent parish house.

The parish has always been self-supporting, and in the building of the church has had no outside assistance. Mr. Wurtele, who has since been made dean of the Pro-cathedral, has also carried on a missionary work for five years on Minnesota Point. A gift of two generous friends made it possible to erect a guild house on the Point at Twenty-eighth street, where services, Sunday school and social gatherings are held. This mission is called “St. Andrews, by the Lake.” When the missionary diocese of Duluth was created under a rule of the church it could not become an independent diocese until an endowment fund was raised for the proper support of the episcopacy. With the generous aid of churchmen in St.

Paul a fund of $20, 000 was raised for this purpose. In 1907 the endowment for the district, having by strenuous effort been augmented to a sum of $60, 000, application was made to the General Convention for admission as a diocese. This petition being granted the “Missionary District of Duluth” was erected into the “Diocese of Duluth, ” 1907, and held its first convention in June, 1908.

As has been said above, the diocese embraces the northern two-thirds of Minnesota. Much of this territory is unpeopled, being largely forest land; much of it is inaccessible, exept by long horseback or wagon rides or canoes, and even where settlements exist and there is a church congregation they are generally far apart, and necessitate toilsome journeys. The country is being gradually settled, however; the forests are disappearing and farmers are converting the waste places into productive areas. The home of the bishop is in Duluth, but a large part of his time is spent in traveling over his diocese.

During the last few years there has been a slowly growing work among the Scandinavian population of the diocese. There is now an Episcopal church for the Swedes at Aitkin, one at Eagle Bend, one in Duluth and a fourth at Little Sauk.

Steps toward the erection of what is expected to be the handsomest church edifice in the city have been taken by the vestry of St. Paul’s church, which has purchased a site at Seventeenth avenue east and Superior street, where it will erect a building at a cost of $100,000.


The Episcopal Church in Duluth (Early History)

The distinctive place this church holds in the history of Duluth, as being the first church to be built, must be attributed to the practical interest Jay Cooke manifested in it. The Duluth “Minnesotian” of May 15, 1869, carried an announcement to the effect that General Sargent had been commissioned “by Episcopalians East” to build a “fair-sized church, for worship according to Episcopal forms.” The Reverend Cooper, an Episcopal clergyman, arrived, from Astoria, New York, in August, 1869, and held services “at the schoolhouse” on August 8, 1869. The church was expected to be finished by September 15, but there seems to have been delay, for the formal opening did not take place until Christmas Day of 1869.

However, the church bell and also the organ arrived before the close of navigation (about the 30th of October, it has been stated), and “the bell called the worshippers together for the first time at the schoolhouse, on Sunday, October 31st.” That, it may be presumed was the first church-bell rung in Duluth, although it is quite possible that a school-bell was earlier used for the purpose of announcing earlier gatherings for worship at Oneota, Portland, or Duluth.

A school-bell, stated to have been the first used on the North Shore, was deposited with the Old Settlers’ Association by Leonidas Merritt, and probably was the one to which Judge Carey referred, when he wrote of the earliest days at Oneota, as follows: .

In 1856, a frame building was erected, between First and Second streets 206and a little east of Fond du Lac Avenue, according to the plat of Oneota, by the proprietors of that townsite (Oneota), for the public use, as schoolhouse and a place for all the ministers of all denominations, in which to preach the gospel to the inhabitants of Oneota and neighboring settlers. A bell for it was donated by B. W. Raymond, a wealthy merchant of Chicago The main use to which that bell was put, and for which it was seemingly intended, was to call children to the little pioneer schoolhouse for lessons, and, although it was undoubtedly used to announce the hour of religious service also, it would hardly seem proper to class it as the first church-bell.

Ringing of First Church-Bell.-The ringing of the first churchbell in Duluth in 1870 calls to mind the record of the first like occasion at Superior. Rev. James Peet, pioneer Methodist minister, wrote in his diary on Saturday, March 15, 1856, as follows: The first church bell at Superior was hung up by the Presbyterians today, on a frame. No church yet built. Mr. Wilson (Presbyterian minister) was called out of the land office to make a speech on the occasion from a stump.

That literally was a “stump-speech,” though perhaps not the first delivered at the Head of the Lakes. Rev. J. M. Barnett, describing the first Superior bell, said it was “a steel composition one” and that it was placed “on the rear end of a lot back of Mr. Hohly’s drug store, on Second Street,” Superior, and that “at its dedication Mr. Wilson made an appropriate speech and I rang it for the first time.” Who rang the first Duluth church-bell, on October 31, 1870, has not been recorded.

The Rev. Mason Gallagher, of Paterson, New Jersey, succeeded to the charge of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at Duluth in November, 1869, and remained until September 25, 1870, Joseph A. Gilfillan a month later being ordained, the Episcopal society being almost simultaneously organized into a parish, the name selected being “St. Paul’s Church, Duluth.” The following were elected “officers of the parish” at a meeting held October 25, 1870: Gen. George B. Sargent and J. B. Culver, wardens; James L. Smith and Charles C. James, vestrymen.

A Sunday school was organized on November 21, 1869.


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