Duluth’s First Chamber of Commerce

There is ample evidence in the pioneer records that the sixty-niners, and those of that period of activity in Duluth, were alert business men, enterprising and aggressive, and the city was only a few months old when a chamber of commerce was established.

The organization, formally designated the Duluth Chamber of Commerce, was instituted on August 5, 1870, and its first officers were: Henry A. Gould, president; C. B. Newcombe, first vice president; John Mercer, second vice-president; C. M. Cushman, secretary and treasurer; R. S. Munger, J. C. Hunter, John W. Pendleton, George C. Stone, William Branch, Charles H. Graves, Edgar Nash and Luther Mendenhall, directors. It had a “board of arbitrators,” consisting of A. N. Seip, W. W. Hawkes and E. Ingalls and a “board of appeals,” upon which sat J. B. Culver, W. W. Spaulding, A. S. Gushman, J. D. Ensign and W. W. Billson.

The activities of the chamber were many and important until the fall of 1873, when it seems to have passed away in the general discouragement of business depression. At all events, the organization lay dormant and had no official address. The Duluth Chamber of Commerce that functioned in the early ’80s seems to have had no direct connection with the pioneer institution, for it published its “first annual report” in 1881, J. B. Culver then being president, Charles H. Graves, vice-president and George W. Kimberly, secretary.

Sources:

  • 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.