March 17, 1835: Birth of Hamilton M. Peyton

On this day in 1835, future Duluthian Hamilton M. Peyton was born in Geneva, New York. After graduating Rutgers College in 1855, he eventually made his way to Superior and opened a bank there in 1858. The next year he built a small saw mill on Connors Point. In 1881 he formed Peyton, Kimball & Barber and built a much larger mill, which operated until 1905. By then Peyton was no longer a Superior resident. He and his wife Martha had moved to Duluth just before the Panic of 1873 wiped out the Zenith City’s investments. Peyton held on, and in 1889 became president of the American Exchange Bank, which he created by reorganizing the failing Duluth Savings Bank with a starting capital of just $25,000, less than $600,000 today. He remained at that position until nearly the end of his life, and also spent time as the director in the Gowan-Lenning-Brown Company, wholesale grocers. In 1893—after most of their eight children had left home—Hamilton and Martha asked Oliver Traphagen to design them a home at 1329 East Superior Street, which survived until 1932 when it was demolished to make room for the Seventh Day Adventist Church. A year after Peyton’s death in 1928, American Exchange Bank merged with First National Bank, just months before the stock market crashed; the two became the First American National Bank.

Hamilton Peyton and his beloved bank. (Image: Zenith City Press)