August 27, 1965: Samuel Karon, founder of Duluth’s Adas Israel Synagogue, celebrates 100 years

On this day in Duluth in 1965, Samuel Karon celebrated his 100th birthday with 300 relatives and friends, although his actual birthday wouldn’t come until September. Karon was born in Lithuania in 1865 and, according to the Duluth News Tribune, “fled the czar of Russia in 1887” to avoid military service. He settled in Duluth and became a peddler, shopping his wares door to door. In 1890 he had saved $150, which he used to start the Northwestern Metal & Iron Company and an affiliate firm, the Northwestern Wiping Cloth Company—both of which were still operating in 1965. In 1890 he married his Lithuanian sweetheart and began a family that would grow to include nine children. In 1890 the Karon’s move into a house at 20 West Second Street, next door to Duluth’s original brick fire house. Sam Karon was active in Duluth’s Jewish community and was one of the organizers of Duluth’s Adas Israel Synagogue and served for 47 years as its congregational president. He outlived his first wife and then his second and by his 100th year counted sixty-three living descendants. Although one of his daughters told the newspaper,  “He never was interested in anything trivial,” Karon did like to tell tales of the old days in Duluth, when “the only way to get from downtown Duluth to Park Point was to pay an Indian for a canoe ride.” Actually, by the time Karon arrived in Duluth a ferry service had been getting people across the canal for seventeen years.

Samuel Karon photographed in 1965 by the Duluth News Tribune. (Image courtesy of Perfect Duluth Day)