April 25, 1924: Death of Guy Eaton, “the father of the Minnesota Naval Militia”

On this day in Duluth in 1924, fifty-two-year-old Captain Guy Eaton died after being sick the previous eleven days. Eaton, called “the father of the Minnesota Naval Militia,” was born in Red Oak, Iowa, in 1872. He attended Clavereck College, then a military school in New York on the Hudson River. He came to Duluth in 1890 to work as a surveyor for the federal government. In 1895 he went to Central America to help develop a railway system and later returned to Duluth and was appointed the postmaster by Teddy Roosevelt. His efforts in 1903 led to the establishment of the Minnesota Naval Militia. He became its first commander and served in that role until his death. Eaton brought the U.S.S. Gopher to Duluth as a training vessel and was instrumental in the effort to build the 1915 Duluth National Guard Armory. During World War One he was pressed into service as the commander of the U.S.S. Massachusetts and later the U.S.S. Iowa. After the war, in Duluth he commanded the U.S.S. Essex and the U.S.S. Paducah. The Friday following his death, Eaton’s body lay instate at the Armory for six hours before funeral services were conducted by his fellow Masons of Duluth’s Palestine Lodge #79. Six horses pulled a caisson carrying his coffin to Forest Hill Cemetery, where the Minnesota Naval Militia Band played as it was lowered into the ground.

Captain Guy Eaton. (Image; Duluth Public Library)