Marshall H. Alworth
For nearly half a century, Marshall H. Alworth was associated
with the two greatest industries of northern Minnesota - mining and lumbering. For the
greater part of that time he was a resident of Duluth and one of the men of enterprise who
liberally bestowed his public spirit and business influence in the development of this
Mr. Alworth was born in Florence, Oneida County, New York,
October 26, 1846. His father was a railroad man and was engaged in construction work for
the Erie Railroad. Beginning life with a district school education acquired in western
New York, Alworth left home between the age of thirteen and fourteen, and, for many years
had some of the "rough and tumble" experiences of life. For a time he worked on
the Great Lakes, but eventually became a land and timber explorer, a work in which he
achieved a high degree of expertness and skill, and which he followed for twenty years.
About 1867 he began exploring in the timber lands of Michigan,
Wisconsin, Mississippi and Minnesota, and after looking for timber for others interested
in investments, finally secured a working interest which allowed him to operate within the
timber industry using his own capital. The time was about 1880. During the next forty
years he held and developed large tracts of timberland, especially in the northern states.
Mr. Alworth first came to Duluth in 1873. For several years he
was employed under contract in exploring and locating Government land in Minnesota,
Wisconsin and upper Michigan. Soon after he came to Duluth there occurred the memorable
failure of Jay Cooke, initiating the tremendous financial depression of 1873. There was no
disposition on the part of moneyed interests to continue the contracts in which Mr.
Alworth was interested. With what money he personally commanded, he took over some lands
in St. Louis County. He soon found his occupation practically gone. That financial
depression was a serious blow to the development of Duluth, which did not recover for
Mr. Alworth returned to northern Minnesota in 1882, again as a
land "looker". But he was also a purchaser of lands at the Government land sale.
In the 1893 sale at St. Cloud, he acquired further land holdings with his partners William
E. Boeing (founder of the Boeing Airplane Co.) and Morton D. Hall. Some of these lands
were on the Mesaba Range. These lands had already shown indications of ore, and these
indications led Mr. Alworth and his partners to believe that, if the underground resources
were properly explored, a satisfactory commercial basis could be established. Thus he and
his associates agreed not to sell any of the mineral rights of these lands when the timber
was removed. That precaution was fully justified by the later outcome.
At first he gave options to explore his newly acquired land, but
found the work was not properly done. Mr. Alworth and his associates then took the matter
directly under their own supervision. Much of the land had been "test-pitted"
and worked over from one to three times, but new and thorough investigations proved good
deposits of ore. On that basis was formed the Alworth Mining and Development Company, an
organization that was successfully continued for several years, as long as ore was found
in paying quantities. The members of this company were J. L. Washburn,
W.C. Agnew, W. H.
Cole and Mr. Alworth. Finally they leased the lands and did not get more than two and half
cents a ton above what the option called for.
A number of other business enterprises commanded the time and
resources of Mr. Alworth. He became owner of considerable real estate in Duluth and took
an interest in various industries to build up the town. Among properties he owned were the
Alworth Building, construction of which was begun on September 12, 1909, and the St. Regis
Apartments. He was also an investor in several local-manufacturing industries.
Marshall H. and Nellie Alworth resided at 2605 East 7th Street in Duluth. His biography lists no church membership but he was a supporter of many
charitable enterprises and organizations. In politics, he was a Republican. He was married
in Saginaw, Michigan, to his wife Nellie Laveigne, of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on June 13,
1878. Of the seven children born to them, only two reached later life. They were Marshall
W. Alworth and Royal D. Alworth. His sons were actively associated with their father.
Marshall looked after the mining properties and Royal was associated with the real estate
holdings. Marshall H. Alworth died in 1931. His wife, Nellie L.
Alworth, died March 30,
1947. Marshall H. Alworth was characterized as "a generous supporter of charitable
enterprises and as a quiet, unassuming man. He was one of the few men whose vision really
encompassed the mineral possibilities underlying the rugged soil of the Mesaba
range". His estate was probated at $6,788,000, with each son receiving an inheritance
of $3,141 million. Charitable gifts of $3,000 each were given to St. Luke’s
Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital and the Children’s Home Society.
Marshall W. Alworth
Marshall W. Alworth was born in Duluth in 1883 and lived in that
city until 1966. He was a graduate of Duluth Central High School and attended Dartmouth
College where he played varsity hockey. He was associated with his father, Marshall H.
Alworth, in the family’s real estate and mining interests.
Marshall W. Alworth was married to his wife Margaret. They had no
children. Margaret Alworth died in 1956.
Known for his generous contributions to
UMD, Mr. Alworth has two
buildings on the UMD campus named after him. Marshall W. Alworth Hall, a science lecture
hall and faculty office building, was named in his honor. Mr. Alworth also funded the
Marshall W. Alworth planetarium at UMD.
In 1949, as a memorial to his parents, Marshall W. Alworth
created the Marshall H. and Nellie Alworth Scholarship program with an initial donation of
$10,000. Of this amount $4,600 was used to fund 11 Alworth Scholarships, first awarded for
the 1949-1950 academic year. Recipients in this first year received cash awards of from
$300 to $800. The following year, Mr. Alworth’s second gift of $15,000 supported nine
renewals of the first year grants plus 10 new awards. The program continued to grow as the
Alworth Memorial Trust received additional gifts from Mr.
Alworth, and, together with the
earning of the Trust, the number of scholarship recipients and the amounts of the
scholarships increased steadily.
The year 2012 represents the 64th year of the Marshall
H. and Nellie Alworth Scholarship program. Since 1949, $42,950,000 has been distributed to 4,663 students in Minnesota. For the 2012/13 academic year, 280 students will receive the scholarship at an annual outlay of $1.3 million.
Mr. Alworth and his wife, Margaret, lived at 314 Hawthorne Road
in Duluth. They divided their time between Duluth and Miami Beach, where they had a second
home on Biscayne Bay. In 1966, sometime after the death of his wife, Mr. Alworth moved
permanently to Miami Beach. He lived to the age of 97 years, dying in 1980. He left his
entire estate to support the Marshall H. and Nellie Alworth Scholarship program.