June 23, 1956: Death of Duluth—and Superior—pioneer Charlie Saxton

On this day in Duluth in 1956, Charlie Saxton—pioneer of both Duluth and Superior—passed away at 102 years of age. Charlie was the son of Commodore Horace and Eunice Saxton, who brought their family from Ohio to Superior in 1855, when Charlie was two. Commodore Saxton was one of many pioneers who attempted to established a “copper town” on the North Shore of Lake Superior in the mid 1850s, and like all the others the claim proved worthless. The town, located midway between Beaver Bay and Grand Marais, never developed. He then took a job tending the lighthouse at Superior Entry and was and acted as an early promoter of what would eventually become the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad. Saxton moved his family across the bay to Duluth in 1865. In Duluth he was active in city and county politics, a leader of the Republican party, and a strong booster of Duluth’s growth. He retired in 1883 after tending the Minnesota Point Lighthouse for eight years. Charlie Saxton went to work at the Duluth Minnesotian as the newspaper’s first printer’s devil when it began publishing in 1869—he was just fifteen years old. He later learned the trade of surveying from George Stuntz, another prominent pioneer of both Superior and Duluth, and finished out his career as St. Louis County’s chief deputy surveyor. Charlie Saxton died just after Duluth finished celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the town of Duluth and was the last surviving charter member of the Old Settlers Association, which included his father and Stuntz. The Saxtons lived long lives: Horace died at 89 and Charlie’s grandmother lived to be 100.

Charles Saxton, date unknown. (Image: Zenith City Press)