Francis A. Clarkson

Duluth’s Gowan-Lenning-Brown wholesalers was developed through a merger of the Clarkson-Wright and Gowan-Peyton-Congdon companies. (Image: Zenith City Press)

Francis A. Clarkson first arrived in Duluth in 1887 when he was forty-four years old, relocating from Perry Mills, New York, to help establish Wells-Stone Mercantile, a grocery and hardware wholesaler. The firm’s grocery division was absorbed by Stone-Ordean in 1896, creating Stone-Ordean-Wells. That same year Clarkson withdrew from the company to establish the Clarkson-Wright Mercantile. In 1903 Clarkson was appointed to Duluth’s Park Board, serving until 1907. In 1904 his company began manufacturing syrups, packaged teas, vinegar, extracts, and ammonia and distributed its products throughout Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Canada. Clarkson died in 1913 after being confined to bed for nearly three years while suffering from “a disease of the arteries.” That same year Clarkson-Wright merged with the Gowan-Peyton-Congdon Company to create Gowan-Lenning-Brown, considered Duluth’s premier wholesale grocer. The firm’s 1913 headquarters at 525 Lake Avenue South is known today as the Paulucci Building.