Forest Hill Cemetery by Heidi, (Part Three — You had me at McGonagle).

A crystal clear memory of a worksheet from my high school A.P. U.S. History class — a short description of an exploit belonging to an American industrialist, followed by two blanks, one column labelled ‘Captain of Industry’ and the other ‘Robber Baron.’ After completing the worksheet, we learned a valuable lesson — these guys could be heartless moneymen and lavish philanthropists. At the same time! Balance is the key to success, right?

Like many early Duluth millionaires, William A. McGonagle was certainly cut from that rarefied cloth. And because one side of his story’s more colorful, here’s a short produced audio piece outlining some of McGonagle’s union-busting and kidnapping hi-jinx:

Isn’t that name perfectly suited for the dastardly deeds of a tycoon? Take a second and say his name out loud. ‘McGonagle.’ Now, if there’s nobody else in the room, yell it scornfully. ‘MCGONAGLE!!!’

See what I’m saying?

And as a ‘Captain of Industry,’ or at least the ‘Not Morally Bankrupt’ side of things, Heidi also shared a story-sketch about McGonagle giving a 1925 speech for the Knights of Columbus despite threats from the Ku Klux Klan. That story, as well as many others (including the union busting one above), are in a wonderful book I’ve been perusing since I arrived — By the Ore Docks: A Working People’s History of Duluth by Richard Hudelson and Carl Ross.

The other side of McGonagle's stone is a bench for sitting and contemplation.

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One Response to Forest Hill Cemetery by Heidi, (Part Three — You had me at McGonagle).

  1. Peter says:

    Growing up in Duluth, I knew McGonagle’s daughter, Mary. She was a interesting woman–outgoing, smart, had a wide variety of interests, involved in the community, etc. Her first husband was named Tibbetts, but I knew her as Mary Roberts, as she had married a widower named Arthur Roberts before I was born. Mary was in her 90s when she died.

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