March 3, 1830: Birth of Judge John Richard Carey

On this day in 1830, future Duluth attorney John Richard Carey was born in Bangor, Maine. In 1853 he formed a colony of 85 New Englanders who settled in St. Paul. Carey only stayed two years, heading to Superior in 1855. The Panic of 1857 pushed him across the bay, and he took up residence in the newly formed town of Oneota and entered the lumber business. In 1859 he was elected judge of the Probate Court of St. Louis County—and that’s when he decided to study law. During this time he relocated to the town of Duluth, finding Robert Jefferson’s abandoned home at 430 Lake Avenue South empty and unlocked—so he moved in. Consequently, the house became the first home of the St. Louis County District Court. In 1869 Carey was elected clerk of the district court and remained as such until 1882 when he became register at the U.S. Land Office and Federal Court commissioner. Carey was a founding member of the now-defunct Duluth Historical Society. In 1898 the Duluth News Tribune serialized his “History of Duluth in St. Louis County to the Year 1870.” When he died in 1905, his neighbor and friend Judge J. D. Ensign said of him, “He was one among others who believed in the greatness of Duluth while it was yet a wilderness, and he never wavered in that belief. He, with Luce, Marvin, Nettleton and others, and with many who are here to-day, had the power in those early days to look down upon the coming years and foretell that upon this spot, their wilderness home, a great city was to be built; and he loved the band of men in Superior and Duluth who suffered the discomforts and privations of pioneer life with him and who had been instrumental in changing the wilderness into beautiful cities.When I look back upon thirty years of acquaintance with him, I find much to admire [and] nothing to condemn. He had his peculiarities, as we all have. He was a good citizen, a kind, loving father and husband, a staunch friend, a man whose great aim in life was to do right and be right-a man of unswerving integrity.”

Judge J. R. Carey. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)