December 4, 1859: Birth of Lakeside/Lester Park founder William Sargent

On this day in 1859, future Duluthian William C. Sargent was born in Boston, Massachusetts, a son of George B. and Mary (Perin) Sargent. The elder Sargent worked for Jay Cooke and was sent to Duluth in the late 1860s to establish a bank, build a hotel, and oversee Cooke’s investments. Young William was just ten years old when he arrived in Duluth in 1869 aboard the steamer Meteor. After receiving his education in Faribault and New York, Sargent went to work as a logging teamster, then worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad before becoming the superintendent of Duluth Blast Furnace. He then turned his interests to commercial and dairy farming and real estate. In the 1880s he and others turned his family’s property, the town of New London, into Lakeside and developed property east of that as Lester Park. Together these formed the Village of Lakeside and, briefly, the city of Lakeside. Sargent served as the president of the village and mayor of the city, and from 1896 to 1902 as the St. Louis County Sheriff. He was considered one of Duluth’s great pioneers and in 1922 a biographer wrote that “His chief characteristics are keenness of perception, a tireless energy and honesty of purpose and motive, which have enabled him not only to advance his own interests but also to largely contribute to the material and moral advancement of the city and county honored by his citizenship.” Ever socially and civic-minded, Sargent belonged to the Masons, the Elks, the Duluth Commercial Club, the Kitchi Gammi Club, and was an enthusiastic member of the Duluth Boat Club.

William Sargent. (Image: Duluth Public Library)